Best Trucks for Towing

With so many versions of each new truck model available — regular cab to crew cab, V6, V8 and diesel engine choices, 2- and 4-wheel drive — towing capabilities vary widely, too. Asking yourself a few simple questions will help you narrow your choices. What do you plan to tow? How will you use your pickup when you’re not towing?

Before new standards for towing capacities were introduced, comparing ratings between brands was tough. Now, automakers are adopting uniform methods for testing and rating pickups. The standard is called SAE J2807, and it’s already in use by all the major manufacturers.

You’ll definitely need a pickup that’s rated to handle your trailer’s total weight and tongue weight. Have those figures handy when beginning your search. If you only pull your trailer a few times a year, it’s okay to choose a pickup with a towing rating just above your trailer’s weight. If you tow regularly, it may be a good idea to pick a truck with a higher rating.

Heavy vs Light Duty

Some light-duty trucks offer huge towing capacities in excess of 10,000 pounds, but drivers with big trailers, such as fifth-wheel campers or gooseneck horse trailers, may be better off with a heavy-duty pickup. Again, frequency of use is a consideration. You don’t want to pony up thousands more for a big Ford F-350 or a GMC HD you’re only towing occasionally.

If you plan to tow a personal watercraft or a light-utility trailer, you may not even need a full-size pickup. Consider a smaller truck, such as a Tacoma or a Frontier, if you’re only pulling a light trailer.

Gas vs Diesel

Diesel is great for towing. It provides plenty of low-end torque to get you moving and to achieve good efficiency at higher speeds, too. Diesel-motor options are mostly limited to heavy-duty pickups. The notable exception is the Dodge RAM 1500 EcoDiesel, a full-size light-duty pickup with a diesel V6. GM says that it will offer a diesel option in the midsize Chevrolet Colorado, but only gas engines will be available when they first come to the market.

Diesel engines also often add thousands to the purchase price. They can tow more and can sometimes achieve better fuel economy, but if you’ll rarely be towing anything, it may just not be worth it.

 

Towing Tips

Tips for Towing a 5th Wheel

Based on our experiences from pulling a 30’ fifth wheel all over the United States over the last 5 years, we offer the tips below. I have a buddy who owns a tow truck company and he says by far that backing up is the hardest of all the towing maneuvers.  He says he has been Towing Yuma Az people around for more than 10 years and still has to work the hardest when backing up in tight spots.  Here a tips for us laypeople:

 

Hitching and Unhitching

This is so universal these days, that you can get the best advice from watching a 10 minute YouTube video.  It’s vitally important to get both of these procedures right, so practice if you have to around in a field or other area with no traffic BEFORE you take your haul to the highway.

Pulling the Trailer

Imagine a right angle when you turn with a trailer.  Almost 90 degrees, like a big square corner.  The trailer’s arc will follow you through the corner inside the turn of the truck wheels. Again, watch a video and then practice this maneuver so you don’t take a car out when you do it for the first time.

When you near the intersection, drive as deep (straight) into the intersection as you think you can go with the truck before making the turn. This will give the trailer more room as it comes through the corner. Same with turning into a parking lot from a road – go as far “past” the driveway as you can before swinging into it.

Even more fun is when you get the the campground. Many have skinny roads and tight curves. In these cases you’ll often have the outside/front tire of the truck off the pavement and the inside/rear tires of the trailer off the pavement. This is OK – you aren’t the biggest rig that’s been here so there is room for you.

 

In Traffic

Take a deep breath.  Count to 10.  Remind yourself to be patient.  Other drivers are NOT patient when it comes to big rigs.  They will jump into the gap you leave in front of you, they will ignore your turn signals, and they won’t remember you need extra space for slowing down, or for turning, or for parking.  Just get used to it.

Remember, going slower than everyone around you is less stressful than trying to keep up with the flow.  Enjoy the ride.

In multi-lane highways, stay in the middle. The far left lanes are for those in a hurry and the right lanes are too accordion-like.  They start/stop and disappear too much into exit ramps and on ramps merging and so on.  Stick to the “middle of the road.”

