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Old 04-18-2021, 04:00 PM   #1
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Tow vehicles are too expensive

Hi all, my wife and I recently put in a deposit for a 21NE and are very excited to start creating memories with our toddler, baby and 2 dogs. However we do not have a tow vehicle and I have become Increasingly worried about the high cost of one. When we started our trailer search I had pictured getting something smaller and pulling it with a moderately older vehicle to keep costs down. Something well maintained with around 125k miles that still had plenty of life left for our weekend trips. As the size and cost of the trailer increased with the 21NE I now am feeling a bit irresponsible if I continue planning on getting anything with that many miles. The wife is very excited about a trailer and we are talking about taking many longer road trips across multiple states with the kids (to yellowstone etc).

To sum up:

We can't really afford the cost of the 21NE and something like $50k on a full size tie vehicle. I would love to find something around $20k instead. We are open to anything that is reliable and not going to break the bank. Any advice for make and model and mileage on vehicle that might work for us and not ruin our experience with our 21NE?
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Old 04-18-2021, 04:51 PM   #2
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$20k puts you into about an 8-10 year old full size pickup with 100k - 140k miles.
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Old 04-18-2021, 05:00 PM   #3
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Not sure this helps, but I have a sound, but old 98 Chevy 2500. We travel off the beaten path, so decided we wanted a new tow vehicle for long trips and the old truck would be relegated for local things. I considered loaded trip weights, since I have a fairly heavy duty truck for other stuff, I could live with 1800 lbs payload and 7000 lbs towing capacity. Then I just looked for the lowest cost vehicle to meet my needs. I hit a Ford Ranger for 30K with the basics I needed. Still more than 20K, but less than 50K with full warranty and 0 miles. So, if you really think about the capacity you need, Iím sure 20K can find you something.
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Old 04-18-2021, 05:31 PM   #4
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I bought a 2008 Lexus GX470 with 85K miles on it in 2015. It now has 175K miles on the odometer and it still feels and runs like new. It's probably good for 2-3 times as many miles.
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Old 04-18-2021, 05:36 PM   #5
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Wandering about the country with a new 21NE in tow should be a series of delightful adventures, not days filled with apprehension whether you will make it to your destination intact or not. Your tow vehicle is a vital compliment to the trailer - without the TV the trailer utility is nearly diminished to zero. You and your wife will need to determine what purposes the TV will need to fulfill other than towing your camper. P/U truck (mid-size, full-size), SUV (mid-size, large, etc) 2 or 4 wheel drive, petrol or diesel, and so on will need to be sifted through to narrow the field of possibilities. We previously owned an older Lincoln Navigator (2004 vintage) and it served us very reliably until a few years ago when our needs changed. We found the Nav for less than 20K with very low miles. Keep in mind that with the used vehicle market now demand and prices are up a bit so persistence and willingness to travel a bit for the right vehicle will be required. The Ford Expedition would be a strong contender for providing more than enough passenger room, cargo and tow capacity for years to come. Thinking back to the old Fram oil filter TV commercials - "You can pay me now or pay me later..." Good luck.
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Old 04-18-2021, 06:20 PM   #6
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You might also consider the 19- takes a slightly less robust tow and would give you a little more $$ to put towards the tow vehicle.
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Old 04-18-2021, 06:50 PM   #7
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When we went shopping for a used vehicle about 2 years back I wanted something that would eventually tow a trailer and with reasonably low miles. Its mainly just my wife and myself any longer now that the kids are older so I looked heavily at the smaller cab options. In the F150 the supercab models were running about $2.5k - $3k less than the comparable s-crew models around here on the used market. Because your kids are still very young the smaller cab options from any manufacturer would fit them in the back seats with no issues. You will not begin to have issues with them sitting back there until they hit their teens and it sounds like you've quite a while to go on that. In fact by then you'll probably have changed vehicles anyway.

I ended up getting a 2014 STX supercab with very few options, the 5.0 V-8 and trailer tow pkg mainly, w/78k mi for $16k. A friend of mine has been looking for a used truck over the past month so I've been on the look out for him as well and I know the prices have come up considerably in the past few months. A similar truck to mine is now going for about $18k - $19k here in the DFW area.

