Our F-150 after 51,188 miles

Pawnee National Grassland, Colorado

On September 7th, 2013, I took delivery of our tow vehicle.

In honor of its one-year anniversary I thought I would share a few statistics and an opinion on our setup.

Mileage

Annual mileage: 51,188
Towing mileage: 20,836

Daily average miles: 140
Daily average towing miles: 57

Weights

First, a quick primer on three terms.

  • GVWR stands for Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. This is the maximum your vehicle can weigh fully loaded.
  • GCWR stands for Gross Combined Weight Rating. This is the maximum your vehicle and a trailer can weigh together.
  • GAWR stands for Gross Axle Weight Rating. This is the maximum weight that can be put on a specific axle.

You really shouldn’t exceed any of these ratings. So, for example, you may be under your GVWR but over the GAWR on one of the axles. Not ok – load must be redistributed.

With that, my readings:

Average towing GVWR: 7,472 lbs. (98% capacity)*
Average towing GCWR: 13,864 lbs. (81% capacity)*

I should note that the truck’s GCWR (17,100 lbs.) exceeds the combined axle ratings of the truck and trailer (15,400 lbs.). So with our trailer, GCWR is not a limitation. GAWR and GVWR will be hit before GCWR.

* These numbers were averaged from five CAT scale readings spread over several months.

Fuel

Gasoline consumed: 4,133 gallons
Average MPG: 12.4
Total spent on gasoline: ~$14,176*

* We track spend but have not broken out our Audi vs. truck spend. $14,176 was estimated by taking an average gasoline price of $3.43 multiplied by 4,133 gallons.

Unscheduled repairs

  • 1 set of front brake pads replaced
  • 1 front rotor machined
  • 1 transmission fluid flush
  • 1 windshield replaced

Opinion

This truck is capable of towing a 28’ Airstream International. Over 20,836 miles of towing it has handled two high-speed emergency stops very well, pulled up and braked down Rocky Mountain passes gracefully and suffered no significant mechanical issues. Over 30,352 miles not towing it has been pleasant to drive.

But I wouldn’t buy one again for our application. Why? It’s payload capacity is too limited, as you can see from us being at 98% of the GVWR on average.

Getting under the GVWR, and the rear axle’s GAWR, required careful distribution of load in the trailer. For example, when towing we put our bikes, the generator and a heavy toolbox in the trailer behind the trailer axles. Ideally these would stay in the truck bed.

Using 1,200 lb. Reese trunnion bars I have the following CAT scale readings on the front and rear axles:

September 7th, 2014

Drive axle (rear): 3,940 lbs. | GAWR: 4,050 lbs.
Steer axle (front): 3,580 lbs. | GAWR: 3,750 lbs.

Not much room at all. 95% capacity of the front axle and 97% capacity of the rear axle.

I have also not yet managed to completely eliminate rear-end sag. The pavement to wheel arch measurements taken at the same time are as follows:

Front: 37 1/4”
Rear: 36 3/4”

It’s not bad. The rear is sagging 1/2” which isn’t visibly noticeable, but that is apparently sufficient to make the headlights blinding to oncoming traffic.

One solution to this problem will be to add helper leaf springs, which I plan to do.

Lastly, I have some concerns about the longevity of the components with this amount of load.

Doing it again I would have bought a 250/2500 series truck for increased payload.

– Anthony, Pomona State Park, Kansas

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