Backing the Trailer into a Campsite

Your starting position is key. There are two important aspects to your starting position – side of the road and distance from your target site.

Pull past the site and align your truck and trailer to be on the same side of the road the campsite is on as you can. For example, if your campsite is on the passenger side (and they usually will be) pull along that side of the road.

You might think that starting with the truck and trailer on the opposite side of the road from the campsite would be easier by giving you a wider arc to push the trailer through. However the truck’s nose needs that room to swing around as it backs into the site.

 

 

Types of Tow Trucks

There are several types of tow trucks and they all work differently.  Here is a great summary of each:

Flatbed Tow Truck

Flatbed Tow Trucks have no chains or hooks that attach to your vehicle. Instead, the bed is lowered on one end to the ground and a winch is used to pull your vehicle up onto the bed.  Or a crane-like apparatus may lift your vehicle and set it on the flatbed. These are the safest types of tow trucks, with the least risk of damaging vehicles as with a hook or chain.

Boom Tow Truck

This tow truck has s boom winch that is used to pull damaged vehicles from ditches and other hard to reach places. This one show above (courtesy of kenworth dot com) is lifting an airplane.

 

Hook and chain/Belt lift Tow Truck

This type of tow truck uses a heavy-duty chain and hook. The boom that is on the back of the tow truck is attached to the underside of the vehicle that needs to be towed.  The boom is then raised so the back wheels come off the ground and the vehicle is ready to tow (backwards).

 

Wheel-lift tow trucks

These tow trucks use a lift yoke to move vehicles.  The yoke is lowered to the ground and placed under the back or the front wheels of the vehicle. Then the vehicle is then lifted using a pneumatic or hydraulic crane-like device.

 

 

Four Common Reasons to Hire a Professional Towing Service

The last thing you want to do when your car breaks down or gets involved in an accident is towing it yourself. This is due to the serious risks involved. Every driver out there knows that car breakdowns can happen even when least expected. On the other hand, no person is happy when they get stranded or stuck by the roadside. The good news is that you can contact a reliable towing service and get the much-needed help. It’s important to understand what to consider when looking for professional help by the roadside. You should, probably start by asking for recommendations from family or friends before researching more details about the companies.

As you research and look at reviews online, make sure the towing service is licensed to operate within your area. It’s also important that hire a towing company that’s insured and one that professionally conducts their service. A professional towing service can help you with the following car troubles.

Flat Tires

Whether you have a flat tire as a result of wear and tear, valve stem leakage or road damage, a professional towing service can help. Almost every driver has dealt with a flat tire at one time in their driving experience. We both know how frustrating this can be especially when we’re miles away from our home or we’re getting late for that important meeting. A roadside assistance service can, however, provide you with a solution within a very short time.

Engine Complications

Your vehicle might break down as a result of a problem with your engine. As a matter of fact, this is the most common causes of car breakdowns. When having this issue, contacting a professional towing service can help you fix the complication or minimize costly repairs. Remember towing companies have trained technicians who can handle car repairs as well.

Gas Delivery

Can you recall that morning when you forgot to check the fuel level in your car? This often happens when you’re in a hurry to get to work or whatever destination you’re headed to. Instead of trudging down and struggling to get to the nearest service station, you can contact a professional towing service to deliver to you gas before you proceed with your journey.

Dead Batteries and Lockouts

There are times when your car battery needs a jump or replacement before you continue with your journey. When this happens in a remote area where you can find other vehicles to help, contacting a professional towing service will keep you moving. Professional towing companies provide battery replacement and jumpstart services.

When it comes to lockouts, you can tell where the problem starts. You arrive safely to your destination but somehow forget to pick your keys as you leave the vehicle. This is another frustrating situation that most car owners experience. Whether it has happened in your home, by the roadside or at your workplace parking lot, towing professionals can help you get the keys.

A professional towing company will be transparent and charge you a fair price for the service provided. You need prompt response whenever you’re stranded on the road for whatever reason. Hiring a professional towing service will provide you with the service needed and ensure your car’s safety.