If you've just recently placed your deposit then you've got a long wait for the trailer. I'd personally just wait for a while on the tow vehicle as long as you do not need now it for some other reason. The used vehicle market will probably cool down late this year or early next year and once the prices begin to come back down then I'd go and look. If you wait you may get a year or two newer vehicle for the same price you'd pay now.
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Old 04-18-2021, 07:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brroberts View Post
Not sure this helps, but I have a sound, but old 98 Chevy 2500. We travel off the beaten path, so decided we wanted a new tow vehicle for long trips and the old truck would be relegated for local things. I considered loaded trip weights, since I have a fairly heavy duty truck for other stuff, I could live with 1800 lbs payload and 7000 lbs towing capacity. Then I just looked for the lowest cost vehicle to meet my needs. I hit a Ford Ranger for 30K with the basics I needed. Still more than 20K, but less than 50K with full warranty and 0 miles. So, if you really think about the capacity you need, Iím sure 20K can find you something.
Brroberts - I was just talking to the wife about the ranger. I could make the extra cost work by using it as my commuter instead of just using as a 3rd vehicle only used for trips (or home depot runs etc). My only reason for hesitating about a ranger was just concerns about a turbocharged engine not as appealing with more things to break. But a lot of vehicles come turbocharged now for fuel economy. I have over a year before I will purchase the TV so I will research more and can even probably find one used by then.
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Old 04-18-2021, 07:07 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Mike G View Post
I bought a 2008 Lexus GX470 with 85K miles on it in 2015. It now has 175K miles on the odometer and it still feels and runs like new. It's probably good for 2-3 times as many miles.
I haven't researched lexus much yet but would love anything toyota. I just get a headache when I see what people want for them with such high miles though. I know they can easily go twice to three times the miles of other manufacturers though. I will start researching them because I wasn't aware lexus made an suv like the gx470 that can tow 6500lbs.
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Old 04-18-2021, 07:10 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by LRCURTIS View Post
Wandering about the country with a new 21NE in tow should be a series of delightful adventures, not days filled with apprehension whether you will make it to your destination intact or not. Your tow vehicle is a vital compliment to the trailer - without the TV the trailer utility is nearly diminished to zero. You and your wife will need to determine what purposes the TV will need to fulfill other than towing your camper. P/U truck (mid-size, full-size), SUV (mid-size, large, etc) 2 or 4 wheel drive, petrol or diesel, and so on will need to be sifted through to narrow the field of possibilities. We previously owned an older Lincoln Navigator (2004 vintage) and it served us very reliably until a few years ago when our needs changed. We found the Nav for less than 20K with very low miles. Keep in mind that with the used vehicle market now demand and prices are up a bit so persistence and willingness to travel a bit for the right vehicle will be required. The Ford Expedition would be a strong contender for providing more than enough passenger room, cargo and tow capacity for years to come. Thinking back to the old Fram oil filter TV commercials - "You can pay me now or pay me later..." Good luck.
Thanks and yes the used market (and new is out of control). I will look into navigators and expeditions. The
F-150 is high on my list and I'm guessing the reliability should be the same for the suvs.
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Old 04-18-2021, 07:16 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by MichaelS78 View Post
Tow vehicles are too expensive
That's what I thought when I bought my F150 XLT V8 Supercab back in 2005. If you can swing it, stick with it, and practice diligent maintenance you can enjoy great long-term payback as I have. The alternative, as others have suggested, is careful and patient shopping for the well-tended F150, Silverado, or whatever suits your needs. It does take lots of legwork, patience, and care (which may include multiple payments to a trusted inspecting mechanic if not confident in your own vehicle evaluation skills).

I doubt even today's crazy market would bear anywhere near $20k if I were to sell mine (that's not happening), but these are out there to find and it's a very clean inside-and-out 'towing fool' with lots of reliable life left in it at 125k miles (recent pic).

Good Luck!
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File Type: png 2005 XLT TOWING FOOL.png (364.4 KB, 16 views)
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Old 04-18-2021, 07:17 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Bobbie54 View Post
You might also consider the 19- takes a slightly less robust tow and would give you a little more $$ to put towards the tow vehicle.
I'm very tempted to go down to the 19'. I would love to be able to keep things smaller, lighter y easier all around. We also have limited space to park the trailer on the side of the house so the 19' would fit easier. However we haven't been inside of any fiberglass trailers let alone a 21ne or 19 escape to see how it feels to sit at the dinette. I'm pretty sure we are going to want that extra space at the dinette seeing as how we are not skinny people haha. Also one of our dogs is 100lbs and a bit of a butt about moving out of the way. That wider aisle on 21 will be nice. Lastly we are not the best about packing light and know that very soon the kids will want extra stuff like bikes or a friend to come along. If we go with the 19 it would be with the plans to upgrade to 21 sooner than later.
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Old 04-18-2021, 07:21 PM   #13
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I sold a Ford Explorer 2007 for 2k because they have no resale value. No one wanted it and it ran fine. They would work for awhile too.

