Four Wheel Drive for towing a 19 - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 03-15-2020, 01:51 PM   #1
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Four Wheel Drive for towing a 19

I'm looking for a tow vehicle. I think I should get four wheel drive. I'll be boondocking half of the time, but not the really wild off road stuff. Decent dirt road access.

A couple of friends disagree. What do you think?
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Old 03-15-2020, 01:58 PM   #2
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One can’t go wrong with 4wheel drive. Comes in handy in all different type of situations. That’s all I drive
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Old 03-15-2020, 02:25 PM   #3
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I agree. Four wheel drive ensures traction. What you really need to avoid is front wheel drive. I had to back down a hill on a gravel road and take a run at it in a front wheel drive vehicle because the front axle was unweighted by the weight of the trailer hitch.
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Old 03-15-2020, 02:26 PM   #4
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Is it worth the additional expense and weight? I had good luck with a 2 wheel drive and positraction rear or limited slip rear end. you are adding additional tongue weight over your rear end which should help with slippery conditions.
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Old 03-15-2020, 03:29 PM   #5
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I've been glad I had 4wd a few times over the years. Seeing as how you get a good chunk of the initial bump in cost back at resale time, I think it's worth getting if you don't mind the drop in mpg.


I needed mine on the trip home just a few nights ago in VA. Due to new loose gravel in a campsite, I could not get the trailer to go up on the Anderson levelers till I engaged it. Sometimes it the little things.
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Old 03-15-2020, 03:29 PM   #6
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Now many non 4 wheel drive trucks can be ordered with a Electronic Locking Axle. Flip the switch and both rear wheels are locked together and drive...unlike only one wheel in a regular vehicle.

Generally both rear wheels being driven will get you going as you always have one on the ground to provide traction...or you have bigger problems to worry about.

In the old days four wheel drive meant that one front wheel and one rear wheel was driven...not all four. So this setup is almost as good with less weight and cost.

For the extra $500 I would at least get the locking alxe in case you find yourself on slippery wet grass or ramp.
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Old 03-15-2020, 03:32 PM   #7
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If you're planning to tow on dirt roads with any sort of a grade, I think you need 4WD. I live 8 miles up a well-maintained dirt road. I could not get my 19 home without 4WD because there is one section of the road that is pretty steep (8%). If I don't put the truck in 4WD, the back end starts slipping and tires spin. And this is in the summer under dry conditions. The other thing to consider if you're camping off pavement is even though things may look good when you pull in, what happens if it rains?? Will it turn to slick mud, and if so will you be able to get the trailer out without 4WD?? These are reasons I would not be without it.
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Old 03-15-2020, 04:01 PM   #8
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Well I don't know but a few weeks ago on the way home from the Quartzsite rally we got caught in a surprise snowstorm. This was in southern New Mexico after I deliberately avoided taking the mountain route. Yet the road got plenty scary and if we slipped off it there was zero assurance of a flat stopping place. My 4-wheel drive truck provided great dyspeptic mental security.
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Old 03-15-2020, 04:33 PM   #9
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I have helped several travelers that have gotten stuck on the side of the road and a couple of times in a park help those get out. Having 4 wheel drive is a necessity to me when towing. It’s just a matter of preference of what feels the most comfortable with what vehicle one uses for towing.
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Old 03-15-2020, 04:52 PM   #10
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I had no problems with front wheel drive UNTIL I went to sell it. With a car with low mileage and great condition, it should have sold quickly. But, people who buy an SUV will reject any car that doesn’t have all wheel drive.
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Old 03-15-2020, 07:19 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by MyronL View Post
Well I don't know but a few weeks ago on the way home from the Quartzsite rally we got caught in a surprise snowstorm. This was in southern New Mexico after I deliberately avoided taking the mountain route. Yet the road got plenty scary and if we slipped off it there was zero assurance of a flat stopping place. My 4-wheel drive truck provided great dyspeptic mental security.
Yes, especially since the OP is from NY one should plan for some snow. Even if not trying to 4 season camp you can get caught in the shoulder seasons. This shot was in the middle of an orchard off Lake Erie in early November. You aren’t going anywhere until Spring unless you have 4WD or a thaw (or unless you bother one of the farmers to haul you out with a tractor).
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Old 03-15-2020, 07:58 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by OldLuke View Post
I'm looking for a tow vehicle. I think I should get four wheel drive. I'll be boondocking half of the time, but not the really wild off road stuff. Decent dirt road access.

