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fishinJohn

Set up for towing

16 posts in this topic

I have never owned a truck and never towed anything behind a truck and I am shamefully unaware of how the process goes. I plan on trading my little car for a truck through craigslist if I can find someone looking for a vehicle that is good on gas. What I want is a truck for hauling ice fishing stuff and hopefully a boat within a year or two, and possibly a trailor for an ATV. So if I find a truck and it does not have the towing package what would it take to set it up for towing? I assume a two inch ball is standard for small trailors and there is some hardware to install behind that. For wiring how many pins are most common for boat trailors that do not have their own brakes? Where would you have to run the wires to? I think I will not need a transmission cooler since I will towing a small boat and if I can I will get a manual transmission. I am not looking for blow by blow details, just an general idea of what to expect. Thanks!

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Trans fluid temperature Gauge.

It's unbelievably important, and no one talks about it.

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2" is pretty common, 1 7/8" is still out there.

Most small boat and utility trailers use a four flat connector . If the vehicle is not equipped with trailer wiring there are kits available at most parts stores/fleet farm/tractor supply that are essentially plug and play (they plug into the vehicles existing connectors, no cutting or splicing).

As far as a tranny cooler its never a bad idea. Many trucks all ready have them installed so you might get lucky.

If the truck you decide on has some miles on it than get it checked out before you purchase it. Most shops offer a prepurchase inspection ranging from $35 on up. Although it will not tell you everything at least you will have a general idea of what kind of shape the front end is in, if the brakes are O.K., what kind of shape the fluids are in, if there are any major leaks, or what ever else they may find! IMO its well worth it to find out if a good deal is a good deal or if it needs a good deal of work $$$ !

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Quote:

Trans fluid temperature Gauge.

It's unbelievably important, and no one talks about it.


Very true on both parts. I am working on installing one, choosing the place to do it is up for speculation. I have a cooler installed, a Hayden 1679, very cheap considering the longevity it could add to my AT.

Where should a guy install the temperature gauge? The pan?

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Good advice on the shop checkup. A small cost that can literally save thousands.

As far as what you are talking about in what you want, I don't think you need to go overboard. While a tranny temp guage is nice, it is not necessary - though I have thought about adding one many times (fishbreath, maybe you could add a thread about how to install one, that would be cool to know, thanks). Especially for the uses you mention. I pull trailers all the time, and I don't have one on half ton pickup, and I have 150k on my current truck, and plan to keep it well past 200k (not diesel either). I do have the towing package, which includes a tranny cooler, however.

Any truck newer than about 2000 will have the 7 pin plug, and most boats and small trailers have the four flat connector as mentioned, so you just need a cheap adapter.

My recommendation on truck would be to get a full size instead of small truck. The mileage won't be that much worse (16 instead of 17 or 18) but you can do so much more with a full size. I had a ranger and liked it until I finally said enoguh, I need a full size smile.gif Also be aware of the really short boxes on some trucks these days. I have ext cab, with the 6.5' bed, and I would not go any shorter than that.

Good luck finding the right truck. Don't be afraid of high miles as long as you get it checked out. And with a 4x4, regardless of how old it is or what brand, they are more expensive to maintain and to fix, so plan for it. Even tires are a ton more expensive than car tires. But it is all worth it IMHO!

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Personally, I'd not get a manual transmission unless perhaps I was getting a super econo-box car and trying to eek out every possible tenth of MPG.

For towing, the auto is just SO much easier and more convenient, IMO.

Also, as far as mileage goes, someone else mentioned a similar though as I had. It takes "X" amount of power to move the load (load = vehicle and towed object) and "X" amount of power requires some amount of fuel burned to make the necessary power. So, unless there is a radical difference in engine technology, the mileage one gets isn't going to be that much different between vehicles when the load is the same. Gas vs. diesel not withstanding because gas and diesel are different engine technologies and the fuels have different BTU content per gallon. Diesel being more BTU/gallon and that is one of the reasons diesels get better mileage under a comparable load.

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I am surprised to hear you recommend an automatic transmission. I have not driven one much in the last 12 years, since I turned 16. I hate the feel of an automatic, I swear I am always braking and in snow I would much rather downshift than brake. I feel I have more control with a manual. I can see how backing up might be easier with an automatic and when pulling a boat out of the water I could see not wanting to roll any further back than need be. Anyone else feel strongly one way of the other?

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In todays trucks the auto tranny is probably stronger then the munual. It is just way easier to drive an auto then a manual, sometimes its hard to find a manual truck, because the demand for them now is low.