I think until people go back to work and prices calm down, this is what we have. New car prices are high because of chip shortages and used cars are selling at a premium right now, when you can find them.

Used Toyotas are hard to find too. You my need to get what you can and hope things stabilize over the next few years. That could men camping closer to home in case of break downs.

Things are nuts right now.
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Old 04-18-2021, 07:23 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Chamberman View Post
When we went shopping for a used vehicle about 2 years back I wanted something that would eventually tow a trailer and with reasonably low miles. Its mainly just my wife and myself any longer now that the kids are older so I looked heavily at the smaller cab options. In the F150 the supercab models were running about $2.5k - $3k less than the comparable s-crew models around here on the used market. Because your kids are still very young the smaller cab options from any manufacturer would fit them in the back seats with no issues. You will not begin to have issues with them sitting back there until they hit their teens and it sounds like you've quite a while to go on that. In fact by then you'll probably have changed vehicles anyway.

I ended up getting a 2014 STX supercab with very few options, the 5.0 V-8 and trailer tow pkg mainly, w/78k mi for $16k. A friend of mine has been looking for a used truck over the past month so I've been on the look out for him as well and I know the prices have come up considerably in the past few months. A similar truck to mine is now going for about $18k - $19k here in the DFW area.

If you've just recently placed your deposit then you've got a long wait for the trailer. I'd personally just wait for a while on the tow vehicle as long as you do not need now it for some other reason. The used vehicle market will probably cool down late this year or early next year and once the prices begin to come back down then I'd go and look. If you wait you may get a year or two newer vehicle for the same price you'd pay now.
I had crossed off supercabs from the list because I thought you needed a full size rear seat for a car seat? Read that 80% of the carseat base needed to have seat under it. But a full size trucks rear supercab seat might work. I need to research and confirm. That would definitely lower the cost and open up a LOT more options in trucks. Thanks!
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Old 04-18-2021, 07:28 PM   #15
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That's what I thought when I bought my F150 XLT V8 Supercab back in 2005. If you can swing it, stick with it, and practice diligent maintenance you can enjoy great long-term payback as I have. The alternative, as others have suggested, is careful and patient shopping for the well-tended F150, Silverado, or whatever suits your needs. It does take lots of legwork, patience, and care (which may include multiple payments to a trusted inspecting mechanic if not confident in your own vehicle evaluation skills).

I doubt even today's crazy market would bear anywhere near $20k if I were to sell mine (that's not happening), but these are out there to find and it's a very clean inside-and-out 'towing fool' with lots of reliable life left in it at 125k miles (recent pic).

Good Luck!
Ok good to know! I have already started looking into buying and learning how to use a vehicle code scanner. They're really inexpensive these days and lots of youtube channels about them. My favorite is the Scotty Kilmer channel except that he really only recommends the simpler motors with no turbocharger etc. Also only toyota and f150. Kinda limits the options or induces a bit of anxiety that you're buying something that's not going past 150k miles
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Old 04-18-2021, 07:35 PM   #16
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I sold a Ford Explorer 2007 for 2k because they have no resale value. No one wanted it and it ran fine. They would work for awhile too.

I think until people go back to work and prices calm down, this is what we have. New car prices are high because of chip shortages and used cars are selling at a premium right now, when you can find them.

Used Toyotas are hard to find too. You my need to get what you can and hope things stabilize over the next few years. That could men camping closer to home in case of break downs.

Things are nuts right now.
Good points. We won't be able to have it all. Especially during these crazy times of insane prices. Might have to settle on something a little older but not travel as far. We are lucky in that we live in washington with lots of options from olympic peninsula rainforest to eastern washington sun.

I think my next phase should be to learn how to use a vehicle scanner and start researching these vehicles like explorer you mentioned. Might not go as long as a toyota but one in good condition will have enough life left for just doing local trips
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Old 04-18-2021, 08:02 PM   #17
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Ok good to know! I have already started looking into buying and learning how to use a vehicle code scanner. ....
I could be wrong (and apology if I am) but if you're at the stage of learning about OBD scanners and liking Mr Kilmer for other than casual entertainment value (ahem), you might be better served saving those few code-reader dollars for fees toward competent independent mechanic inspections.

Hint - you don't need a code-reader to see an on-dash check engine light (CEL), and anyone offering you a used vehicle with a CEL displayed likely isn't the seller you want to trust as having tended their vehicle nicely no matter what the underlying code is. Yes, a code reader can sometimes reveal 'pending/stored codes' that aren't resulting in a displayed CEL, but that's the sort of thing that often won't survive a decent test-drive (test drives should always be long and on varied road conditions from urban stop and go to highway) and can be better understood by that competent mechanic if the vehicle passes your test for 'serious consideration' to advance to the point of detailed inspection.

