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1/2 vs 3/4 Tow Rig

 
Old 09-07-2018, 08:57 AM
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argonaut
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Default 1/2 vs 3/4 Tow Rig

UPDATE: 5-6-2019 - 2018 F250 for the win! I first created this post 8 months ago when I started thinking about buying a new tow vehicle. Over the winter I bought a 2018 F250 XLT gas and this past weekend used it for the first time towing to an event. All I have to say is WOW! what a huge difference compared to my previous 1/2 Yukon. I didn't even use the torsion bars or sway control on the WD hitch and the truck handles the trailer so much better. Gone is that white knuckle sway every time an 18-wheeler passes me. Thanks again to everyone who previously gave input on this post - your experience and advice guided me in its purchase and I couldn't be happier.

I need a new tow rig and would like advice on pros and cons of 1/2 ton vs 3/4 ton truck. My current vehicle is '07 GMC Yukon XL Denali with 6.2L and air suspension, with a weight distributing hitch and sway control. Other than its just getting old, my concerns with the Denali are: its under braked, really worries me on steep downhills (even with trailer brakes); it gets about 10 mpg pulling; uphill it does 'ok' - have to rev it to about 3000 rpm and then it pulls fine; most concerning of all is the way the trailer can toss it around - like in high wind or when a big rig blows by me, even with sway controller, its still pretty nerve racking.

Trailer is 24 ft and estimated weight is probably around 6K, (the car is only 1300 pounds but the trailer does have cabinets in it).

Intended use will be towing trailer to tracks - 10-15 events per year (about 3500 miles) and then general trips as well as hauling around town: estimate less than 10,000 annually with 35% of that pulling a load. It will not be daily driven.



So I've been looking at 3/4 ton, diesel pickups as a possible replacement but there are clearly pros and cons here: obviously it would pull better and be more stable but on the con side:
- price - at equivalent trim levels an F-250 Diesel is 5-10K more expensive than F-150 ecoboost;
- I've never owned a diesel truck (got a diesel tractor :-) but have heard they are more expensive to maintain
- Ride and comfort - they are stiffer ride, less comfortable, bigger, harder to park, etc (although it would not be a daily driver, mostly used for towing and hauling)
- Cost of fuel (do they get better mileage, especially when towing?)

Any objective advice would be appreciated but I'd most like to hear from anyone who has experience with both.

TIA

Last edited by argonaut; 05-06-2019 at 08:50 AM. Reason: Update.
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Old 09-07-2018, 09:22 AM
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67Ranger
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How often/far are you pulling your car to the track, and how often do you see yourself driving the truck otherwise?

From my experience with a pre emissions Dodge 2500 diesel, your con list is right on the money.
- I would get ~20mpg with regular driving, but thats probably optimistic with a newer truck without a tune/delete kit. Pulling a fully loaded ~6-7k lb trailer at 70 id get 15-16mpg
- Fuel in Texas is ~10% more expensive on average
- I did all my own maintenance, but an oil change would be ~2x because it takes 12qt instead of 6qt in a gas engine. In my case there were also much more frequent coolant change intervals, fuel filter changes etc. I would guess overall the maintenance cost is 1.5-2x. All of the newer diesel trucks have significantly more emissions equipment that may fail over time and add to the diesel cost.

Another option for you, depending on your usage and budget may be a gas 3/4 ton truck. If your usage is limited, you'll have the stability and brakes of the 3/4 ton, maintenance/initial cost closer to the 1/2 ton, and the poor fuel mileage of the 1/2 ton. If you do get a 1/2 ton, I would stay away from the ecoboost. They dont typically get better mileage in real world driving, and they get worse towing mileage than the 5.0L V8. All that being said, I would get another diesel tow vehicle if I'm going to the track more than 2-3 times a year.
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Old 09-07-2018, 09:50 AM
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I set up an account with Enterprise Commercial Truck and rent a 3/4 diesel (Ford F250 or Dodge 2500) for towing. Trucks are all new(ish), I don't have to insure it (covered under auto policy), I've no maintenance and don't have to park it around the house. Wife drops me off (about 15 minutes from home), I drive to trailer storage, hook up the trailer and I'm off.

I worked out an arrangement with Enterprise for a flat fee ($115 per day) with no mileage limit. Just another option.

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Old 09-07-2018, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by 67Ranger View Post
How often/far are you pulling your car to the track, and how often do you see yourself driving the truck otherwise?
.
This question must be answered.