A couple of friends disagree. What do you think?
Hi OldLuke, Welcome to the forum. We are not experts, but if 20+ years of towing experience counts for anything, we concur with you. IMHO, 4WD is your friend. Because our TV is 4WD, we've been able to get our (previous) trailers into and out of some pretty amazing spots (using 4WD). Another reason is bad weather - whether you are towing or not. When you need it, what a relief to have it for the added safety. It is also a glorious feeling being waved on by the authorities simply because you have 4WD and watching everyone else having to pull over to put on chains. We always carry chains in the winter, but so far they stay nice and dry in their box and we stay warm and dry in our TV.

Eggscape, thank you for sharing about Electronic Locking Axles. Great info. Our son is also looking for a new vehicle soon and pondering the same 4WD question. He doesn't tow anything (yet) but for us, we'll never tow without 4WD. -Bea
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Old 03-15-2020, 09:12 PM   #13
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I think the key here is knowing the limits of both your vehicle and your driving skills, and then staying within them. I've worked in difficult terrain all my career, and we used to say that FWD is a great way for getting more stuck than you ever can with TWD.

If you are going to knowingly press the limits of your vehicle or your skill, you really need a lot of experience before taking that chance. If you don't have a lot of experience in difficult situations, you can usually get out of the situation if you become aware of it early enough by using FWD, locking axles, etc. before you get in too deep. It's best not to press the limits and have some backup in the form of FWD, and perhaps a more experienced companion traveling with you.

I'd say FWD would be a worth while comfort if you intend to get off the paved roads or travel in snowy conditions.

I forget who, but someone once wisely said "Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement."
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Old 03-15-2020, 10:12 PM   #14
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I've worked in difficult terrain all my career, and we used to say that FWD is a great way for getting more stuck than you ever can with TWD.
George, it looks like you are using "FWD" to mean "four wheel drive". That's confusing because to most people, "FWD" means front wheel drive; for "four wheel drive", use "4WD", or "4X4", or "AWD" (meaning "all wheel drive").

I'm guessing "TWD" means "two wheel drive"; that's okay (assuming my guess is right), but the normal terminology is
"FWD" for front wheel drive,
"RWD" for rear wheel drive, and
"2WD" or "4X2" for two wheel drive.
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Old 03-15-2020, 10:13 PM   #15
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Kinda like a FWD TV?
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Old 03-16-2020, 02:07 AM   #16
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When I had my Ford minivan and tent trailer, we had a really nice lake front campsite in Algonquin Park, northern Ontario. Our site was at the bottom of a big hill. The park had added gravel to the site because of erosion. The site was in a low spot. When leaving I couldn't get traction to even get the trailer moving and had to get the neighbor with the F250 to pull us up the hill.

Even know I rarely hit the dirt, I still would never buy a truck without 4X4. Around here, a 2wd has poor resale and low demand.
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Old 03-16-2020, 06:55 AM   #17
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The only downside of having 4wd is the feeling that you can go anywhere or faster and not worry about stopping nor getting stuck, this feeling can lead to problems.
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Old 03-16-2020, 08:57 AM   #18
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While for many reasons I would never buy a truck or SUV that was not 4x4, for towing an Escape there have only been a few snowstorms in the mountains where I have used it. Otherwise it has never been used towing my Escape. On flatter roads with light snow I do not use it unless it was real slippery, and I doubt I would even drive on that for very long anyway.

In the winter here I have used it in 4WD pulling my cargo trailer full of tools around the city if the roads have snow on them. City driving conditions in this situation are always way worse than highways due to the more packed acceleration and braking areas.

Oh yeah, I used it on a sandy beach on the Baja last year too.
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Old 03-16-2020, 09:08 AM   #19
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I have had problems trying to back the trailer up a modest grass slope with morning dew. I will definitely get a 4WD or AWD next time

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Old 03-16-2020, 11:18 AM   #20
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Brian B-P, thanks for clarifying my shorthand comments.

You are correct in your translation, and I should have explained myself better or used different terminology. Worse, I have owned or used one or more of all those types of vehicles, thus leaving myself with even less cover for excuses!
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