Just offering for your consideration that if you aren't already a pretty competent automotive mechanic there's no substitute for hiring one to inspect a used vehicle that you hope will give you long and reliable service for your investment.
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Old 04-18-2021, 08:03 PM   #18
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Brroberts - I was just talking to the wife about the ranger. I could make the extra cost work by using it as my commuter instead of just using as a 3rd vehicle only used for trips (or home depot runs etc). My only reason for hesitating about a ranger was just concerns about a turbocharged engine not as appealing with more things to break. But a lot of vehicles come turbocharged now for fuel economy. I have over a year before I will purchase the TV so I will research more and can even probably find one used by then.
I don't know why turbochargers are seen as such unreliable machines. Maybe the passenger car companies have done poorly with them?

Our HD 4-stroke cycle diesel engines have been turbocharged since forever and are expected to run 1.2M miles or more before the first rebuild. And we push our turbochargers very hard in terms of peak speed and maximum boost levels.

Oh, and I design engines for a living. That Kilmer guy does not know what he does not know. A lot of mechanics have some level of anecdotal evidence (which has some value.....like, they see certain makes and years with a lot of problems). But then they think they know why or how this translates to everything.....and they are often wrong.
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Old 04-18-2021, 08:18 PM   #19
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I could be wrong (and apology if I am) but if you're at the stage of learning about OBD scanners and liking Mr Kilmer for other than casual entertainment value (ahem), you might be better served saving those few code-reader dollars for fees toward competent independent mechanic inspections.

Hint - you don't need a code-reader to see an on-dash check engine light (CEL), and anyone offering you a used vehicle with a CEL displayed likely isn't the seller you want to trust as having tended their vehicle nicely no matter what the underlying code is. Yes, a code reader can sometimes reveal 'pending/stored codes' that aren't resulting in a displayed CEL, but that's the sort of thing that often won't survive a decent test-drive (test drives should always be long and on varied road conditions from urban stop and go to highway) and can be better understood by that competent mechanic if the vehicle passes your test for 'serious consideration' to advance to the point of detailed inspection.

Just offering for your consideration that if you aren't already a pretty competent automotive mechanic there's no substitute for hiring one to inspect a used vehicle that you hope will give you long and reliable service for your investment.
I was thinking the scanner would be used to avoid unnecessarily paying for a mechanic to check out a vehicle that has red flags when scanning. I'm not referring to actual codes but learning what the scanner actually shows as far as how the vehicle is running. I don't want a scanner in lieu of mechanic inspection but to avoid taking a bad vehicle in for an inspection.

But if I'm understanding you you're saying that a scanner won't really help because unless I'm already a competent mechanic I'm not going to be able to read the Info on the scanner to judge if it's worth taking into see by a mechanic? I'll admit I know nothing about scanning other than a few scotty Kilmer videos where he discusses looking through the numbers on how the vehicle is performing and how you can tell the difference between one that's got wear and one that has lots of life left based on the numbers it's showing. He hasn't directly said the average buyer will understand those numbers though. Maybe I'm assuming too much and picturing a website with scanning numbers to look at when purchasing an f150 with v8 for example. In a perfect world those numbers should exist. They exist somewhere for the mechanics but that doesn't mean they're easy to find for the average car buyer.
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Old 04-18-2021, 08:23 PM   #20
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But if I'm understanding you you're saying that a scanner won't really help because unless I'm already a competent mechanic I'm not going to be able to read the Info on the scanner to judge if it's worth taking into see by a mechanic? I'll admit I know nothing about scanning other than a few scotty Kilmer videos where he discusses looking through the numbers on how the vehicle is performing and how you can tell the difference between one that's got wear and one that has lots of life left based on the numbers it's showing. He hasn't directly said the average buyer will understand those numbers though. Maybe I'm assuming too much and picturing a website with scanning numbers to look at when purchasing an f150 with v8 for example. In a perfect world those numbers should exist. They exist somewhere for the mechanics but that doesn't mean they're easy to find for the average car buyer.

If the vehicle has codes, then something is wrong with it. Reading the codes will give you some idea of what.

Otherwise.....yes, an OBDII reader can show you any raw physical data carried on the J1939 canbus. I have an iBanks reader in my pickup for this reason. But I design engines for a living and while I'm used to having a lot better data in a test cell, I can learn a lot from what I see on the bus.

But I don't know what a layperson would do with the information, unless they have a pretty solid understanding of how their type of engine works in a fundamental way and what each channel means in detail.
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