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Old 06-28-2020, 05:40 PM   #1
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2005 30' Classic
Monona , Wisconsin
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Tow vehicle for 30' classic limited

Hi all! Recently acquired a 2005 30' classic limited. I know I want to get a 3/4 ton truck; however, wondering whether I need a diesel. I've read a lot of the forums on tow vehicle recommendations, but none that provide the recommendation I'm looking for.

I've got a great deal lined up on a 2015 GMC Sierra 2500HD with a 6.0 gas engine. But, from what I've read, it's horrible on gas... and will lack power when towing our trailer through the mountains. Anyone have experience towing a similar Airstream with this vehicle?

At the end of the day, safety is paramount. We'll be traveling all over the U.S., including mountain trips, and want to find a reliable, used tow vehicle. If we need to spend the extra money for a 3/4 diesel truck, we'll do it.

Don't want to pass up this offer on the Sierra; however, also want to make the right choice on a truck going forward. Will the 3/4 ton gas engine on the Sierra be adequate for power... and adequate for braking?

Have also been considering the 2500HD diesel GMC or Chevy, or the Ford F250 diesel.

Hoping to find something with <50k miles and keep purchase around $40k or less.

Any and all recommendations are appreciated. Thank you!
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Old 06-28-2020, 06:02 PM   #2
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If you are mainly towing on flatland, and are fine with 8-9mpg, then the gas will be fine I am sure. You have to burn a lot of gas to make up for the 9-10k cost difference in buying a diesel.

That being said I have a 2017 GMC 2500 diesel and it pulls my 30' great. I get 11-12 mpg towing at 70-75 through the Rocky Mountains. I can get 12-14 towing if I run at 60-65. I rarely touch the breaks going downhill for miles at 7-8% grade with engine braking...

I think you are smart with a 3/4 ton with appropriate rear axle weight rating towing a 30' classic.
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Old 06-28-2020, 06:26 PM   #3
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1986 31' Sovereign
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I have a diesel and wish I didn’t. My original tow vehicle was a 2004 Nissan Titan Pickup with a 5.6 liter V8. I towed my 1986 31’ Sovereign over 80,000 miles with it including multiple trips across the Rockies and the Sierras. For those few steep climbs, 3rd gear and 3600 RPM would climb at 60 mph and everything in the green. Mind you it sucked some serious fuel doing that...

But, I got the truck to 216,000 miles with no major repairs but knew that I was due to start seeing accessories fail so:

I traded it in on a 2016 Nissan Titan XD with a 5.0 liter Cummins diesel because “they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse”. It is a fine truck. Comfortable, quiet and pulls effortlessly up hill and down and gets about 30% better mileage.

However, I get to swap out $80 worth of fuel filters every 10,000 miles. An oil change at about 7500 miles is $65 bucks for a filter and 2.5 gallons of oil. I get to buy DEF at about $10 every 2500 miles.

In the summer, finding plain old diesel #2 is getting tough. Especially in the Midwest, where it seems everybody is pushing at least 10% biodiesel (more often 20%). My Cummins manual does not want me to use anything greater than 10%. Gasoline is everywhere...

If a meteor crushed my truck, I’d go buy the same thing with the big, honking gasoline V8.

Just my 2 cents
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Old 06-28-2020, 06:39 PM   #4
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Check out the new Ford F-250 with 7.3L engine. A towing beast. Check out tfltruck.com and google Ford F-250 gauntlet test with 7.3L engine. Great Payload. And would pull your 30’ AS with ease. In the test it pulls a 15,000lb trailer up a 7% grade. Not a problem. It also has a 10speed transmission. Get’s about 15mpg on the flat. There is a thread on Airforums with a person who bought this truck. May want to read it.

I tow a 28’ and still use my F150 with Ecoboost, and just ordered a new F150 that can tow 12,500lbs. I really considered the F250 with the 7.3L, but felt it was overkill for what I need. By the way the 2021 F250 with the 6.2L is coming with a 10speed and also has great towing ability. The 10speed may help mpg’s. Also still use my F150 for work as an appraiser. So getting in and out of tight driveways is a problem with the F250.
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Old 06-28-2020, 06:53 PM   #5
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We tow a 30' flying cloud with a 3/4 ton diesel (Ram-Cummins). Love the low end torque & the engine brake is great for mountain driving. Towed over 7500 miles, 14 states, 8 national parks last summer & never had any problems finding fuel. Having a Diesel also lets us use the truck lanes at truck stops where there's a lot more room to maneuver when towing.

