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Old 03-27-2019, 09:05 AM   #1
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Advice on Buying a Tow Vehicle

I'm new at this. I think I have an 86 Satellite T1850, 18'. The only info is on a half worn sticker on the outside of the trailer. I don't have a manual so I've been learning about it online. I pretty sure this weighs in at 2700lbs. unloaded. My son and I will be living in this for a year. We will be traveling all over the country and boondocking most of the time. I have one full picture on my profile and others of the roof. I'll get more on soon. First things first. I need to buy a toad. I'm hoping a 6cyl will tow this as I'm trying to save money on fuel. But if I have to get an 8cyl I will. So does anyone have any advice on what I should be looking for? Oh, I'm looking at older pre 2000's models. I will have it once'd over by a mechanic to make sure all the brake lines etc are good to go. I've been looking at Jeep Cherokees, Chevy Silverados, F150's, Land Rovers, preferrably 4x4s, something that will seat 3 people just in case we have an extra person. I hope this wasn't too much info but also enough. I really need the help! Thanks so much for any and all advice!
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Old 03-27-2019, 12:17 PM   #2
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I tow a T1700 with a Tacoma 6cyl it's capable. I would not worry too much about fuel economy nothing is going to get much better that 10- to max of 14 a bigger engine will do better on hills and a bigger truck will handle a little bit better. Personally I would go with a pickup Land rovers are nice but way expensive to fix and parts maybe an issue there are just not enough of them around to warrant any one stocking parts. Up here in the north you would be doing well to find any thing that old that still has a frame under it.
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Old 03-28-2019, 08:17 AM   #3
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Thanks Mainah! I can't really afford much is the problem. Once I sell my house if I have to I'll find something better though. Although I would rather not have to look for and buy another. Right now I just need to get the Sunline ready. Like take it somewhere to have it dewinterized. The tanks cleaned out and an inspection which I guess you have to have? Plus I just have to learn how to tow it.
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Old 03-28-2019, 08:35 AM   #4
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Finding a good pre-2000 4X4 will be a challenge. You will likely have to choose between paying a premium for a good one vs. getting a much newer post-2000 for the same money. I'm with Mainah on the Land Rover. They have a romantic, adventurer appeal to them, but would be a terrible choice for someone wanting to spend most of their time driving it--as opposed to fixing it--let alone towing a trailer across the country. Same with a Jeep Cherokee. My DIL had one for many years and it still sees occasional use on the farm--not worth selling. They had enough issues new. An older one will undoubtedly have seen some very heavy off-road abuse. Older 4X4 pickups will also have gone through several sets of 20 something owners who've pounded them off road, submerged the hubs in water, not changed the oil etc.

Search Wikipedia for F150, Silverado, etc. to get pages detailing the various generations of these trucks and their features, like engine and transmission choices, that will be important for you. From my experience, I'd suggest that a small V8 like Ford 4.6L, GM 4.8L or Dodge 4.7L is the best engine choice. These engines won't be as economical solo, but they will get the same mileage towing as a struggling 6 and the extra power will be a huge bonus towing in headwinds and mountains. GM's 4.3L V6 did have a good towing reputation, but that's anecdotal and I never owned one. As far as the older 6's, like Ford's pre V6, 300ci straight 6--I had one--they're not even adequate for towing a pop up.

If you can handle the possibly higher price, I'd suggest not going older than a 2000+ Ford or GM (I don't have any RAM experience). Also, don't overlook a good 4X2 that will likely have seen more gentle use than a 4X4 and won't have the added complexity.
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Old 03-28-2019, 10:30 AM   #5
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I tow a T170 that weighs somewhere less than 4000 lbs loaded, with my 07 trailblazer 6 cylinder. It did ok, But I wanted more power in the hills for sure. I just got a silverado with the small 4.8 V8. It has a little more HP and Torque and gets the same fuel Mileage that the V6 does. I haven't towed with it yet, but i fully expect it to do a better job all around.
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Old 03-28-2019, 07:24 PM   #6
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April,

