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Old 08-31-2014, 09:44 PM   #1
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Tow Packages - Are they Necessary for Me?

I am a recent owner of a 2012 Flying Cloud 20 foot, all I need is a tow vehicle and I will be off to the races. Quick rundown of the FC specs:

5000# GVWR 5000# Axle System 4211# UBW 789# NCC 631# Hitch Weight

I'm considering a used (2009 - 2014) extended cab 4x4 1/2 ton pickups from the usual suspects - Ford F150, Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. I'm pretty certain that any of the three trucks would provide the right combination of towing and payload capacity (someone can correct me if I'm way wrong). The issue that I have been having is that I would prefer a truck with a tow package - but when I do my searches I have had some difficulty in finding one. I'm not saying it is impossible - far from it - but when I search on sites I would see maybe 20 vehicles that fit the criteria I'm looking for (less than 80k miles) but if I also select that it has a tow package that gets me closer to two or three vehicles. I live in Denver, Colorado.

Are the factory tow packages preferred over those without? And, if I purchased a vehicle without a tow package how much expense is involved in getting a vehicle "tow ready?" What are the pros and cons of a factory package vs. after-market?

Also, one other, perhaps, simple question, the original owner used a 2009 Chevy Avalanche as a tow vehicle. The owner is willing to sell his 110k mi vehicle to me for about $15k, his vehicle already has all the necessary pieces to tow the FC - would anyone have reservations or recommendations about using the Avalanche?

The vehicle came with an equal-i-zer hitch which I intend to use as well.

If I left out some crucial information that would help you answer the above question it would be happy to answer it if I can find it. I tried the search function to see if I could find the answer to this question but could not seem to find the right information.

Am I on the right track for a tow vehicle?
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Old 08-31-2014, 09:55 PM   #2
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I purchased my Tundra with a tow package. That meant I would have a beefy receiver, a transmission cooler and it would come wired up for a 7 pin connector. It also has a transmission temp gauge, Tow/Haul mode and a 4.3 rear axle ratio.

These are nice things to have but I wonder if you will "need" these pulling a lighter trailer. You will need the receiver and it will have to be wired for the trailer and the trailer brakes. After that, I am not so sure you really have to have the other stuff.

Of course, there are lots of issues that you will have to deal with. Are you going to be towing in the mountains during the heat of summer? If so, the transmission cooler would come in handy. What condition is the truck you are looking at? What kind of mileage will it get and what are your expecting. The 4.3 rear end provides some extra oomph for towing but it does cut down the mileage numbers.

If you order new, get the package. If you are buying used, hope for the best.
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Old 09-01-2014, 02:39 AM   #3
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Congrats on your new AS! I bet you're going to have many wonderful adventures with it.

You might carefully consider whether the 1/2 ton trucks provide you with enough payload to do what you want to do. By the time you add the tongue weight, a passenger (or three), a dog, tools, generator(s), coolers filled with food and beer, a bicycle or two, a truck cap (?), lawn chairs, etc. you can easily go WAY over the payload specs. of a 1/2 ton truck.

I believe all of the 3/4 ton trucks are going to come from the factory with most of the towing goodies you could hope to have as part of the package. You'll add a significant cushion of payload at the same time.

If I were going to be doing a lot of towing or some towing in the mountains I would get the 3/4 ton TV. Else you could make a 1/2 TV if you can limit your load carefully.
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Old 09-01-2014, 06:19 AM   #4
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You can add the items that make up the tow package option. When shopping for a used truck, I would find the truck I like and add the items needed. Also tow packages are so common on pickup trucks that they may not be showing up always on an internet search of used trucks.

I use a 2500HD as a tow vehicle, but it is a dedicated tow vehicle and not used as a daily driver. 2500HD trucks are great tow vehicles but they are gas hogs and, in my opinion, much more difficult to maneuver around town as a daily driver vs a 1500 / 150 truck (1500's have a tighter turning radius). My truck averages 14.5 mpg on the highway when not towing. A 1500 / 150 will get much better mpg on the highway not towing. I average 8.5 mpg towing and did about the same with a 1500 towing the same trailer.
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Old 09-01-2014, 08:00 AM   #5
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You should be good to go with any 1/2 T rated vehicle for your 20. The tow pkg only adds niceties such as trailer tow hitch, brake controller, associated wiring, sometimes HD tires and brakes; however, you can add those items to most vehicles at relatively low cost. We had zero problems towing with our 1/2 T and often wish we still had it!
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Old 09-01-2014, 10:29 AM   #6
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One of the most important things to consider when buying a tow vehicle is axle ratio.

I have seen many "off the lot" trucks, vans, and SUVs that people bought, added a hitch and break control, and found that they did not seem to have the power to tow.

The problem was the axle ratio was too high. Their vehicle was built to get the best fuel mileage, not to have the best towing power.

A vehicle with a tow package from the factory should have (in addition to other features) a lower axle ratio for towing.

This becomes even more important in high altitude.

"Give me low enough gears, and I can run a locomotive with a sewing machine motor" Old saying, not exactly factual, but you get the idea.
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Old 09-01-2014, 11:49 AM   #7
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I think the tow package is a good idea. The 20' FC you have weighs in the range of 5000# with a hitch weight close to 700# (the measured numbers on my 20'). living in Denver, you are going to see a lot of mountain driving at high altitudes. The tow package axle ratio is important to have, as mentioned by terryV above.

