Chevy S-10 Four Cylinder - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-24-2019, 05:27 PM   #1
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Chevy S-10 Four Cylinder

I have this old 2000 Chevy S-10 pickup with standard cab and bed and a four cylinder engine with manual 5 speed. I know that back in the late '70s and early '80s the little 13' fiberglass eggs were developed to be towed by the first generation of mini-pickups like the original Datsuns, Toyotas, LUVs, etc. These little trucks, IIRC were all equipped with four cylinder engines and manual transmissions. Soooo... should my 20+ year newer Chevy be able to drag my '82 Burro across the Blue Ridge and up and down through the Shenandoah Valley. My 2004 Honda CR-V also has a four cylinder, but it has an automatic transmission and just isn't up to the task.

Comments, please.
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Old 09-24-2019, 06:25 PM   #2
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I worked for a large DFW Chevrolet dealer for over 35 years and the S-10's with a 4 cylinder were much better for a longer life spend then the V-6 ever were. All that being said I can't see a 20 years old vehicle heading out on any trip, much less pulling a trailer. Your truck probably does well around town and I'm sure you have probably taken care of it, but adding undue stress at this point in its life probably won't be a good thing. Many do tow trailers with older vehicles, but they probably have V8 engines and for older vehicles they can handle much more because everything is more heavy duty. There's exception for everything, so I'm sure many will chime in.

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Old 09-24-2019, 08:03 PM   #3
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Thanks, trainman for your response. As for using a 20 year old vehicle, it seems like everything I drive is at least 10-15 years old minimum. That Blazer I was using until just 3 years ago was a 1993! Of course I bought it new and knew itís faults and foibles. I was convinced I had to have a 6 cylinder like my Blazer and Astro had, but then I thought about all of those old Datsuns, etc and asked ďWhy not?Ē The date on the title doesnít concern me as much as the miles on the odometer, but age is certainly a consideration.

My most strenuous run in the near future will be to haul my Burro up Aston Mtn then up I-64 & 1-81 to Winchester, for a total of about 3 1/2 hrs each way. Iíll either be pedaling that Honda CR-V all the way or try it with the S-10. Then again, I probably will make a shorter run (45 minutes) to a closer event first.

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Old 09-24-2019, 10:06 PM   #4
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If your S-10 has been well maintained it should be able to take a 13ft fiberglass trailer anywhere paved roads go.
Read your owner's manual.


Drive it within its limits and keep your foot OFF that tiny clutch, especially in reverse.
Its a manual transmission for a reason, use the appropriate gear at the appropriate times.
Slow down when towing both in acceleration and in cruising speed.
Enjoy.
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Old 09-25-2019, 06:21 AM   #5
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Itís been a long time since I owned a small pickup with a stick shift, but my recollection was the tow rating was pretty low, less than the automatic. Figured the clutch was the weak link. Backing a trailer uphill with a stick shift is not fun.

Age alone does not disqualify a vehicle. Assuming youíve owned it and know the maintenance history and weaknesses, that can be better than a newer vehicle with an uncertain history.

Does your trailer have brakes?
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Old 09-25-2019, 09:29 AM   #6
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The last time I drove across most of the country was in 2014/15, and it was in a 1978 Toyota motorhome. 4 cylinder, 5 speed (someone swapped in a used 5 speed at some point), way overloaded. The two problems I had were an axle seal going out (either a defective seal or installation as I had a mechanic do the seals before leaving for the trip) and the parking brake cable snapping (easy highway rest stop repair after calling ahead to the next town to order a new cable). If I couldn't take road trips in 20+ year-old vehicles, I wouldn't be able to take road trips. My work truck is 1999 Silverado 5 speed. Drives nice and smooth down the highway even at 80mph.

If it's in good shape and within its tow limits, do it! Just go easy. My personal truck is a 1998, with 266,000 miles. 6 cylinder. I drive it everywhere, without a worry. I'm back & forth between where I work and live, and where I used to live and still feel is home about twice a month, 130 miles each way. It's also a 5 speed, and its tow limit is 5,000 pounds. I just tow easy. Lower gears, easy on the gas. I don't push it too hard.

