Tow vehicle died, now what?

Discussion in 'Tow Vehicles, Hitch & Towing' started by eagle, Jul 19, 2019.

  1. eagle

    eagle Member

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    Hi, all.

    For 2.5 years I have been towing a popup with my 2008 Honda Odyssey. Today, the Odyssey died. The transmission is shot, and the alternator also died and took the battery with it. Died on the highway, and we were blocking a lane. Cops were out there with blue lights to alert fellow drivers. It was a good time. Happy Friday, I guess. Nobody was hurt, and we have another vehicle to drive, and we're all safely at home now. First world problems and all...

    I expect the estimate for the repair will come back in the $2,500 to $3k range, and it's just not worth putting that into a tow vehicle that's only worth $600-$1,400.

    My wife and kids really want a Suburban. I'd love a Suburban too -- I love everything about them, except for the cost.

    Also, we are considering switching out our popup for a hybrid, and to do that I need a bigger tow vehicle anyway. Yeah I wouldn't need the Suburban for that, but it should pull a hybrid pretty easily.

    I'm personally a VW TDI fan (my car is a 2013 Jetta TDI), and would consider a Touareg. Anybody here tow with a one of those? I don't see many responses when I search for that on these forums. They have a 7,700 pound towing capacity.

    For a hybrid trailer, what would you consider? Total purchase price and monthly payment are both major factors here.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Well-Known Member

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    I would go with the one that gives you the best towing and payload capacities. Better to have the extra capacity and not need it, then to cut it close and end up on the highway with a blown transmission again.
     
  3. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

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    Sorry to hear about your van, but glad no one is hurt. Can't help you when it comes to a new tow vehicle. I myself is also considering a Suburban or the Nissan Armada, but hoping I have another few years left in my current TV before I have to upgrade. I currently tow with a 4 runner and just won't feel comfortable towing a hybrid with it. I currently tow a 3500 pound popup instead and have just enough vehicle to control it. Can't go larger though I'm already max my payload. That's something you really have to consider when finding a tow vehicle is what the payload is. I guarantee you will run out of payload before you reach max tow rating. Good luck.
     
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  4. WVhillbilly

    WVhillbilly Well-Known Member

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    The new Armada tows great. But if cost is an issue don't even go look at them.
    Older Suburbans can be found at a decent price, if you have the ability and tools to work on them some.
    Towing a hybrid with one could put in in the 10 mpg range, so keep that in mind.

    Any TDI VW is going to be pricey, and repairs are not cheap either.
     
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  5. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Well-Known Member

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    We upgraded from a 1997 F150 4.6L to a 2013 Expedition 5.4L, two months ago. The F150 pulled the 2018 Aliner Scout easily. With the Expedition, I have to check to see if it is still there.
     
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  6. Rik Peery

    Rik Peery Well-Known Member

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    I'm in the more under the hood group, had 2 used 'Burbs in the past, liked 'em, crap load of room & BIG gas tanks, but didn't mind spending $$$ to do what I like to do...research well & how will the new ride work you...
     
  7. Balthisar

    Balthisar Active Member

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    Personally, I'd go with an Expedition. See my signature. I love the look of the Suburban, and I'm a bit jealous as an Expedition owner. I even launched the GMT-800 version of the Suburban/Tahoe. But the TGW's on the Expedition are so much better than the Suburban/Tahoe, that it's the mathematically-better choice.
     
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  8. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Well-Known Member

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  9. eagle

    eagle Member

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    Thanks, everyone, for the comments. I had a thought last night, and I'll learn on Tuesday if I'm right: I wonder if only the alternator died, and it took the battery with it. When sensors see low voltage, they start doing strange things -- I wonder if the transmission was acting up due to low voltage from the alternator/battery problem.
     
  10. RockyRoo

    RockyRoo Just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD

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    While determining what really happened to your Honda let me explore a little more. How many kids and how old? Any critters riding along? How big of a hybrid are you likely to go with? How long do you keep your vehicles? What kind of budget are you looking at? Any long distance or mountain traveling in your future?
     