Do not think you're saving money with a diesel. ~$8k more to purchase new (maybe somewhat less used). Higher taxes makes diesel fuel more expensive per gallon in most states which mostly offsets the better mileage. Add in extra costs for maintenance and owning a diesel is probably more expensive than gas. DEF is no big deal. I put in a 2.5 gal jug about every 10k miles or so, depending on amount of towning.

All that said, I wouldn't trade the diesel for a gas 3/4 ton. It tows the AS like it's not even back there in both flat lands and mountains.
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Old 06-28-2020, 07:54 PM   #6
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I pull with a Duramax powered GMC. My previous truck was a 2002 Duramax GMC. Would not go back to a gas truck unless I was only towing a 25' or less Airstream. Yes the diesel costs more to buy, but pays back when traded in as diesels are a sought after truck. No trouble with the Biodiesel in the Duramax. I change fuel filters every 30,000 KM as my truck has 3 filters because of the FASS fuel system. I change oil when the dash indicator reaches 20% life remaining. Synthetic oil is used and I usel diesel fuel conditioner at every fill. I have had no more maintenance on the diesel than on a gas truck. It's not unusual to see diesels with more than 600,000 KM on them and never had engine work required. I have over 300,000 KM on my truck and am sure it will hit twice that with no problem. With the diesel you won't even know the trailer is there!!
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Old 06-29-2020, 09:15 AM   #7
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1964 30' Sovereign
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The key to pulling a trailer is torque, not horsepower. Diesels have torque. Gas engines have horsepower. Last month, our 2004 Dodge Ram 2500 diesel gave us 15.9 mpg towing our 30' Airstream Sovereign (1964) from the Sacramento area, up and over Donner pass (elevation 7239 feet), north up highway 89 50+ miles in the Eastern Sierras and back again. Not a hiccup performance-wise at 60 - 65 for the open highway parts of the trip. BTW, we have 230,000 miles on the odometer. Only major repair was to rebuild the transmission. I'll never go back to gas.
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Old 06-29-2020, 09:33 AM   #8
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2005 30' Classic
Knoxville , Tennessee
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Diesel

I agree with everything Wulfrat said. We tow our 2005 30' Classic with a 2017 F-250. Before we got the F-250 we towed it with a 2004 Excursion. Both were diesels. The Excursion had the 6.0 L engine and everyone said we would have issues with it. We towed the AS all over the US and Canada and to Alaska 4 times with the Excursion. We traded it in for the F-250. The Excursion had 245,000 miles on it and we got a good trade value for since we had taken good care of it. I don't think we would have gotten that kind of service with a gas burner. We got about 12.5 mpg towing with the Excursion and with the F-250 we get about 13.5-14. I try not to get in a hurry when I'm towing, but I usually go about the speed limit.
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Old 06-29-2020, 09:47 AM   #9
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It matters a lot about gear ratio.
A 3/4 ton 2012 Silverado 6.0L is the weakest tow vehicle I've ever owned.
My 1/2 ton that I tow with now is a lot stronger.

Gas engine will do fine if the truck is geared properly.
Get the specs for THE SPECIFIC VEHICLE!!
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Old 06-29-2020, 09:47 AM   #10
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We tow 350 Ford KR diesel. Love it. Mountains are a breeze up and down. We canput as much as we want inthe truck bed. We pull 2018 serenity 27. Hubby has to check to make sure the AS is there. Haha. We had a 25 FC fB that had a hitch weight if 1400 due to tanks and all lockers in the front. Not a problem. Check the thousands of thread under towing. It will give you everyone’s opinions.
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Old 06-29-2020, 09:49 AM   #11
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F350 diesel

