I'm looking for information about what you guys have experienced re: fuel economy when towing with a 3/4 ton pickup, gas or diesel.
For the past 6 years I've used an '05 Ford F150 Crew cab 2WD with a 5.4L to tow my 2 horse bumper pull Trailet with a dressing room. I usually haul 2 big horses and gear which means I'm pulling about 6500 to 7000 lbs. I usually get about 10mpg towing and 15ish when not.
I'm looking to upgrade to a 3/4 ton or 1 ton 4x4 crew cab. I've read a bunch of the old threads on the best truck to buy. My husband is leaning toward a gas truck since they are much less expensive initially & for maintenance. It will be his daily driver and I'll use it when doing barn stuff and for towing.
Windward Farm, Washougal, WA- our work in progress, our money pit, our home!
I have a 99 F350, V10 gas, long bed, extended (not crew) cab. I get 10.3mpg whether I'm hauling or not. I wish to god I had a diesel (preferably a Chevy 3/4 ton with the Duramax in long bed..sigh...my dream truck).
Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!
I have a gas 2003 Ford F250. It is the 5.4l version, normal bed and I forget what the cab type is called - it has a second row of seats and the half doors.
I get about 14 mpg regardless if I'm towing or not. I tow a 2h steel bp trailer with 1 horse (approximately 900-1000 pounds). I've kept records based on the punt of gas used at fillup and the odometer so I feel pretty confident in my numbers. My truck is also lifted which I've heard lowers the mpg and it has a tonneau cover which I've heard helps the mpg.
Having had both diesels and gassers: both my diesels were/are actually CHEAPER overall to maintain, b/c well taken care of, they don't break as much. If you get a good one. I haven't had a repair bill in 4 years (that's how long I have owned it) on my 12 year old 7.3L F250 except for one worn out tie rod end, which is wear part anyway.
I did put in a computer gauge, which I calibrated to my fuel tank and useage, so I get very accurate mileage readouts in real time, as well as trip averages, tank averages, and costs. It is also the only vehicle I own, so daily commuter and everything else.
Cruising empty and unhoooked, 21 - 22 mpg hwy. It does better without the fiberglass bed cap (weight). It's an extended cab long bed 2WD, which is exactly what I wanted.
Hauling the horses (BP 2 horse, with two horses/gear, about 6500 lbs-ish) anywhere from 10-15 mpg depending on the terrain and how I drive. If I'm a good girl and really drive by my tach (which I usually do), it's closer to 15 mpg. If I'm climbing the mtns to SW VA on the freeway, it goes down to 10-12 mpg.
I could improve this if I added a bigger exhaust, but I don't want it that bad -- my money goes to the horses and if it ain't broke, I don't fix it.
But when I am climbing those mountains, it sure feels good to let that turbo loose as we pass a panting 1/2 ton gasser.
Things that reduce your mileage (with research backup): lifts, bigger tires than spec, 4x4 (or anything else that adds weight), cruise control, going over about 60 mph (or the tachometer sweet spot, which for mine is about 1800 rpm), underinflated tires, abrupt start/stops, old/dirty filters.
Urban myths: any gadgets online which claim to boost fuel mileage, driving with the tailgate down (pickups are engineered in a wind tunnel with the tailgate) or one of those air tailgates.
Pickups create very interesting and unexpected air vortices. For example, which I have the cap on, you would think it would make the truck with the trailer on it more aerodynamic and slightly improve mpg. It does not. A weird little eddy forms between the cap rear lift window and the front of the trailer and I have to tie at least one handle of the cap window down or it will be constantly pulled up while I am towing.
I have an 06 Dodge 3500 dually. I get 20 w/no trailer and about 18 pulling a 3horse loaded. Love my diesel!!! (Be forewarned, if you buy a new diesel you will not get this kind of MPG due to new emission control parts.)
2008 Chevy 3500HD, Crew Cab, Duramax, LB, DWR. 4WD. Hauling @ 65mph I plan 10 mpg and actually get 11-11.5. Trailer is 4h Featherlight w/Weedender package. On long trips we start about 500 lb. under GCVWR. Bobtailing I run 14-16 mpg @ 70 mph. In town it's about 13-14 mpg.
Used to have a 1999 Chevy K3500 gasser with large engine, LB, Crew Cab, 4WD. Same trailer gave me 7 mpg @ 60 mph. At 65 mph I got 6 mpg. Bobtailing it was pretty close to the Duramax numbers.
The faster you go and/or the more you're hauling the lower will be your mpg.
