Vehicle for mountains - Fiberglass RV


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Old 02-02-2015, 10:02 AM   #1
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Name: Wayne
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Vehicle for mountains

Moderator's note: This thread has been split from the RAV4 problems, need new TV thread.

I, also, have a problem. Here it is: I do not own, nor have ever owned, a camper. I plan on retiring in Nov 2020 and moving to Montana in spring of 2021. I plan on doing a lot of camping when I retire there. My old 2001 4x4 Ranger is getting tired. I intend to buy a new vehicle late this year or the first quarter of next year. I'll take a couple years to pay it off, then save up and buy a camper. I am not entirely sure what I want. I have considered A-frames or a Scamp or Idea I15q. I haven't looked at anything yet, but am planning to. I am leaning towards the Scamp or I15q due to the bathroom. Getting old ain't for sissies. Given the high altitude and steepness of some of the mountains out in Montana and the West, I want to make sure I buy a vehicle that has enough guts to pull it up the mountains out there. I want to do it safely and think this is best done without maxing out the tow limit on a vehicle. I have been considering a Nissan Frontier or Xterra with a 6 cylinder engine in a 4x4 variant with tow package, but am now starting to lean towards maybe a Ford F-150 with 8 cylinder engine, 4x4 and the tow package. I'm thinking this will provide a vehicle with plenty of capability to tow the trailer up any mountain and also provide a good vehicle for living in mountainous, snowy places. I've never towed one of these fiberglass trailers and don't know how hard they are to tow up mountains in high altitude. I don't want a vehicle that is going to have to struggle to do it or that will wear the vehicle out prematurely by taxing it overly. What do y'all think?
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Old 02-02-2015, 11:59 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Del Gue View Post
I don't want a vehicle that is going to have to struggle to do it or that will wear the vehicle out prematurely by taxing it overly. What do y'all think?
Wayne, I know others will add to or take issue with my comments from their experiences, but I grew up in the higher elevations of Colorado (Westcliffe, if anyone is familiar) and drove high elevation mountain passes hauling hay and farm equipment year-round. If peace of mind is a high priority for you, you won't go wrong with a V8 engine in a full-sized truck. Wide stance (helps in those high mountain crosswinds), sturdy frame, and no shortage of horsepower. The main trade-off is lower fuel economy (and the hassle with those darn narrow parking spaces at Wal-Mart!). Trucks from any of the big three US manufacturers (Ford, Chevy, Ram) will have the muscle to do what you want. The difference is your personal preference. People swear the 6-cylinder Ford EcoBoost pulls like an 8-cylinder, but I'm not sure how many of them are pulling at a reasonable speed over 10,000 ft mountain passes in the Rockies. Whatever you decide on, I'd strongly recommend you put a 110V plug-in engine block heater in it. It can be -30 degrees outside, but your engine starts right up (it's already warm from the engine block heater) and the cabin heater starts blowing warm air from the get-go. Just my two cents worth.... Dale
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Old 02-02-2015, 12:11 PM   #3
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Dale,


Btw, my younger brother went to Auburn and got a degree in Forestry. :-) I am looking around now to see what's out there, and I see a Ford F-150 in the FX4 variant that comes with engine block heater. That's something else I am wanting to be on the truck, as although I've never lived in snow country and dealt with such things, I remember some stories from my mom who used to live in New York state, so yeah, an engine block heater is on my list of things I want to be on it. I'm not sure where in Montana I'm gonna land, and since I'll be retired if it snows bad I'll just hunker down making sure I have adequate food and heat, but I was camped in Madison campground last September and the temps in W. Yellowstone have been down to -30 this winter. Babb, near Glacier up in northern Montana, is usually warmer than that by a good spread. In any event, since I'm buying this thing years in advance of both trailering and moving, I want to choose wisely when I make the purchase. Florida is flat...an anemic german shepherd could tow here. But I want to err on the side of prudence and caution for the Rockies. If I was just buying a drive-around car, or gonna use it for tent camping, then I'd go for MPG, but for towing, I have to make performance the priority. It's like a .45...better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. And thanks for your quick reply!
"Roll Tide Roll! Roll Tide Roll! Around the bowl and down the hole, roll Tide roll!"
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Old 02-02-2015, 12:26 PM   #4
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Wayne, I'm pretty sure it's standard on the FX4, but if not, a limited-slip rear differential is a big plus in snow and mud country. So what's a Tide fan doing in Florida?
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Old 02-02-2015, 12:39 PM   #5
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Not a Tide fan, an Auburn fan! And a U.S.F. fan! Been here all my life except for around 4 years in Texas back in the early 80's workin' for K-Fart. If I go on vacation it's usually Glacier or Yellowstone/Tetons, although I've been to multiple parks in Utah, too (Zion, Bryce, Canyonlands, Arches) as well as Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde. Not sure if I'm going out this year or not. I'd like to, mainly to prowl Madison campground looking at trailers and what peeps use to tow them with. I went to Glacier last year but arrived too late, middle of Sept, when they started closing things down, so dropped down to Madison for about 10 days. I've been using a Mountain Hardware Trango Assault tent and Cat's Meow bag, but think I'm gonna move up to a Big Agnes Big House 4 and a rectangle or semi-rectangle bag. I want more room and to be able to get dressed standing up. I'm getting too old for some of this nonsense. That's a main reason for wanting to move up to a camper, plus I'll be spending a lot more time doing it when I'm retired.


