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Thread: Tow Vehicle/DD Revisited

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    RaceTape Ninja Force McCocken's Avatar
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    Default Tow Vehicle/DD Revisited

    Trying to plan out goals for setting up my own racecar. Part of those plans includes a tow vehicle. With a SM/PTE, open trailer and equipment, I am estimating about 4500#. I am blessed I have no mountain ranges to cross. Currently, my local tracks with be VIR, CMP, and probably RA. Without having and maintaining a fleet of vehicles among 2 people (my wife and myself), I am thinking of 3 vehicles overall; the racecar, the tow vehicle and the e30. I work from home, so the e30 will be my vehicle. My wife drives more than I do, by far. She is in telecom sales. Most of her driving is in the RDU area, occasionally drives to the coast (Wilmington), the NOC (Charlotte), and Winston-Salem to the west.

    I am looking for something smaller than a full-size SUV/truck for her to drive. Something reliable and nice, so she won't have qualms about taking clients to lunch when she visits and so forth. It would be nice if we can use this vehicle as our long-range trip vehicle too. We are both from Michigan and would like to use it to drive the 700 miles+ to see family there and in Florida. Right now, I have my research pointing towards an '03+ 4Runner V8. We have no plans to buy new. I would estimate out range at about $10k +/- $2k. I hate payments and dealerships more than anything. I imagine finding one that may have leather and nice amenities. I don't know if 4WD is something I need, but am considering it. It does snow in MI when we visit for the holidays and sometimes we go to the mountains or the shoreline (you can drive on certain beaches out here - 4WD only). The towing capacity on the V8 4runner is 7000# w/ 4wd, 7200# 2wd.

    Am I asking too much out of one vehicle?

    The other option was to go with 4 vehicles; the racecar, the e30, a nice wagon/sedan for the wife, and a cheap tow vehicle ('90s F150 or csomething like that).

    Currently, we are saving to buy the home we are renting from a friend. Room for the vehicles is not the issue. The home is the sort of place we have been wanting for a long time, as I tend to look at my previous home purchases as investment and not get emotionally tied to them, my wife not so much. This one is different as it is both a good investment and a style/design I am getting emotionally attached to. It is near downtown Raleigh, mid-century modern, and on an extremely rare double lot. There is room to build an enclosed garage in addition to the extra-large, 2-car covered car port. There would even be room to build an additional building as a guest house or studio for me.

    My wife is very understanding and knows racing/cars is just part of the package she gets with me. She also knows it is her car (Miata) I have my sights set on for my nest racecar. She loves the car, but I think she has been very receptive to giving it up and driving something that suits her needs.

    Any additional options or insight to the tow vehicle arrangement would be greatly appreciated!
    Yer pal,
    Force

  2. #2
    http://www.trackhq.com/Banners/yellowsitesponsor.gif emilio700's Avatar
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    If you think she might need her daily while you are off at the track: two separate vehicles. My gut is that there will be some conflict at some point, she needs it early Mon and you still have race junk behind the 2nd row seats, it stinks cause you had some old gear lube in there for a few hours, etc. The F150 would be cheap cash purchase, cheap to maintain and insure and it stays connect to the trailer. Separate vehicles make more sense to me.

    Also if you cost things out, any vehicle that meets here needs and yours will cost just as much as two separate and uncompromised vehicles. She's not taking clients to lunch in your faded and stinky F150. You're not spilling oil in the back of the nice SUV.
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    Administrator ucfbrett's Avatar
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    If you go with one vehicle, I can think of nothing on the used market more suitable than than the V8 4Runner. Four-wheel drive is nice to have for snow and beaches, and it's switched off most of the time anyway.

    I do see Emilio's point. I have a pickup specifically because of the whole stinky oil part of the car hobby. But if you work at home and you're not driving much, why not just give mama the E30 and you drive a pickup? That would be three cars.

    Also, post a picture of this midcentury modern house you keep talking about.

