What's new

Tow-rig shopping in 2020 with a 15-20K budget

Joined
May 24, 2020
Member Number
1298
Messages
225
Loc
OC, CA
In the market for a "daily-driver/tow-rig" for my '78 F150 4x4, looking to spend around $15k and up to $20k if I have to. I'm in California so I think that narrows my options smog-wise (has to be CA emissions compliant) and of course trucks are more expensive around these parts. I figure the F150 currently weighs around 4,500-5000lbs as it sits (eventually there will be 1-tons, bigger tires, cage, etc) and a trailer would be 1,500-2,000lbs. Something that got a realistic +10mpg would be ideal, and comfort is something to consider as there would be the occasional up the coast/cross-country road trip.

Any insight on what I've been looking at?
  • 2007-2014 Suburban 2500 4x4 - Really hard to find a decent 8.1 or a 6.0 with the 4.10 rear gear-ratio that lets it tow more than 7000ish lbs
  • 1999-2002 F250/F350 4x4 7.3 - Seems like what I'm most likely to end up with due to availability but they can be on the higher-end of the budget. Avoiding the 6.0 for obvious reasons but if I were to consider it I would look for a 2005-2007 for the coil-sprung suspension up front.
  • 1996-1997 F250/F350 7.3 or 7.5 - It seems a 7.5 might be able to stay above 10mpg but don't know; would be cheaper to maintain. A lot of the OBS 7.3's I see are either beat to shit or the seller wants their weight in gold for them. Also from what I have read an OBS just isn't as refined/comfortable as the Super Duty obviously
I would look at a Dodge/Chevy, just don't know too much about them (which ones to avoid/look for, what they're actually like to ride in, etc). Also, I work from home so I don't have a commute. Whatever I get will probably see 7000 miles a year unless I take a lot of trips.
 

speed bump

Red Skull Member
Joined
May 21, 2020
Member Number
973
Messages
169
Loc
SW Montana
$20k would get you into a early 2010s gas super duty which is a heck of a lot more truck than anything you listed so far. Probably will only get single digits mileage towing but it will do it fine.

As someone who Owns/has owned the powerstrokes you listed I wouldn't buy one for more than about $7-8k (for a super duty) and I would expect to put another 3-4k into the truck after I bought it to make it decent.
 

DMG

Red Skull Member
Joined
May 20, 2020
Member Number
495
Messages
1,832
6.2 or V10 super duty is what you need.
 

DRTDEVL

Mothfukle
Joined
May 19, 2020
Member Number
78
Messages
716
Loc
Austin... TX? Nope. Minnesota!
With that budget, you could get a really clean, low-mile mid-2000s Chevy LBZ 2wd with the Allison 2000 or a Ram 2500 2wd with the Common Rail 5.9 and G56 or NV5600 manual trans... both are pre-emissions (just EGR and cats, no DPF), and would get you double-digit fuel economy when towing. If you *need* 4wd, that takes the miles up a bit, but they are still in the ballpark.

Both of those trucks will tow better than anything you listed, aside from (maybe) the 8.1 'burb.
 

mjlogan88

Red Skull Member
Joined
May 20, 2020
Member Number
500
Messages
201
Loc
GA
Shit i'll sell you this for 10k right now. '06 132k mi V10 auto

IMG-4372.jpg
 

back woods

Well-known member
Joined
May 21, 2020
Member Number
1010
Messages
144
If I had the money and was looking for a truck:

99.5-02 7.3: $7000-10000
Tires, Misc, repairs: $2000
Built Transmission: $5000
Drop in turbo + tuning: $2000

Solid drivetrain, easy to fix, reliable. With a built transmission, tuning, and larger drop in turbo they are pretty unstoppable. I see you live in CA so the truck price will probably be more.
 

Stix

Resident hick....
Joined
May 19, 2020
Member Number
344
Messages
170
Loc
Out in the rice
The 460 in the ford will never see 10mpg. Even empty and downhill with the key off. Cool trucks though.
 
Joined
May 19, 2020
Member Number
230
Messages
272
Loc
🌎
Buy my 07 dodge with the 5.9. Has a ton of miles but it fits the bill and happens to be for sale. Cab is too small for my family now is why I'm selling.
 
Joined
May 24, 2020
Member Number
1298
Messages
225
Loc
OC, CA
Your budget should get you a 2015ish 6 2l gas f25/350 with 100kish miles

I've seen a couple of them around me and they're on my radar (as are 6.8/V10s) now.


Buy my 07 dodge with the 5.9. Has a ton of miles but it fits the bill and happens to be for sale. Cab is too small for my family now is why I'm selling.

I might be open to that after shopping around for a bit. Have a preference for Fords but not stuck on it.



Forgot to mention I'm looking for a 4x4 so that definitely increases the cost and narrows the options a bit.
 