I agree with John (trainman) in that there are exceptions. Quite a few. Not just any vehicle can still be trusted to do heavy work at 20 years old, but really quite a few of them can.
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Old 09-25-2019, 11:37 AM   #7
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Drop a 350 in it, ez and inexpensive upgrade . Have done it to two s10's now. Makes them a blast to drive.
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Old 09-25-2019, 08:09 PM   #8
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I tow a Scamp 16 with a 2015 Tacoma 4cyl/5speed manual. It has 159 HP and does fine.
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Old 09-26-2019, 02:20 AM   #9
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I would advise you to try a trial run with the S10 and see if it has the power and brakes enough to maintain a decent speed on the highway. If you are bogged down and causing others to allow for you then you'll know what to do. Downhill braking is the real issue. The last thing you need is runaway situation. Duane
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Old 09-26-2019, 03:15 AM   #10
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Charlie,

With todays higher highway speeds, and the need to keep up, or pass trucks on grades, etc., More power is a good thing. Driving around town, so what? Power is not an issue.

I drove across the country a couple of times in the last two years and recently to Salt Lake City from near Reno. I love having enough power to easily keep up. It's not my personal need for speed, it's just that everyone is going really fast.

Then factor in the additional safety and comfort of the full sized truck.

So, yes, your S-10 will tow your trailer. So would my Samurai with it's 1300 cc 4 cylinder engine. But will you enjoy the trip, or be stressed out when to get there?

You can't directly compare a 20 year old S-10 with a later model Honda just because they have the same number of cylinders. But I think you could assume the newer Honda will outperform the S-10. So, if the Honda was inadequate, the S-10 will be worse.

I had an S-10 Blazer with the 2.8 V6. It was an incredible dog. Partly because the emissions regulations got ahead of the engine design. Chevy still had a carburetor and it meant the engines were tuned terribly to compensate. That was 1985, sure about your S-10, but if is has a carburetor, it's no where near the performance of he fuel injected models, like the newer Honda.
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Old 10-02-2019, 01:54 PM   #11
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What Trainman and Rapsy said!
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Old 10-02-2019, 04:40 PM   #12
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Well put. I had 3 S-10s from the mid-80's until the early 90's and they were tough as nails if not thoroughly abused by their owner.
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Old 10-03-2019, 09:30 PM   #13
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Have a 1996 2.2 Sonoma, towing a ca. 650-750 lb. (loaded) teardrop. Swapped in a 3.42 rear end for mileage, and have towed it about 40,000 miles.

Steep mountain passes are the only real challenge, and even then we aren't much slower.
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Old 10-04-2019, 12:11 AM   #14
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You guys who think you have to suffer a full-sized truck to tow a 13Scamp...
What would you then use to tow a 21ft Escape or a 30ft toy hauler?


You guys who think you are safe to tow at 80MPH just to "keep-up" with traffic...
Do you think you are as safe towing a trailer with a full-sized truck at 80MPH as you would be in a Shelby Mustang or an RS Focus on the interstate with no trailer at the same speed?


PSHAW!
There is such a thing as proportionality, and using the right tool for the job.
You really don't need a 24" chainsaw to carve the Thanksgiving turkey.
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Old 10-04-2019, 06:14 AM   #15
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You guys who think you have to suffer a full-sized truck to tow a 13Scamp...
What would you then use to tow a 21ft Escape or a 30ft toy hauler?
We currently tow our Escape 21 with a 2019 Ram 1500 with a 5.7 liter Hemi V8
I realize it is a little light for the job so we make allowances IE ; Lower speeds , avoid mountainous regions , pack as light as possible , stay off the Interstates Etc , Etc . It can be done it just takes some thought ,effort and planning .
We looked at 3/4 & 1 ton diesel trucks and maybe we will go that route in the future if we upgrade to an Oliver or a Bigfoot or decide to make a long cross country trip.