I mirror Ranger. I think everyone has gotten caught up in this diesel thing where 99% of the time a gas engine will do the same job just as well with far less maintenance at a much more appealing price point.

I have a '99 Dodge 2500 with the big V10. It gets terrible mileage (avg 10mpg) unloaded, but gets about 9 loaded. But my use for it is only when I need to haul a load or get large items that won't fit in the car, so it's fuel requirements to me are a moot point. It funny enough is has a higher tow rating than equivalent year Dodge diesels.

Last edited by jaredtxrx; 09-07-2018 at 10:29 AM.
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Old 09-07-2018, 10:57 AM
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Bill Dearborn
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Are you sure your trailer weight is 5K to 6K pounds loaded? I have an 18 ft steel bed open trailer that runs about 6600 pounds when loaded with 4 tires in the tire rack and my 3560 lb C7 Z06 riding on it. Most 24 ft enclosed trailers run around 3600 lbs empty. Assuming the trailer empty weight could go as high as 3600 lbs that means you might be seeing somewhere around 7400 lbs loaded if you are carrying the same things I am. That would put your recommended tongue weight somewhere in the range of 1100 lbs. If your trailer has cabinets and other stuff in it the weight will be higher.

If your current Yukon isn't a 2500 series I suspect it is doing yeoman duty towing that trailer. My Tahoe which has a 3:73 axle is limited to towing 7400 lbs total with a maximum tongue weight of 1000 lbs using a WD hitch. Not sure what your 07 is rated at but I suspect it is similar. If you don't have the proper tongue weight the trailer will blow around more which will affect stability on the road around big trucks. If you put that much tongue weight on the hitch then you have the other problem of getting the WD hitch adjusted properly to move weight to the front wheels so the Yukon can steer properly and to keep from overloading the rear axle gross weight wise. With my trailer and the tools/spare parts I carry in the back of the Tahoe I am over loading the rear axle by about 200 lbs.

Yes, the brakes aren't the best. I think my Tahoe stops better with the loaded trailer hooked up to it than it does when not hauling a trailer. I think with the last two iterations of trucks GM has gotten past that problem but that will be hard to judge until you actually hook up and tow something with the vehicle.

The first thing I would be looking at when thinking about new vehicles are the manufacturer's charts showing max trailer weight, max tongue weight and gross combined weight for each tow vehicle they make and that should dictate which vehicle to purchase for safe towing. Just looking at a trailer guide that indicates the max trailer weight doesn't get you the answer you need.

Bill
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Old 09-07-2018, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Feffman View Post
I set up an account with Enterprise Commercial Truck and rent a 3/4 diesel (Ford F250 or Dodge 2500) for towing. Trucks are all new(ish), I don't have to insure it (covered under auto policy), I've no maintenance and don't have to park it around the house. Wife drops me off (about 15 minutes from home), I drive to trailer storage, hook up the trailer and I'm off.

I worked out an arrangement with Enterprise for a flat fee ($115 per day) with no mileage limit. Just another option.

Feff
this is a great option for short term use. I do see that some may have extra fee for towing, have you seen or been charged that?
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Old 09-07-2018, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Feffman View Post
I set up an account with Enterprise Commercial Truck and rent a 3/4 diesel (Ford F250 or Dodge 2500) for towing. Trucks are all new(ish), I don't have to insure it (covered under auto policy), I've no maintenance and don't have to park it around the house. Wife drops me off (about 15 minutes from home), I drive to trailer storage, hook up the trailer and I'm off.

I worked out an arrangement with Enterprise for a flat fee ($115 per day) with no mileage limit. Just another option.

Feff
Do these trucks come equipped with an electronic brake controller for towing trailers with electric brakes?
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Old 09-07-2018, 01:05 PM
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I updated the post a bit:
- added intended use: 10K miles annually with about 35% of that pulling trailer
- clarified the trailer weight: light weight car (Ariel Atom), so I'm guessing trailer weight is around 6K. It is steel frame.
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Old 09-07-2018, 01:25 PM
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It's not just the weight - an enclosed trailer is a big ole brick - wind resistance and a wind sail (cross winds), plus you start loading it up with tools, spares, etc and the weight goes up. 3/4 or 1 ton (as you can sometimes get a 1 ton cheaper than a comparable 3/4) diesel is the way to go. I haul a 28' enclosed - either with race car or else two RZRs....had a 3/4 ton gas....that was a waste - I bought the truck right (new) and got an amazing trade in as well....but other than that it was STRUGGLING on hills. Your money though!

