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Old 04-15-2003, 09:00 PM   #1
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Smile I'm upgrading my tow vehichle

Hi everyone, thanks for your help in advance.... I have a 30 foot, 2002 Classic w/ slide out that I bought last Nov. ( Got to use it once before winterizing). I have been pulling it with a 3/4 ton Ford 4x4. I am thinking about buying a new truck and wondered if anyone could suggest my best option. 3/4 ton vs 1 ton ? Gas vs Diesel ? 4x4 vs 2 wheel drive? and Automatic vs standard?

I am leaning towards a 1- ton diesel, 2 wheel drive with an automatic transmission. How about reports on Ford vs Dodge vs Chevy? Any thoughts are appreciated, I don't want to spend a lot of $$ to find that I bought the wrong tow vehichle.
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Old 04-15-2003, 10:08 PM   #2
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You will find too many people with preferences for each and every one of those choices to demonstrate that ANY of them are "wrong". Any of them may be wrong for YOU, however. So much depends on your preferences.

Just a couple of thoughts, though. If you park your rig on an upaved surface (as I do), or often camp in state parks or other settings where surfaces can be wet and slippery - wet leaves, for example - there is no substitute for a 4X4. If not, then four wheel drive is just extra expense, extra weight, extra maintenance, and extra drag on the drivetrain.

It is likely you can get either a 3/4 or one ton with the right gearing/engine package to meet your needs. In some cases the difference will only be the tires! And one make may have a 3/4 ton that would work well while in another you will have to go with a one ton. Quiz each dealer closely.

You either love a diesel or you don't (I do). You may as well drive some and see what you think.

I love the control of a manual when towing. It hurts resale, though, and frequently has to be special ordered (depends on the buying habits of those in your area). And the new five and six speed automatics with towing modes are getting rave reviews from owners.

Dodge, Chevy, or Ford? Yes, I think one of those would be fine.

Mark
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Old 04-15-2003, 10:28 PM   #3
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About 4x4 vs. 4x2...

March and April have been really rainy months here in the South and my truck + A/S got stuck near the driveway. The soil is saturated with water. The big rear-wheel drive truck doesn't have any tension at all. I couldn't move the unit and I barely was able to get the truck out after a week of trying. I am not thinking about moving the A/S until maybe May when the heat gets stronger and we get maybe 10 days in a row without water. What a contrast with the terrible drought last year.

Earlier, I was moving the truck and forgot where I had my garden last year - and drove right over it. Over that soft, oversaturated soil. It literally sank in the soil under its weight, up to the axle and deeper. All that big-block power was useless. Took me a day to get out.

Still, I like 4x2 just fine, it just means I cannot park anywhere. Empty, it does get stuck very easily off road after a recent rain. So, I don't take it off road and certainly not after spring rains.


3/4 ton vs 1 ton ? Gas vs Diesel ? 4x4 vs 2 wheel drive? and Automatic vs standard?

It depends on your requirements, how much you will tow (2 times per year or every other week), where you will tow (Kansas or Appalachia?) and what you will carry (empty or loaded) Take your truck and unit to the mountains and that will impact your attitude about towing vehicles.
A 1 ton like mine will definitely do the job. But it is also the truck that handles like a 1 ton and gets the mileage like a 1 ton. It is a truck and I don't see myself driving it more than 4-5K miles per year. Which explains the low miles on it when I got it. I don't think any of these big trucks handle very well or get great mileage. They are built to tow.

Whatever you get, get an over drive, that's my only frustration with my truck. Although I hear my 3-speed tranny is bullet proof.
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Old 04-16-2003, 08:29 AM   #4
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Bigger is better and SAFER.

For the price difference between a 3/4 ton and a 1 ton, I would get the 1 ton. Gas or diesel? Gas is more economical up front. I got 10 mpg on my first outing this year, over 350 miles round trip with my big block. The new GM and Cummins diesels are super quiet. I wish they were not so expensive at $5000+, I would like to have one.