Welcome to the SOC & congrats on your 1850! I agree with Gary G - while you can tow with a 6 cylinder, especially if you’re staying east of the Mississippi, when you’re traveling out West you’ll want something with more power. Towing an 1850 with a 6 cylinder tow vehicle could be done but going over mountains at 20 mph (or less) is no fun! The altitude makes a difference. Another reason to consider a Ford/Dodge/Chevy is that it’s generally easier to get parts and find places that work on them when needed. Once again, that’s not such a concern here in the East but there are places out West where finding someone who knows what they are doing on a LandRover are few and far in between.
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Old 03-29-2019, 07:14 AM   #7
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I live in the Mt's of western Maine if I go to VT. it's through Crawford notch. I can tell you there is a lot of shifting going on my Tacoma is a 6 spd manual it will handle it but a V8 would be a bit easier. Trucks go from the ridiculous to the sublime I had an old dually diesel Dodge it would pull a large house the last thing I hauled with it was 16,000# of building materials it was unstoppable but it was BIG! Being down south has some merit in finding a older pickup in decent shape we see badly rotted 2011 Chevy pickups up here what I would look for would be a pickup and unless you intend to park in the woods a 4X4 would be a good bit more expensive. A add plus especially if you are going to live in the camper would be a truck cap, campers get small real fast it would be nice to have some extra dry storage space.
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Old 03-29-2019, 03:00 PM   #8
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Thanks so much for all the response! I'm posting a link to see what you guys think about this truck. I copied and pasted the description and the link to the CL ad is below that.

(I have my personal work truck for sale (Big Blue) I got a van now and do not need both. Honestly hate to see it go. But i rather see it being used then have it sit. I replaced the motor last year with another 302. Will run forever if properly maintained. The only thing that does work is the gate in the back. The handle just broke a few months ago. Perfect work truck or getting stuff for around the house.

If you have any questions let me know. I have owned the truck for about 4/5 years now.)
https://allentown.craigslist.org/cto...841375908.html

I talked to him and he also told me that he not much rust. He swapped in an OEM motor and trans that had 65K on it. It also came from the factory with a 2A towing classification.
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Old 03-29-2019, 04:06 PM   #9
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How many miles why did it need a motor? A 302 is not a 6 cylinder. A class 2 hitch is the smaller one 1 1/4 3500# max and 350# tongue weight so it's pretty doubtful it was a factory installed tow package. The rear frames on those had a tendency to rust and broke off at the spring hanger. Hate to tell you this but finding an older truck is going to be hard yes they are out there but it will be luck to find a nice reliable one. The last Tacoma I had was a 97 it had 300,000 miles on it. My 2011 Tacoma has a class 4 factory hitch (6,000 to 10,000#) and there is no way I would try to pull or stop that much weight Toyota's cut off is 6,500# My T1700 is around 3,000 to 3,200 loaded so yours will be a bit higher.
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Old 03-29-2019, 04:57 PM   #10
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Thanks Mainah! I'll keep looking.
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Old 03-30-2019, 05:40 AM   #11
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Ford made an inline 6 @ 300ci that was known to be a very good motor, 302 is v8. That add doesn't mention miles and only one picture isn't helping. If you are close go look at it with the points mainah brought up in mind.
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Old 03-30-2019, 07:37 AM   #12
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I think since it seems like the Ford owner is not being honest about some stuff I think I'll pass it up.
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Old 03-31-2019, 07:45 PM   #13
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I've never known an F-150 to come with a factory 1 1/4" class 2 hitch. While I can't speak for the seller, I would bet he meant a 2" (square tube) hitch, which is class 3+. I wouldn't necessarily jump to saying the seller isn't honest, he probably just knows nothing about towing or the mechanics of his truck. A lot of people who don't understand towing or vehicles hear terminology and later guess as to what they think they heard. You really have to have a look at it to get an honest feeling of it.
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Old 04-02-2019, 10:50 AM   #14
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Thanks Sunline Fan! He says he looked at it and the motor is a 5.0 302 8cyl for sure. I didn't ask him about the hitch. Now this Thursday 4/4 I'm going to test drive a 98 F150 8cyl that I saw on the side of the road. I'm taking a good friend of mine who is a mechanic to look it over. It has 148,000miles. He wants $5000 for it. That is way over what I wanted to pay but I guess by the sounds of it I'm gonna have to scrape it together. Thanks and I'll let you know how it goes.
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Old 04-02-2019, 11:07 AM   #15
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I think $5000 is over the top there is a 07 in Allentown for $5500 Check the PA Greg's list.
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Old 04-02-2019, 09:34 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AprilL View Post
Thanks Sunline Fan! He says he looked at it and the motor is a 5.0 302 8cyl for sure. I didn't ask him about the hitch. Now this Thursday 4/4 I'm going to test drive a 98 F150 8cyl that I saw on the side of the road. I'm taking a good friend of mine who is a mechanic to look it over. It has 148,000miles. He wants $5000 for it. That is way over what I wanted to pay but I guess by the sounds of it I'm gonna have to scrape it together. Thanks and I'll let you know how it goes.
Hi April,

