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Old 06-04-2015, 03:25 PM   #1
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Right tow vehicle for this trailer?

We are new to this community and about to buy our first Airstream - very exciting! The trailer of our dreams is an '87 Sovereign 29 ft, dry wt 6600 lbs. We found a 2003 Ford Ranger XLT with the tow package for a great price, but max. tow wt is 6000 lbs. Will these two work together or make us miserable? Does anyone out there have any such experience? If the truck is underpowered, what will happen? We are considering buying both and trading the truck for something more powerful if necessary. Any guidance will be greatly appreciated!
(It's so nice to have a place to ask questions like this!)

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Old 06-04-2015, 04:19 PM   #2
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My opinion is that the Ford Ranger would not be nearly enough truck to pull that trailer. I think trying would make you very miserable. I think you need at least a full sized pickup or similarly sized SUV. It seems to me it would be simpler not to buy a truck that will not work first and then sell it but I do not know the situation.

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Old 06-04-2015, 04:33 PM   #3
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If the dry weight of the trailer is 6600lb, then your total weight with propane, water, food, clothes, and misc. will probably be closer to 7500 or more, depending. That truck would not safely tow that trailer. It would be a struggle to get to and stay at speed, and even going up smaller hills would slow you down. You need a TV that can tow closer to 8000 or more to be safe and not burn out your TV. Sorry to burst the bubble.

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Old 06-04-2015, 05:07 PM   #4
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A Ford Ranger will not have anywhere close to adequate tongue weight/cargo capacity for the Airstream. Fret over tongue weight first and when the candidate truck has that covered it will likely have the towing capacity for the trailer.
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Old 06-04-2015, 05:13 PM   #5
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Hi tumbleweeds,

Congrats on making the transition from lurker to posting member.

The Ranger will pull the Airstream but by the data plate numbers it is underrated for the application and there simply isn't anything that can be reasonably done to overcome this limitation. The Ranger will likely feel fine on flat roads, but will struggle over modest grades, and likely not climb steep grades. The drivetrain isn't up to the task. You simply need something with more grunt that ideally gives you more wiggle room with your numbers. Here's my approach:

Figure my dry weight, then add in "stuff" I throw in the trailer and into the tow vehicle (you'll be surprised how fast this adds up), then give myself a 20 to 25 percent up rating factor (fudge factor).

6,600 lbs. Dry
1,000 lbs. Stuff
7,600 lbs. Loaded
x .0.20 or 0.25 Up Rating
1,520 lbs. to 1,900 lbs. Fudge Factor

My ideal tow vehicle then falls somewhere in the 9,100 lb. to 9,500 lb. tow rating category ideally and has a longer wheel base than the Ranger. You can certainly get by with less than what I propose, but you really need more than the Ranger is capable of providing. You just need a bigger mule.

This is my personal approach, so it really is just my 2. You will garner much opinion and expert views on this subject. I believe that you will find most voting in the "Underrated Tow Vehicle" camp. As for what to use instead... that is where the camp gets strongly divided at times.

Keep us posted on your progress.


"You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do."

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Old 06-04-2015, 05:28 PM   #6
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Even if the Ranger felt ok and you were comfortable

You run the risk of transmission, brakes and rotor problems,

One rule of thumb ( that some don't agree with ) is that you should only use 80% of your tow rating.
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Old 06-04-2015, 07:28 PM   #7
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Regardless of the AS, I think the Ranger itself would make me miserable!

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Old 06-04-2015, 07:48 PM   #8
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Kevin already hit upon this, but a good rule of thumb is to not exceed 80% of your tow vehicle's capacity with your trailer loaded to the gills. So in this case, you're already at 120% with it empty. The Ranger just isn't enough. Not enough motor, but more importantly not enough chassis.

What would be neat would be to find a nice used '75 Mercury Marquis or similar for about $700, but that has the 460V8. I had one of those and it was awesome. We pulled a 35' Holiday Rambler that is bigger and heavier than any Airstream ever made with that car and it did it just fine. You don't have to have a 3/4 or 1-ton diesel truck (though I do and it tows beautifully).

The Ranger might pull a 16' Bambi. Or it might pull one of the little Shasta's. Or maybe a number of pop up tent campers. But it's not enough beef for a 29' Airstream.

If you had an F-150, I would say yes, with a good hitch you could get by with a 150. But the Ranger is just too small.

Best of luck,
- Jim
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Old 06-04-2015, 08:37 PM   #9
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Amen!, buy a pickup.
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Old 06-05-2015, 02:00 AM   #10
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Grateful for the Feedback!

Wow! Y'all make us feel so welcome like we have found the people from our planet! Many, many thanks for all the sound advice, which mirrors what the seller had to say on the subject. We will leave the Ranger to another buyer and begin our search for a beefy TV. Can't wait to meet you folks out on the road!
(It's 4:00 am and we are up feeling like it's Christmas morning!)
Tumbleweeds ~ Suzanne and Steve
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Old 06-05-2015, 10:19 AM   #11
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If you were in Canada, you could get Jim to fix that Ranger so it would haul it no problem. He has Dodge Chargers that can haul 34 footers, so a Ranger PU should not be an issue. Tongue in cheek.

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Old 06-05-2015, 10:27 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by pappy19 View Post
If you were in Canada, you could get Jim to fix that Ranger so it would haul it no problem. He has Dodge Chargers that can haul 34 footers, so a Ranger PU should not be an issue. Tongue in cheek.

Ranger VS Charger??? That's like taking the local high school football team and putting them up against the Chargers...... the San Diego Chargers!

No contest.
Airstreams..... The best towing trailers on the planet!
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Old 06-05-2015, 10:29 AM   #13
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There is many a vehicle out there that's capable of towing your new trailer in comfort and safety.

The first thing to know about tow capacity is that there is no unified standard governing this that has been universally adopted by the manufacturers. As a result, tow capacity is often arbitrarily assigned. There are even occasions where, when you run the numbers, you are left with zero, or less than zero payload, for a truck, all the while not exceeding the stated capacity.

As a result, statements like "you're safe when you're not exceeding 80% of the tow capacity" are sadly meaningless. It's not that easy and there's much more to safe towing than a large vehicle.

The numbers I would concentrate on are payload, axle rating and tire rating. Stay within those, and all should be good. The older Airstreams were designed to be towed with the passenger cars available at the time. Many a modern SUV or van will give you a far better towing experience than a truck will be able to provide.
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Old 06-05-2015, 10:46 AM   #14
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Agree with everyone else- a Ranger just ain't it-

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