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    Not Certified Slow SDSUsnowboards's Avatar
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    I use a 2001 runner sr5 (v6) as a dd and to tow my car. The towing capacity is 5,000. My car and trailer together weight about 3,000. It can handle it no problem, even through the mountains. The ride quality is a little rough, but its dead reliable.

    I agree with emilio though.
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    RaceTape Ninja Force McCocken's Avatar
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    The oil and spills had me concerned. I had that as a contingent towards 4 vehicles. Great points, though!

    I will see how the e30 fares. My wife is hard on her vehicles. See tends to not keep them clean and collects a lot of parking lot dings.

    I had also thought of splitting the $10-12k among having 2 extra vehicles; a nice sedan/wagon for the wife and a P/U suv for me on top of the e30 and racecar. I may have to consider the e30 as the expendable car to get a dd/SUV for myself and a nice wagon/sedan for her.

    I am torn between a 4 door P/U and an SUV at that point. Can I tow an SM package with a 5000# limit 4Runner?

    Pics of the home will come as we we get closer to making it our own...
    Last edited by Force McCocken; 08-01-2013 at 01:25 PM.
    Yer pal,
    Force

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    Senior Member comradefks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SDSUsnowboards View Post
    I use a 2001 runner sr5 (v6) as a dd and to tow my car. The towing capacity is 5,000. My car and trailer together weight about 3,000. It can handle it no problem, even through the mountains. The ride quality is a little rough, but its dead reliable.

    I agree with emilio though.
    2nd the v6 4Runner tow vehicle. I've been using an 2008 for the last couple of years with rented Uhaul trailers which weigh a ton. I estimate I'm a lot closer to the 5,000 lbs rating with no towing issues. Doesn't overheat through the Grapevine in the summer, gets 14 mpg towing and holds the occupants nicely. Decent DD as well.

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    Señor Member b3d3g1's Avatar
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    in regards to the 4Runner, I've done a lot a miles in a 2000 4runner and I have only minor complaints.
    1. my back hurts after just a few hours of sitting in those seats. I think it's because the leg support part of the seat is so short and I'm not short.
    2. the 4WD actuator has broken twice with the vehicle in 4WD mode, once under warranty. Hitting dry freeway on the way home from a ski trip and not being able to switch to 2WD makes for a long discomforting drive.

    Other than that, no other major problems with over 250k miles and it's still in the family. Never towed anything bigger than a few motorcycles long distances with it.
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    RaceTape Ninja Force McCocken's Avatar
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    Would the 4runner hold up to towing a 7x16' enclosed?
    Yer pal,
    Force

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    The Real Captain Slow Red_5's Avatar
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    I towed my 16' open heavy trailer for a couple of years with a '98 4Runner. It was just adequate. I never felt like I got the brakes right, it might have been how the brake controller was installed. It was more scary going down hill than towing a 20' enclosed with my Aspen.

    Personally, I'd get a Pathfinder if you go midsize SUV or maybe a first generation Sequoia. Pathfinder is rated for 6k pounds so it will give you a little more wiggle room. William just got another Pathfinder and he's always right about these things.

    Really, I think you should look at getting a truck. Having a truck is wonderful thing when you own a home plus the longer wheelbase of trucks is better for towing.
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    Senior Member comradefks's Avatar
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    If the overall package is over 5,000 lbs I would say you are pushing it. Also the obvious higher drag of the enclosed trailer doesn't help. Typically with tow ratings there is a weak link in the overall system though. That would be the size of the brakes, engine pulling power (typically not the weakest link), temperature of transmission/diff/etc. Upgrades of those items make for a vehicle that can safely tow above the rating to a point.

    Some research on Toyota forums or towing forums (do those exist?) might show examples of what people have towed successfully. Think I remember a thread about an X5 that towed another couple thousand pounds with an added transmission cooler because that was the weak point.