As far a towing with 4 cylinder trucks , I tried towing our wood trailer ONCE with a 4 cylinder Nissan Frontier . Had a hard time getting it to move and a worse time getting it to stop .
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Old 10-04-2019, 08:12 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
We currently tow our Escape 21 with a 2019 Ram 1500 with a 5.7 liter Hemi V8
I realize it is a little light for the job so we make allowances IE ; Lower speeds , avoid mountainous regions , pack as light as possible , stay off the Interstates Etc , Etc . It can be done it just takes some thought ,effort and planning .
We looked at 3/4 & 1 ton diesel trucks and maybe we will go that route in the future if we upgrade to an Oliver or a Bigfoot or decide to make a long cross country trip.

As far a towing with 4 cylinder trucks , I tried towing our wood trailer ONCE with a 4 cylinder Nissan Frontier . Had a hard time getting it to move and a worse time getting it to stop .
Sorry for the thread jack, but hold on now. A 2019 Crew Cab Ram 4x4 with a 5.7L V8 has a max tow capacity of over 11,000 lbs; the 4x2 and Quad Cab models are even higher. In what world is that "a little light" for a trailer that tops out below 5,000 lbs? What gives you the sense that it's less than optimal for towing an Escape 21? How did you equip your truck?

I'm not just giving you a hard time. I have a legitimate interest here, as the Ram (and actually the V6 4x4, which will put me at 7,370 lbs tow rating) is high on my list of "Used trucks to consider in 3-4 years so we can get a bigger trailer." I would like to move up to a Bigfoot or Escape 21, which I thought would give us a plethora of options when it came to the truck, what with mid-size and 1/2-tons both fitting the bill.

Starting up again with the 2020 Ram, a redesigned V6 EcoDiesel option is available that (on paper and from reviews) looks very attractive. I'm waiting for Ram to put out final performance specs, but reviews are promising.

Green Frog, I don't know about your S-10 but I wouldn't hitch much more than the small U-haul trailer to my parents' CR-V. It's a great people mover, but with a tow rating of 1,500 lbs not suitable for towing any sort of camper.

Are you able to take the truck and trailer on a little test run around town? What does your trailer weigh? Does the trailer have brakes? How well has your S-10 been maintained?

The 2000 S-10 manual I found says you're rated for either 2,000 or 2,300 lbs with the 4-cyl depending on axle ratio. I read recently that those tow ratings are developed using a flat load like a trailer with bricks on it, and not with the added wind resistance of a recreational trailer in mind, and as such you should give yourself about a 25% margin between trailer weight and tow capacity. Regardless if that's accurate, it seems like most of the seasoned campers here adhere to some sort of margin rule based on comfort level and safety. Using a 25% margin, you would be limited to 1500/1725 lbs. From what I can find about 13' Burros, that's realistic.

Are you also considering your payload? It should be listed on the sticker on the driver's side door jamb. The tongue weight of your loaded trailer will count against payload, in addition to gear and passengers in the truck.

In the "tow vehicle and trailer combo" thread (Tow Vehicle & Trailer combos - POST INFO), you may find a few comparable setups. This only proves what can be done, not what should be done. I was reading yesterday about a 1G Honda Ridgeline (rated for 5,000 lbs) spotted towing a 7,700 lbs Jayco toward Washington state. "The RV dealer said it would be fine. What you need a big truck like that for anyway?"
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Old 10-04-2019, 08:36 AM   #17
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Sorry for the thread jack, but hold on now. A 2019 Crew Cab Ram 4x4 with a 5.7L V8 has a max tow capacity of over 11,000 lbs; the 4x2 and Quad Cab models are even higher. In what world is that "a little light" for a trailer that tops out below 5,000 lbs? What gives you the sense that it's less than optimal for towing an Escape 21? How did you equip your truck?

I'm not just giving you a hard time. I have a legitimate interest here, as the Ram (and actually the V6 4x4, which will put me at 7,370 lbs tow rating) is high on my list of "Used trucks to consider in 3-4 years so we can get a bigger trailer." I would like to move up to a Bigfoot or Escape 21, which I thought would give us a plethora of options when it came to the truck, what with mid-size and 1/2-tons both fitting the bill.

