Author Topic: What truck SHOULD I get?  (Read 7964 times)

nawhite

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What truck SHOULD I get?
« on: April 29, 2015, 12:10:09 PM »
So the MMM blog post up today is very timely as I'm about 9-12 months from buying a truck. The problem is I've always been on the "smallest most fuel efficient tiny hatch back I can put roof racks on" side of things when buying cars and have never even looked into trucks before so I don't know what matters and what doesn't to a Mustachian.

Here is why we are getting a truck. My wife and I (and our dog) are downsizing to an RV and planning on RV'ing around the country full time while both working remotely (starting in Colorado and heading north and west slowly, then down the Pacific, then we'll see). We will be staying in one place for weeks at a time, often boondocking on National Forest land, before moving on so a "set it and forget it" RV is a better option than a slide in camper. We also do a number of gear heavy sports, like whitewater kayaking, and so a roof rack over a camper shell on a truck is ideal (though an SUV could theoretically work too) as opposed to using a 5th wheel trailer.

We are currently thinking a used 21-26 foot travel trailer (about 7000 pounds fully loaded) and a higher mileage truck with a camper shell and roof rack. Looking around at craigslist makes me pretty sure I can get both truck and trailer and whatever repairs/replacements they need and a solar system for $30-35k (in cash of course) if I'm smart about it.

The problem is neither I nor anyone in my family has ever bought a truck so I have no idea what makes one truck better than another other than towing capacity and fuel economy. What do I need to look for? What extra features are really worth it? What does a "tow package" mean and do I need it? When looking at used trucks, what repairs should I think of as doable/not that bad and what are "run away as fast as you can" issues? People keep saying "it has 200k miles which is just broken in for this engine", are they full of it or do the engines really last that long? Should I care about gas vs diesel? I'm a total beginner and want an education from people who understand buying what matters and not what doesn't.

AmbitiousCanuck

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2015, 12:25:28 PM »
My knowledge on trucks limited, but it sounds like you already answered your main question:

The problem is neither I nor anyone in my family has ever bought a truck so I have no idea what makes one truck better than another other than towing capacity and fuel economy. What do I need to look for?

Get a truck that has just enough towing capacity to tow your trailer, and not more.  Pick the one that has the best fuel economy.  Easy.

As far as all the other stuff, stay away from anything requiring major repairs... if the owner let one major thing slide they likely have not been maintaining it well and other problems lurk beneath the surface.  If the truck looks like it has been babied, it probably has been, and that is good news.

Tow package: http://www.ehow.com/about_5037993_tow-package.html

200k miles is quite a lot, I personally wouldn't buy a used vehicle over more than about 100k miles, and then would run it up to 200k myself before selling it.  The engine might be fine at that mileage, but the suspension, electronics and wiring, frame rails, etc might not be.

I am a little confused about your terminology, you keep saying "RV" but I think what you are describing is just a camper trailer.  An RV is where the camper itself is a vehicle and looks like a big bus.

nawhite

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2015, 01:48:02 PM »
...

I am a little confused about your terminology, you keep saying "RV" but I think what you are describing is just a camper trailer.  An RV is where the camper itself is a vehicle and looks like a big bus.

Thanks for the info. Also you're entirely right, but saying "I'm RVing around the country" gives the right impression for what we are doing. "Trailering around the country" doesn't have the same connotation.

JLee

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2015, 01:48:25 PM »
My knowledge on trucks limited, but it sounds like you already answered your main question:

The problem is neither I nor anyone in my family has ever bought a truck so I have no idea what makes one truck better than another other than towing capacity and fuel economy. What do I need to look for?

Get a truck that has just enough towing capacity to tow your trailer, and not more.  Pick the one that has the best fuel economy.  Easy.

As far as all the other stuff, stay away from anything requiring major repairs... if the owner let one major thing slide they likely have not been maintaining it well and other problems lurk beneath the surface.  If the truck looks like it has been babied, it probably has been, and that is good news.

Tow package: http://www.ehow.com/about_5037993_tow-package.html

200k miles is quite a lot, I personally wouldn't buy a used vehicle over more than about 100k miles, and then would run it up to 200k myself before selling it.  The engine might be fine at that mileage, but the suspension, electronics and wiring, frame rails, etc might not be.