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Diesel gets better mileage since motors are designed different. Any diesel vehicle will have almost twice as much torque of a gas engine, with 1/3 less HP.

Standard (stick) transmission is more economical to run, generally speaking you gain 4 to 5 mpg from an automatic.

Automatics are easier to run, smoother when shifting and easier on your trailer, they won't last as much as a manual, where clutch is the weak link.

Any unmodified truck will do fine with their transmission, start adding HP with fueling boxes, chips, injectors etc, and your transmission or clutch will die fast.

I am a diesel guy, I bought my 1st one several years ago and will never change. I Had a 1 ton Chevy last January I towed a horse trailer to Sioux Falls SD and back, it did 8mpg, I sold the truck after 1 week and went back to my diesel.

I am a huge fan of stickshift and manual transmission, I have a Dodge Cummins, same truck auto does 16mpg, mine with a 6 speed manual does 21mpg

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I purchased a 00 Dakota that did not have the tow package other than the bumper. I purchased the hitch bracket at an auto parts supplier and installed it myself. It took a little over an hour and cost about $125 or so. It was simply take out a couple of bolts, put 'em back in and your done. The after market companies have brackets for just about any vehicle and they are pretty straight forward. It was wired, but it's also pretty easy to go to Fleet Farm and pick up the wire harness that simply connects into your existing lights. That's also pretty easy to do.

If you need to do this, it's not too bad.

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Barony is right about getting a hitch and wiring. If the truck you find has neither, they are very easy to find and install.

Manual trannys are still tops for towing. Even with the new "smart" autos with tow modes etc, they still are not as smart as a person driving it. Unless your cluth is actually slipping, a manual will not shift out of gear on its own. The driver controls the RPMS that the engine changes gears and the gear needed for hill climbing.

Automatics slip constantly, especially under load. Its what they do. Thats why a tranny temp gauge is important. Your tranny slips between gears and slips in and out of overdrive. The constant slipping when your tranny searches for the right gear under load is only creating heat which will damage the tranny fluid and eventually the tranny.

Auto's will do the job for your application. A small boat or ATV trailer will be fine behind almost any truck. If you go with a compact truck like the S10 or Ranger etc then you should have a tranny cooler installed.

There are still 1 7/8" trailers out there, but 2" is standard. You can carry two hitches (what I do) or you can convert any trailer tongue to the 2" size. There are also multi ball hitches, but stay away from the "convert-a-ball" hitches. I've used them and they break down easily and rust up. The holding mechanism becomes unreliable.

It sounds like you've been doing some reading and have a good grasp of what to expect.

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I have owned alot of trucks, from V-6 models (3.0 Dodge 3.9 Dodge, 4.3 Chevy, 2.8 Chevy), to small V-8's (4.7 Dodge, 4.8 Chevy) to the 5.3 chevy, 5.9 Dodge and 5.4 Ford.

When it comes down to it, the smaller engine costs more.

They don't tow worth pits, and when you do, they suck more fuel.

If I had my way, I'd get a deisel and bully chip it.

17-19 mpg all the time.

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Hey Box. I don't know how but wish I did. Unfortunately, I surf automotive forums as well and if I see a write up, I'll dilligently use the art of pergery to show others how its done wink.gif. I know the real challenges are routing the wires and picking a good location. I have heard of folks installing them in the line from the torque converter to the tranny cooler, the pan, and the cooler itself. The validity of each location is up for debate.

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I my opinion the best location for a gauge sending unit is transmission output line to cooler, that's the hottest reading, which means that's the actual temperature inside transmission, and that's what you want to control.

If you add it post cooler you will have false readings, consequently it's not even worth going through the hassle of it.

BTW, I wish ALL manufacturers would install a transmission gauge, not just a light, you will be amazed of what you can learn and how to drive and tow with your vehicle.

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Well I got my truck, a 98 Silverado 1500 4x4 with 5.7 liter, I could not convince my wife a diesel was the way to go. smile.gif It did not come with the towing package so I think I will at least mount the hitch assembly myself and probably get a mechanic to do the transmission cooler. I would like any recomendations for where to buy the hitch kit from because I will need good directions. I do not mind buying parts online but a recomendation would help. Thanks!

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Congratulations on your new truck !!!

Actually installing a hitch is very easy, it's just bolted up on the frame. Be sure to use GRADE 8 bolts, I did it once with standard grade and....well better not say.... grin.gif

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