The great truck debate

The great truck debate

Two weeks ago, how would we have rated our knowledge of towing vehicles? Somewhere on a par with our knowledge of American Football – we know it exists but have no idea what the rules are.  Put us in Steve’s company, and particularly in his workshop/garage, for a matter of hours, and we are sufficiently familiar with the basics and terminology to come up with some criteria for our first day of truck hunting. On the list:

  1. A truck with either an extended or crew cab (to seat four adults)
  2. A tow package fitted already (this includes a hitch, 7 pin plug for brake/light controls, and a transmission cooler). Steve explained to us that this would be very costly to retro fit.
  3. Suitable tow capacity to pull a typical travel trailer (something like 6,500 lb). This translated roughly speaking into a large V8 engine.
  4. Mileage below 100k (so that key components should still be in good shape)
  5. Leather seats preferable (for comfort on long drives)
  6. Ideally diesel (for fuel economy)

We scoured the internet to narrow down some options. There weren’t a huge number within our budget and geographical area. This, Steve explained, is down to Virginians hanging on to their trucks. We are in horse-country so people tow a lot, and pretty much every house you see has at least one truck parked outside.

With a number of local dealers recommended by Steve, we headed off, hitting 4 dealerships in an afternoon. We were apprehensive about this, as it is such a different market for us, but we found quickly that we knew more about tow vehicle requirements than most of the first level sales people we spoke to. They also like to talk a lot and say little. I heard myself coming out with phrases like ‘I don’t think the 4.8 V6 engine on that is going to do what we need’ and ‘what’s the axle ratio on that?’. For a girl who chose her last car (a manual BMW 1 Series) based on whether it had bluetooth and climate control, this was a shock to the system, and I felt like a fish out of water.

At the end of day one, we’d established that we did not in fact need a truck. This idea was a hangover from the fifth-wheel trailer idea (Plan B – see last post), which required a truck bed on which to mount a hitch. For us, a big enough SUV would provide sufficient tow capacity, as well as seating 4 more easily, being a more comfortable ride on the long journeys we will be doing, and providing better luggage room within the vehicle.

Sitting on the porch with Steve and Deb, reflecting on the day and watching the hummingbirds feed, we reflected our thoughts back to Steve, who nodded sagely. He had thought the same this morning, but wanted us to arrive at the decision ourselves. Though we hadn’t found a vehicle, progress had been made in our thinking and understanding, aided by Steve’s subtle coaching. This has been the theme of week one. Daily challenges, some fear and frustration, followed by greater understanding. And in its way, that felt good.


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