And yeah, I think the limited slip differential is standard on that. I was watching The Fast Lane guys on Youtube and they mentioned that the FX4 is the off-road version of the F-150. On the one in the video, they also had some kind of system using the backup camera that projects a line straight back from the centerline of the truck to facilitate backing up to hook on. As I'll be operating solo, that would be very useful.
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Old 02-02-2015, 12:43 PM   #6
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new truck

I love my 012 NIssan Frontier, long bed. It does all I want it to do while towing my 13' Scamp. Margaret
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Old 02-02-2015, 12:53 PM   #7
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I have a few friends with ecoboost engines.

They all are really impressed with its towing capabilities, pulling heavy loads in the Coastal and Rocky Mountains. But it is a compromise, they tell me that while towing the Ecoboost v6 sucks back fuel like its free.

Everyone of them drive the truck daily and tow a few times a year. The fuel savings over the year are a benefit and the truck pulls like an ox when needed.

If I was going to pull more miles then commute, I would get the V8 or large V6.

Another point if pulling in mountain passes. An ecoboost by virtue of being turbocharged has a low compression ratio. Which means it will not have very effective engine braking down the other side. So more brakes will be used in comparison to a natural aspirated engine.


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Old 02-02-2015, 01:00 PM   #8
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Margaret,
The Frontier and Xterra were pretty much at the top of my short list until I was reading online and some folks were saying to 'get enough vehicle' for towing both up the steeper mountains of the West and the higher altitudes attendant there, which decreases the performance of the engine. If the altitude decreases engine performance and it is also having to pull a trailer up a mountain as well as get itself up it, I just started thinking that since I'll be buying the vehicle first, the trailer second, and moving out there third, plus be retired and on a fixed income, I'd rather not get something that turns out not to be sufficient or optimal and then have to turn around and get another vehicle already. Better to do it once and do it right, I'm thinking. Doing it with a marginal vehicle, and I'm not necessarily asserting that the Frontier or Xterra are that, not only introduces safety and performance issues, but also could well diminish the lifespan of the vehicle. Were I moving to flatter country, it would prolly be a Frontier or Xterra for sure. You never know...I may wind up in one of those anyway. Cue up Doris Day: "The future's not ours to see, que sera sera!" :-)
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Old 02-02-2015, 01:06 PM   #9
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Walter,
I had originally started out considering a Ford Escape with turbo, but I heard that while they can use regular gas, premium is recommended. That kinda cooled my ardor. At this point, based on the reading I've done, I want no less than a 6 cylinder, and may well go with an 8. I know I'll take a hit on mpg, both due to the 6 or 8 and when towing, but there are times when performance has to be given priority. Geography has to be taken into account in some cases. I am new to all this towing business and intend to proceed carefully.
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Old 02-02-2015, 01:29 PM   #10
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If I recall correctly Ford trucks that are sold in the Northern tier states ( Cold Cimate ) come with a engine block heater as standard equipment . The Dodge Ram trucks have an available engine block heater but it is an option at an additional charge .I tow with a pickup truck and have had both V6 NA and V8 NA engines ( IE non turbo) and thought the V6 towed poorly .I find that the V8 tows better especially in hilly / mountainous terrain. The V6 got better mileage when not towing but when towing the mileage difference between the V6 and the V8 was not enough to matter. IMHO
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Old 02-02-2015, 02:48 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Del Gue View Post
Walter,
I had originally started out considering a Ford Escape with turbo, but I heard that while they can use regular gas, premium is recommended. That kinda cooled my ardor. At this point, based on the reading I've done, I want no less than a 6 cylinder, and may well go with an 8. I know I'll take a hit on mpg, both due to the 6 or 8 and when towing, but there are times when performance has to be given priority. Geography has to be taken into account in some cases. I am new to all this towing business and intend to proceed carefully.

The problem with not using the recommended fuel is that the Engine control module has too alter the engine timing and fuel injection dynamics from optimal. And this cases the engine to lose a range of performance as well as stresses components in the timing and injections systems as they weren't designed to maintain those parameters of long periods.

Despite popular belief, higher octane fuel is less combustible, which allows it to withstand higher pressure and heat before knocking or self combustion.

