The Right Equipment Makes Towing Easier
Now that you know what you need in a tow vehicle, it’s time to get what you want. Above all, you want to get the towing package. All manufacturers offer one and it most likely has the equipment you need and the stuff you want.
For example, you want power mirrors, but some tow packages include special towing mirrors with a number of special features. Some extend farther outward electrically. Others can flip up and out or pull out to provide a better view of your trailer and the road behind you. The best mirrors also include small convex mirrors, which let you see everything from to the bottom of your trailer tires to the blind spot over your shoulder. If the truck you’re thinking about buying doesn’t have the convex mirrors, you can always buy them in the aftermarket and stick them onto your existing mirrors and they work nearly as well.
What you want and need from the factory are oil and transmission coolers. The factory setups are always better than aftermarket, because you don’t have to route plumbing, splice into fluid lines and find a place to hang a heat exchanger. Again, most towing packages come with this equipment.
In a perfect world, you’ll also get a load-leveling suspension system, which can increase stability on freeways. If the truck you’re looking at doesn’t offer such a system, there are systems available in the aftermarket, such as those from Air Lift.
Let’s also try to remember that you have to live with this vehicle when you’re not towing, so it’s important that you be comfortable behind the wheel. Power seats are a must and memory is a great feature if people of different heights regularly drive the vehicle. Also be sure the seats are comfortable and supportive. Taller drivers may find that some seats don’t offer enough thigh support, which is more common than you may think. Nothing will make a long trip seem longer than seats that don’t offer ample support.
Lastly, a couple of things you might not think of that make a great tow vehicle even better are a sliding rear window and running boards. A sliding rear window lets you communicate more easily with a person outside who is helping you back into a camping space. That way you can tell your “m’on backs” from your “ho, ho.” Running boards come in handy at shallow boat ramps, which often have you backing far into the water to float the boat. If you have running boards, you can shinny down them, then up into the bed to get to the bow winch—and your feet stay dry. That might not mean much during the summer months, but after those fall cruises and in places where the water is bitter cold, you’ll appreciate running boards. It also helps keep your truck’s carpeting cleaner.
Naturally, reading a feature story is no substitute for tire-kicking and test-driving, but it is a good start. That will allow you to get a feel for the vehicle and see if it appeals to you emotionally. The only thing left to deal with is the car salesman—and that’s a book in itself.