Soon to be car hunting - recommendations? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 04-23-2019, 01:16 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2017
Location: Florida
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Soon to be car hunting - recommendations?

I'm going to move out of my parent's house sooner or later, and while I'm somewhat sure I'll inherit a nearly 20 year old Toyota Tacoma, I am sure it won't haul a horse trailer. It's got a 5k (supposedly. It's a 6 cylinder) towing capacity and the truck is really light. Just no. I like the truck just to drive because I just do, but it probably won't work.

The trailer I want to get would not have a tack room in it. I can fit two saddles in the passenger seat if I have to or tie them in the bed and put a tarp over them. It would probably be a more stock trailer type, preferably slant load and a bumper pull. There's a good chance I'll haul other animals too, not just horses so a stock trailer makes more sense. My grandparents have a Calico 4 horse and it's lasted them for years and years hauling horses and cows. I'll most likely 2 horse but I might get a bigger one or one with tack space if I end up getting a vehicle that can handle it. These are all hypothetical situations right now, I don't have the money or other means of getting a car now but I probably will after college in a few years.

So, I've got two choices if when I go looking for a vehicle of my own. Either get a fuel efficient car that gets 40mpg on the highway or get a truck that gets half that. I considered mid-size trucks like the Chevy Colorado and Ford Ranger but those (especially the Ranger) are still a bit weak for towing horses. So, unless I want to go big, I'm probably looking at an F150 or a Silverado. Not sure about other brands like GMC and Dodge. Our mechanic says Fords are harder to work on and parts are expensive, but the model I looked up gets better gas mileage. We've never owned a Chevy but grandpa says they're better than Ford.

I mean if I'm hauling 1200lbs of horse x2, plus a 2000lb trailer, plus 500lbs of tack/feed/whatever else, that's 4900lbs. My horses are probably only 1000 and one is most likely even less, that's a rough estimate. Let's just say I have 5k of trailer and cargo. Technically speaking if a Colorado can haul 7k that would work, but not all of them can pull that much. There's something specific about the hitch and how it's attached to the frame. The Colorado is pretty good on gas for a truck though advertised at 22 city/31 highway.

I can't afford two car payments (plus insurance) and if I get a fuel efficient little car I'll be hitching rides with people and borrowing trucks and trailers from family which gets complicated. Also I don't particularly like driving dad's F350 diesel truck. It's like driving a freight train and the parents use it for the travel trailer.

Help? Kinda wish I was made of money at this point. Also I wish my parents spoiled me and bought me a car . But even if this decision is a couple years ahead of me I'm curious now.

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post #2 of 10 Old 04-23-2019, 01:40 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: SE Oklahoma
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We have had the best luck with Dodge trucks. We've pretty much exclusively owned Dodge vehicles for... oh... I don't know... a decade now?

Hubs tripped over a BRIGHT RUMBLE BEE yellow 4wd crew cab truck... bought it new. Loved it. A couple of years later, I bought a 2011 Dodge Charger... that was the new body style with that sexy nose and rear end. He's been through multiple Dodge trucks since then, but not because of problems - it's because they hold their resale value and he's a trader by nature. Always trading up.

I liked the older Dodge 1 ton diesel we had better than the Ford we recently had. Really enjoy Blue Duck a second gen Dodge Cummins 2wd. It'll pull anything anywhere you want. We've not owned a half-ton in about 5 years but they do hold their value and probably won't have a problem pulling a trailer the size you're talking about. I do recommend you buy the aftermarket Forever Warranty if you bust out and buy a new truck. I have one on my Charger and with a 100.00 deductible to fix pretty much ANYTHING that goes wrong with it, I've put 125,000 miles on it since I bought it new, and I will keep it till it falls apart. I've had it in the shop all of three times in 8 years and then it was a minor problem each time. The same engine in my car is in the trucks.

I know a lady that has an Eco-diesel by them, she hauls a smallish trailer to barrel races, she's pleased with it, but I've heard they are also gutless from people I trust.

