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Author Topic:   Tow Vehicle options
Eric Hinz posted 03-09-2002 09:41 AM ET (US)   Profile for Eric Hinz   Send Email to Eric Hinz  
Looks like this must be towing week on the Forum! Let me add one more query:

I am looking at purchasing a new vehicle which will be used for towing the boat. I have the option of 2wd, 2wd with a limited slip differential, and a 4wd system. I tend to keep vehicles for a long time (I'll probably try to get at least ten years out of this one), so durability/maintenance is an issue. From the standpoint of ramp launches, is the addition of limited slip differential or 4wd justified vs the additional cost. I haven't run across many ramps (so far) that are a huge problem.


p.s.--Weight isn't a problem with my current 13 footer, but I want to be able to get a larger boat without replacing the truck. I'm looking at a Dakota QuadCab.

MikeK posted 03-09-2002 11:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for MikeK  Send Email to MikeK     
I had a similar question when I needed to buy a new tow vehicle. When I looked at all the facts I ended up with a Ford F150 SuperCrew 4 wheel drive with a limited slip rear axle. I have the tow package so plenty of towing capacity, the F150 is a proven product, 4 full doors, seating for 5 and and a 5 1/2 foot bed for hauling odds and ends. It rides great, milage is OK and it's a reliable product.
Tom W Clark posted 03-09-2002 12:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

To answer your specific question, get the 2 wheel drive with the limited slip differential.

The limited slip differential will probably cost only a couple of hundred extra whereas 4wd will cost several thousand extra. But the added cost of 4 wheel drive doesn't just end there. 4wd will cost more to service (a friend just had his Chevy in for its 30k service, $550 for his 4wd, but would only have been $360 if it were a 2wd) and it will cost more to repair if it ever comes to that. It will also cost more to insure as well as get poorer gas mileage.

There will be performance costs was well. 4wd adds a bit of weight which will reduce carrying capacity as well as reducing acceleration. It will not handle quite as well because of the higher center of gravity and added weight. While there may be a time when 4wd is nice to have at the launch ramp, the limited slip will be what is really helpful to you there.

Now if what you are really looking for is for someone to tell you you should get 4wd because that's what you really want, then just go ahead and get 4wd. 99.9% of the people with 4wd have it because they wanted it not because they needed it. Live it up.

jimh posted 03-09-2002 01:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
As Garrison Keilor said, "Four-wheel drive just allows you to get stuck in deeper snow."
TightPenny posted 03-09-2002 01:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for TightPenny  Send Email to TightPenny     
But 2wd keeps you off the beach, for those of us fortunate to be near the sand and salt.
Eric Hinz posted 03-09-2002 04:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for Eric Hinz  Send Email to Eric Hinz     
Thanks for the responses--based on your comments and some discussions with friends and neighbors, I'm counting out the 4wd option, and still considering a lsd.

Another possibility has reared its unique head:

Looking at the Warn Winch site, they have a small winch designed to fit into a a Class III 2"x2" receiver. Costs little more than a lsd, and gives you lots of options. If you're slippin' on the ramp, hook it up to the front receiver and get a pull up. If the ramp looks too steep/slippery, park at the top and put the winch in the rear receiver--ease the trailer down without risking the tow vehicle. Using the truck to go to work? Leave the winch at home.

Has anyone tried this as an option? Since I am most concerned about getting stuck inadvertently, this seems to offer the most flexibility without any extra mechanical 'stuff' spinning around unused 99.9% of the time.


phatwhaler posted 03-09-2002 04:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for phatwhaler  Send Email to phatwhaler     
If you want ten years out of a vehicle, I would buy a 4x4 Toyota Tundra, with a LSD. The great thing about four wheel drive is slipping it in to low range and easily crawling up the ramp, with nary a strain from the engine or chassis. Even more sweet if you have a manual trans, really saves the clutch. If you are looking to a big boat, say over 23ft, then go with the big Ford or chevy. Just a brawnier set-up.

As for the winch thang, winches are expensive and a pain to use. I'd just througha tow strap behind the seat and ask somebody for a tug.

triblet posted 03-09-2002 08:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
Nah, the best thing about four-wheel drive
is backing up in compound low. Put it in
low range, and it just crawl's backward.
Everything happens in slow motion. Much
easier to look like a pro.

And there are some ramps where I would NOT
launch a whaler without 4WD. I forgot to
put it in 4WD one time at Pt. Lobos. The
tires just spun (slimy and steep).

On my Pathfinder, there's no additional
service required on the 4WD. And I've had
zero trouble in 275,000 of 4WD vehicles (
130K + 130K + 15K).


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