Our Hunt for the Ideal RV Towing Machine

In April of 2019, the lease was up on Kara’s SUV so we traded it in for a half-ton truck that could later be used as a tow vehicle for a travel trailer.

Kara and I dreamt of one day purchasing a few acres of desert land that we could develop into an off-grid homestead.

And of course, we would need a reliable off-road vehicle and a travel trailer to live in on location.

Unfortunately, operating Kara’s skin care studio in Las Vegas (SkincareGarden.com) from a remote location wasn’t practical.

Plus, cellular Internet in a remote location didn’t seem reliable enough for my website design business (WiseWebDesign.studio).

However, we knew that sometimes you have to take steps toward your dreams even if they are implausible.

And the first step to making our dream come true was to acquire a tow vehicle. So, that’s what we did.

15 months later… the pandemic forced us into the RV life with only 60 days to prepare.

Thankfully, we already had our tow vehicle.

During the research phase, we located our future truck on AutoTrader.com.

The listing displayed the following:

  • 2008 Ford F-150 Lariat SuperCrew $13,997
  • 118,600 miles
  • 5.4L Triton V8 SOHC with 300 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque
  • 4-speed automatic transmission with Overdrive
  • Limited slip rear axle ratio 3.55
  • 4-wheel drive
  • Alloy wheels
  • ABS brakes
  • White sand tri-color metallic with tan interior and leather seats
  • Trailer tow package:
    • 72 amp HD battery
    • 7 wire harness and 4/7 pin connector
    • Hitch receiver
    • Aux. auto trans. oil cooler (9-channels)
    • Radiator upgrade
    • Camper shell by Leer

Our next step was to obtain the following reports:

  • CARFAX Report revealed 4 previous owners from CA and UT.
    • No reports on structural damage, airbag deployments, odometer rollbacks, or Ford recalls.
    • First 3 owners were reported to have low mileage (under 15,000 yr).
    • 4th owner reported an accident in 2017 but also had serviced regularly.
  • Kelly Blue Book
    • 2019 value listed between $11,700 – $15,500 which they label as a “Good Price”.

At this point, we scheduled a test drive at the used car dealership located in Las Vegas, NV.

The test drive and initial inspection revealed the following:

  • Minor discoloration of paint on the right rear panel (replacement panel caused by the accident in 2017 listed on the CARFAX report)
  • Bent right rear wheel (also caused by the accident)
  • Minor but visible dent
  • Mechanic’s grease on floors, console, and seat
  • Brakes did not perform as expected during our test drive
  • Battery cable corrosion (acid build-up)
  • Wiper blades were deteriorating

Although the dealership agreed to remedy all these problems, we decided to take the truck to a Ford multi-point inspection after purchase.

Thankfully, we got the used car sales manager to agree to negotiate any major problems discovered by Ford.

Here’s what Ford discovered and recommended:

  • Engine oil leaking due to a bad head gasket (dealer fixed)
  • Gas mileage gauge was incorrect (we paid Ford)
  • Tuneup for special spark plugs in which half were new and half were old and loose (we paid Ford because of the special tool required)
  • Replace the drive belt (dealer fixed)
  • Resurface brake rotors (we paid the dealer)

Now you might think that Kara and I are crazy to buy a truck with this many problems and you would be right.

However, our kind of crazy knows that when a company screws up and offers a product with a bunch of problems, you have some leverage (at the time of purchase) to remedy these problems at a huge discount and possibly at no additional cost.

In other words, we knew that these kinds of problems will be ongoing and so what better tow vehicle can you expect than a Ford F-series pickup… America’s best-selling vehicle for a 40th straight year in 2021?

In addition, the dealership recommended and referred us to get extended insurance provided by IAS Dealer Services in Austin, TX.

So we did and so far (2022) the investment has been paying off in our favor.

Here’s an overview of our policy:

  • Anything on their long detailed list such as engine, transmission, etc.
  • 60 months / 60,000 miles
  • $150 per month for the first 2 years for a 5-year policy or 186,600 miles whichever occurs first
  • $100 deductible

After the dust settled on all that… Kara and I knew we were on the right track and that is a feeling we use to this day… especially when another repair comes up.

If you are planning to use a recreational vehicle (RV) as your full-time home and you want to be able to tow it to different locations, you will need to purchase a tow vehicle.

Here are a few things to consider when choosing a tow vehicle:

Towing capacity: The most important factor to consider when choosing a tow vehicle is its towing capacity, which is the maximum weight that it can safely tow. You will need to make sure that the tow vehicle has enough towing capacity to handle the weight of your RV and any other items you plan to tow, such as a car or a boat.

Engine size and power: The size of the engine and the power of the vehicle will also be important factors to consider when choosing a tow vehicle. You will want a vehicle with a strong engine and good acceleration to be able to handle the weight of the RV and maintain a safe speed while driving.

Fuel efficiency: If you plan to do a lot of driving, fuel efficiency may be a factor to consider. Larger vehicles and those with larger engines tend to be less fuel efficient, so you may want to look for a vehicle that gets good gas mileage to save money on fuel costs.

Size and type of vehicle: The size and type of vehicle you choose will depend on your personal preferences and needs. If you plan to use the vehicle for everyday transportation as well as towing, you may want to consider a pickup truck or a larger SUV. If you only need the vehicle for towing, a smaller SUV or a minivan may be sufficient.

Cost: The cost of the vehicle will also be an important factor to consider. You will want to choose a vehicle that fits your budget, but also one that has the features and capabilities you need for towing.

It is a good idea to research different vehicles and compare their towing capabilities, fuel efficiency, and other features before making a decision.

You may also want to consult with a salesperson or mechanic who can help you choose a vehicle that is suitable for your needs.

Kara and I hope this information is helpful for someone who is also thinking of acquiring a tow vehicle.

Good Luck!

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