I was not impressed with the F-250 (Ford) gas rig Hubs brought home. It looked GREAT, had ALL the bells and whistles, sunroof, heated and cooled seats, dah woiks... and that was the roughest 3/4 ton I've ridden in. You know that scene from Contact where Jodie Foster is in the worm hole and her seat is shaking her apart and she can barely talk? That's how that Ford rode. However, my dad has an F-150 that he uses to tow his boat, and J, my cousins daughter who helps me has an F-150 FX4 she hauls a two horse side by side with. It has a tack room. She has no problems with that trailer. Neither have experienced a rough ride.

I cannot speak as to Chevy - we've not owned a GM product in 20 years, with one exception: My son's half ton 87 square body with a 350 under the hood. We've not hauled anything with it.

EDIT: IT might be worth it to you to get the gas sipper, a reliable car and get one used as they don't hold their value, and then look to an older Dodge Cummins. High miles mean nothing to them, and you might can have both the car AND the truck for a reasonable price. Then if you need to grow into a bigger trailer, you have the truck to pull it.

I myself am considering investing in a Dodge Cummins second gen, a 2500 or 3500, simply because I'm tired of my husband trading off every freakin' hauling truck we get. I want my own that he can't jack around with and trade off.

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post #3 of 10 Old 04-23-2019, 01:41 PM
Join Date: May 2017
Location: Minnesota
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I just bought a Ram 1500 this winter and traded in my Subaru. DH drives the 2500 which we use to tow our Weekender trailer. I couldn't get through the snow to my house anymore and needed more ground clearance and hauling ability. DH and I drive together in the summer to work so we only use his truck on the weekends.

I felt bad about trading in my good gas mileage car but it wasn't practical anymore. I looked at Colorado's thinking that would be a good compromise. The 22 city/31 highway mileage is only on the Diesel engine. Diesel=Expensive to fix everything in my experience. You may need a different mechanic, parts are twice the cost, labor is twice as long in my experience. I see you're in FL so you don't have to worry about winter Diesel issues like I do but that was another factor for me. I think Diesel's are fine for a hauling vehicle but I would never want one as a daily driver. If we can ever afford a horse trailer only hauling vehicle I will get one again but until then I'm sticking with Gas.

Now the gas engine for the Colorado gets 1 mpg better city/highway than my 1500 does. The base models were 10k more expensive than my Ram 1500 was (I bought a 3 year old used 1500 with 40k miles on it but with all the upgrades I wanted like leather/heated seats/heated steering wheel/towing) and there were no used Colorado's in my area. The towing capacity is also 2000 lbs less. I use my truck to haul our stock trailer with my horse in it short distances and I liked having the better towing capacity. We also tow our 4 wheeler/lawn mower/non animals in our stock trailer frequently and I wanted a slightly heavier truck for those trips as well.

That's why I went with the half ton over the smaller truck. Obviously your needs may be different but I found the bigger truck to be a better deal for me. I get fairly decent mileage for a truck usually around 18-19mpg depending on if I have 4 wheel drive on and I don't regret moving up to a truck! It's much easier to haul feed/shavings/tack/etc in addition to horses.

As far as Chevy/Ram/Ford go we've had bad luck with Fords and as a Mechanic DH refuses to let me get a Ford. Obviously someone else will tell you the exact opposite but that's my experience. I love Chevy's but the dealer by us is not great and they were a little more expensive for the features I wanted but I would have no problem buying one. Love my Ram although they rust a little faster in my experience.
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post #4 of 10 Old 04-23-2019, 02:48 PM
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Another point of view and experiences...

I've looked at the Ram 1500 just to see what is has to offer...
Certain engines have the capability to go from 8 cylinder to a 4 cylinder = savings at the pump with less fuel used.
Depending upon package up to 12,000+ pounds of towing capacity...
Excellent incentives are again soon to be arriving = savings in your pocket cause they have to clear the lot to make room for the newest.
Look at buying a demo model as it was used for a daily driver by a employee of the dealership and if they beat on a vehicle they're in much trouble...and they are not beat upon by a leaser who turns in, doesn't particularly care since not theirs.
Spacious cabin, nice amenities even in the lower level of ST or SLT packages...
I would stress do not buy any truck unless 4x4 or you will not be happy if you go someplace to a trail head and hit loose sand pulling a trailer...yikes bog down time.
Or try to get off a grass field dampened by a rain shower while you were riding someplace.