Have you considered a Jeep Grand Cherokee? The 2011 and up models are very good tow vehicles with either the V6 or V8's and many come factory equipped with tow packages, even if not used by the original owners. My 2012 tows my 20' FC exceptionally well. I don't know if their used prices are in your budget though.

Even the older Jeep Grand Cherokee's are not bad, but not nearly as good as the newer ones. I had a 4.7 L V8, 2001 which towed my 20' Argosy with ease.
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Old 09-01-2014, 03:11 PM   #8
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Gearing is very important. And I'm surprised it gets overlooked. For any GM just check the RPO codes in the center console or glove box for GT4 3.73 or better yet GT5 for 4.10's.

Integrated brake controllers offered on most tow packages generally are better than aftermarket. I know Dodge has some problems with some aftermarket controllers.

Another subject not mentioned, is to verify the weight rating on the hitch with the Tow Package. While shopping for our TV I came across a few trucks with the tow package that had Class III hitches which would of need replaced.

If the truck doesn't have a tow package, it might not have a connector for your trailer brakes/lights or a hitch at all. Something to consider.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Airrogant View Post
You might carefully consider whether the 1/2 ton trucks provide you with enough payload to do what you want to do. By the time you add the tongue weight, a passenger (or three), a dog, tools, generator(s), coolers filled with food and beer, a bicycle or two, a truck cap (?), lawn chairs, etc. you can easily go WAY over the payload specs. of a 1/2 ton truck.
Payload is your debatable margin of safety, axle weight rating is what you don't want to go over. I use payload as my gauge.

Payload varies just as much in the 3/4 tons as well. And varies based on options a vehicle is equipped with. Leather and cloth seats have different weights for example. So do bench vs bucket seats. All vehicles start with a base weight, and have a max GVWR. As you add options, you take away the payload. Granted you will have more payload to play with in a 3/4 ton, but a Long Horn 2500 has less payload than a SLT 2500, just FYI.

This is why there are folks with Ecoboosts F150's and 2100lbs of payload. And others crying when they discovered their King Ranch has 980lbs of payload.

Easy to achieve and figure out when you are ordering a truck, way harder to figure this out in the used market. Have to do more research.

3/4 tons are a no brainer if you don't want to think or research.

I wanted to force us to do with less. So I'm sticking within my margins personally.

Figure out your needs, what you'll carry, etc then match your TV accordingly.
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Old 09-01-2014, 04:48 PM   #9
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My 08 Silverado 4x4 didn't even come with a hitch, so no tow package. I bought a 10,000 pound hitch for a couple a few hundred and hooked a brake controller to the wires that were already in place, hooked a trailer light plug into the wires that were already in place, popped a couple of fuses in the fuse box and hooked two existing wires to the under hood fuse box stud one.

So tow package not needed, for a few hundred bucks my truck pulls my trailer just fine.
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Old 09-01-2014, 04:55 PM   #10
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Tow packages also might include transmission coolers and other HD parts.
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Old 09-01-2014, 05:42 PM   #11
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A 1/2 ton pickup is plenty of truck for a 20' Airstream - even without a factory tow package.

All items on a factory tow package can be added - often to a much better level of specification for your needs.

- An automatic transmission cooler is important. Most pickups have this integrated into the radiator. If not, many high efficiently aftermarket units are available.

- The hitch itself is easily added - lots of options from many different manufacturers.

- As mentioned above - rear axle gearing! You can do way better than a factory tow package here. Factory tow packages are even geared too high for long range towing IMO. 3:73 minimum. 4:10 is better. Here you can upgrade to much stronger gears and add limited slip.

- D or E load range tires. You'll need new tires eventually anyway.

That's the main stuff in a factory tow package. No big deal if the truck you want does not have one.
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Old 09-01-2014, 06:02 PM   #12
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Integrated tow package also includes HD battery, HD radiator, tow mirrors and brake controller and some other extras. It costs less when you buy the entire package.
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Old 09-01-2014, 06:06 PM   #13
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Thanks for all your replies. I wound up with a 2012 Ford Ecoboost with a tow package. It seems to have the right stuff for me, there is an external prodigy brake controller so I suppose that means it does not have the "top" tow package but should suffice for me (I hope...). I would have preferred an integrated brake controller. It does seem to have sway control. The vehicle has relatively high mileage for the year (76k) but seemed to come at the right price $23k. I hope these twin turbos have good reliability .

I should be good up to 7200 GVWR with this vehicle. It has a 3.55 rear differential. I will be towing in the mountains of Colorado so I suspect this will be a good vehicle for the 20ft FC.

It certainly is not the fanciest vehicle on the road.
http://fordlabels.webview.biz/webvie...FX1ET4CFD07204

Thanks again.
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Old 09-01-2014, 09:44 PM   #14
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You can have the dealer (or some one else) install the Ford brake controller if you feel the urge...

Most everyone on the forums have been happy towing with the ecoboost, as it is not affected by altitude. Happy trails!
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