Starting up again with the 2020 Ram, a redesigned V6 EcoDiesel option is available that (on paper and from reviews) looks very attractive. I'm waiting for Ram to put out final performance specs, but reviews are promising.

Green Frog, I don't know about your S-10 but I wouldn't hitch much more than the small U-haul trailer to my parents' CR-V. It's a great people mover, but with a tow rating of 1,500 lbs not suitable for towing any sort of camper.

Are you able to take the truck and trailer on a little test run around town? What does your trailer weigh? Does the trailer have brakes? How well has your S-10 been maintained?

The 2000 S-10 manual I found says you're rated for either 2,000 or 2,300 lbs with the 4-cyl depending on axle ratio. I read recently that those tow ratings are developed using a flat load like a trailer with bricks on it, and not with the added wind resistance of a recreational trailer in mind, and as such you should give yourself about a 25% margin between trailer weight and tow capacity. Regardless if that's accurate, it seems like most of the seasoned campers here adhere to some sort of margin rule based on comfort level and safety. Using a 25% margin, you would be limited to 1500/1725 lbs. From what I can find about 13' Burros, that's realistic.

Are you also considering your payload? It should be listed on the sticker on the driver's side door jamb. The tongue weight of your loaded trailer will count against payload, in addition to gear and passengers in the truck.

In the "tow vehicle and trailer combo" thread (Tow Vehicle & Trailer combos - POST INFO), you may find a few comparable setups. This only proves what can be done, not what should be done. I was reading yesterday about a 1G Honda Ridgeline (rated for 5,000 lbs) spotted towing a 7,700 lbs Jayco toward Washington state. "The RV dealer said it would be fine. What you need a big truck like that for anyway?"
We too looked at Bigfoots , a 25RQ to be exact . Would not attempt to tow it with my Ram 1500 or any other 1/2 ton pickup on the market for that matter .
My towing expectations and experiences maybe totally different than yours .
Our days spent camping has started to dwindle and the thought of purchasing a new Bigfoot trailer and a new 1 ton truck just didn’t make sense for us !
So for the time being we will limp along with our Escape 21 and our Ram 1500 .
We can still continue to dream !!
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Old 10-04-2019, 09:52 AM   #18
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We too looked at Bigfoots , a 25RQ to be exact . Would not attempt to tow it with my Ram 1500 or any other 1/2 ton pickup on the market for that matter .
My towing expectations and experiences maybe totally different than yours .
Our days spent camping has started to dwindle and the thought of purchasing a new Bigfoot trailer and a new 1 ton truck just didn’t make sense for us !
So for the time being we will limp along with our Escape 21 and our Ram 1500 .
We can still continue to dream !!
Everyone has their comfort margins and reasons for them. I was just curious if you'd had a particular negative experience towing with the Ram.

Purchasing a truck just to pull a trailer doesn't make sense for us either. Retirement is 10 to 15 years off, the first kid is on his way, and work doesn't always allow for leisure time. Now if that truck also can be used for runs to the hardware store, getting out on forestry land to hike and shoot, and carting our crap to the beach without running up the tab I'd see with a 3/4 of 1-ton, I might be able to justify it. So I really need to strike a balance between economical and comfortable with the truck and trailer combo. A Ram 1500 Crew Cab sure looks nice and comfy for a long family trip, and my wife would love a Bigfoot 21 for its dry bath, but maybe these won't be the answers in 3 or 4 years. It never hurts to plan ahead!
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Old 10-04-2019, 12:21 PM   #19
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There are a number of reasons to buy various sizes of trucks. I just happened to already have a one ton Ram Cummins because I tow my tractor and heavy equipment trailers over the Sierra, and have for years. Plus, I like Cummins engines and the rest of the truck, sort of comes along with the deal.

New towing specifications on modern trucks seems to be that they think it is safe to tow a trailer heavier than he truck, by in some cases, a wide margin. I don't agree with that strategy and feel it is driven by competition between manufacturers, rather than by common sense.