We tow our 2018 Classic 30 with a 2018 F350 diesel. We got the 1 ton instead of 3/4 because the cost difference was immaterial, the extra payload capacity is great for hauling heavy loads in the box, and because there are 10 times more 350s than 250s sold in Calgary where we live. We love mountains. In the past 2 years we have put on about 20,000 miles in western Canada and western US. I have absolutely no regrets about spending the extra money on our very nice beast of a truck that is at ease in the mountains, on the flats, in poor road conditions and in the wind. For us, safety was the top consideration and "Big Red" nails that. There is no issue at all finding #2 diesel without the political 'bio' crap adder in the west where we have so far spent all of our time. As for economy, 12-14 mpg hauling is the range. Wind seems to take a bigger toll than elevation.
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Old 06-29-2020, 09:57 AM   #12
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1976 31' Sovereign
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I have had 2 different ford diesels, and now own a 2016 Chevy 6.0 gas. I do miss the torque of the diesel's but in 10 years and 90,000 miles on my last diesel, Ford replaced one turbo, while I replaced 2. I just was not using that engine enough to keep it from sooting up and freezing up the turbo. Do I miss the diesel? At times I have to remind myself why I went to gas: upfront cost, fuel price, maintenance, DEF, etc. It just does not make sense for me to have a diesel right now. We went on a 4 week trip out west when I first got the chevy and was impressed with the power, but not so much with the MPG. I averaged 8 MPG on that trip. High of 11 and low of 5 going across OK with a headwind. I never felt underpowered pulling that 34' 9600lb camper. What I have now will have no problem pulling my 31' sovereign. (*if I ever finish it) Not sure if the new engines are like the the last diesel I had but they need to be used and not just a few miles to work and back. When I retire in a few years and get a chance to pull my camper more, I will consider going back to a diesel, but for now, I am completely satisfied with my gas burner.
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Old 06-29-2020, 09:58 AM   #13
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We use a 2020 RAM 2500 6.4 Hemi with 4.10 rear end to tow our 30' A/S. Barely know its back there. Tows like a dream. Good luck with whatever you decide.
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Old 06-29-2020, 10:58 AM   #14
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Napa , California
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We have a 2019 Chevy Silverado 2500 diesel and it is fabulous. No more upkeep than on our old Ford 250, plenty of power and our towing mileage is great.

We averaged about 15 mpg on a 6,000+ mile trip last fall and never had a single issue finding diesel fuel at all. In fact, in parts of Nebraska and Kentucky - diesel was cheaper than regular gasoline and some stations also had pumpable DEF that was really inexpensive, we only needed it once though.

Ours also has a very comfortable interior, four large adults with no problems. Wifi, OnStar, Satellite radio, complete safety and towing packages, makes traveling even better.
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Old 06-29-2020, 10:59 AM   #15
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2019 30' Classic
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You will get some good advice but here is why I chose the Ford F-250 Diesel:
Why diesel?
1.You can use truck lanes at truck stops to refuel-no concern about height/length/tight spot restrictions;
2. You can add an auxiliary diesel fuel tank in the bed to extend mileage. I added 40 gallon tank and can travel 800+ miles without re-fueling;
3. The exhaust brake makes steep downhill grades a breeze to negotiate and is easy on the truck and trailer brakes;
4. The diesel will have better resale than gas but you will pay more upfront and for maintenance.
Why Ford?
1. The keypad for exit and entry make it easy to enter without a key, which I frequently intentionally lock in the truck;
2. The Bang & Olufsen stereo system;
3. Internet connectivity (which others may well have) with remote start, monitoring etc.
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Old 06-29-2020, 11:05 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbear View Post
Hi all! Recently acquired a 2005 30' classic limited. I know I want to get a 3/4 ton truck; however, wondering whether I need a diesel. I've read a lot of the forums on tow vehicle recommendations, but none that provide the recommendation I'm looking for.

I've got a great deal lined up on a 2015 GMC Sierra 2500HD with a 6.0 gas engine. But, from what I've read, it's horrible on gas... and will lack power when towing our trailer through the mountains. Anyone have experience towing a similar Airstream with this vehicle?

At the end of the day, safety is paramount. We'll be traveling all over the U.S., including mountain trips, and want to find a reliable, used tow vehicle. If we need to spend the extra money for a 3/4 diesel truck, we'll do it.

Don't want to pass up this offer on the Sierra; however, also want to make the right choice on a truck going forward. Will the 3/4 ton gas engine on the Sierra be adequate for power... and adequate for braking?

Have also been considering the 2500HD diesel GMC or Chevy, or the Ford F250 diesel.

Hoping to find something with <50k miles and keep purchase around $40k or less.