Tinstar

Red Skull Member
Joined
May 19, 2020
Member Number
148
Messages
230
2big bronco has it. 2015ish 6.2 gas F250/350.
 

woods

I can fuck up literally anything.
Joined
May 22, 2020
Member Number
1120
Messages
5,108
I own a 2015 6.2 F250. Great truck. Zero issues. Hauls just fine, but doesn't have that much of a throw you into the back of the seat feel to it when you mash it like the diesels do. Thing I don't really care for is the motor likes to sing. Hauling anything through the mountains and its 5k the entire time.

I won't sell it to you for $20k. :flipoff2:
 
Joined
May 19, 2020
Member Number
230
Messages
272
Loc
🌎
I've seen a couple of them around me and they're on my radar (as are 6.8/V10s) now.




I might be open to that after shopping around for a bit. Have a preference for Fords but not stuck on it.



Forgot to mention I'm looking for a 4x4 so that definitely increases the cost and narrows the options a bit.

It's 4x4. Not an auto btw.
 

BustedCrank

Webwheeler
Joined
May 20, 2020
Member Number
806
Messages
66
Loc
In the rain
Look elsewhere, Seattle/Portland isn't that far away. While I'm not a ford guy. 15-20k can get you into a fairly nice duramax (up to 07) or cummins (up to 09).

Might be worth the time/drive to pick one up outside of CA
 

shortbus4x4

Junk collector
Joined
May 19, 2020
Member Number
202
Messages
615
Loc
Post Falls ID
How often are you towing? How many miles a day daily driving in it? Towing all the time and long commute get a diesel. Towing once in a while and short commute get a gasser.
 

DMG

Red Skull Member
Joined
May 20, 2020
Member Number
495
Messages
1,832
If I had the money and was looking for a truck:

99.5-02 7.3: $7000-10000
Tires, Misc, repairs: $2000
Built Transmission: $5000
Drop in turbo + tuning: $2000

Solid drivetrain, easy to fix, reliable. With a built transmission, tuning, and larger drop in turbo they are pretty unstoppable. I see you live in CA so the truck price will probably be more.

Don’t leave out the 03 7.3 trucks. They were the highest output and supposedly had the best 4r100
 

Hooligan

Xtreme wheeler of the web
Joined
May 19, 2020
Member Number
341
Messages
664
Loc
Sacramento
Put 8.1l into the search box of Craigslist, ‘burbs and the ugly Avalanche with that engine can be had in CA with near 100k miles for around $10k. Near Sac area there are a few V10 Fords under 100k miles for $16-17k.
 

CLRracer

Red Skull Member
Joined
May 19, 2020
Member Number
219
Messages
94
Loc
Archer Lodge NC
Your price range could probably get you into a 2010+ (4th gen) Ram with the 6.4 Hemi. I like how my 15 rides and how the interior is laid out and trimmed. Mine is a CTD but a good friend of mine has a 6.4 and it will pull as much as mine, just slower. Also, I'm not a Chevy guy, but it's hard to beat a 2500 with a 6.0 gas engine. My dad has had two, and I've never heard anyone who didn't like them.

Duane
 

YotaAtieToo

Thick skull
Joined
May 19, 2020
Member Number
142
Messages
7,322
Loc
Bonners Ferry, ID
Your price range could probably get you into a 2010+ (4th gen) Ram with the 6.4 Hemi. I like how my 15 rides and how the interior is laid out and trimmed. Mine is a CTD but a good friend of mine has a 6.4 and it will pull as much as mine, just slower. Also, I'm not a Chevy guy, but it's hard to beat a 2500 with a 6.0 gas engine. My dad has had two, and I've never heard anyone who didn't like them.

Duane

I'll be the first :flipoff2:​​​​​​
​​​​​​
I had a 6.0 burb, it was OK, with a lightish load (90 zj on a light car trailer) but it was like 1st gear on Mt roads. Not something I'd buy with even moderate amount of towing in mind.

Not to mention the fact that it gets big block fuel mileage with small block power.

Like I said, it was OK, but definitely not something I'd search out for a tow rig.
 

Wulf

Well-known member
Joined
May 19, 2020
Member Number
324
Messages
1,088
Loc
Denver ish
Your price range could probably get you into a 2010+ (4th gen) Ram with the 6.4 Hemi. I like how my 15 rides and how the interior is laid out and trimmed. Mine is a CTD but a good friend of mine has a 6.4 and it will pull as much as mine, just slower. Also, I'm not a Chevy guy, but it's hard to beat a 2500 with a 6.0 gas engine. My dad has had two, and I've never heard anyone who didn't like them.

Duane


I'll be the first :flipoff2:​​​​​​
​​​​​​
I had a 6.0 burb, it was OK, with a lightish load (90 zj on a light car trailer) but it was like 1st gear on Mt roads. Not something I'd buy with even moderate amount of towing in mind.