Ask your mechanic friend to look good at these places that sometimes get missed. He may already know about these, just passing it along as any older used truck that lived in the rust belt (any northern state that uses road salt) can have these issues. All these can be added expenses to correct that you should know going in on a sale.

Look for heavy rust on these areas: (it is not a complete list but a good set of them.)

Brake lines
Transmission lines
Fuel lines
Rear brake dust shields assuming it has disk brakes.
Rear axle differential cover
Front suspension components.
If is has a 2" receiver hitch on the back, is it heavily rusted?
4 x 4 drive shafts boots if equipped.

Towing a camper makes a truck work, and hard sometimes. Before you start towing locally, all these areas need their oil checked for level.

And before you head out on your trip, these same areas should have a new oil change with filter where applicable. You never know sometimes how old the oil is in these. Yes this adds cost, but is cheaper then a breakdown on the road if the original oil is still in the gear boxes/transmissions.

Engine oil
Front differential gear oil if 4 x 4
Transfer case gear oil, if 4 x 4
Automatic transmission fluid
Rear axle gear oil.

All the other engine fluids need to be checked too. Power steering, brakes etc.

Hope this helps and good luck.

John
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Old 04-03-2019, 10:36 AM   #17
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Mainah I checked Allentown CL and I can't seem to find the one your talking about although I did find some others.
JohnB my mechanic friend can't make it now as he has to work. Unless I can get him to look at some trucks this weekend. $5000 is really a lot for me. There were two on CL for $3500. I contacted them so we'll see. Here are the links:

https://allentown.craigslist.org/cto...843916748.html

https://reading.craigslist.org/cto/d...856937163.html
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Old 04-03-2019, 05:15 PM   #18
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The black one looks clean and well cared for and is still in use. A 4X4 will require more maintenance and use more fuel. You may want to ask if they have a tow hitch that is a plus if it's a factory hitch it will have some add goodies that a non hitch truck would not like extra transmission coolers and a trailer lighting socket. The Gregs list one was just to point out that the first one wanted too much.
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Old 04-07-2019, 07:40 AM   #19
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Hey Sunline folks! Top of the mornin to ya! So I ended up getting the 98 F150 8cyl. It was mostly because the underneath looked really good as far as rust and it has a factory tow package which would save me money and the hassle of getting one installed. I'll post pics soon. She's bright red which I'm not too fond of but I have more to say about that in another post.

So I have an appointment for 4/22 to get the Sunline inspected. Can anyone tell me how do I know when this Trailer was last inspected? Is there supposed to be a sticker somewhere? Do I even have to get it inspected? I'm gonna do some research on this site for old questions and see if I can find some answers. Thanks so much for all your help!
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Old 04-07-2019, 02:32 PM   #20
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Quote:
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Can anyone tell me how do I know when this Trailer was last inspected? Is there supposed to be a sticker somewhere? Do I even have to get it inspected?
Anything over 3000 lbs has to be inspected in PA. Your T1850 has a GAWR of 4480 lbs, so yes, you need an inspection.

The inspection sticker is usually applied to the exterior of the frontmost driver's side window.
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