I am a little confused about your terminology, you keep saying "RV" but I think what you are describing is just a camper trailer.  An RV is where the camper itself is a vehicle and looks like a big bus.
It isn't that simple - we aren't talking about three miles between Home Depot and home.  I would be very hesitant to recommend purchasing a truck for exclusive use at the very high end of its tow rating. You also need to consider the gross vehicle weight rating when towing, as it sounds like you will be loading the truck as well as the trailer.  A vehicle rated to tow 5000lbs empty is likely going to be unsafe (or illegal) when towing 5000lbs while fully loaded. I would also research fuel economy while towing. Diesels shine in this area (not to mention the tow-friendly torque characteristics), but fuel is generally much more expensive.

Give this a read: http://www.trailerlife.com/trailer-how-to/trailer-tech/choosing-the-right-tow-vehicle/

Retire-Canada

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2015, 01:55:43 PM »

Get a truck that has just enough towing capacity to tow your trailer, and not more.  Pick the one that has the best fuel economy.  Easy.

I am a little confused about your terminology, you keep saying "RV" but I think what you are describing is just a camper trailer.  An RV is where the camper itself is a vehicle and looks like a big bus.

I wouldn't get a truck that was maxed out at the expected weight of your trailer. I've pushed the limits of pick up trucks for work and for my hobbies. If you are occasionally at the upper limit or slightly over it's liveable, but if you are at the limit every time you drive with your trailer you won't be loving it.

Especially if you want to boondock it and get your rig away from nice paved roads with a month worth of supplies.

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A recreational vehicle (RV) is, in North America, the usual term for a motor vehicle or trailer equipped with living space and amenities found in a home.

shotgunwilly

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2015, 02:06:19 PM »
I'd definitely find a diesel if you're going to be traveling around the country quite a bit.

nawhite

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2015, 02:41:16 PM »
...


Give this a read: http://www.trailerlife.com/trailer-how-to/trailer-tech/choosing-the-right-tow-vehicle/

Awesome read! Thanks for that. Definitely reminded me to read all of the capacity figures and not just the towing capacity. What I've heard is give yourself a 10% buffer on whatever number you are closest to and a 20% buffer if you're planning on doing mountain passes or dirt roads. Sound about right?

I'd definitely find a diesel if you're going to be traveling around the country quite a bit.

Ok, why? Because they are more fuel efficient on a per dollar cost? Because they pollute less? Because they sound way cooler and people around the country will go "wow he got a diesel!"? Give me some more context here.


Retire-Canada

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2015, 03:22:45 PM »

Ok, why?

Here is some discussion on the subject from both points of view:  http://www.rvforum.net/SMF_forum/index.php?topic=49647.0

DollarBill

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2015, 08:48:53 PM »
I don't think you'll get the best answers on here. Go to as many RV/Truck sites as possible an read, read, read. I know a shit ton about trucks but learn new stuff all the time. Biggest tip...take all dealership advice with a grain of salt.

Things to think about other than towing capacity:
Gear size, Brake size, Tire ratings, Full floating axles, DEF Fluid, newer emission components, trans coolers, scales, towing laws, insurance.   

SpicyMcHaggus

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2015, 09:49:28 PM »
Many half tons can tow 7000 lbs now.
Don't buy new.
MPG will be bad regardless of what you buy, towing something that size.
I tend to lean to GM.
2WD if you don't plan to off-road.
There aren't many ways to save money when your plan is basically to burn dozens of gallons of gas daily. Because of this, the little things will add up.

Good luck.

Stupendous

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2015, 12:10:33 AM »
I've towed 7K lbs with a gas 1500 and now tow 15K lbs with a diesel 2500HD. I can't even tell the 15K trailer is back there. If you will be driving a lot the diesel will be better. If you tow through mountains, the diesel will handle the grades a lot better. I pass gas trucks towing trailers with my 15K trailer going up the grades. Also, if you're driving long distances you may find stopping for gas a lot a pain in the butt. You can get an auxiliary or larger replacement tank for diesel trucks (they may have them for gas trucks but I've never seen them). Tital fuel tanks is one brand. I have a 52 gallon tank in my truck and it is so nice not stopping as much as I used to.