Another consideration is an extended cab or crew cab pickup. The extra wheelbase length makes for a more stable rig.
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Old 04-16-2003, 08:35 AM   #5
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I'm a Chevy guy by nature but I really like the Ford Super Duty trucks with the Power Stroke.

It would be a tough call for me between the Chevy with the Duramax and the Fords. They are both good trucks and both pretty evenly matched as far as pulling power, comfort, reliability, millage. I really don't think you can go wrong with either.

Like was mentioned, you might want to look at the 3/4's verses the 1 tons. The weight is behind the truck and not in it. The drivetrains are identical between the 3/4 and 1 tons on both sides. It's spring rates and frame hight is the only difference. You would be giving up ride and not really gaining anything that you need in return. It's not really needed unless you plan to load the bed full of dirt regularly.
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Old 04-16-2003, 11:42 AM   #6
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Getting ready to order a new Safari so I had to get a new truck to pull it up some tall mountains here in the west. Got a new Chevy Silverado 2500HD Duramax Diesel w/ Allison Tranny. Best news is 0% interest 60 months!!! I don't think this promotion will last long so now is the time.
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Old 04-16-2003, 11:52 AM   #7
 
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What ever you get, make sure you do not have 16.5 tires if you do a lot of travelling.
We had them, along with nightmares stories: you cannot find them when you need them. (on example: blow-out in CT, couldn't find one to buy right away in CT, MA & ME. Used spare. Order one in NY. Flat on the Mass Pike: towing van and trailer out of there,.....)
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Old 04-16-2003, 12:55 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by femuse
What ever you get, make sure you do not have 16.5 tires if you do a lot of travelling.
..)
Interesting, I'm looking to up my towing capacity and am considering a Chevy, GMC, or Ford van. The 2500 series Chevy or GMC with the Vortec 6000 engine and 4.10 rear end will handle between 9,600-9,900 lbs dependent upon the data source I'm looking at. It shows 16 inch wheels so I'm curious about the 16.5 tires statement.

The Ford E350 has the V10 engine which will handle 10,000 lbs. From what I have found so far, nothing in the V8's will get me capacity in the 9,000+ range.

My current van is a '99 Chevy Express with the 5.7 liter engine. Since this vehicle is occasionally used by my wife as her personal transportation, handling is an important factor to her. She has not liked the Chevy and considers it inferior to our previous Chevy van which was an '88 Beauville (that had a little lower profile) and seemed a little more stable.

My son has driven a company owned Ford E150 van which he says is more "car like" in handling than my Chevy.....hence why we are also going to consider Ford.

I'm not a pickup person and quite honestly the $12,000 premium that a Surburban fetches puts me out of the picture for that type of vehicle.

Are any of you van folks who can relate to the 2003 models from GM or Ford?

Regards,

Jack
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Old 04-16-2003, 01:20 PM   #9
 
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We do not have experience with 2003 vehicles. What I can tell you about a 1990 Chevy cargo G-30, 454, extended wheel base (146"):

When Chevy added their extra cargo space they put it *between* the axles, created better weight distribution, lengthening the wheelbase in the process, and producing a very short overhang beyond the rear axle.
With a longer overhang (an extended Dodge van for example) when you add your trailer hitch to the back of that rig, you are providing a long lever by which the trailer gains influence over the tow vehicle. The short overhang of the Chevy reduces that leverage.
We used that same van for roughly 9 years, with a 25' then a 29' (over 6 years). With dual cams, this made for a very stable rig.

About the tires: we towed with that van for about 90,000 miles. We used load E. It was always a problem to get them when in a hurry. I know some manufacterers stopped several years ago making them. We were left with 2 acceptable choices : Good Year Eagle (had silent recall on load E _ we had several with problems) and Bridgestone.
The answer we got at a lot of tire places was: "Not a very popular size. Change to 16"
This was load range E. Load D may be easier to get.

One last thing about a 454 in a Chevy van: it's nearly impossible to do any work on the engine. The usual comment is "Man !!! it's crowded in there". But it tows like a dream.
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Old 04-16-2003, 01:40 PM   #10
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What I am looking at is not an extended version so physically it will be very similar to my current 1500. This is the first year that GM has put the newer style engines into the vans so I'm not sure what the Vortec 6000 equates to in the older GM perspective.

