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Old 06-13-2010, 12:54 AM   #1
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Tow Vehicle (better mpg)

Currently towing a '78 Sovereign, 6800 gvw, with a '95 Ford F250 extended cab and 8' bed. Truck has 460 and is a camper special so a bit heavier built than a normal F250. Tows great, mileage not so great.

Thinking of upgrading to 6.5l Suburban of probably late '90s vintage.

My question is will I be able to use a Suburban with a 3.42 rear axle and adequately tow this trailer? Mostly I am around Southern CA or the South West in general.

Diesel page recommends 3.73 or 4.10 gears for this much weight but mentions success towing a 6000# horse trailer with 3.42 gears. The reported difference between 3.42 and 3.73 seems significant.

Does anyone have experience they can share?

Thanks
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Old 06-13-2010, 06:27 AM   #2
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Back when the 6.5's were new we set up lots of them in pick ups for towing large fifth wheels and a few in Subs for towing Airstreams. The 3.42 gears have plenty of torque for towing an Airstream. What works really well to maximize fuel economy and handling is the 3.42 gears and change the tires to 225/75R x 16" LT's. The 6.5 did have some issues if you worked them really hard so try and get one that has had an easy life.

Another vehicle to consider if you could find one used would be a Mercedes Dodge or Freightliner van with the 3.0 Litre diesel. There are some low profile ones out there on the shorter wheelbase that tow very well. Performance, fuel economy and handling with this would be better than the old suburban.

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Old 06-13-2010, 11:36 AM   #3
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Does anyone have experience they can share?


No end of that around here! Might be helpful if more parameters were set:

1] Trips per year; time spent aboard
2] Annual miles while towing
3] Terrain encountered/expected
4] Number of, age of, persons aboard
5] Current scale tickets reflecting gear & persons, not just scale totals
6] Expected service life of replacement vehicle

Some might travel with four people and very little gear. Some, with two, and carry even the household kitchen sink along just in case.

That trailer ought to be good behind any of a number of potentially higher mpg TV's . . . but, under what conditions?

.
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Old 06-13-2010, 01:45 PM   #4
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Thanks Andrew, that helps. I'm not familiar with the Van you are talking about but will look.

My goal in addition to getting better mileage towing is to gain a more useful and efficient non tow vehicle.

As mentioned in the op we mostly travel around Southern California and the South West so we see some pretty good hills on most trips. We are not full time and just take a few trips a year.

I currently carry a Yamaha 3500 generator in the TV in addition to the usual assortment of chairs accessories etc.

I just can't justify putting $20-30k in a vehicle that mostly sits when not pulling the Airstream and am not really happy maintaining the F250 which is so inefficient around town that it really just sits except for towing and is not really useful for more than two people.
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Old 06-14-2010, 05:52 AM   #5
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This is the link to the van I was speaking of. They are currently sold through Mercedes dealers but when Mercedes was connected to Chrysler they were sold as Dodges. I have also seen them with Freightliner nameplates but they may be only cargo vans.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter: Passenger Van Specifications

There are some fuel effiecent Gas Vehicles that would work as well if you don't mind climbing the large hills at 50 MPH.

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Old 06-14-2010, 08:33 AM   #6
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Changing tow vehicles will save you a few gallons of fuel, but not a lot. If your F-250 gets 10 mpg and a Suburban gets 17 mpg, it's only the 7 mpg difference you are saving. If your Ford is in excellent mechanical condition, and the used 'Burb you buy needs some work, or you have to make payments on it - well, you have used up any savings gained and then some. When towing, the mpg won't be too different between vehicles anyway.

If you are a low-mileage annual driver (under 10k/year), seriously consider just keeping what you have.
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Old 06-14-2010, 01:20 PM   #7
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Andrew, I was not aware that the Sprinter came in a standard size van. While that would probably do the job I suspect that is much more money than I want to spend.

Kevin, I have considered your point and in fact that is probably what I will wind up doing. If I could essentially trade vehicles and wind up with a more efficient tow and more useful non tow vehicle I will probably make the move and accept the risk of the vehicle I don't know.

I have to work to get 10 in mixed driving with the Ford but it does a little better on the freeway if you go slow which is sometimes not the best thing to do around here. Towing usually puts me in the 7 - 8 range given the normal terrain and I can do a little better on the flats but seldom get the chance to do that.

I have also made vehicle decisions that defied all logic.
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Old 06-14-2010, 08:21 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by kevin242 View Post
Changing tow vehicles will save you a few gallons of fuel, but not a lot. If your F-250 gets 10 mpg and a Suburban gets 17 mpg, it's only the 7 mpg difference you are saving. If your Ford is in excellent mechanical condition, and the used 'Burb you buy needs some work, or you have to make payments on it - well, you have used up any savings gained and then some. When towing, the mpg won't be too different between vehicles anyway.