Syonyk

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2015, 12:30:33 AM »
We are currently thinking a used 21-26 foot travel trailer (about 7000 pounds fully loaded) and a higher mileage truck with a camper shell and roof rack. Looking around at craigslist makes me pretty sure I can get both truck and trailer and whatever repairs/replacements they need and a solar system for $30-35k (in cash of course) if I'm smart about it.

What's your total payload going to look like (trailer weight, stuff in the truck, stuff on the roofrack, you/your wife/your dog/etc)?  If you've got stuff in the bed or cab, that counts for weight.  You'll need to keep the gross vehicle weight (vehicle, stuff in it, tongue weight of the trailer) below the limit to be legal/safe/sane.  And for solar, what type of batteries are you going with, because they can easily add a lot of weight in a hurry.  Though, if I were you, I'd look very closely at non-lead-acid batteries for something like what you're doing.  For the same weight, you can get much better power capacity with, say, LiFePO4. :)  And cycle life measured in the thousands of cycles instead of hundreds.  And you can use the full capacity, not just the top 20-30% if you care about your battery life.

Quote
The problem is neither I nor anyone in my family has ever bought a truck so I have no idea what makes one truck better than another other than towing capacity and fuel economy. What do I need to look for? What extra features are really worth it? What does a "tow package" mean and do I need it? When looking at used trucks, what repairs should I think of as doable/not that bad and what are "run away as fast as you can" issues? People keep saying "it has 200k miles which is just broken in for this engine", are they full of it or do the engines really last that long? Should I care about gas vs diesel? I'm a total beginner and want an education from people who understand buying what matters and not what doesn't.

I'll try to help.  Feel free to ask questions and I'll do my best to clarify.

A few questions for you, first:
- How much of the time do you think you'll have the trailer attached vs just potting around locally (to rivers/town/etc)?  A good tow vehicle is generally less-than-enjoyable for unloaded around town use.  You should seriously consider (if you haven't) bicycles or scooters or something to get around locally instead of having to take the truck everywhere.
- How many miles/yr do you expect to be towing?

In general, for something like this, you're looking to build a "tow pig" - a truck built for towing heavy a lot of it's life.  There's some stuff that matters for that type of build that doesn't matter as much (or at all) for an around town commuter truck.

I'll apologize in advance for the Ford-isms.  You can translate them easily to other manufacturers.  I'm a Ford guy, and a diesel guy (and an ebike guy - go figure).

I'm going to assume you're dealing with 8k-9k lbs total weight, if you factor in the trailer, the stuff you add to the trailer (they get heavier over time), stuff in the bed, weight of the camper top, etc.  This pretty much puts you out of the F-150 series unless you're going with a brand new one (which you shouldn't do).

For a long while, the F250 and F350 are basically the same platform, just with different suspension/some engine details.  They'll both work fine for what you're dealing with.  You'll want a hitch rated for your trailer, so you'll need at least a Class IV receiver setup (2" receiver, 1 1/4" ball, generally a pretty beefy setup, but most F250/F350 class vehicles will have one).

I disagree with the people saying "Run at your weight limit."  First, you'll be heavier than you think you will be.  It happens.  Second, a vehicle running up at or above it's tow rating/GVWR is not usually fun to drive, and not legal most places.  It's also really hard on the transmission/brakes/etc, so you're more likely to have issues with them if you're towing heavy a lot.  Just don't do it.  Look for at least a 10k lb tow rating, IMO, for a 7k+ lb trailer you're towing a lot.

For 2WD vs 4WD, consider where you're going to be camping.  If you're sticking to paved roads and some light gravel or dirt, 2WD is probably fine (and you can get a 2WD truck cheaper - they're less popular).  However, if you're going to be dealing with a lot of gravel, dirt, or camping in wet, muddy areas, 4WD is very likely worth the weight and cost.  Trying to get a trailer unstuck with a 2WD pickup is entertaining to watch, but not terribly productive.  If you do go 2WD, consider a limited slip differential in the rear so you don't simply spin one wheel.  Of course, 4WD trucks can still get stuck, but it's a whole lot harder to do.  If you're planning to camp in a lot of dirt and mud, a limited slip differential in the rear (and possibly the front) will help a whole lot with getting things unstuck.