Not to mention the fact that it gets big block fuel mileage with small block power.

Like I said, it was OK, but definitely not something I'd search out for a tow rig.


​​​​​​I towed a 1st Gen 4runner (let's say 5k combined weight) over the passes with a 2500 CC 6.0L Silverado and it was extremely disappointing. Had to drop down to about 40mph in 3rd over Vail pass and was getting 7-8 mpg with that weight back there.
 

jeepkevin

Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2020
Member Number
1929
Messages
9
I just finished this same goal with a 15k budget in Dallas, Tx. I used Car Gurus and used the filters to look for only 3/4 gas or diesel. I spent about a month searching. I wanted as new as possible and as low mileage as possible. Ended up with an 05' Duramax LLY 2wd ext cab long bed 2wd with 135k miles for $13k. It was a grandpa truck with air bags, gooseneck, and tool box. Put $500 into intake horn, hi flow fuel fitting and pressure relief delete, new shocks and bump stops. Truck has almost new tires. Our motorhome tows the buggy but daily driver burb with 5.3 really struggled.

I'm out of work with this Covid crap and missing out on day trips wheeling, tired of hooking up trailer to go to home depot for mulch or other honey do's. Just missed having a truck. Burb avg 15mpg the way I drive and Duramax seems to be this or a bit better. I will add exhaust, programmer, and gauges shortly. Just making sure she solid first.
 

Projectjunkie

Whatever
Joined
May 19, 2020
Member Number
306
Messages
2,425
Loc
Tucson Az
I just finished this same goal with a 15k budget in Dallas, Tx. I used Car Gurus and used the filters to look for only 3/4 gas or diesel. I spent about a month searching. I wanted as new as possible and as low mileage as possible. Ended up with an 05' Duramax LLY 2wd ext cab long bed 2wd with 135k miles for $13k. It was a grandpa truck with air bags, gooseneck, and tool box. Put $500 into intake horn, hi flow fuel fitting and pressure relief delete, new shocks and bump stops. Truck has almost new tires. Our motorhome tows the buggy but daily driver burb with 5.3 really struggled.

I'm out of work with this Covid crap and missing out on day trips wheeling, tired of hooking up trailer to go to home depot for mulch or other honey do's. Just missed having a truck. Burb avg 15mpg the way I drive and Duramax seems to be this or a bit better. I will add exhaust, programmer, and gauges shortly. Just making sure she solid first.

The lly is a great truck, but don't go chasing fuel economy, or believing what people tell you they get, it's just not there, lb7 got good mileage, but injectors didn't last, lly got good injectors, but ran hot and got shitty mileage, pull your inner wheel well rubber and toss it, 06 for a second overdrive with an engine re design and got better mileage.

you can do a 6 speed upgrade, but you'll never recoup the expense

I got my ccsb 4wd from 13.5 empty highway to 16 at 70 empty and that's all i ever expect to get

buy 2 fuel pump filter head kits, install one now, and put the second, along with a tool kit with torx under the back seat, you'll get one long crank, that's your warning you'll be stranded within a week

you can also buy a new a.c. Delco filter head with filter for pretty cheap, install that as maintenance, but keep a kit handy
 

Aggie06

I ain't the one to blame.
Joined
May 20, 2020
Member Number
678
Messages
2,007
Loc
Balls Deep South Texas
I had a Ram with the 6.4 and the 6 spd (66RFE I believe). It towed well enough. It was slow pulling a travel trailer through Colorado, but got the job done. I had issues with the torque converter and the rear differential in the truck.
 

jeepkevin

Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2020
Member Number
1929
Messages
9
The lly is a great truck, but don't go chasing fuel economy, or believing what people tell you they get, it's just not there, lb7 got good mileage, but injectors didn't last, lly got good injectors, but ran hot and got shitty mileage, pull your inner wheel well rubber and toss it, 06 for a second overdrive with an engine re design and got better mileage.

you can do a 6 speed upgrade, but you'll never recoup the expense

I got my ccsb 4wd from 13.5 empty highway to 16 at 70 empty and that's all i ever expect to get

buy 2 fuel pump filter head kits, install one now, and put the second, along with a tool kit with torx under the back seat, you'll get one long crank, that's your warning you'll be stranded within a week

you can also buy a new a.c. Delco filter head with filter for pretty cheap, install that as maintenance, but keep a kit handy

Great info! Thanks!!! Will do this. Pump is cheap and so are rebuild kits.
 

TRINDU

PBB Orphan
Joined
May 19, 2020
Member Number
386
Messages
2,618
Loc
Central TX
Want a clean 2004 CCSB 8.1L, Zf6, 4x4 with 153k?

I average 11-12 unloaded. Flirted with 13 and low of 10.25.
 
Top