  11. RockyRoo

    RockyRoo Just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD

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    Also keep in mind if the alternator died it likely didn't take the battery with it, you just likely ran it till the battery was discharged. The battery will likely be fine after being recharged. Along those lines, if the transmission is an electronic transmission as most tend to be then yes, once you get into a low voltage situation you would expect the transmission to stop functioning properly. Personally I would put a charge in the battery and take it for a short drive and see how the transmission does. If it's still not right then scrap it. If it drives OK, put an alternator on it and start saving money for something more capable for the HTT
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2019
  12. Balthisar

    Balthisar Active Member

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    "Things Gone Wrong," usually per thousand. GMT-800 era Suburbans, for example, had something like 21 drivetrain TGW's per thousand at five years of service (this is memory; not logged into any systems right now). Probably an industry acronym and not a popupportal acronym, though, and I shouldn't have used it here.
     
  13. eagle

    eagle Member

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    We are a family of 5 -- 2 adults and 3 kids ages 11 (boy), 10 (girl), and 7 (boy). We have one dog, a pug, who travels with us. We do not want a large trailer, and currently tow a popup (duh, lol). We got the idea for a hybrid during a recent trip where the family next to us had a hybrid. They showed it to us, and we thought it was great: easier setup, more cargo capacity, less packing when we're ready to go. We like the idea of a hybrid with bunks at each end, similar to the popup (daughter sleeps on dinette right now, and she could keep doing that as long as she's not too tall for the dinette). We would be looking for something used in the $10k range. We do travel on a 2,500~ mile trip (1k one-way) at least once a year, and that goes through the mountains.

    Along those lines, we just made that trip and I'm glad none of this happened while I was towing the popup over Independence Day week! It all happened 5 minutes from home.

    You're right about the alternator not necessarily taking the battery as well, but in this case it probably did: the battery was purchased in January 2015, and I doubt it's still functional after being completely drained at that age. But yes, I had the exact same idea on Saturday night: Maybe the transmission is electronic, and if it is then a low voltage situation could cause it to go haywire. I'm used to manual transmissions and/or older cars with vacuum-controlled transmissions, and the electronic transmission idea just didn't occur to me at first. My current car is a VW TDI with DSG transmission, and that thing is fully computer-controlled -- driving that on Saturday night I thought of that low-voltage issue.

    Either way I want a better tow vehicle, something truck-based instead of car-based. My goal would be to get both a trailer and TV combo that will last us at least 10 years (that is, until the last child is out of the house). According to Fuelly, we drive the van about 15,000 miles a year -- wow! So, that means I'd add 150,000 miles to whatever vehicle we buy. In 10 years, the plan is to get a T@B trailer or something similarly small, for just the 2 adults and the k9 unit.

    Thanks.
     
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  14. J Starsky

    J Starsky Well-Known Member

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    Brother, I'm so in your boat I could row from here!

    Our Tahoe just decided to explode the sun gears inside the transmission. We go camping on 8/5 with the big TT. So, do you stick a trans in a 1/2 ton truck to keep doing it's tasks....or do you buy another! So, I just found a 3/4 ton suburban, 6.0 with HD transmission for just over what the rebuild would cost me. And, sometime this summer, I will pull the trans and rebuild myself at my own time. I just can't order in a new trans, install and field test before our trip so I had to do something! Here's to hoping I did it right! You will too!
     
  15. eagle

    eagle Member

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    That gets to one of my questions: If I put a new transmission in that van, do I want to keep towing with it? Probably not... I think I'm looking at a new TV either way.
     
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  16. J Starsky

    J Starsky Well-Known Member

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    My answer is yes. I will probably install a GM transmission with warranty, they'd have to R&R it if it fails, 3 years or 36k so we will pull 4 wheelers and trailers with it again. A rebuild trans means it has work to start to do again, not that it is retired. You work for your spot in my yard. The Tahoe shall live on, it's too nice to put it down. But 3k isn't chump change, and that is why I gotta do it myself and it will need to wait until fall.
     