As far as gas vs diesel... welcome to the holy wars? :)  I would rather have a good turbodiesel for something like what you're doing, for several reasons.
Upsides of a diesel:
- A well maintained diesel engine will run damned near forever.  Getting a decent diesel to 300k+ is fairly easy, and most of them are still running strong and pulling hard up there.  Getting one to half a million miles is a little bit harder, but there are plenty that will do it.  They're incredibly well built motors, built to work, and you're going to be working it.
- For towing heavy, especially up hills, a turbocharger is amazing.  The harder the engine is working, the more air it's getting, so the harder it can work.  You dig in going up a hill, the turbo spins harder, and the thing just pulls like a tractor.  The efficiency while working hard is also relatively good - they're built to work hard.
- They make a lot of power at low RPM, so getting a heavy trailer going, or dealing with one that's slightly stuck is fairly easy.  They just grunt and pull wonderfully.
- It's incredibly easy to make more power out of a diesel - upgrade the turbo, put some bigger injectors in (optional), reprogram the computer, and they make more power.
- You can run them on damned near anything that burns.  For something like this, with long towing, you might want to consider (if you swing this way) doing a waste vegetable oil conversion or similar.  You can run most diesels on filtered, heated waste vegetable oil, and you can get that easily from various restaurants, or your own cooking.  It's a bit harder to obtain than it used to be, but the flexibility in fueling can be a nice perk.
- Fuel efficiency when towing is typically much better than the comparable gas truck.  Turbochargers are one hell of a neat gizmo. :)

Downsides of a diesel:
- They cost more.  They're just flat out more expensive to purchase and maintain.  If you can do work yourself, the cost difference isn't as bad, but parts for them tend to be large, expensive, and heavy.
- They're cold blooded.  Most modern diesels (if in good condition with working grid heaters/glow plugs/etc) will start down to about 15F without the block heater, and some will start a bit lower, but if it's going to be cold, they need to be plugged in to start (block heater).  They can also be a bit cranky until warmed up, but you shouldn't be working a cold engine hard anyway.
- They run diesel (duh).  You need to pay more attention to the fuel blends and additives if you're dealing with cold, because summer diesel will gel up and stop the engine.  It's not a big deal, and if you're going through a lot, you'll be getting a decent blend from the places you fill up, but it does take a little bit of attention sometimes.
- They can stink a little bit more.  Especially the older ones will just smell like a diesel while running.  It's not a problem unless your wife can't stand the smell. :)

There do exist some utter flops of diesels out there, though.  Don't buy a Ford with a 6.0L diesel in it.  It's an utter piece of junk unless you spend a lot of money re-engineering it.  Do your research before you buy, and find out what common problems are.  If you want pre-emissions-crap, it's hard to beat the 7.3 Powerstroke (which was used from 1994-2003 in Ford diesel pickups).

Gas burners work just fine as well, but until you get into the newer, turbocharged, direct injection gas engines (which you're probably not going to want because they're expensive), a diesel will generally out tow a gas truck every time.  Gas engines also don't last as long.  It's rare to get a gas truck engine past about 250k-300k miles.  A 200k mile diesel is usually finally broken in. :)

In terms of "Things you should consider when buying," you'll want the following:
- A transmission temperature gauge.  Automatic transmissions do not like running hot and their life will be dramatically shortened by even short periods of getting too hot.  You'll also typically benefit from additional transmission coolers, which are commonly installed on trucks anyway.  140-160F is about perfect for running, and you really don't want them running much above 175F for any extended period of time, or you'll be rebuilding it far earlier than you care to.
- If you go with a diesel, you'll want a pyrometer (exhaust gas temperature gauge).  Running a diesel too hard will damage it, and an EGT probe will let you figure this out long before you damage anything.

