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Old 08-21-2002, 01:46 AM   #1
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4x4 tow vehicle... or not?

Alright then, so I'm going to be buying my tow vehicle any day now and thought I had it all narrowed down. There's an F250 that's really nice, 1996 turbo 2 wheel drive. That one's $13,500.
Then there's an F350. It's the truck of my dreams. It's white, got the extra cab, wired for hauling, dually wheels. It's a '99 and at $21,000 it's more than I had intended to spend. They both have about 74,000 miles on them and are both one owner.
THEN... my neighbor comes up with his Chevy one ton diesel crew cab for sale for $14,000. It has less miles on it and is a pretty nice truck, but it's a 4 x 4. Now I know everyone says it'll shake up the trailer too much, but he says that's... well, you don't want to know what he says about that, but part of it is that the Chevy has torsion bars or something to give it a smooth ride. I towed my trailer home with it, and it did seem pretty smooth.
So, anyone out there towing with a 4 wheel drive that thinks it's ok?
Also, I know this shouldn't matter so much, but the Chevy has a horrid velvety red interior, and is black. I don't want a black truck because I'm planning on going to some pretty hot places, while I'm still alive, even.
Thanks, folks. Let me know what you think as soon as you can.
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Old 08-21-2002, 06:35 AM   #2
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When I towed a trailer I did so with 2 diffrent 4X4 trucks without problems. They were both F150 extended cab models. The issues as I understand them are as follows.

1. 4X4's can have stiffer suspsnsions. Is the suspenstion stock or has it been modified for "off roading"? If it is stock and it rides well (Smooth) then it should not affect the trailer.

2. 4x4's usally sit higher than a 2 wheel drive truck. This means you will have to purchase drop down inserts for the hitch, and can cause some minor handling issues due to a slightly higher center of gravity. Again is it stock in the tire and wheel department or is it jacked up to the point you need a ladder to get in?

3. With a 4X4 you have extra whight strapped to the front end of the truck. this can reduce your total GCVWR by as much as 1000 pounds. As the truck you are looking at is a 1 ton this is more than likely not an issue.

4. With a 4X4 you have an addition set of mechanicals to maintain. Front axel, hubs, and a transfer case. They will need to be excersized as part of their maintence, and repairs can be big $$$.

5. The color combo. personally I cannot stand that color red that GM uses. It makes my eyes hurt. Black paint is going to show everythng. Depending on how you are regarding the way your rig looks you will be spending a fair amount of time washing your truck, and a 1 ton crew cab is a BIG truck.

6. Is the Chevy a turbo diesel? You don't mention the year. There are some models/years that may be best to avoid.

7. Even with all of the above issues it really comes down to you making an informed choice. IF your neighgbor is a good guy and is willing to sell his truck to a fellow neighbor, you may be better off than buying from a stranger. I know when I have had a questionable vehicle I would never sell it to someone I knew
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Old 08-21-2002, 09:38 AM   #3
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4X4 ride

Hey ya'll,

I tow my TT with a 1994 1 ton Dually 4X4 ext. cab. I have made sure my rear susp. had no overloads, extra leafs or rear stiffness. The shocks are a set of KYBs, my freinds who ride in the truck allways comment on the smooth ride of my big truck. I have been snowed on, had a flood of Texas rain on me and AZ. wind so bad, so hot, we saw the mother of all tumble weeds pass bye. It was nice to have the dually with the extra two tires.

At least you know the history of the one truck ie. who owned it , how it was driven, how was it cared for? Oil changes, neglect, has it been wrecked? Spending lots of money, make sure you lead with you head not heart. - Ray
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Old 08-21-2002, 09:24 PM   #4
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A single opinion

While there are those who do, I personally would not buy a dually to haul an Airstream. The gas milage is significantly reduced, they are a pain to park, and are overkill for any Airstream.

Yes, I know duallies provide a margin of safety in case of tire failure, but proper attention to tire wear and inflation will virtually eliminate that risk. Still, if you are the sort that wears a belt AND suspenders, the peace of mind is worth something.

Just to be clear, I am not in any way critical of those who choose to use a dually for their Airstream, but as you have the choice, I personally would not go that way.

Mark
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Old 08-21-2002, 10:19 PM   #5
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4x4

I tow with a Silverado 4x4 and I love it. I have used it several times in 4wd getting out of muddy places or gravel. In heavy rain, I run in the automatic mode that switches into 4wd as needed.

The only down side to a 4x4 is that it requires more steering attention. They don't track as well as 2wd.
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Old 08-22-2002, 12:07 AM   #6
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Just my two cents... as stated in another post I had to ditch my Grand Cherokee and consider the options. I ended up with a 99 Ford F350 4X4 with all the goodies and paid only 15K with a Jeep Wrangler as the trade in. I just arrived in Seattle, WA towing my Airstream (79' 29' Land Yacht Ambassador) which weighed loaded around 9000 lbs, from Philadelphia, PA. Not once did I have to shift down to get up and over Cascades. Once I had Adjusted the weight distribution set-up properly (100 miles into the trip) no sway at 75-80 mph and it felt like I was driving a car. Some portions of the highways I had to adjust the speed for bumpy roads - but I think regardless of the vehicle I would of had - would of been the same. I think the comment on 4X2 tow straighter may apply for pre 90's trucks but most 4X4 will handle just as reliably as a 4X2. Even in heavy winds I never had a issue with the trailer staying straight... Just my two cents... I thought having the 7.3 litre Diesel Powerstroke was overkill - but for the price and the options - it definately is my preference for a tow vehicle.
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Old 08-22-2002, 07:52 AM   #7
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4x4 Tracking

My 4x4 is a POST-90's truck and it is not my first 4x4. I'll stand by my statement that any 4x4 will require more steering attention than a 2x4, with or without a trailer. With a 4x4, there is less centering action and more tendency to respond to road irregularities than with a 2x4. I drove a number of trucks on the lots when I was truck shopping and this was true across the whole spectrum of manufacturers.