I do know that my Vortec 5700 V8 in the '99 is squeezed in so I know what you mean about working on things. There used to be a Vortec 8100 engine which I assume is the 454, but it and the 6.5 liter diesel are no longer options on the 2500 vans. I have a neighbor who has had two Chevy pickups with the Vortec 5300's and he can't stop saying good things about them.

I'm off Friday so I'll be looking and test driving. Unfortunately no one within 250 miles of St. Louis has what I want so we probably will have to have one built if we decide to pursue the GM side of things. Unfortunately the $3,000 rebate expires month end and they can't get one turned out that fast although 15 days is all they need currently.

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Old 04-16-2003, 01:49 PM   #11
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The 2003 2500 HD Duramax has a trailer towing capacity of 12,000# and it comes with 16" wheels. 5th wheel towing capacity is much higher, something like 16,000-19,000## if I remember correctly.
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Old 04-16-2003, 02:13 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by Melvin P. Thorpe
The 2003 2500 HD Duramax has a trailer towing capacity of 12,000# and it comes with 16" wheels. 5th wheel towing capacity is much higher, something like 16,000-19,000## if I remember correctly.
Unfortunately not an option on the van side from GM.

Jack
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Old 04-16-2003, 02:23 PM   #13
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There is a difference in 1 ton drivetrains...

Brakes and rear end. 1 ton, hydraulic assist, 3/4 ton, vacuum assist. 1 ton has larger rear drum brakes than a 3/4. The rear axle and rear end is also larger. I am refering to GM trucks. I don't know about the Dodge or Furds.
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Old 04-26-2003, 09:41 AM   #14
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Unhappy Disappointed

I thought I would play it safe and make sure that if I do the upgrade to the GMC2500 van from my current 1500, that it will fit in the garage. The dealer didn't have a passenger unit so I took a cargo one home. I stood on a ladder while my wife slowly drove it into the garage.

All was fine until we got to the rear axle. The clearance quickly went to 0 and I realized it wasn't going to fit. Major disappointment since all of the GM specs and calls to GM assured me that the van would clear my garage door opening. Specs on the cargo van are the same as the passenger, but without seats carpet and glass, that rear end just sits too high off that rear axle.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do now. Unfortunately the Surburbans are out of my affordability range, so if I want more towing capacity I may have to go to pickup land.

Jack
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Old 04-26-2003, 12:15 PM   #15
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Tow vehicle choices

I'm an old Chevy/GM guy. But now I have found the best RV puller. I bought another guy's Ford Diesel puller. My new ride is a 1991 Ford 7.3 diesel F350
crew cab, Lariat trim package, PW, PDL, auto trans E4od, long wheel base, tow package dual rear wheels, 2 fuel tanks and power to spare.
Our 31ft Airstream came from Branson, Mo. We went to pick trailer up with a '91 Chevy 350 v8 and R700 trans. The truck would barely move the trailer. A guy with a Ford diesel moved the trailer up out to flat land. The tow to Idaho was an adventure. Lots of hills were started up at 75 mph and topped at 22 mph at 4200rpm. in second gear. The truck I got came from an old RV guy who had abused the truck. I replaced the auto trans, brakes, radiator, and driveline.
It is the best truck I have ever used to pull a load up to 15K pounds.
I recently moved a car from Idaho to Ca on a car trailer. The truck pulled like magic. I love a diesel. Our ride is with turbo and propane is to be added shortly. The new Ford diesels after 1995 are even stronger. The power stroke can have a big power increase just by adding a computer program chip. Try a truck before any decision.
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Old 04-27-2003, 11:54 AM   #16
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Uhhh, hate to tell you....

Frank, ummm, missing something? I don't know, but if your truck truely is a dually, you're missing the "dually" part of your back wheels. From the picture, it sure looks like your inner wheels are gone!

