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Hardway

What do you use to tow or trailer your Z with?

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I am looking at getting out of my FR-S and back in to something with more room and capability.  I have seen plenty of guys haul Z's with Toyota Tacoma's, Jeep's, mid-size SUV's, and all the usual full size trucks and SUV's.  I am looking at a crew cab Dodge Ram with the gas V6, 8-speed auto, and 3.21 gears.  This combo has lots of reports of pulling down real world highway mpgs in the low to mid 20's.  The truck has a full towing package on it and a tow rating of 4100 pounds.  Seeing that my '71 240z comes in around 2500 pounds and a U-haul car hauler weighs like 2300 pounds, I am already over the limit for the truck.  Now I am considering a V8 but almost hate too since 99% driving is highway driving to and from work, doing 80mph each way on the TX 130 tollway.

 

What do you guys use?  How well does it tow when you need it to?  If possible give gearing, trailer specs, and mpg's if you have them.  Thank you!

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I use a 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee with the 4.0L in-line six. MPG is about 14 while towing. The trailer weighs about 2200 lbs, the Z is about 2300 lbs, total therefore is about 4500 lbs.

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Jeff,

 

I'll know a lot more about the question you ask in a few days.  I'm towing my Z to Memphis for ZCON and just purchased a new 20 foot enclosed trailer by Continental Cargo.  Purchased it up in Waco and brought it down to Austin about 2 weeks ago. 

 

I am not an expert on trailering but am learning fast.  A couple of data points that I have so far. 

 

My tow vehicle is a 2014 2WD F150 with the 5.0L V8.  Has the complete towing package which includes electric brake controllers.  I believe that total towing capacity for the truck is around 10000 lbs.  Curb weight of the trailer is about 3400 lbs.  I purchased the upgraded axles to 5200 lbs as well as went with torsion axles instead of leaf springs.  You can get the full specs of the trailer here if you are interested:

 

http://www.continentalcargotrailer.com/default.asp?page=models&unit=valueauto&choice=specs&series=ValueAuto

 

My trailer model is VHW8520TA3.

 

On my way up to Waco to pick up the trailer I was averaging around 70 - 75 MPH and got around 19-20 MPG.  On the return trip with an empty trailer, averaging around 65 - 70, I got around 12 - 13 MPG.  I guess there are going to be a lot of gas stops between here and Memphis!!  Will also have to learn how to keep my speed closer to 55 as well!

 

Having said that I also don't think my trailer and tow vehicle were optimally set up.  Since picking up the trailer a friend whom I consider more an an expert on this topic strongly advised that I have a weight distribution system / anti sway system installed.  This ensures an optimal loading of the tow vehicle from front to back as well as optimal tongue weight.  I ended up having one installed last weekend (made by Curt Manufacturing) and in the short distance I have driven the rig, I can already tell a difference.  The truck seemed to labor a whole lot less and was much more stable on the road.  Like I said, I'll have a lot more for you in a couple of weeks.

 

I've included a picture of my truck and the trailer taken on the day I picked it up.

 

Mike.

 

post-18548-0-57962300-1436399828_thumb.j

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Hey Mike - looks like the Z will be travlin' in style!  Nice rig.  Z'ya in Memphis.

 

Jeff - this will be my first tow.  I'll be using my '09 Xterra with a factory tow pkg (5,000 lb. rating) and a U-Haul trailer for the Z.  Like Mike, I'll have a better report after ZCON.

 

Jim

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Thanks for all the info guys.  The truck I am looking at actually has the 3.55 gears and full tow package including transmission oil cooler.  The 3.55 gears ups the towing capacity to 7100 pounds.  It does not have the trailer brake setup but one could be installed if needed.  I have the truck right now as an overnight test drive and really like it.  Based on everything I have read about this setup lots of guys have reported great success pulling medium to large boats, travel trailers etc.  

 

Good luck at Z-Con Mike!  With all the work you have put in to your car I am sure it will do well.

 

Be safe out there guys.  I look forward to a full report once you return.

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I tow a toy hauler and have towed various trailers related to dirt biking and the occasional car moving.  First off I would hesitate to get a full sized pickup with a V6 unless your talking about a Ford ecoboost which is turbo'ed.  My real world experience with v-6's is that they list unobtainable fuel economy and are underpowered, creating a condition where the v6 is running at high load all the time.  In this setup your v6 is getting equal or worse mileage than a v8 with none of the benefit.  That being said any full sized v8 pickup should handle your load.

 

I buy Dodge trucks.  They have a better interior and ergonomics than the Ford or Chevy.  The hemi is a great motor and the Ram 1500 and Jeep Cherokee is now available with a small diesel.  If you want to go big time get a Ram 2500 with a Cummins.  Mine unloaded will get 23MPG, it has infinite power, outruns most cars on the road and has a GCWR over 20,000 pounds

 

I like Ford.  They had some issues with the early Triton motors and also with their diesel motors between 2004-2009 which was when i was buying.  I dont think the interior is as good as the Dodge but its OK and better than the Chevy.  The new ecoboost system is pretty sweet, if i were shopping I would consider one.

 

I dont buy GM.  My whole family on my dads side works for GM, i get family discounts and I still wont buy one.  From personal experience i can tell you the build quality is the worst in the industry.  My last truck was a Dodge Dakota V8 and it out hauled a full size Chevy Silverado V8 to the point we stopped towing with the Chevy.  With the exception of the LS series motor and the Corvette that company is dead to me.