Price comparison between gas and diesel can get interesting. If you do a detailed "yellow pad" analysis you might find that the gasser is actually a penny or two per mile cheaper than the diesel up to about 150,000 miles (where the gasser is looking at a rebuild on the engine that will run $3000-$3500). The diesel will go longer (probably to 250,000-300,000 more or less) but the rebuild will be $7000-$8000). Light duty diesels (and all one ton or less pickups are "light duty" no matter what the advertising department says) will not go the same distance as a Freightliner or Volvo.
When gas was more expensive than diesel the cost delta was a no-brainer. Now that diesel is higher by as much as 75 cents/gal. that is not the case and you have to look at the numbers very carefully. Something a lot of folks don't include in their analysis is indirect costs such as higher insurance premiums due to higher purchase prices and replacement costs of diesel pickups; more interest paid on larger loans for diesel pickups; and extra miles driven to buy diesel fuel (which is not available at all filling stations).
I haul with a 2005 Dodge diesel dual wheel crew cab 2 x 4 wheel drive. I'm in it this week and I'm getting 24 mpg driving back an forth to work 75 miles round trip. Hauling I'm usually in the 18 mpg range pulling a 3 h slant with an 8' short wall dressing room and 3 lard ass horses. I much prefer the dual wheels to my previous 3/4T diesel, it is a more stable drive. The dual wheels do cut out some drive thru windows but I can park that monster anywhere!
2001 Chevy Silverado 2500 extended cab 4x4 (gas) gets about 17-18 mpg at highway speeds when not hauling. With my steel 2 horse BP with tack room loaded up and 2 horses, about 10 mpg. One horse, about 12 mpg.
The diesels get much better mileage, but maintenance and fuel can be more expensive. If you are towing a lot, I'd get the diesel, but if it's going to be a daily driver with just short hauls the gas should be ok.
Last edited by Thoroughbred in Color; Dec. 13, 2013 at 07:21 PM.
It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.
2000 F250 4x4 V8 (that's the 5.4) extended cab short bed. I'm almost always hauling ~7000 lbs. (2 horses, GN DR trailer, also the Trailet). I usually get ~9mpg local (some hills, start and stop), ~10+ highway (flattish), and 12-14 empty.
Hauling that size rig on rolling terrain, we got just under 10 using a 95 F-150 with 5.8L V8. We upgraded to a 2008 F-250 with 6.4L diesel and get 13.5 that drops to 13.0 when hauling 7k or less.
Take care when shopping for diesels that fuel economy varies based on the generation of the engine (and how burdened it is with emissions requirements). The older ones actually do much better. Plus the newer ones boast huge power numbers that certainly don't help when you're running unloaded or towing modest size trailers that don't need all of that torque. The older ones made half the torque and 50% more MPG.
The new Dodge 1500 with mid-size diesel engines are very interesting but I'm sure the off-the-lot pricing will not make sense for most buyers. I just rode in a Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel that has the same engine, and unloaded on the highway it rolls at 30mpg. Seriously. But I'd never do any horse towing with a Jeep GC - I'm saying the engine has terrific promise in a half-ton pickup.
2002 F-250 7.3 Diesel PS 2WD, 3.73 rear end, 4.5" turbo back exhaust, Stage II intake.
21-22mpg empty, no cover on bed; 15-18mpg hauling a 3 horse, all at altitude in heavy hills and mountains (Rocky Mountains and the Front Range - we don't need no flat land!).
Guilherme, 300,000 in a diesel is still early in engine life, if you maintain it. I am going for 500,000. I just rebuilt the injectors, brakes, front bearings, radiator (all done for about $1K) at 250,000 miles. Then again, the 7.3 was used in the medium duty (650 and 750) trucks too.
I don't care to go out and look at the tag tonight, but I believe it has a 3.55 rear end.
12.3 TO 12.9 pulling lightly loaded 4H head to head Sundowner.
One horse...18 or so hounds.
I have mde a few trips at 13.3 MPG.
Terrain makes a lot of difference.
So far, this combination has made almost 30,000 miles together, so the numbers are established.
Without a trailer, 19.9 to 20.3, again terrain means a lot.
Four lanes, very few lights and you get the top MPH.
15 to 17 in town, but what I call town is not DC or Chicago. It proably is more accuratgely called suburban driving where limits are 35-45 and lights are maybe a mile apart.
As for my speed, I never drive over the limit when pulling a trailer. But I do drive exactly on the limit. Most of the roads I travel are 55 to 65 with a little bit of 45 mixed in, but very little when pulling the trailer.
I see no difference in the MPG at 55 or 65.
My computer shows oil temp and trans temp. I have never seen it hot even on 90 plus days.
You could not give me a gas engine for serious pulling.
I hooked my first trailer to a 1949 Dodge car, bought new, and have had trailers ever since, so I have been the full gamut of gas engines, light pickups, deisels when they first came out.......and diesel is the only way to go in my book.