  17. RockyRoo

    RockyRoo Just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD

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    Thanks for the detailed response. Ok, so here are my thoughts on the situation, and they are worth every penny you pay for them but keep in mind they are based on expensive experience.

    First, if your vehicle budget is $10k that is going to be a tough bill to fill. With your 10 year/150,000 mile desire the best thing for you to look at would be the latest generation of the HD/Super Duty truck versions. Ok, now that your head has likely exploded, let me explain.

    I had a Roo 233S for 4 years. Probably slightly bigger than you are looking, but once you see one maybe not. I towed it for a year with a 12 year old Suburban and in that year it pretty well destroyed the transmission and rear end. On top of that the truck struggled. I then bought a new 2013 Silverado crew cab because I just knew 1/2 ton trucks could pull anything and it would be great. I hated it, power was OK but the suspension on the truck was just never good with that trailer and whether it was the truck or the hitch I will never know, but I couldn't get rid of the sway and porpoising from the trailer.

    Fast forward to 2015 and we have a trip from Toledo Ohio to Custer South Dakota planned. The 1/2 ton isn't gonna cut it, let's go check out the new generation of trucks. I can tell you the current crew cabs from all 3 manufacturers have plenty of room for your 3 kids and the pugster. Attached is a pic of our 3 "kids", and they were so comfortable that we couldn't get them out of that back seat for 12 days! The 16 year old came up front once when we let her drive for a while on a sightseeing tour, otherwise they were happy as could be back there.

    Surprisingly I can tell you that, depending on how heavy your foot is, the current run of Chevy/GMC's will average between 15-22 mpg's depending on your driving style. Towing the HTT will get you down between 8-10 mpg but any vehicle with a gasoline engine will be in that range so prepare for that.

    The 2500 Chevy with the 6.0 was a Rockstar on that trip pulling the Roo. It never broke a sweat, never passed a gas station without stopping, and never got a complaint from the back seat passengers. Likewise, coming back across the plains the crosswinds were so bad that they ripped the skirting off the trailer on the back side from the wind. Michelle was driving, I was passed out in the passengers seat and neither of us had any idea it was that windy till the saw the skirting in her mirror and pulled over. I tried to open my door and the wind was so strong it took everything I had to get it open. Had to easily be 50 mph cross winds and nobody in the truck ever fealt it.

    I am not promoting GM, just relaying my experience. Any heavy duty truck from the 3 major builders will give the same results. Find the one that fits your budget and you are most comfortable with and have the best, most comfortable trip you could dream of with your new camping style.

    Let me close this by saying I truly hope the Oddesey is not as bad as you expect. If not hopefully it allows you some time to save some pennies and make the next move a little easier when it comes.
     

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  18. eagle

    eagle Member

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    Sorry I wasn't clear: that $10k budget was for the trailer, not the TV. Not sure what the TV budget would be, but probably in the 20-25k range. Just for fun I went and looked at new Suburbans Friday night -- eek, $80k! That test drive was the most expensive vehicle I have ever driven.
     
  19. RockyRoo

    RockyRoo Just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD

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    . I am a Suburban guy thru and thru but no, not a chance in hell would I pay that for a new one. My 2016 3500 loaded Silverado diesel had a $66k sticker on it, out the door was about $59k and I told her she had to pay it because I couldn't write checks that big for a car payment.

    You can get into a mid-level trimmed HD/SD truck much lower than $80k new. In fact I would bet at this point you should probably be able to get into a gas 2500/250 pretty easily in the $25k-$30k range with a 2015. I think Ford went to their new body in 2017 so that may not be an option.
     
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  20. silvermickey2002

    silvermickey2002 Morris County, NJ

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    We were looking at new F150 crew cabs and I just about fell over from the sticker price!!!! I feel your pain!!!
     

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