 

Nissan and Toyota both make nice full sized pickups.  Usually they are priced much higher than the American options, especially used.

 

To summarize my top 5 pickups would be in this order:

  1. Ram 2500 Cummins
  2. Ram 1500 (Hemi or Diesel)
  3. Ford F150 (Ecoboost or 5.0)
  4. Nissan Titan V8
  5. Toyota Tundra V8
Edited by Kurbycar32

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I tow my 240Z race car on a trailex open aluminum (850 lb) with my 2006 Ridgeline. Gets 17 mpg @ 70mph. If all goes well this Saturday I'll start down to Memphis (ZCON)the next day.

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I tend to agree with Kurby in general terms. I have a 2003 F250 diesel, not real fast but super strong.

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I appreciate all the comments and feedback guys.  I ended up returning the truck today.  After considering what everyone said and talking with some more of my friends I think a V8 is the way to go if I get a truck.  A diesel is really too much as I would probably only two something a few times per year.  For now I am still rolling in my FR-S.

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Hardway,

 

Good luck in the pursuit of a tow vehicle. All the things that have been brought up about engine size, towing capacity, weight load set up etc are all very important. There was a mention as well about brakes and the use of a brake controller. If anyone has not towed a trailer, with a load, especially downhill this item can easily be overlooked. Some people just plug in the harnesses and away they go only to have the trailer try to pass them in an emergency stop going down a grade. Be sure the controller is properly adjusted as well. I tow with a Titan and my set up basically allows me to not realize the trailer is even behind me until I look in the rear view mirror. So again good luck in finding the right tow vehicle and trailer and have a safe trip.

 

Zulaytr

post-1369-0-41832600-1436535835_thumb.jp

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I could use some advice on how to adjust the brake controller.

I tow a 20 foot steel trailer with a wood deck + the 240Z or Ford Fusion on it. The truck is a Dodge 2500 8 litre.

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What kind of controller? How does it adjust? My Prodigy has 3 settings and I pick the one that is the smoothest without locking up the trailer brakes...

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My brake controller has an infinite adjustment from a to almost Max. Is the best idea to turn it up till the trailer brakes are locking the back it off?

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That's the way I would do it. Just remember if you go from dry onto rain soaked roads you may need to adjust it for the wet roads.

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You want to be sure the trailer brakes activate before your tow vehicle does. Most controllers have a recommended starting point. Obviously how much load you have, the trailer braking system and driving conditions are all variables. You will have to play with the adjustments while you are on a road test. You do not want the trailer brakes to lock up in a hardstop (not servere) but you do want the trailer to do a lot of the braking in that situation. That helps to keep the truck and trailer in a straight line stop.

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I have a 2009 Lexus GX470.  It has the same V8 that the Toyota Tundra has and is rated at 6,500 lbs towing capacity.  Although I don't tow a Z behind it anymore.  I have a Featherlite aluminum trailer that weighs about 1,100 lbs, and my Bondurant Mustang weighs 3,410, so about 4,500 lbs total.  I hardly know it is behind me when towing.

 

I use a Teckonsha (sp?) brake controller. It has a adjustment wheel that you can turn until the truck and the tralier are stopping approximately at the same rate.

 

Overall, I am really happy with this set up.

 

Marty

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I've been towing my race car for 4 years now. I have a 2006 Dodge Ram 1500 with the Hemi and 3.92 gears. It has a heavy fiberglass cap. I started with a bed full of spare parts/tools and pulled an open trailer. Maybe 600 lbs of parts, tools, etc. Trailer and car weighed about 3900 pounds. I had no trouble towing that and got a best of 17.5 mpg. Typical mpg was 14.5. The trailer has brakes. I recently hauled a 3500 lb AAR cuda and had no trouble even on long hills.

 

Last year I bought a 20' enclosed trailer. Trailer and car weigh a little under 6500 lbs. I have an Anderson WD/anti-sway hitch. Love it! I've also installed air bags on my truck to keep things level. I have no trouble on the flatter road but the truck has to downshift on hills. Going to VIR and Pocono I have to pull some long hills and the turck has to work. It does it fine and I can maintain 55mph. I get about 9.5mpg pulling the enclose trailer.

 

I suggest getting at least 3.55 gears unless you get a nice diesel then gears won't matter. Get some kind of WD hitch with anti-sway. If the back of the truck sags then get air bags. Pump up all tires to the max. LT tires help too. You'll want a brake controller and maybe some tow mirrors.

 

In normal driving I get 17-21mpg without a trailer. The 2013+ Hemi Rams have 8-speeds and would be an excellent choice. Another option is the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. Guys on their forum have gotten over 30mpg and close to 20mpg pulling something like you have. 3.55 gears on either of those would work fine for you. I'm considering an EcoDiesel for myself.

 

Chuck

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Chuck just listed exactly all the right equipment to buy.  Weight distribution hitch, airbags if necessary and a nice trailer brake controller like Zulaytr detailed.  With those three things on a decent truck you can reach towing nirvana.  Seriously though give the ecoboost a good look, it sounds right up your alley. 

 

 

 

 

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I've towed Zs on trailers with Datsun 620 pickups and Ford F350 pickups.  By far, the most important towing component is the driver.  Don't be in a hurry, look far ahead, keep the towing vehicle and trailer in top condition, and buy new trailer tires every 5 years.

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