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sabowin 08-18-2011 12:06 AM

What are minimum specs for a tow rig?
I recently bought a house, and have been lamenting all the things my Camry can't haul. Plus, I'm hoping to buy a horse soon, so I'm thinking of upgrading to something larger. Problem is, I don't want two separate vehicles, so I need it to be practical as a daily driver, but capable of hauling two horses (me and a friend) if necessary.

I'd rather have an SUV, I think, but a pickup with a full-sized back seat would work too (I only have one kid, but it's nice to be able to have room for more than just him). I'm not too worried if it can't get up to speed quickly when hauling, but obviously don't want to burn out the engine/transmission, either.

So...what are some minimum specs I need to look for when I start vehicle shopping?


NdAppy 08-18-2011 09:44 AM

It's not the pulling/getting up to speed that you need to be most concerned with when shopping for a hauler. You need to know that the vehicle is going to be able to stop whatever you are pulling. I see way to many vehicles that can pull large things just fine but don't have a snowball's chance in hell of stopping what they are hauling if they need to stop in a hurry.

sabowin 08-18-2011 10:11 AM

Good point! So what do I need to look for? :-)

Darrin 08-18-2011 12:47 PM

Well, a half ton pickup will do the job and the minimum for towing but personally I don't like using them for towing livestock. Mainly because they don't have a full floating rear end, break that back axle and they can pop out the side of the vehicle. Now you have a handful of vehicle, trailer and livestock that has to be safely stopped on 3 wheels with part of your back end dragging the asphalt. They are also light on brakes and springs for towing livestock though I have no qualms about towing a travel trailer with them. Light duty 3/4 tons have a bit more springs, axle and brakes but have the same drawback when it comes to not having a full floating axle.

SUV's are generally built on a half ton pickup frame so have the same drawbacks but then GCVW comes into play. Essentially by the time you build up an SUV you are already at or not far away from max weight the vehicle is rated for. Hang a horse trailer off the back and you will find stopping much much harder plus it increases your chances of a broken axle. People do it but I sure don't recommend it. A few SUV's are built on a HD 3/4 ton frame but not many.

Heavy duty 3/4 ton pickups and up in weight class will have a full floating axle, enough carrying capacity and brakes for trailers and personally what I consider the minimum for towing livestock.

If you don't know the difference:
-Full floating axle is the one where you see a big hub coming out of the rear axle. That hub will contain the axle if it breaks and your tire will stay where it belong. This will allow you to come to a safe stop, load and all.

-C-clip rear end or non full floating axle doesn't have that hub protuding out. If this axle type breaks there is absolutely nothing keeping the tire and what remains of the axle from squirting out the side of vehicle and going into the ditch. A hairy situation at best, if you remain calm you can safely stop the vehicle and trailer but livestock will get tossed around in the process. At worst, you, the vehicle, the trailer and livestock will all end up in the ditch too with likely serious injuries to some if not all.

coffeegod 08-18-2011 12:48 PM

I'm looking for a beater truck as well for hay/feed runs and trailer pulling. I found this:

What Is a Tow Package? |

It explains what a towing package is and why it is a good thing.

Stan 08-30-2011 06:46 AM

Hi there I have a blog that deals with your problem in a light hearted way.
However being able to stop is a must so the trailer has to have good operating breaks.
Hook a two horse float onto your vehicle load a couple of horses and go for a drive. If it is an auto make sure it has a seperate transmission oil cooler. How does it tow up a long incline. Did it get hot, did it manage to increase its speed or was it grunting and loosing ground. if it went O/K try a three horse float and horses and try again. If it went O/K then you could rate that vehicle as three horse power. Its not the horses under the bonnet but the horses it can tow.
Plenty of vehicles with high reported horse power but would not pull the skin of a rice pudding the one I have is a perfect example. My personal view is get a stick shift over an auto.
Over powered is better than under powered.

MyBoyPuck 08-30-2011 09:56 PM

I bought an older 3/4 ton truck in great condition for about 10K wth 90,000 miles on it. Reeeeallly glad I went with 3/4 or 1/2 truck since I've had to negotiate a few large hills and sticky spots already. When you get to the used truck market, especially with beaters, there isn't a large price difference between 3/4 and 1/2. Go with more truck if you can.

MyBoyPuck 08-30-2011 09:57 PM

Meant to say glad I went with the 3/4 OVER the 1/2 ton truck...brain not working good tonight.

sabowin 09-13-2011 01:09 PM

Okay, so I'm completely overwhelmed when browsing Craigslist. What models, specifically, should I be looking for? Is an F150 beefy enough? I'm guessing any Nissan or any Toyota short of a Tundra (out of my budget) is not beefy enough, is that correct? What Chevy or Dodge trucks would be good enough? (Keeping in mind I would only be hauling two horses and maybe some camping gear, so it doesn't need to be super heavy-duty!)

Thank you so much for tutoring this newbie! I dated a guy for almost three years who was into off-roading, but he was a Toyota guy. I learned a ton about that world, but nothing about towing, obviously!

Oreos Girl 09-13-2011 02:43 PM

Most 1/2 pickups are a 4.3L engine or so. Mine towed my 2 horse but had problems with it. I now have a Tundra with the 5.7L engine and I don't know the trailer is back there. So to answer your question, look at the engine size, not all 1/2 pickups are equal. Ford has a 5.6 L engine, but it will state that it isn't a 4.3L. The difference in horsepower is great. Factor installed towing is better than after market. Factory installed usually means you get the transmission coollant.

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