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Rhivia 01-19-2012 10:29 PM

Just started looking at trucks and trailers - need some advice!
Okay, so I really want to be able to trailer my horse to some of the nearby state parks to go trail riding this summer. I've never trailered a horse before, nor have I driven a truck with a trailer, etc. I'm completely new to this. Unfortunately I have a pretty limited budget right now. I've only got about $3000 to spend on a truck, and I'll be saving up for the trailer between now and this spring/summer.

So, today I found a 1993 Ford F150 Super Cab XLT with a 5.8 V8 engine for sale in my area, and they're asking right around $3000 for it. I know it's older, so I want to make sure that it is safe to tow a horse with this. Are there any major issues I need to consider when looking at a truck this old? Is it even big/heavy enough to safely tow a horse trailer? I have no idea how to calculate all that stuff.

Also, what kind of trailer should I be looking for? Again, I probably won't have the best budget for this either - around $1000 to $1500 by this summer.

So, is this whole situation a disaster waiting to happen? Safety is my first priority, but I really do want to be able to start trailering by this summer. :/

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, especially in regards to that truck! If it will safely serve my purpose, I would like to contact the seller asap. But even advice on using and driving with a trailer would be awesome. :)

Darrin 01-19-2012 11:34 PM

Some will tell you that a 1/2 ton is just fine and they will get the job done, personally I wouldn't go less then a 3/4 ton. There's plenty of reasons for this but it all pretty much boils down to a 3/4 and 1 ton pickups are built stouter and will more safely handle a trailer with your baby in it.

Now, when you find a pickup you want to buy it's a bit hard to tell over the internet via pictures if it is a good one or not. Best thing you can do is take it to a mechanic and have it checked out prior to buying. They should be able to tell you if the transmission is shot or if it is sound.

What trailer you can purchase for 1000-1500 varies wildly from area to area so not sure what that will purchase you. I would suggest you spend the winter perusing adds to see what is in your price range. My typical advice is to count how many noses you will be hauling on a regular basis and add one slot. In your case it sounds like just the one horse so a 2 horse trailer will fit the bill but don't be afraid of a 3 horse that is in your price range. Unlike the pickkup, you don't have to take it to a mechanic but do a good inspection. Look for rust, rotted floor boards, condition of paint, etc. A lot of ills can be fixed on a trailer with some know how but don't buy a heavily rusted out hulk, it's only worth scrap price.

gunslinger 01-21-2012 12:54 PM

I think Darrin is correct on all points.

A half ton is a bit light. I started towing with an 84 F-250 3/4 ton and have now moved up to an f350 super duty.

The towing difference is night and day.

The biggest problem isn't pulling, it's stopping.

That said, many here pull with 1/2 tons, and I'm not here to contradict them, but the larger the truck the more comfortable the tow, or, at least that's what I've found.

On a truck that age, plan on spending some money on repairs. As Darrin suggested, you might want to take the truck to a trusted mechanic and see what he thinks the truck will need in the first few months, how much it will cost, and if he thinks it's suited for your towing requirements.

For example if you need a hitch and brake controller installed plan on spending several hundred.

If it needs brakes, plan on $100 to $900 depending on condition of rotors, wheel cylinders, etc.

I know when I bought the 84, I've sense put another $3000 in it to get it safe and reliable and I did the work myself. I replaced so many parts I wouldn't attempt to post them all, but, the list includes, master cylinder, rotors, wheel bearings, ball joints, shocks, tires, radiator, gas tank, fuel pump, power steering pump, all hoses and belts, yada...yada....yada....

That was spread out over several months, but the first year I was constantly working on it.

It's a fine truck now, however.