Should a turbo charged engine run on higher octane? Designwise yes.
But North Americans have a hate on for paying more at the pump. So our more mast produced engines are not designed to run on premium. Placing the wrong fuel in your car causes premature wear overtime not over night.

I had a 97 Cherokee with the inline 6 and a manual transmission, if you ran on regular it would knock a lot under load. If you ran the OEM recommended Mid grade it ran perfectly fine and got proper improved fuel mileage.

The problem with the Escape and all uni-body toe vehicles, is the trailer will transmit a lot of sounds into the passages compartment. You will hear the hitch banging and the ball bouncing. Body on frame like a pickup truck has rubber pucks between the frame and cab that removes the sounds from the hitch.

As well for the most part you can't use a weight distribution hitch on a uni-body. A WDH spreads the loads out across both vehicles and makes your ride a lot nicer. Placing weight on the front wheels to maintain steering control. And on a rear axle in a tandem lessening the rear tires from sliding causing overheating and blowouts as easy.


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Old 02-02-2015, 03:16 PM   #12
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(Clip) "The problem with the Escape and all uni-body toe vehicles,..."
Can't say that has been my experience at all. A drawbar clamp stops any clicking or slack between the drawbar and the receiver and proper adjustment and greasing of the hitch & ball stops noise from there as well.
We towed three different FGRV's, two right at the weight limit, with a Honda CRV unit construction vehicle and never heard a sound from the hitch area. If we had, we would have known that something was loose....


I don't understand what this means: "And on a rear axle in a tandem lessening the rear tires from sliding causing overheating and blowouts as easy."


What's sliding and what's overheating?
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Old 02-02-2015, 03:59 PM   #13
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(Clip) "The problem with the Escape and all uni-body toe vehicles,..."
Can't say that has been my experience at all. A drawbar clamp stops any clicking or slack between the drawbar and the receiver and proper adjustment and greasing of the hitch & ball stops noise from there as well.
We towed three different FGRV's, two right at the weight limit, with a Honda CRV unit construction vehicle and never heard a sound from the hitch area. If we had, we would have known that something was loose....


I don't understand what this means: "And on a rear axle in a tandem lessening the rear tires from sliding causing overheating and blowouts as easy."


What's sliding and what's overheating?

Bob I agree with your statement on the uni-body, but will point out that the clamp was needed. This is not something that would have been sought after in a body on frame.

With a tandem axle set up, the pivot point for turns and attitude changes occurs on the front axle do to the hitch applying the force. As a result the tires on the rear axle float and follow the tires on the front axle. There is more side loading on these rear tires. Causing higher flexing and heat deterioration. As a result your rears tend to have a higher rate of blowouts. Not to be confused with the normal RH Rear getting nails from the forward tire kicking up trash when driven past the white line.


By using a WDH, your applying equal forces on both tandem axles and although lessening the life of the front tires, all four will wear equally in their life. Resulting in not wearing the rears out faster and less prone to a blowout.


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Old 02-02-2015, 04:50 PM   #14
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Margaret,
The Frontier and Xterra were pretty much at the top of my short list until I was reading online and some folks were saying to 'get enough vehicle' for towing both up the steeper mountains of the West and the higher altitudes attendant there, which decreases the performance of the engine. If the altitude decreases engine performance and it is also having to pull a trailer up a mountain as well as get itself up it, I just started thinking that since I'll be buying the vehicle first, the trailer second, and moving out there third, plus be retired and on a fixed income, I'd rather not get something that turns out not to be sufficient or optimal and then have to turn around and get another vehicle already. Better to do it once and do it right, I'm thinking. Doing it with a marginal vehicle, and I'm not necessarily asserting that the Frontier or Xterra are that, not only introduces safety and performance issues, but also could well diminish the lifespan of the vehicle. Were I moving to flatter country, it would prolly be a Frontier or Xterra for sure. You never know...I may wind up in one of those anyway. Cue up Doris Day: "The future's not ours to see, que sera sera!" :-)

From the perspective of someone who lives in what some here might call a mountains area and pulls with a V6 Frontier a 16' fiberglass trailer that weighs in at less than half the trucks towing cap its would not be what I would class as a marginal tow. Have pulled with it into the 5000' range a number of times (mountains are hard to avoid around here) as well as to 10,000' range. No complaints. Its actually a 2.4 mile drive and a 900' elevation change from my house to sea level where one needs to get to if they wish to cross the inlet using our #1 highway to get out of town. It has handled that trip up and down just fine many times.

Now if you are considering a trailer over 19' such as a Bigfoot or an Escape then you are probable better off looking for a different vehicle with more tongue/towing cap and power. For starters the Frontiers tongue limit probable would not meet the needs and due to the added weight you may find its small V6 to be a little wanting on the higher/longer passes.

At the end of the day I suspect though that the original poster will be more than happy with her choose of new vehicle to tow her trailer.
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