Last edited by Captain Buddha; 09-07-2018 at 01:26 PM.
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Old 09-07-2018, 03:33 PM
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All modern half tons will pull the trailer with ease, but you will still have all the issues you mention with your Yukon now. Sway and braking being the biggest.I have had quite a few trucks and trailers, so I'll feed so real input as you requested. If you had an open trailer, a half ton is fine, as soon as you go enclosed, 3/4 ton is ideal. Until you crest 10k loaded weight, gas motor does the job admirably as well. Downside to PA though is the hills, and gas motors will rev to make that work, and suck down some fuel, but ultimately still do the job. The diesel is a luxury, and overkill for your 6k setup. Great if you don;t mind wasting some extra money on, but otherwise unneccesary.

I have a 24' enclosed now, previously had open decks. The vehicles I've used to pull this will be listed below with notes. The enclosed is roughly 8500 k fully loaded, and I have it balanced at 915# tongue weight.

2014 F150 3.5 ecoboost Crew cab, 4x4 and 2015 Ram 1500 Quad cab 2wd- I lumped these together as these are the only two 1/2 tons i used to two this trailer and results were the same. Pulls fine with both, stops mostly ok with both, but trailer sway is huge when you get hit with wind and enough to make you brown stain your pants. I'll move the trailer around empty with the half tons, but not loaded unless a very short distance. I took the half ton on a 200 mile one way trip to the track one weekend and back... No more..

3/4 tons- 2015 Ram 2500 Crew cab 4x4 diesel, traded in on a 2015 F250 Crew cab 4x4 diesel, traded on a 2017 Ram 2500 Crew cab Gas hemi (6.4). The diesel tows the trailer like its barely even there. The ram diesel gets 20ish MPG empty, 16-17 while towing. The F250 Gets 14mpg empty, 11 Towing. I love my fords generally more than the rams, but I was only using the truck on weekends. I had a F250 Platinum, and was tired of the payment, so I dumped it for a half the price of the f250 2017 Ram 6.4 hemi. I miss diesel from the grunt and torque factor, other than that, the gas truck does everything I ask of it, and my oil changes are cheap, I run cheap 87 octane. It will not win any races, and it gets pretty wound up if you are towing up a hill, but it does it all just fine.

If I had infinite wallet, I would always have a diesel. But practically (and it ruins every part of my male ego that always had to have a badass new diesel truck), the gas does nothing I can fault it for. It also gets the same shitty gas mileage my F250 got, 14-15 empty, 11 towing.
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Old 09-07-2018, 03:41 PM
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I think a 3/4 ton gasser would be the best solution, since it will not be an every day driver. Gas will keep your maint costs down, and be more than enough for your 6K trailer. The brakes on a 3/4 ton will be a bit better though.

I just got an '18 1/2 ton Chevy with the Max Tow package. It is rated at 10,700lbs of towing capability and blows away my old 2000 3/4 ton (rated at 10,500lbs) in every aspect. I chose a 1/2 ton because mine doubles as a daily and is more comfortable. The '18 gets 17/22mpg city/hwy, and 14mpg towing my open trailer. I have an old steel open car trailer that is heavy, and with the car, fuel spares, tools etc, I am at around 6K trailer weight and almost 1K in the bed. My truck does not even know it is towing. It does a great job. Instead of a load leveling hitch I have Firestone Ride Rite air bags in the back to prevent the rear from squatting with the trailer hooked up.

A 3/4 ton should be even better, but you sacrifice ride and some mpg, but since it is not a daily driver for you those are probably lower on the list.