The worst conditions for a truck are towing heavy (which you'll be doing), in the summer (you plan to live in it year round), on a long uphill grade (I assume you're going to be crossing mountains).  Something that can handle that may seem a bit overkill in the flat lands, but when you're hauling a trailer up over an 8000 foot pass, it makes a difference. :)

"Tow packages" aren't as much of a thing on trucks.  They're common on vans & the like, and generally consist of some transmission coolers and often a slightly larger engine and suspension, but trucks being built to tow usually come with that stuff stock.

Another thing to look at is the axle/differential ratio.  You can get a lot of trucks with 3.55s and 4.10s in the differentials, and they're not that expensive to swap out.  For towing, 4.10s will tow better (the engine is turning a bit faster at any given speed), but your highway fuel economy will suffer a bit.  Not that it's going to be very good anyway.

Other considerations are what size cab and bed you want (and for the F250/F350 series, this more or less determines which truck you get).  Common cab setups are:
- Regular cab: Two door, no significant space behind the front seats
- Super cab: Two door, but a small bench behind the front seats and some space back there for, say, a dog.
- Crew cab: Four door, two full rows of seating.

With a dog, you'll almost certainly want a super cab or crew cab.  Play around with a few and see what works best.

For beds, you can get anything from 3.5 feet (lolz) to 8 feet (long bed).  I'd figure out what you're going to be putting in it and go from there.  If you're dealing with water craft, you may want to go with a long bed so you can fit them inside the topper.

Most of the bigger trucks come with dual tanks.  You can often find aftermarket upgrades for them - I've got 38 gallons in mine and once I get around to dropping the rear tank, I'll replace it with a bigger one so I can have ~60 gallons.  You're going to be chewing through gas or diesel at a tremendous rate, so a small tank won't get you where you want to go.  If you're hanging out in the middle of nowhere a lot, remember that you may be a long distance from a fuel station.

As far as tires go, you can stick with what's on whatever you buy, or go with some high pressure highway tires (Toyo M608s are nice).  They wear a lot better and have lower rolling resistance when heavy.  It just depends on how much driving you're planning to do.

You'll need a brake controller for your trailer.  Almost any truck you look at used that's suited to towing will have one, but there are varying qualities of them, and you may want to upgrade it if you don't like how it runs the brakes.  They detect braking and control the trailer brakes proportionally, and most of the nice ones have a lever you can use to apply the trailer brakes a bit to help if it's swaying.  Make sure your trailer has electric brakes - the cheap hydraulic "surge brakes" built into the tongue of the trailer are utter and complete garbage for any real towing use.

Also, if you can find a truck that's been modded the way you want, it's going to be a LOT cheaper than doing all the stuff yourself.  Even if you have to pay a bit more (or a good bit more) up front, buying a used tow pig is going to be a lot cheaper than building one.  You can often find people upgrading to newer trucks selling off their old one.

Anyway, that's at least a little bit of a brain dump on trucks for towing.  Hopefully it's helpful, and if there's anything else you'd like information on, I'm happy to try and help.

... and, yeah, this forum isn't going to be a great place for a lot of advice on big trucks. :)

DollarBill

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2015, 07:44:29 AM »
Quote
There do exist some utter flops of diesels out there, though.  Don't buy a Ford with a 6.0L diesel in it.  It's an utter piece of junk unless you spend a lot of money re-engineering it.  Do your research before you buy, and find out what common problems are.  If you want pre-emissions-crap, it's hard to beat the 7.3 Powerstroke (which was used from 1994-2003 in Ford diesel pickups).

This guy talks about this issue. Look at his other video's as well. Lots of good info.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjtrrSgABnc

Syonyk

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2015, 08:04:08 AM »
That guy is awesome. I've watched a lot of his stuff.

Syonyk

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2015, 01:49:12 PM »
This guy talks about this issue. Look at his other video's as well. Lots of good info.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjtrrSgABnc

Actually, if you watch that video, it was about an outright fraudulent activity, not the weaknesses in the 6.0L engine.

That video covered a 6.0 truck that was utterly worn out - 300+k hard miles on the motor, cross hatching totally worn off, pistons showing signs of extreme heat.  The problem was the odometer only showed 85k.  Apparently some less-than-ethical vehicle transport companies will buy a new truck, pull and store the interior, run 80-85k miles on it, swap the dash out, run it hard until it's pretty well worn out, then swap the interior & original dash back in so it looks like a clean 85k mile truck.  It takes a good bit of work to pull compression numbers & such on a diesel, so most places won't.

