Where do I start on truck shopping?
This will be my primary vehicle, so gas mileage is an issue. I have a 30 mile/round trip commute in downtown North Texas highway traffic. I regularly cart around 3 passengers, so crew cab/4 door is necessary. I've driven Ford, Chevy, and Dodge trucks in the past, currently drive a Honda CR-V - I'm not married to any particular brand. Must stay under $40k, won't complain if I can stay well under that! New or used.
Will eventually tow 1-2 Quarter Horses in an as-yet-to-be-found trailer (I will be asking questions on 2 horse trailers later, lol.) Mainly highway travel, rarely hills or rough terrain.
Where do I begin?
IMHO, you really need to make up your mind on the trailer first and then make sure you're buying a tow vehicle that is adequate for it.
Thinking of buying a single horse bumper pull trailer will yield a much different purchasing decision than if you end up with a 3 horse gooseneck with living quarters. Buying a tow vehicle the former and then ending up with the latter after you change your mind won't work and will just cost you a bunch of extra money when you have to upgrade your tow vehicle in short order.
Thanks for the suggestion! Light weight, 2 horse slant bumper pull is the goal, but I know those specs can still vary widely.
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You'll get those suggesting a 1/2 ton but for towing livestock I wouldn't go with anything less than a 3/4 ton pickup. While the 1/2 tons might be "rated" to tow heavier loads they are not as capable of it as a heavier rig. For me, when it comes to horses, the last thing I want is broke down and possibly wrecked because I went with a lighter duty pickup. If it was just a travel trailer I wouldn't hesitate using a 1/2 ton.
Things to look for, I'll go from the assumption you know nothing about what is needed as that's easier. Ignore anything you already know:
-For automatics, look for one that has a tow mode and use it when towing. If manual, don't lug it to much and don't over wind it for to long.
-Transmission cooler, should come with tow package but you need to look.
-Trailer hitch, no towing from the bumper.
-Trailer brake module.
-Tires that are rated for the maximum weight of your pickup. That's pretty easy to find, open the door and there should be a sticker there with GVW listed. At a minimum you want all 4 tires able to support the GVW when added together. But (always a but) that's at maximum air pressure in your tire. Most of us don't run with maximum pressure so you'll want more tire than that. As an example, if your GVW is 10,000 pounds then at a minimum you want each tire to be rated for 2500 pounds (at maximum air pressure). Personally I would go 3500 for plenty of safety margin.
-If it's a used pickup, get it checked out by a mechanic.
-Diesel gets better fuel mileage and has more torque for towing. Gas is cheaper than diesel.
-When it comes to towing, torque is your friend and more important than the HP figure. Ideally you want a lot of torque low down in the RPM range which you'll get from diesels and most big block gas motors. Problem is big block gas motors are not known for their fuel mileage!
-Gearing is important. High gears (low numerically like 3.23's) get you better fuel mileage but don't tow well. Low gears (high numerically like 4.10's) do better towing but hurt mileage. Unfortunately I can't tell you what gears to get because that depends on the vehicle type, engine, tires and intended use.
-2x vs. 4x. 2 wheel drives are cheaper to buy, cheaper to operate and easier on gas. 4 wheel drives give you the ability to crawl in and out of pastures, gear down for rough ground and of course help in slick conditions. Which to get really depends on your situation and personal preference. Just something to consider, 4x do cost more up front to buy but you'll usually get that back when you sell it so your cost really has more to do with upkeep and fuel.
That's all for now.
Good tow vehicle != good gas mileage
You get one or the other.
I personally went with a 3/4 ton truck. I did not feel a 1/2 ton was secure enough. I would rather have "too much truck" than "OMG not enough truck!"
First thing to do, IMO, is to just start browsing. See what's nearby, what they're asking for it, then expand your search to the limit of what you're willing to drive. You might find a deal. I purchased my truck 1.5 hours away, in another state, because it was not street legal in that stat as it was. Why wasn't it street legal? Blue headlights. I bought a new stock set of lights, sold the ugly blue LED's, made some cash and voila, new truck.
Look CLOSELY at the trucks for sale. Be very cautious about buying the white trucks. A lot of the "work trucks" are white, and the companies are HARD on those vehicles. Look for fade marks on the doors/windows indicating removed logos.
I really appreciate the tips!
I've never shopped for my own truck & trailer - drove what my parents bought when I was a teen, then much bigger rigs than I'll ever need when I worked for a barn. My previous vehicle averaged 15mpg so I at least have an idea what my monthly gas bill will be.
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