The Colorado is a nice looking truck...not for towing loaded horse trailers though.
Yes, people do it...but it puts tremendous strain on it when you near max it out in capabilities advertised.
No manufacturer does live load one.
Live load is much harder on the vehicle, period...driving tests involve jet ski and camping trailers or similar.
So, what makes the difference...
The dimensions of the steel frame under the vehicle.
The cooling system with added size when putting a full-sized tow package on.
Braking system is hugely different...rotors are so much larger and heavier to take the added friction and heat generated to stop everything...trailer brakes or not, the larger truck brakes make a difference.
HD transmission cooler to preserve that expensive tranny from overheating...most no longer do a stickshift!
Tires...heavier grade of tire to handle the increased load put on the truck itself...tongue weight.
Suspension...what is not beefed up to heavier grade and performance levels.
That just tips the scale...there is more but not for here.

Do search around, do your homework thoroughly.
If you belong to Costco, Sams Club, BJ's, AAA or any other including AARP check into their buyer programs for large savings passed on to you, their members.
There are incentives online advertised and then some quietly unadvertised done if you not inquire you won't know about.
When we bought our truck years ago because I hold a CDL license it saved us $3,500 right off the top.
By the time we had incentive programs added in in savings our truck cost was $10,000.00 less.
No typo...we saved $10,000 in our pocket because we did some internet searching and worked with savings programs advertised and those kept quietly for those savvy buyers.

I don't know what other manufacturers offer...
If I were to be buying I would be looking at Chevy, GMC, Ford and Dodge Ram...
I am not and never have been impressed with Toyota trucks no matter what claims are made when I see them on the road. They are lacking and we personally know to many who tried and regretted, sold and went back to the "American" made brands of old tried, true and tested.

End of month is time to purchase as dealers must sell so many and pencils get sharpened points when they haven't made their quota and need to to keep their status and ratings...
End of year is even better time to buy for the same reasons...quotas.
You must be a very informed consumer because those selling just don't know facts or details...they read a blurb from the manual...
Those who really know what to ask and what it means know ahead of time what they need in a vehicle to tow the trailer loaded with its precious cargo safest on the roads and off-road.
Do the homework.

So, if you don't have a trailer yet then you also limit yourself since some trailers are a lot heavier than you think if you go steel...
You mentioned Calico trailers...that is a steel trailer configuration.
4 horse is about 3800 empty, or at least mine was...

Sits on 16" tires...
Yes, owned one and it was one heck of a trailer.
Hard-working, excellent to tow loaded or semi-loaded but heavy.
Don't not have enough truck to be able to safely tow loaded...
Forget going forward but stopping it loaded or empty and under not 100% favorable conditions is what you must also consider in truck size and capability...
This is a large $$$$ purchase price, make sure what you buy will work for you for more years than a loan lasts which today can be easily 7 - 10 years.
Get your creature comforts too as this will be yours for many years...
But, when you come down to numbers and mileage numbers, there isn't all that much difference...a few miles.
All those numbers are also made under the strictest of generated great road conditions not reality...
My 3500 Dodge, although older now gets 17 miles around town as a daily driver when I drive.
My husband is faster on stop & starts when just the truck and not as good a mileage numbers obtained...
Now when we tow...averaging 12 miles whether on highway at 65mph or on slower roads we not see much difference...12 seems to be the number and power we have with a V8 Hemi engine.
We did not go for a diesel engine, the extra expenses of the time the engine is broke in the truck is falling apart and today, it is not cheaper at all to run a diesel.

Just keep in mind, all new diesels use DEF fluid and a special filter for that...when that filter needs changing... it costs anywhere from $5,000 - $8,900+ not covered by warranty, period.
And all the truck brands seem to be needing that filter change done according to the dealer mechanics and no getting around it or the truck doesn't run...
So, just some of what I know and have discovered doing research and asking pointed questions..
The answers to questions asked just make me more inclined to keep my older truck that works wonderfully, is very dependable and except it needs a new paint job thanks to the Florida sun intensity...not a bit of rust or problems ever had...
Our truck is a keeper, thankfully.