Last edited by Kubs; 09-07-2018 at 03:42 PM.
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Old 09-07-2018, 06:42 PM
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Just look at the resale of the diesel engine vs. gasoline. You recoup almost all of that money paid up front extra. In addition, when pulling trailers, keeping up with friends driving diesels on long trips and pulling hills you enjoy an easier trip, better mileage and great engine braking on downslopes not to mention a heavier vehicle for towing that is much more poised thus safer. I used to pull with a 1/2 ton. I won't any longer. I had a 2007.5 GMC sierra diesel that I sold last year with 188K on it for exactly half of what I paid for it. I bought the new 2018 denali diesel and I like it even better. I owned several gasoline engine trucks before these diesels.
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Old 09-07-2018, 10:02 PM
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I hedged my bet and tow with a gas 3/4 ton gas GMC to which I added a supercharger to the 6.0. I have no issue pulling a 7500lb. loaded trailer up mountain roads. Granted my gas mileage blows on those heavy pulls, but I'm still way cheaper overall compared to the initial diesel costs. 95% of the time my truck is unloaded so the diesel just doesn't seem worth it.
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Old 09-07-2018, 10:53 PM
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Originally Posted by edge04 View Post
this is a great option for short term use. I do see that some may have extra fee for towing, have you seen or been charged that?
We built the "tow charge" into the arranged pricing.
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Old 09-07-2018, 10:54 PM
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Originally Posted by c4cruiser View Post
Do these trucks come equipped with an electronic brake controller for towing trailers with electric brakes?
Yes, all the 3/4 tons I've rented have the built in brake controller.
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Old 09-08-2018, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by argonaut View Post
I updated the post a bit:
- added intended use: 10K miles annually with about 35% of that pulling trailer
- clarified the trailer weight: light weight car (Ariel Atom), so I'm guessing trailer weight is around 6K. It is steel frame.
With that use you'll be much happier with the stability of a 3/4 ton. Gas vs diesel will come down to your budget and how much you care about taxing the engine more. The gas 3/4 ton will pull with similar power to your current rig, so if you're ok with that and want to save money, thats the way to go. If you regularly wish you had more power, then go with the diesel. As stated above, the diesel will also keep its resale value better (if you want to buy new). That being said, you can usually get a good deal on used gas 3/4 ton trucks if that's the route you want to go.
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Old 09-08-2018, 11:44 AM
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When I had my 24 ft enclosed trailer, I pulled it with an Escalade with very few problems. In addition to the WD hitch I added a sway bar control and it never had another problem with the handling. In Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois you never had engine problems because of the relatively flat terrain. The loaded trailer (cabinets, wheels, parts, etc) weighed a little over 4500 lbs and the Corvette weighed at 3180 lbs. Since the trailer was slope nosed the mileage was usually between 10-11 mpg. My upgrades thru the years were the brake pads and the addition of a supercharger. Getting the more aggressive truck pads really helped slowing the trailer when needed and the SC really came into play When going thru the mountains WVa, VA and NC. Since about 2500 miles were towing out of 12,000+ per yr, that meant 90% of the time I was enjoying the ride quality of the Escalade and not that of a truck. Look at the end game and where you will spend the most of your time, do you want comfort most of the time or do you occasionally need a nice ride... At 6000 lbs any of the modern 1/2 ton trucks/SUV's should adequately work for you.
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Old 09-08-2018, 06:18 PM
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I frequently pull a 28í enclosed long distances on interstate. At 10k/year the 3/4 would be a must for me and add stabilizer bars. For a 3/4 the stabilizer really relaxes semi passing and crosswinds. Diesel vs gas... gas will overall be cheaper, but comfort is worth something. If you did two identical 3-4 hr trips, one with a gas burner and the other diesel, youíll arrive more rested with the diesel. Just did almost 4K mile trip with my 2018 F250.... 450 hp and ~950 torque Powerstroke... love it. I pulled as fast as my wallet wanted to let it. Ya got the money go diesel, if not youíll still get there with gas. But Iíd never do 10k/year with a 1/2 ton. Cheers
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Old 09-08-2018, 08:48 PM
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weigh the trailer loaded. at 6k lbs i dont think you should be having those types of issues especially with the weight dist and sway

are you using oem pads ? a switch to the HAWK LTS (they have a more HD version also)
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Old 09-09-2018, 09:19 AM
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As far as comfort goes, I canít speak for Ford or Dodge, but I used to tow a 40ft enclosed race trailer all the time with a 2005 Duramax 3500. While towing, it was very comfortable and very stable. Without any weight in the back it rode awful. We traded it in a couple years ago for a 2016 Duramax 3500 and the trucks are night and day different. I actually daily drove it for the first about 15k miles it was so comfortable. Just a pain in parking lots because itís so wide and long. But I think you should go test drive an F250 diesel and Duramax 2500 and see how they ride 1st hand rather than go by old hearsay. I also have a 2004 Avalanche 2500 with 8.1 and 175k, when it dies itíll be replaced with a diesel 2500. And she towes my 20í open trailer with no problem and is also comfortable (for 2004 expectations and a small lift on 33s).

Go to enough tracks and you see just about everything. I used to race with a guy that towed a trailer probably same size/weight as yours and towed it with a F150 Lightning. Never heard him complain until he was stuck in the mud one day. What Iím saying is it comes down to your comfort ability in what you feel better towing with. Canít go wrong either way, has or diesel, 1500/2500, all great trucks/suvís with crazy tow ratings these days
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