Any and all recommendations are appreciated. Thank you!
You should get the new 7.3 gas V8 on a Ford F250. Gobs of power and decent gas mileage. Get the 4.30 rearend.
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Old 06-29-2020, 11:48 AM   #17
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I tow my 2019 30ft Classic with a 2019 Ram 1500/5.7 gasser with full tow package. No problems so far but I haven't been over Wolf Creek Pass yet.
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Old 06-29-2020, 12:04 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daquenzer View Post
Check out the new Ford F-250 with 7.3L engine. A towing beast. Check out tfltruck.com and google Ford F-250 gauntlet test with 7.3L engine. Great Payload. And would pull your 30’ AS with ease. In the test it pulls a 15,000lb trailer up a 7% grade. Not a problem. It also has a 10speed transmission. Get’s about 15mpg on the flat. There is a thread on Airforums with a person who bought this truck. May want to read it.
.

I pull my 2019 FC25 FBT with F-250 7.3L and love the torque, HP, lower cost of fuel, no DEF, MUCH lower cost of maint. & repairs.
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Old 06-29-2020, 01:26 PM   #19
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At the time I bought my 3/4 GMC van back in 2003, diesel engines weren't an option. So I got the biggest engine GM offered with the van, which was 6 liters. I tied this to an optional 4.10 rear axle. Towing capacity is 9,900 lbs. Today I've got 52,000 miles on that van, most of the mileage is towing my 30' Classic slide out. Mileage when towing is about 11-12 mpg, and when not, it's still about 12 mpg.

If I was constantly on the road then a diesel would be a great choice, but my 6 liter 3//4 ton van has been a very reliable tow vehicle. I've not used it in the mountains, but I have done a lot of towing in the Ozarks off the interstates where there are probably some roads with grades greater than what a typical mountain Interstates are built with. The key is that rear axle ratio that is paired with the 6 liter engine. Also be aware that at one time many of the 3/4 ton tow vehicles had better tow ratings than the one ton units did. Reason was that heavier frame and suspension of those one ton vehicles actually reduced towing capacity. Back with I bought mine, the one ton van with the same engine and axle actually was rated 300 lbs. less in towing capacity. Many manufacturers do have a towing guide catalog that will help you greatly in configuring a tow vehicle that meets your need. The sales folks at the dealers are typically have no idea about those guides. I called corporate GM to get a towing guide mailed to me. From there I ordered my van and knew exactly I needed to specify to get what I needed to pull my heavy Classic.

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Old 06-29-2020, 01:38 PM   #20
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Wasilla , Alaska
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Choices, choices

Quote:
Originally Posted by jbear View Post
Hi all! Recently acquired a 2005 30' classic limited. I know I want to get a 3/4 ton truck; however, wondering whether I need a diesel. I've read a lot of the forums on tow vehicle recommendations, but none that provide the recommendation I'm looking for.

I've got a great deal lined up on a 2015 GMC Sierra 2500HD with a 6.0 gas engine. But, from what I've read, it's horrible on gas... and will lack power when towing our trailer through the mountains. Anyone have experience towing a similar Airstream with this vehicle?

At the end of the day, safety is paramount. We'll be traveling all over the U.S., including mountain trips, and want to find a reliable, used tow vehicle. If we need to spend the extra money for a 3/4 diesel truck, we'll do it.

Don't want to pass up this offer on the Sierra; however, also want to make the right choice on a truck going forward. Will the 3/4 ton gas engine on the Sierra be adequate for power... and adequate for braking?

Have also been considering the 2500HD diesel GMC or Chevy, or the Ford F250 diesel.

Hoping to find something with <50k miles and keep purchase around $40k or less.

Any and all recommendations are appreciated. Thank you!
The Sierra is certainly a capable truck. Provided its condition is good, it wouldn't be a problem towing your rig.

But I sense some caution in your word choices. Background: I have towed heavy trailers over the highway with a Subaru - a two wheel affair full of household goods and a freezer full of moose meat (and ice!); and I have hauled 80K pounds of all manner of things up the Alaska haul road.

I traded up from gas to diesel, not because the gasser wouldn't do the job - but I wanted a solution that had wider margins in terms of torque, compression braking and mileage. Gassers do compression braking, too, but generally at a higher RPM and decibel level. Fuel stations can be rare where we like to go, too. Installed a 55 gallon aftermarket tank and have a range of 600+.

Listen to your inner voices and spring for the diesel if that is what you want. It certainly won't hurt in terms of added margins in a number of categories. You can find a good used diesel in your stated price range.
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