The 6.0, however, has some design flaws with the EGR cooler, and the head attachment.  You have to replace the head bolts with studs, fire ring the cylinders, and do a few other things to keep the head gaskets intact.

The_Dude

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2015, 03:04:29 PM »
To add another voice. 

1) Don't buy a truck with towing capacity near the weight of your trailer.  That is being "cheap" not buying something of quality that you will rely on heavily to get you from place to place for the next several years.  With how much power modern full size pickups make its a lot less about getting up a hill (any 1/2 truck will make it up a steep grade) and much more about the design limits of the frame, the suspension, the brakes and the transmission.  You don't want those things at/near capacity when towing long distances as it is less safe and parts will fail sooner.  if you were just towing a few miles to a local lake or campground then I would do a 180* turn on this statement but you aren't.

2) Research what the towing package means for any vehicle you are contemplating.  If you are buying a gas powered truck I would never buy one that doesn't come equipped with the larger transmission cooler as well as an engine oil cooler. Most of the full size domestic trucks with towing packages have these.

3) I recommend a full size 3/4 ton truck or better.  You can get the same power in a 1/2 ton and it's lighter so better mpg when not towing but the 3/4 ton will typically have a stronger transmission and will have larger brakes, larger axles and suspension components, heavier duty springs and shocks, etc. 

4) At 7-8k lb range you really don't *need* a diesel.  The only time you will wish you had one is when towing up any sort of grade or if you end up towing 100k miles.  When I last shopped for a tow rig diesels ran about $10K more compared to an equally equipped used gas truck.  If you get a pre-emission diesel the mpg difference will be significant.  Modern stock diesel's won't be nearly as significant relatively speaking.  Also, if you do buy a diesel buy one 100% stock!!! The reason diesel's run 300k+ miles so easily is that in a full size truck diesels are built to a commercial heavy study standard.  This means the aftermarket guys can tweak the engine to run harder and make HUGE power gains but it WILL impact the longevity and reliability of the vehicle especially if not done correctly. 

Syonyk

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2015, 03:36:04 PM »
I disagree about 100% stock. Know what was done and why.

My truck came with an intercooler and Banks Quick Turbo housing, and I'm fine with that. It came with a tuner as well, but nothing beyond what the stock injectors were able to do.

I wouldn't buy a 400hp 7.3 as a tow vehicle without good records, but some mods are fine and desirable.

AlexK

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2015, 03:56:39 PM »
PM me if you are interested in 2002 F250 7.3 power stroke diesel 4x4 long bed single cab 215k miles. All stock except added brake controller. Runs perfect and it will pull anything. No smoke from exhaust. I changed all fluids. New tires and batteries. Body is 7/10. White color, paint shiny. No rust. $9k.

Gets 19.5 mpg empty, 14 with big camper and at max weight.

It is a 6 speed manual which is great and hard to find but after a left knee injury I'm not able to drive it easily.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2015, 03:59:45 PM by AlexK »

Syonyk

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2015, 04:01:33 PM »
Damn. If I didn't already have a 7.3 I'd be tempted! The regular cab long bed F250s are such cute trucks!

waffle

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #19 on: April 30, 2015, 04:02:00 PM »
Echoing a lot of the statements already...

Get a truck that has at least 1/3 more capacity than you will use.

A diesel truck is going to cost more upfront, but it is a better towing engine and has better resale value later on. The only 1/2 ton truck with a diesel is the RAM 1500 that came out in 2014. I owned one for a while (sold it when I decided I wanted to FIRE someday) It was a great truck and got 28mpg on the freeway, 16-18 mpg when towing, but you are looking at spending in the 3x,xxx range for a basic one.

If you aren't towing a lot of miles a gas truck might be fine. At about 7,000lbs +gear in the bed you are approaching the upper limit of most half ton trucks. a lot will be rated for more, but you will bottom out the suspension on most at those weights. If you do use a half ton truck I would recommend a good weight distribution hitch as well as air bags for secondary suspension in the rear.