Seems general consensus though is don't under-truck yourself.
For what manufacturer claims are being made about them, those of us driving larger trucks are giving you factual numbers on the daily driver and real-time towing good and bad...
Go for the 1500 series or larger depending upon that trailer wanted...
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post #5 of 10 Old 04-23-2019, 03:31 PM
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You will barely be able to get by with a half-ton, so the smaller trucks aren't going to work. Weight of stock trailers varies widely, so you will need to keep that in mind. A lightweight trailer plus two horses plus a couple of saddles is pushing the capability of a half-ton, and could easily be over. I have a half-ton Suburban, and it gets the job done, but a steel stock trailer can be HEAVY and once you add a horse or two, you're really close to the limits even with the heavy-duty towing package. Mine is a no-frills 4-horse stock trailer and I only put one horse in it most of the time. I can haul two, but that trailer is a beast and takes up the majority of the weight. It gets the job done, but any additional weight, longer towing hauls, or not level terrain and I'd want a bigger truck. Put four horses in that trailer and I borrow my dad's 1-ton flatbed. It's old but it will pull anything you hitch to it. If you must have a half-ton truck, find the lightest trailer you can find that is safe. A small two-horse stock or light slant may weigh enough less to make it worth purchasing.

If you have room to park it, you may be able to find a 3/4 ton older truck that you can use for towing, and purchase an additional efficient car and still come in under the cost of a newer half-ton.

As to brand, you will get as many opinions as there are people to ask. I've had no complaints with a lifetime of Chevy/GMC. You couldn't pay me to drive a Ford, yet others feel the opposite. Ram is hit or miss. Some last forever, others seem to be constantly in the shop. Most people in our area wouldn't be caught dead in a Toyota, but in other parts of the country, the Tundra is making inroads into the truck market.
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Last edited by SilverMaple; 04-23-2019 at 03:39 PM.
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post #6 of 10 Old 04-23-2019, 04:14 PM
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Bear in mind that the towing capacity is rated on a dead load-- like a boat. A horse is a live load. You can haul a lot less live load than dead. I looked up my trailer, and it weighs 4200 lbs, empty. Add in one horse, and that's all most half-tons should be towing safely. Even a little old tag-along two-horse will weigh 2500 pounds. A trailer with a tack room or one capable of hauling more horses will double that weight or more. You can save some weight going with aluminum or fiberglass, but then your trailer cost skyrockets. If you buy a trailer, take it to a scale and weigh it. Weight varies widely. There's no sense buying a trailer that is going to put you over the safe towing (and stopping) capability of your truck with even one horse in it.

I'm actually considering selling my heavy old 4-horse WW stock to buy a Calico 1-horse slant with small front tack a local dealer has. Half the weight, and if I fold the tack room wall back, I could still get two horses in it. 90% of the time, I'm only hauling one horse anyway.

If you want to be able to haul more than two small horses, or if you keep all your tack in the trailer or need to haul water, hay, and feed, it may behoove you to purchase a larger truck than a half ton. A few bales of hay, a weekends' worth of water, a few saddles and feed, and you're putting an additional 800 lbs in the load.

For a tow vehicle, four wheel drive is a must. Without it, you'll be spinning the wheels trying to pull out of a gravel trailhead or muddy parking lot with even a light trailer load.

As far as MPG, my Suburban gets about 22 mpg average highway driving-- it only runs on all 8 cylinders when it needs to. Cruising down the road without a trailer or headwind, and it uses only 4, so the mileage improves drastically.
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Last edited by SilverMaple; 04-23-2019 at 04:22 PM.
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post #7 of 10 Old 04-23-2019, 11:12 PM
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Originally Posted by AtokaGhosthorse View Post
EDIT: IT might be worth it to you to get the gas sipper, a reliable car and get one used as they don't hold their value, and then look to an older Dodge Cummins. High miles mean nothing to them, and you might can have both the car AND the truck for a reasonable price. Then if you need to grow into a bigger trailer, you have the truck to pull it.

