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Old 05-12-2010, 09:17 PM   #1
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Moorpark , California
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95 Dodge Dakota as a tow vehicle?

Greetings Streamers,

We are new here and would like some advice on my truck as a tow vehicle.

We are hoping to purchase a late 70's 25ft tradewind as our first trailer. My understanding is it is about 4300lbs.

My current truck is a 95 Dodge Dakota extended cab long bed. with a 5.4 liter V-8. Custom exaust with headers and air intake. It is the SLT version with a tow pkg and Overdrive. It is rated for about 7000lbs towing.

Before towing, I am looking to upgrade suspension partly for fun.

Is this a sufficient tow vehicle for the first year or so? Eventually we are looking to get a Suburban.

Your enlightenment would be much appreciated...

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Old 05-12-2010, 09:36 PM   #2
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Hello, and welcome to, Perfetto!

Assuming that your truck is in good general condition and is trailer-ready (good big transmission cooler, for example), I can't imagine why it wouldn't. You'll need a proper hitch set-up, preferably with weight distribution, I would suggest.

There are those that still remember that class of trailer being regularly towed by the normal family car. Of course today's Airstreams have ballooned in weight, so there are those who would point out that those trailers deserve a heavier TV.

But you should be fine.

How about some photos of the inside and outside of you new to you unit?

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Old 05-12-2010, 11:20 PM   #3
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

First off, welcome to the Forums. We're glad have you with us.

As to your question, it can probably work. You need to start your research on weight distribution/sway control hitch systems and trailer brake controllers. You will need both of these. Also, you will need to install a transmission fluid cooler in your tow vehicle. if you fail to do this, you can easily fry your transmission. Also, check your tow vehicle's tires to make sure that they are of a sufficient load range to handle the trailer.

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Old 05-13-2010, 02:05 AM   #4
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When you say you are looking to upgrade the suspension, I hope you don't mean to lift it. The lower the center of gravity, the more stable your tow vehicle.will be.

Hopefully you will get some feedback from those who have used your truck. For example, the Ford Ranger appears to have a generous tow capacity for it's size, but people who have actually towed with them report they are not as good in reality as they look on paper. You might check out forums that specialize in Dakotas and see what people say about their towing experiences with them.

If you decide your truck isn't adequate, I'd advise you to still look for the trailer you ultimately want, and look to upgrade the tow vehicle when you can. Trailers tend to stay around a long time, tow vehicles come and go

Good luck, and welcome to the forums!

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Old 05-13-2010, 06:00 AM   #5
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You must mean a 5.2L motor. Dodge has never made a 5.4L motor. It's a good motor, but not very strong. As long as you're not towing in the mts, you will probably be ok. Add a tranny cooler after you have the transmission fluid replaced.
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Old 05-13-2010, 06:02 AM   #6
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There are two of us I know of on the forums that have used the 5.2 litre Dakota with good results. I've towed our Argosy 20 and an Argosy 24 (similar to the Tradewind, a foot shorter) with mine, and the other forum member towed an Excella with his.
The truck will need a few things, like a brake controller, transmission cooler, etc in order to be a good tow vehicle. Stock sized tires and non-stiffened suspension are musts. Our suspension was more than stiff enough for towing right out of the box.
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Old 05-13-2010, 06:14 AM   #7
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I would make sure you check on the axle ratio. Dodge probably offered a trailer package that year, I would investigate that you have the correct axle ratio and what others have said about the transmission cooler and heavy duty radiator. You will have to add the trailer brake controller and have a good weight distribution/sway hitch. Don't skimp on any of these items and you will be happy with the Dakota. 5.2 engines have been around forever and are reliable. No need to add extra springs to the truck - you and the trailer will appreciate the smoother ride.
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Old 05-13-2010, 06:34 AM   #8
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also check the tire size and weight ratings. there was quite a wide variety of tires used and you'll need to have the computer updated if you change the tire size to keep the speedometer in calibration.
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Old 05-13-2010, 08:29 PM   #9
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Thanks Everyone for all the great insight...

Yep, it is a 5.2L, sorry about that! It does have a oversized radiator on it, I will check to see if it has a tranny cooler on it. It has the facory installed tow hitch but it has 3000 lb max stamped on it plus the plug receptacle for a trailer. I am going to change it out for the one suggested.

As far as suspension, I was not planning on lifting it just a better or stiffer one to handle pulling the extra weight or stopping the extra weight, but if it is not necessary that is good too... $$ saved!

Thanks again for all the help, I am glad to be here as well...

As soon as I get the Tradewind I will post up pictures

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