If you upgrade to a 3/4 ton truck you will have plenty of extra capacity, but higher upfront costs again.

My basic recommendation is that high miles and weight you should get a 3/4 diesel. Get an early 2000's model to avoid a lot of maintenance headaches with modern emissions equipment. If you aren't willing to spend that much upfront go with a slightly newer lower miles gas V8 truck.

I would be very hesitant to buy a gas truck that has more than 100,000 miles on it, but a diesel I'd be fine with seeing 200,000 as long as all else was in good condition too.

forummm

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #20 on: April 30, 2015, 04:58:34 PM »
I had one of these and loved it. No maintenance costs! Hours of fun. Mine got rusted out eventually. The new ones have more resilient materials.


Syonyk

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #21 on: April 30, 2015, 08:20:09 PM »
I had one of these and loved it. No maintenance costs! Hours of fun. Mine got rusted out eventually. The new ones have more resilient materials.

Might be a bit overloaded trying to tow a 7k lb trailer...

bogart

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #22 on: May 01, 2015, 09:14:34 PM »
The new ones have more resilient materials.

I have to disagree.  Most of the new ones are pretty flimsy and don't stand up to the usage their owners put them up to.  IMO a 4-year old causes a lot more stress/wear-and-tear than does rust.  My son's hand-me-down metal ones are still going strong ...

Real info., for the OP:  we own a camping trailer (2006 Jayco 27BH, you can look up specs if you want to), and tow it with a 4wd extra cab Tundra (that we bought new -- oh the horror! -- about 5 years ago for $35K.  Have truck prices really gone up that much since then?).  It's the top-rated towing Tundra and we got the "heavy duty" tow package version (also the big towing mirrors, which are really nice to have).  The truck's rated to tow 10,000 lbs. and works fine to tow the trailer, but to be clear, we know it (the trailer) is back there.  We tow with a camper top, 3 humans in the truck (~400#) 2 dogs in the bed (inside the camper top of course!) ~120#, and of course all kinds of ... stuff. 

Count me among those who think you don't want to be towing at max cap.  And while we've towed up and down mountains, ours are the Appalachians, not the Rockies.

If you've planning on boondocking, I'd get 4wd.  We stay in state parks with full hookups, but on occasion have needed 4wd to get things moving; it's not hard (even in the more developed campgrounds we frequent) to find areas that are slick or muddy, or to have what would be a "drive" wheel spinning in the air as you try to back around something and slip into or near a ditch. 

There are plenty of nice, affordable tagalong campers you can tow with a (toward the high end for towing capacity) half ton trucks.  If you want a 5th wheel (or something huge), you want at least a 3/4 ton truck.  But a half ton is plenty, really. 

And I have nothing against small trucks.  I owned and drove a tiny 2wd Toyota truck for 15 years and loved it, but not for towing.  I am a big fan of Toyota products for their durability, and of the opinion that with the Tundra, Toyota got it right for a real (though not for really big loads, obviously) tow vehicle. 

Syonyk

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #23 on: May 01, 2015, 09:37:04 PM »
Real info., for the OP:  we own a camping trailer (2006 Jayco 27BH, you can look up specs if you want to), and tow it with a 4wd extra cab Tundra (that we bought new -- oh the horror! -- about 5 years ago for $35K.  Have truck prices really gone up that much since then?).

It depends on the options you want.  $35k still gets you an awful lot of new truck.

For a new base model F250 (SuperCab, 4x4, diesel), you're looking around $45k.  A gas engine knocks off around $8k from the price, and if you can go with 2WD/gas motor/regular cab, you can get one for about $31k.

A new F350 (Platinum edition, Crew Cab, 4x4, diesel) shows up around $66k. :/  But it's rated to tow around 23k lbs.

Of course, for a new truck, it's pretty hard to beat the new F150.

A Super Cab 4x4 F150 with the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 (which is a direct injected turbocharged gas engine that drives more like a diesel) comes in at $35k and will tow 10,700lbs - so that's probably more or less comparable to your Tacoma (though I think they're rated for a bit less on the towing department).