We have a 2008 Toyota Prius. With lots of driving on the interstate it gets 44mpg (Well, for me. My son and husband don't get quite that). I have gotten 52mpg but that was on a trip to visit family when I wasn't driving above 55. I know a few people that have two vehicles. They are mostly big families that need something that will hold a seven or eight people and pull camper on the weekend. They all tell me that using the "commuter" car most of the time and only using the larger vehicle (a Suburban or an Excursion) when needed saves them enough in gas every month to make the payment on the commuter car.
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post #8 of 10 Old 04-23-2019, 11:37 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: OK
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I bought a 2011 Ram 2500 diesel (Cummins) 4X4. I have had a 1500 in the past. I love both trucks but! I average 2 recalls from Dodge/year, even on a 8 year old truck, they're still recalling them. Some things are minor (windshield wiper fluid reservoir leaked) to major (ball joints needed replacing and another one that had to do with handling, can't remember exactly what it was). I might feel better about it if I'd had my truck checked to see if it needed items repaired and it didn't, but so far I haven't missed a single item on the recall list. And our local Dodge dealership is beyond worthless in the mechanics department. For those reasons, when/if I ever get another vehicle for me, I won't buy another Dodge.

Hubby hit a deer on the way home from work on Friday. He's got a rental car, Ford Fusion Hybrid, and he's been averaging 50 mpg and it's very comfy to drive. So we are going to go to a dealership and talk to them about it, if they total his car (2012 Honda Civic CNG with 178000 miles on it). Unfortunately Honda quit making the CNG Civics in 2015, so his car is going to be a little difficult to replace. He LOVED that Civic and would have bought another in a heartbeat if he could find one fairly local.
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post #9 of 10 Old 04-24-2019, 02:08 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2017
Location: Florida
Posts: 786
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At this point I think I'll end up getting a truck and get over the bad gas mileage. There's a certain 2014 Silverado that looks pretty great in everything except the mpg. 8 cylinders, 4 wheel drive, can haul 9600 which should definitely be able to handle a smaller trailer and a couple horses + tack. Nice looking truck too. 16 city/22 highway is what it's advertised for but some people say there are ways to improve that. Someone said that getting a bed cover reduces drag. The truck itself weighs about 5200lbs so it's not tiny.

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post #10 of 10 Old 04-24-2019, 04:03 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2017
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The '14 and '17 Silverados tend to be less reliable than some other years, according to my mechanic, and the mileage on that isn't going to improve a whole lot--- 16/22 is pretty much a 'downhill with a tailwind' scenario I can get that, but it's open road/no wind/not much traffic to deal with numbers. A bed cover might improve your mileage with a pickup, but it's not a huge difference. You'll still probably average 20 - 22 highway. If you buy a cover, get one that locks so you can put stuff in it and not have it walk away when you run into the farm store or stop for lunch, and that's easy to take off if you need the truck bed. A cover is not cheap, so that's an additional expense unless there's already one on the vehicle. Still, I'll take less mileage to drive a Suburban or pickup. I like driving a larger vehicle, I need 4WD quite frequently, especially in winter/spring, and I just do not feel comfortable in, or enjoy driving a small compact car. Yikes. No thank you. Driving a Prius against a 70 mph headwind across South Dakota with a friend was an experience I do not wish to repeat. I'd rather buy more gas.... plus, there's only one parking spot off the alley at our house for my vehicle as my husband's car gets the garage (my truck won't fit) and no street parking is allowed in our town, so my horse hauler/dog show truck also has to be my daily driver. My trailer lives by the barn where I keep the horses.

If you are choosing a pickup, consider getting a gooseneck hitch installed and looking for a gooseneck trailer rather than a bumper pull. It will be more stable and more maneuverable than a bumper pull. And make sure your pickup has the heavy duty towing package with the larger transmission, tranny cooler, etc. Make sure it's wired for a trailer, or that's an additional expense to purchase and plug in the electric brake and redo wiring that doesn't work or wasn't there to start with. You may also need to replace street tires with truck tires, depending on what's on it and what the tire rating is. A set of good truck tires will run you $800+, so if those need to be replaced, best know it going in. All of these are things you can work into your negotiation with the dealership, too.

Last edited by SilverMaple; 04-24-2019 at 04:11 PM.
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