Jack.... how much clearance do you need for the newer Chevy Express. You could order one with slightly smaller sidewall profiles, lowering the van a tad. (and give you a slightly taller axle ratio). IF the specs are the same, I would think the carpet, seats, and all would lower the van. OR, maybe you could purchase the van "contigenent" on it fitting in the garage. I did an opposite tack, I made sure that I could park our boat by our house before we bought the house. Our agent thought we were nuts, but it worked!

Or how about an Intrepid? Just kidding!....although I'm curious.....
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Old 04-27-2003, 01:10 PM   #17
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Wow, I will be more careful

Ya caught me....... with just 2 rear wheels. The tires were not great so I was driving with just 2 outer wheels. All new tires now... hahaha
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Old 04-27-2003, 02:03 PM   #18
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Guess I'll add my .02....

I like Chevy. I have no issue with Dodge or Ford, my pref is just GM. I know others have other prefs, but this one is mine.

I would go with a pickup or a Suburban.

If you like the diesel, great, myself, I like the 8.1L. The 7.4L is the 454 which I have not seen around in some of the literature I have from Chevy '03. It appears to have been replaced with the 8.1L engine. Either way I would go with the Allision Transmission.

I would also go with the 4.10 gears and any and all cooling options you can get you hands on. In most cases the 1 Ton is not needed. The 3/4 ton could do the job every day of the week and twice on Sunday. The largest GVWR that A/S makes in a trailer is 10,500 per my A/S brouchure for '03. This would mean that really any engine at or above the 4.8L(and I would't go with the 4.8L) and 3.73 gears could do it. Me, I just love the 8.1L and since MPG is going to be in the tank anyway, an extra few miles per gallon lost in the sands of time between the 6.0 and the 8.1L are trivial to me. I want the extra HP and gobs of torque the 8.1L has comparted to the 5.3L and the 6.0L. I like the gas better than diesel because I just love the way the gas engine sounds and other issues that diesels have in general having had 3 in our family up through the '91 model year.

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Old 04-27-2003, 08:06 PM   #19
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454 vs 496

Eric, I believe that 2000 was the last year that the 7.4 L or 454 C.I. was available in 3/4 or 1 ton GM vehicles. They upgraded it to the 8.1 L, which is a 454 block with a longer stroke crank. I wonder why they just didn't make it a 502, but it probably had something to do with emissions. BTW, I hear GM may be coming out with a V10 Big Block gasser, again for emissions. I read that they can control emissions better with smaller bore engines.

I love my 454, it runs great, and gets around 10 mpg towing. If you get an 8.1, your going to love it. Not much of a difference in fuel economy over a 6.0, but has much more power.
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Old 04-27-2003, 09:04 PM   #20
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Thumbs up Re: Uhhh, hate to tell you....

Quote:
Originally posted by 3Ms75Argosy
Jack.... how much clearance do you need for the newer Chevy Express. You could order one with slightly smaller sidewall profiles, lowering the van a tad. (and give you a slightly taller axle ratio). IF the specs are the same, I would think the carpet, seats, and all would lower the van.Or how about an Intrepid? Just kidding!....although I'm curious.....
Marc
Marc,
I went over to another dealership and found a 2500 passenger van although it didn't have the axle ratio I was looking for. Took it home and tried it. It did get through although it did rub on the upper gasket that is part of the framing of the garage door entry. Looks like I have a little less than 1/4" clearance.

As it ends up I have some new framing material that was supplied with my new garage door. The installer left it with me in case I wanted to use it in the future. That material is a 1/4" thinner than the old framing material. I'll end up installing that which should allow the new van to clear the door framing without touching anything. I also figure that adding fuel will also bring the van down somewhat. The tank on my test vehicle was almost empty.

The dealer is placing the order Monday without requiring me to make any commitment. He is certain that if I change my mind he will easily be able to sell the van. It will be interesting to see how this new van will pull the Safari. Right now I'm about 600 lbs. short of the Chevy's towing capacity. The new van with the Vortec 6000 and 4.10 axle will handle 9,900 lbs which will leave me with 3,900 lbs. of unused capacity.

Jack
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