My Samurai or my Quad could tow my HQ19 around the yard, but so what? On a mountain pass, in an emergency, I want some beef. Some big brakes, some weight, some power.

And nobody will ever hear me advocating towing at 80 MPH. Never. That in itself is part of the problem. How does one tow safely, at a reasonable speed, while being passed by semi trucks going 80 MPH? Often on two lane roads!

How much buffeting and cross winds will a light narrow pickup put up with safely while towing near it's limit, vs a full sized Cummins towing the same weight?

Why would I buy a new, more "appropriate" sized truck to tow below my truck's limit, when I already have a truck that is perfectly capable? Better to have more truck than needed, than less. But I will admit that the heavier truck can be cumbersome at times.

Proportion is important, but the gray area is huge. The towing conditions vary and the wide open spaces out west factor in too. Sometimes a larger truck is like an insurance policy, it's reassuring to know it's there.

My dad used to pull his camp trailer with a 1963 VW! Sheesh. Or his '55 Dodge, that had what might be the worst brakes ever put on a car. Looking back, we were flirting with death on the Sonora Pass, back in the day. He was famous for holding back on steep slow grades by putting it in reverse and using the throttle as the brake. Love it.
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Old 10-04-2019, 02:52 PM   #20
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There are a number of reasons to buy various sizes of trucks. I just happened to already have a one ton Ram Cummins because I tow my tractor and heavy equipment trailers over the Sierra, and have for years. Plus, I like Cummins engines and the rest of the truck, sort of comes along with the deal.

New towing specifications on modern trucks seems to be that they think it is safe to tow a trailer heavier than he truck, by in some cases, a wide margin. I don't agree with that strategy and feel it is driven by competition between manufacturers, rather than by common sense.

My Samurai or my Quad could tow my HQ19 around the yard, but so what? On a mountain pass, in an emergency, I want some beef. Some big brakes, some weight, some power.

And nobody will ever hear me advocating towing at 80 MPH. Never. That in itself is part of the problem. How does one tow safely, at a reasonable speed, while being passed by semi trucks going 80 MPH? Often on two lane roads!

How much buffeting and cross winds will a light narrow pickup put up with safely while towing near it's limit, vs a full sized Cummins towing the same weight?

Why would I buy a new, more "appropriate" sized truck to tow below my truck's limit, when I already have a truck that is perfectly capable? Better to have more truck than needed, than less. But I will admit that the heavier truck can be cumbersome at times.

Proportion is important, but the gray area is huge. The towing conditions vary and the wide open spaces out west factor in too. Sometimes a larger truck is like an insurance policy, it's reassuring to know it's there.

My dad used to pull his camp trailer with a 1963 VW! Sheesh. Or his '55 Dodge, that had what might be the worst brakes ever put on a car. Looking back, we were flirting with death on the Sonora Pass, back in the day. He was famous for holding back on steep slow grades by putting it in reverse and using the throttle as the brake. Love it.
Some folks like oversized trucks, or like you, have a need for one.


You are right... overkill is OK, especially if you already have a large truck and can tolerate owning and driving one everyday... I don't and can't.
So I bought a trailer which is safe to tow with a vehicle which is tolerable to drive...

The point is that the purpose of small fiberglass trailers is to a great degree, to allow the safe towing with a vehicle which can be comfortably driven with or without the trailer.
I assure you that my TC towing my Scamp13D is every bit as stable when trucks pass as your Cummins diesel towing your trailer.


My objection is to those who continually imply that a small SUV with a tow rating greater than required for the trailer being towed is some how a threat to public safety, or that driving 5MPH under the speed limit when towing is both dangerous and foolhardy, while claiming that driving 15MPH over the speed limit is just common sense.
10MPH over the minimum speed limit done right is certainly no more dangerous than driving 10MPH over the maximum allowed speed limit.

These are general comments and certainly not aimed at you or any other particular person on whom the shoe fails to fit.
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