Just stay away from the Fords with the 6.0 engine, no matter what anyone tells you.
Go for an old 7.3 or a 2008 or later.
I had a 2008 which I traded for the 2012. Both very good but the 2012 has a real Ford made engine in it and that alone makes it a much better truck than a Ford with the International engines.
Something a lot of folks don't include in their analysis is indirect costs such as higher insurance premiums due to higher purchase prices and replacement costs of diesel pickups; more interest paid on larger loans for diesel pickups; and extra miles driven to buy diesel fuel (which is not available at all filling stations).
While I definitely agree to take your time, do realistic math, and find what fits your situation best, I have to add some caveats to these specific points. These things will be very regionally and situation specific.
My insurance premium has been similar for all of my tow vehicles, it did not increase because I bought a diesel truck. There was a slight increase with its purchase -- but that was because I traded in a 1996 Tahoe with 170k miles on it that was worth about $2,000, LOL. Obviously, if I'd spent $45k on a new truck, it would have gone up a lot, but I believe new vehicles are a horrible investment, so YMMV.
Related to that, the purchaser decides the size of the loan/budget/cash and there are way more variables in that than just what the engine is. A 10 year old 3/4 ton diesel is much cheaper than a new 1/2 ton gasser, but will perform much better in most cases, so that doesn't seem relevant to OP's question.
And diesel is just as accessible as gasoline in every state I have driven in (a lot of them), I only have to do extra work to find off-road diesel for the tractor. So while there are a few places where diesel is rarer, and obviously one should know this pre-purchase, I wouldn't consider it a major factor in most places in the US. With a 33 gallon tank, I can go 600 miles, so even if I didn't live in diesel-land, that's a fair bit of time to pass a pump, LOL.
One thing that CAN really help boost your tow mpg is a straight drive tranny, but they can be hard to find in good shape. I miss driving one, but I decided I could live with the automatic tradeoff - I lose a little mpg and engine control, but I gain a free hand and I know have a left knee with missing articular cartilage, so constant clutch use would be not so much fun anymore.
I have a 2000 F-250 7.3L PowerStroke with 2 WD (short bed, extended cab) with a manual transmission. I get about 16.5 mpg, and about 13 mpg when hauling 6,000 lbs of bumper pull.
That all goes to crap in the winter.
I keep Stanadyne or Ford's diesel additive in the fuel.
As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.
4.10 gears, with 35" tires. Deleted emissions, tuned by H&S, intake and exhaust. Unloaded between 15/17 MPG. Loaded 53' Race trailer (grossing about 18,000-22,000 lbs) between 9-12 MPG. Depending on the terrain.
I personally work in the diesel industry, so I guess I'm a little biased. I did write a huge post on Ford diesels a few years back (I'm pretty sure you can search it). Any questions, feel free to PM me. We own a business that primarily deals with light duty diesels (your typical Ford, Chevy, Dodge), from heavy duty transmissions to performance modifications.
I've had diesels with upwards of 500,000 miles on them with no major issues. One of our shop trucks is a 2011 F-450 with 220,000 + and she runs strong and happy towing a 45'+ steel deck over gooseneck (9,100 curb weight), loaded with two 8-10,000 lbs trucks on the regular.
I personally do see a difference with performance modifications. The newer 2015 trucks have phenomenal emissions that flow at an extremely high rate. Us in the performance industry have been continually running tests on these trucks and are super happy with the results. The 2008-2013 emissions modifications do have a "choke out" factor, which can be resolved.
Originally Posted by barka.lounger
h/j riders are used to bending over, every.time they pay their.show bills at the office. event.ers not so mu.ch.
2009 GMC 2500 Duramax crew cab short bed 4x4 - gets about 17 mpg when towing ~10K. Towed that amount from Alaska to OKC to DC. Gets darn near the same when NOT towing. Truck without trailer, with cap on, scales at 8200lbs with our family of 5 in it, full tank.
2010 Dodge 3500 Cummins dually mega-cab 4x4 gets about 8 mpg when towing 20K. Truck + trailer scale out at just over 28K - husband hits every CAT scale he comes across, just to see what he weighs . It gets around 14 mpg when not towing. Weighs about 8700 without trailer, with family in it.
We have two trucks - the newest one being a 1988 F-350, 2WD dually with a re-built 460.
It gets 9-1/2 MPG whether it's going to Lowes for a load of lumber or pulling the race car or the 4-horse trailer down the interstate at 75 MPH.
My truck is a 1978 heavy 3/4, 4WD with a 1973 re-built 454 that get 8-1/2 MPG under the identical conditions as the F-350. Yes, it still runs like a top and sounds like it's going to mash everything that gets in front of its crash bars It's hard to believe I've owned it for 32 years and it will be here 'til the end