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    RaceTape Ninja Force McCocken's Avatar
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    Force

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    Sir flink
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    Take a look at the BMW x5 4.4l V8. I towed a 6000lb enclosed with our X5s for years and they did great. Nice inside, not much larger than a sedan for daily driving. All wheel drive, very good suspension, tight rack-and-pinion steering, etc. Self-leveling suspension and short towing overhang make them good at towing. They're actually fun to drive - rather nippy little canyon carvers for what they are.

    They're somewhat high-maintenance. Door/window electronics, locks, dash lights and various other silly stuff. But the engine/trans are pretty solid and with a cooling system refresh they should be reliable enough.

    I'm seeing a decent-looking '01 on CL for $6300. I prefer towing with the '06 to the '01 because the '06 has more pliant suspension, but the '01 is certainly OK.

    The brake controller install was a bit of a PITA because it uses a hall effect switch on the pedal and you need to tap into the lighting controller. Nowadays I think I'd get the wireless Prodigy controller and do away with all that stuff.

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    Senior Member bellwilliam's Avatar
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    we are in socal, which isn't good for towing with Grapevine.

    towing 5,000LB enclosed = 7,500LB open. unscientific, but I am sticking to this formula.
    so if you want a mid size suv, then I would not recommend towing enclosed in socal. but might do for Southeast.

    per Red5's advice, I installed a weight distributing hitch. I also have rear air bag (cheap and super easy to install - 30 minutes tops).
    important thing is always transmission cooler/fan. once you install a transmission temp gauge, you will soon find out you are hitting 250F (even when coolant shows <200) in stop and go traffic while towing.....250F is NOT good.
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    RaceTape Ninja Force McCocken's Avatar
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    Thanks William!

    Towing here is relatively flat. It might get a little rolling on the 85 in South Carolina, but nothing like the Grapevine. The only time I would have to worry about mountains would be if I went MidOhio, Watkins, or something like that. I highly doubt I would, the concentration of tracks and events is very active here in the SE. There is a few spots like the Grapevine here to the west, outside Ashville and again near the TN/NC border on I-40. The climb isn't as high, but there are a lot of crazy curves and up/down transitions.
    Yer pal,
    Force

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    The Real Captain Slow Red_5's Avatar
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    There's a Nissan Frontier that tows a smallish enclosed trailer to BRP. Not sure where it comes from.

    Nissan also made/makes a Pathfinder with a V8.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ucfbrett View Post
    Also, post a picture of this midcentury modern house you keep talking about.
    Obviously off-topic, but here are 2 pics of the family's home in Encino where I grew up since I was 6. My mom lived there for 52 years until she passed away last December. I just sold this house. The real estate market in general, and for mid-century modern houses in general, is very hot.



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    RaceTape Ninja Force McCocken's Avatar
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    Richard, that is beautiful! Thanks for sharing that!

    I cannot believe how many mid-cen homes there are here. A lot have been disguised through bad updates or converted to bad 'country home' styles. They are easily found, but if the owner knows what they are, they can be pricey. Most of the ones here are customs. NCSU, UNC has architectural programs and many of the architects stayed in Raleigh. Mine is unusual because it was physically moved about 4-5 miles when they built the beltway around the city. It is the only mid-cen home within the downtown zipcode. Most are a little further out. I have been an industrial designer for nearly 20 years now, most of that time was specializing in furniture of all kinds. I have been collecting special pieces/design classics over that time and most were designed during that period.

    It's a small home, about the same size as our home was in Orange County, but the flow is far more efficient and open. I see a lot of potential for it and as a designer, the ideas I have for it has inspired my current work. It's a win-win all around. The size of the yard is awesome, except for the fire ants. The neighborhood is turning around, so I still get to see Donks and boom machines rolling past the house, but it just sort of takes me back to growing up in Detroit. The person we rent from (our good friend) is a PI, so he has the house wired tight. I feel safe and like my neighbors. We are close to downtown, so we ride over on our bikes occasionally to hit some of the local establishments for eats or drinks.
    Yer pal,
    Force

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