Meanwhile, in "older truck" land, I've got a '97 4x4 diesel F350 XLT that's rated to tow 14k (4.10s in it), 95k miles, and I paid $15k for it - very clean single owner, well modded for towing, 5th wheel hitch and towing gate, topper, dual 2" receiver, rebuilt transmission/heavy duty torque converter, upgraded suspension, etc.  It'll tow pretty much anything I feel like towing, and with an 8' bed, I can haul damned near anything I want in the back as well.  Once I move, I'm going to be picking up a good flatbed gooseneck for it and working on antique cars and various other automotive projects.

None of this is useful for the OP, but, hey.  Trucks. :)

nawhite

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #24 on: June 26, 2015, 02:01:51 PM »
Thanks for all the awesome advice everyone. After all of your advice, I'm leaning towards a diesel in the 250/2500 range. One other question I had though, was while looking on craigslist I happened upon white work vans. For instance an E-250 (an E not an F) costs about 1/2 the amount of a truck especially since I won't need a camper shell for the truck. The vans get better gas mileage, cost less, and have similar GVWRs (usually within 1000 pounds of the truck version). Even if I go with a larger van (350 vs 250) than the truck I still get a cheaper vehicle, with better mileage, arguably more storage space, and the same GVWR.

Anybody ever done major towing in a large work van like a Ford E-350? I'd guess the "tow packages" don't come standard in the vans but I can probably find one with it. Anything else I should worry about towing with a van vs a truck?

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #25 on: June 26, 2015, 02:21:04 PM »
Thanks for all the awesome advice everyone. After all of your advice, I'm leaning towards a diesel in the 250/2500 range. One other question I had though, was while looking on craigslist I happened upon white work vans. For instance an E-250 (an E not an F) costs about 1/2 the amount of a truck especially since I won't need a camper shell for the truck. The vans get better gas mileage, cost less, and have similar GVWRs (usually within 1000 pounds of the truck version). Even if I go with a larger van (350 vs 250) than the truck I still get a cheaper vehicle, with better mileage, arguably more storage space, and the same GVWR.

Anybody ever done major towing in a large work van like a Ford E-350? I'd guess the "tow packages" don't come standard in the vans but I can probably find one with it. Anything else I should worry about towing with a van vs a truck?

Go test drive a E250/E350 van, and then drive a F250/F350 (or GM/Dodge equivalent) and see how you like them.  Also, see what you think of the interior space for the driver & passenger.  Pickup trucks, in general, have a lot more cab space and are easier to access the engine bay for repair/maintenance.  Vans have drawbacks in those areas, but advantages in the total interior storage space.

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #26 on: June 26, 2015, 02:39:32 PM »
Anybody ever done major towing in a large work van like a Ford E-350? I'd guess the "tow packages" don't come standard in the vans but I can probably find one with it. Anything else I should worry about towing with a van vs a truck?

The engine in a van body is buried deeply and is almost impossible to access for maintenance or repairs.  Assume any maintenance costs will be significantly higher, because you simply cannot get to most of the engine without lifting the cab.

A pickup body will be radically easier for maintenance.  This is worth considering if you're doing your own work, and will save you money if you pay someone else to do it.  But if you're going with a diesel, I strongly suggest learning to do basic maintenance on your own.

Jack

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #27 on: June 26, 2015, 02:45:03 PM »
I'm going to be a little bit of a contrarian and suggest a heavy duty Dodge Ram (diesel, of course), because you can still get a manual transmission in it whereas the newer GMs and Fords are all slushboxes.

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Re: What truck SHOULD I get?
« Reply #28 on: June 26, 2015, 02:53:43 PM »
after 10 years hauling horses with a 1/2 ton... My 1/2 ton died (imagine that) and now we use a 2wd long bed 3/4 ton and it is so much more stable. Same brand, one year apart...

1997 RAM 1500 versus 1998 RAM 2500...

You mention a camper AND trailer, which tells me you will be much happier with 2500.

Now one drawback we've found with the 2500, it is a bit wearing on the body for long drives over the 1500. We've driven both thousands of miles. Our 2500 is a basic model, not as nice of a package as the old truck was.

Both had poor gas mileage and both were/are gassers.

Older diesels are noisier, and really don't get all that much better gas mileage. Just make sure whatever you get can brake appropriately on the passes.