If you are a low-mileage annual driver (under 10k/year), seriously consider just keeping what you have.

Assuming 10K a year the suburban would use 411 fewer gallons of gas. At prices right now that's a savings of over $1000.
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Old 06-14-2010, 09:20 PM   #9
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I have a '94 Sub with the 6.5L TD and running the 3.42 gears. I am not sure of the weight of my trailer, but I get about 13.5 MPG with it towing. Power is not an issue!
I agree with the others, how much towing vs. cost. I was blessed with my sub as a gift. The maintenance costs are a little steeper with a diesel.
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Old 06-14-2010, 10:44 PM   #10
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Clearly the financial benefit or detriment depends quit a bit on just how much it costs me to make this swap and perhaps to some extent my ability to evaluate the new vehicle. How much I drive it is also a pretty important factor as is the price of fuel over the time I own it.

I really appreciate the comments and experience shared and would welcome additional comments and discussion. Any suggestions as to other cost effective TVs would also be appreciated.
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Old 06-15-2010, 12:17 AM   #11
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I have a 2008 Toyota Tundra 2wd double cab with the 5.7L motor with the 6 speed. It has 4.3 gears yet only turns 1,600 rpm at 60 in 6th gear. It is a terrific tow vehicle and carries 5 people. I get 13mpg towing and about 18 solo on the road. However it is HUGE (like the other full size pickups). One option would be to find an 07 or 08 Toyota Sequia SUV with the 5.7L motor and 6 speed. Safety and reliability should also be good.

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Old 06-15-2010, 01:53 AM   #12
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Dan, those numbers look to be in the ballpark but the acquisition cost, not to mention the insurance and registration are quite a bit more than I am willing to invest.

Just for the record what kind of weight are you towing and what sort or terrain?

A quick check of the ratings shows the Toyota rated to tow 6000# and weighing 5000#. I don't think I want to tow a 31' 7000# trailer with that even if it has sufficient horsepower.
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Old 06-15-2010, 08:08 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by APB View Post
Currently towing a '78 Sovereign, 6800 gvw, with a '95 Ford F250 extended cab and 8' bed. Truck has 460 and is a camper special so a bit heavier built than a normal F250. Tows great, mileage not so great. Thinking of upgrading to 6.5l Suburban of probably late '90s vintage. My question is will I be able to use a Suburban with a 3.42 rear axle and adequately tow this trailer? Mostly I am around Southern CA or the South West in general. Diesel page recommends 3.73 or 4.10 gears for this much weight but mentions success towing a 6000# horse trailer with 3.42 gears. The reported difference between 3.42 and 3.73 seems significant. Does anyone have experience they can share? Thanks
Here is one thing that you are not considering, You really can not compare the Ford 460 or the GM 450 engine to smaller engines. Those particular engines was made for work, towing heavy loads for businesses, etc, at a time when that all trucks was used for, so it is not a suprise that is all you are getting on milage.
If you are going to stay in pre 98 models, you are going to find that the milage you currently get is about the standard for gas unless you go into a diesel. However the years after 98 when trucks really became more than work trucks in engine wise you will find many in both diesel and gas that can handle the trailer at 6000 lbs with out going into the 3/4 ton catagory. One other thing you should be aware of is that when GM downsized their suburban in 95 in size they downsized the towing capabilities as well because it became a soccor moms vehicle, as well as a daily driver.
Now for the same price as most used 95-current trucks both 1/2 & 3/4 ton you can buy new and get exactly what you want. All manufacturers in 2009, 2010, 2011, have made their trucks heavier towing abilities. Example
1/2 Ton= F150 has a towing capability of 9500 lbs, Chev/GMC 1500 has 8000 lbs, Dodge 7000 lbs, all of them will run in the 10-13 mpg towning and 15-18 non towing. Problem is towing & gas milage do not go together as to get one you wont have the other.
3/4 Ton= F250 towing goes into the 9900-12,500, Chev/GMC 9500-10,000, Dodge 9200-10,000. Gas gets around 10-13, diesel 12-15.

So consider all your options before you make an actual decision, the good thing is with a trailer that only goes in the 6000 lb range you are pretty much open on TV of any brand as long as you check the tow rating for that vehicle especially if it is used as there are many vehicles that do not have the towning capacity because they was built for daily drivers to get the fuel milage.

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Old 06-15-2010, 12:44 PM   #14
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Ummm???

Not to put to fine a point on it but the trailer I am towing is much closer to 7000# than 6000#.

Also the last time I looked 2009 vintage trucks are in the $20K and up range while the vehicles I am thinking about seem to run between $5 - 10k with most toward the low end of that range.
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