Joe4d 01-21-2012 02:31 PM

baloney, that truck should be able to tow all you want. 5.8 engine will tow just fine, It is gonna depend on the gears though. You should have an axel code inside the drivers side door panel Google that code, as in "1993 ford axel code XX, " you will find numbers like 2.73, 3.08, 3.55. the bigger the number the better for towing, basically means more power to the wheels. With a 5.8 I am guessing that truck would most likely have the 3.55 gears. The 1993 towing guide if so its max towing capacity is 9500 lbs. A typical 2 horse bumper pull is about 2600-3000 lbs. add a horse and some gear and you are fine. Shop for a stock type trailer to save even more weight. Try to keep the total load down to around 5000 lbs add a brake controller and a good hitch.
despite the fear mongering prevalent on this sight you dont need a MAc truck to tow a mouse. Follow the manufacturers recomendation. Know the engine and rear end you are getting and simply google the tow rating. Its probably listed in the owners manual of the truck.

Rhivia 01-22-2012 05:45 PM

Thanks for the responses! Needless to say, I'm still kind of confused! I would love to hear more opinions on the matter.

I'll also have to start doing some research in tow ratings and such, I suppose.

I know that I would probably feel more secure with at least a 3/4 ton, but it seems as though gas mileage would be much worse and the truck itself would be significantly more expensive.

What kind of truck does everyone else here use to trailer?
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waresbear 01-22-2012 06:25 PM

384 Attachment(s)
Ford super duty 250 diesel, power city baby.

gunslinger 01-22-2012 08:33 PM

My tag a long sundowner weighs 4000 lbs naked. Add two horses and you've got 6000 +. Add tack and equipment......camping equipment and over 7000. My F-250 is rated at 8600.

An F-150 will tow it....but you'll be white knuckled doing it IMO.

Where do you live? Any hills or mountains?

How many miles on the truck?

Darrin 01-22-2012 09:37 PM

F350 Diesel 4x4. I never worry about if my truck can handle a trailer or not.

Rhivia, fuel mileage of a 3/4 or 1 ton will be slightly worse then a 1/2 ton but all things being equal (equiped the same) you are talking a couple miles to the gallon difference. Reason being is they weigh more due to being built stouter and weight does effect economy. At least in my area, price difference in the used market isn't that great when looking at same year and packages (ie XLT F150 vs. XLT F350). If you look at diesel motors then you will see an increase in price but back in '96 that was a $4200 dollar option and on new ones it is about $8000 so you would expect to pay more on the used market.

Looks like you are new to pickups so I'll go into why people like diesels:

-They get better mileage then an equivalent gas motor. Dad has a 3500 chevy with a 454, year newer then my diesel and equivalent in size. He gets 2-4 mpg worse then I do empty and 6-7 mpg worse with a trailer full of horses.

-Diesels have gobs of torque, torque is what you want when pulling trailers.

-They should easily make 300k miles and many make 500k miles, otherwise, they last a good long time. Dodge cummins can last even longer because they are a sleeved motor (can be rebuilt multiple times).

To be fair, disadvantages:

-Upfront cost, cheaper when buying used but still will cost more.

-Due to EPA regs, diesel has gone from being less then regular gas to more then premium.

Joe4d 01-23-2012 02:10 AM

make sure you know your weights, and the actual specs of what you are buying, Pretty much any 3/4 ton truck will pull a bumperpull horse trailer. With a 1/2 ton some will some wont. Looking at a F150 they could be rated at 3500lbs max to about 10,000 so you have to kno wwhat engine , rearend, and towpackage the vehicle has. Also how much load you wanna pull
Diesels cost more and cost more to maintain things like oil changes are way more expensive especially if you have to pay to get them done. They are good tools for the job , last longer, and have plenty of torque but how much towing are you gonna do ? Is the increase in longevity and power worth the cost ? Gonna depend on your trailer weight and miles you plan to drive. That 5.8 L truck will tow just fine if it is in good shape and you dont get crazy with a trailer. If you plan on pulling a living quarters trailer back and forth across the country, you may wanna upgrade.

Darrin 01-23-2012 08:24 AM

Thanks Joe, forgot about oil changes. If I do it myself it's ~$60 to change oil and ~$70 at the local shop. Typically a gas pickup cost the same as a car to do the oil $20-$30.

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