Maybe I'm more sensitive than most, but I sure notice it. It contributes slightly to fatigue on a long day's trip.

I came home from Panama Beach, Florida in a day and a half, solo, so it isnt a killer difference. Just something that is there.

That said, I chose the 4x4 because I was offered a terrific deal on a salesman's truck that was already tinted and had a sprayed bed liner. I knew who drove it and it was just like it came from the factory.
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Old 08-22-2002, 08:08 AM   #8
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towing with 4X4

Jodynjeep, I would like to second your opinions about towing with a 4X4. I have pulled my 31' A/S Sovereign which probably is loaded to about its GVW of 8300# from upstate NY to FL and almost all of West VA's I-77 including the 5 mile long 7% Sandstone mountain grade. Mine is not a dually, but the Dodge Ram 5.9 24valve turbo diesel with HD and towing package. When the Interstate sections get rough, we slow down a bit, but make almost the same time to destination when we want to as if we were not towing. The ride is a little stiff, but I prefer being able to maintain interstate legal speeds most of the time even on most grades. I also like having the heavier truck in front of the A/S. For the 7,000 miles we have towed with this combination, I am getting from 11.9 to 14 mpg depending on grade and speed.
It is also nice to have better control when operating on muddy and sandy camp sites. The Dodge has automatic hubs and I have not noticed any steering irreularities.

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Old 08-22-2002, 12:12 PM   #9
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Well folks, I want you all to know I don't know what I'd do without you. I went ahead and bought my neighbor's truck, the 4x4 Silverado, '97 turbo-diesel, crew-cab dually one ton. I appreciate all your advice and wanted to put down in print all my reasons for the decision, just in case, I guess, some other naive human being gets themselves into the 'Oh my god, I can't make a decision' position.
So here it is:
1. I know the owner. He's a nutcase, but he'd never steer me wrong... intentionally. He takes care of his vehicles.
2. I'll be traveling alone. I don't want to get someplace I can't get out of. The 4 wheel drive won't insure against that completely, but I know for a fact that I'll need it just to get the trailer off my property here where I have it nestled down under a hemlock along the horse pasture fence. (It looks real pretty there.) The 4 x 4 aspect will also give me some more flexibility of time because I'm heading out next month for 6-12 months and don't want to spend the WHOLE time down south in fear of snow.
3. I hear the concerns about steering, but this truck steers nicely. Of course, one of the trucks I had looked at seriously was ALL over the road, so in comparison, the rest seem great.
4. I've towed the trailer with this truck before. So I know it works and feels great. Wish I'd towed it uphill, but I don't think it will be a problem. It rides really smooth, and it should work without a drop down hitch.
5. "Lead with your head, not your heart." Fatt Ratt, your advice kept echoing in my mind. After all, it's a lot of truck for $14,000 and if I drive it for a month and decide I love it, I can have it painted white, put seat covers over the nasty wine red plush... don't know what I can do about the rest of the wine red interior, but don't think I should let it affect me so much. And if I drive it for a month and hate it, there's all the time in the world to keep looking for a truck that suits me better. After all, it's a truck purchase, not a marriage contract.

... Doubts I still have: The truck is so long, it makes the trailer seem almost small. The combination of the two is longer than my house is wide... quite intimidating. But it's the crew cab that makes it so long and the extra space in the cab is so luxurious. And even though it's so long, the truck bed seems kind of narrow. I'll want to be putting the motorcycle in there and knowing me, lots of other stuff. Well, I'm getting pretty excited about loading up and getting out of Dodge, and with a million things left to do and a full time job, I'd better get moving. Thanks again! Cheryl
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Old 08-22-2002, 12:32 PM   #10
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4x4s

Please don't misconstrue my comments on steering as concerns. They are simply comments. I pull long distances with my 4x4 and love it.

In my exoerience, a 4x2 will happily track for long distances hands off, just following the lane, The 4x4 with a lot more friction and inertia in the steering will find some tar strip or pavement irregularity and wander off track, needing slight steering corrections.

BTW: The truck is much more stable in cross winds with the trailer than without.

The 4wd is great in getting onto or across a highway from something like a gravelled side road. Throws a lot fewer stones at the trailer, too, with no wheelspin.
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Old 08-22-2002, 11:44 PM   #11
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i have a 2000 chev. 2500 hd 4 wheel drive, i have used it to tow my trailer for the last two and a half years. possibly the best tow rig i have used so far.

before that i used a 89 chev 1500 4x4, a 1994 1500 chev z-71 4x4, a 1992 1500 chev suburban 4x4. they all did a nice job, but the 3/4 ton is far superior in my opinion. more stable, and a whole lot better brakes. so your new dually may be over kill, so what! for 14k you almost stole that truck!

like you said, it's not a marriage, if you don't like it GET RID OF IT!
b.t.w. that red interior is one of my favorites, next to the grey leather i have now.

john
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Old 08-23-2002, 12:00 AM   #12
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oh yea, i almost forgot. the best thing about having four wheel drive is NOT the extra traction. but rather, the fact that you can get the front of your truck pointed in the right direction on slippery sufaces. you will notice this more with a trailer connected to your truck. in two wheel drive when you turn your wheels you will just go straight ahead. with the front axle driven you can steer!

also, here in wisconsin a gravel road is a high traction area! (thats where you put it back into two wheel drive)

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