Choosing a Truck

Once we purchased our Airstream, we needed to find the right truck to tow it with. As we did with the trailer and trailer options, we did a lot of online research and visited multiple dealerships. After doing our research, we compiled a list of features that were necessities, as well as a few luxuries. Our list included crew cab, 4×4, tow package, trailer brake, trailer backup assist, backup camera, blind spot monitoring, large gas tank, bed liner, and a towing capacity of at least 9000+ pounds — but more on the towing numbers later.

Not all dealerships or car salesmen are created equal. When we were just browsing, we were walking around a dealership (that shall remain nameless) when a salesman approached. We were looking at one vehicle in particular and asked him what the towing capacity was because it wasn’t listed. He looked at the sticker and pointed at the GVWR (truck weight + max payload). We turned around and left. There was no way we were going to work with a salesman – who sells trucks – who doesn’t know the difference between GVWR and towing capacity. We talked with another salesman who really didn’t seem to know much about the product he was selling either or where to find the answers to our questions. Plus, they were blaring country music in their showroom. Ugh. We ended up at San Diego’s Mossy Ford in Pacific Beach where we worked with Pedro Ramos. Spread the word about this dealership and salesman. So knowledgeable. So professional. So worthy of our business.

We ended up purchasing a 2017 Ford F-150 XLT 4×4 Supercrew with a 3.5L V6 EcoBoost engine. It was a demo vehicle with 249 miles, so it was considered ‘used’ which helped with the price. We qualified for all of the rebates Ford was offering, so after all discounts and rebates were applied, we ended up paying about 23% below MSRP. We were very happy with this, seeing as it had every feature were looking for and even some we weren’t.

We are not truck people. We aren’t even car people. We’ve always been people that need to use a vehicle to get from point A to point B safely. But now, we’re truck people, because we have to be. And guys, this truck is beautiful and we love it. It’s big, though. Really, really big – and that’s been an adjustment.

Now, back to those towing numbers I spoke of. The most important information to know when purchasing a truck for towing is the truck’s GCWR (gross combined weight rating). The GCWR is the total weight of the truck, truck passengers, truck cargo, trailer and trailer cargo. You also need to know your trailer’s base weight and GVWR, gross vehicle weight rating. The GVWR is the maximum your trailer can weigh per the manufacturer. Our trailer’s base weight is 5,868lbs and the GVWR is 7,600lbs. So, again, research is key as well as having accurate numbers. Here is why the numbers matter:


  • Truck Curb Weight:            4,890lbs
  • Truck Max Payload:            2,030lbs
  • Trailer Tongue Weight:         700lbs
  • Trailer GVWR:                      7,660lbs

TOTAL Combined Weight:   15,220lbs

Our truck has a GCWR of 16,100lbs, so there is 880lbs to spare if we are ever maxed out on the truck and trailer. I never foresee that happening, but it’s good to know we’re safe if it does. Also, Ford’s recommended maximum towing capacity for this vehicle is 10,700lbs, so we are also safe there. Just as all dealerships and salesman are not created equal, nor are towing capacities. Things that affect towing capacity are the engine, the sizes of the cab and the bed, wheelbase, tires, tongue weight, axle ratio and probably a number of other things. Two side-by-side trucks may look identical, but have completely different numbers. Do your research, but it also helps to work with a salesman who knows his stuff and knows where to find answers quickly if he doesn’t.

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