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Tow truck ideas / advice

jukes
Explorer
Explorer
Hi,
Our 2003 Diesel 7.3l Excursion is finally having issues (wobbly steering), spent $$$ getting it repaired, but that didn't fix the issue.... at this point we don't know whether to cut our losses...
However, finding a decent replacement is $$$.
What would be a decent truck, perhaps a few years old, but still lower mileage to tow this:

2015 Cherokee by Forest River grey wolf, m-274dbh? Base Weight (lbs / kg)
6261 / 2840
Carrying Capacity (lbs / kg)
1607 / 728.9
Hitch Weight (lbs / kg)
906 / 411
We like diesel but here in California diesel is expensive....
What would be a smaller truck that could tow this, perhaps I could trade in my car and use the truck, but I really am not keen on a large daily driver....
We want to drive to Utah, up to Washington and something that can handle steep hills useful...
Thanks!
27 REPLIES 27

Grit_dog
Nomad III
Nomad III
Unfortunately the OP is now about $10k invested in a (best possible case) $10k rig for just new front end and tires.
From a financial perspective, it was time to learn how to fix things yourself or cut bait about $10k ago.
Not knowing what else has been done to the rig (could have another recent $15k into drivetrain and couple grand in seat covers etc, or literally been living on maint and replacing only what fails completlty) it still seems the best bet is to cut bait and learn from the scenario.
Take the immediate finances out of it, this is also a vacation rig, right? What are the chances a 400k mi 20 year old rig is anywhere near as reliable as a much newer 1/4 the miles or less vehicle? Very slim unless the OP has basically rebuilt the whole truck by now.
2016 Ram 2500, MotorOps.ca EFIlive tuned, 5” turbo back, 6" lift on 37s
2017 Heartland Torque T29 - Sold.
Couple of Arctic Fox TCs - Sold

GAR2
Explorer
Explorer
Grit dog wrote:
You went from $5k to $8k in repairs now, in a week? (Tires don’t count)
Thought you were contemplating a new truck vs dumping more $ into the old one?
$8k would buy you everything from the frame down, including a new axle…I think you need a new mechanic. A while ago….


^^^^ X2. To the OP, lots of problems with the aftermarket steering gears....... Blue Top brand is now the most preferred replacement, better quality than the redhead steering boxes.

I think you said your Ex was an ‘03 - does it have the 7.3 PSD? If so and you can find a reputable garage, or do it yourself......that gets my vote.
In the market to buy a T/C
2002 F350 4wd CC DRW 8’ box
Load Lifter 5000 rear air bags, front Timbrens
Rancho 9000 shocks
Brighton, Illinois

Grit_dog
Nomad III
Nomad III
You went from $5k to $8k in repairs now, in a week? (Tires don’t count)
Thought you were contemplating a new truck vs dumping more $ into the old one?
$8k would buy you everything from the frame down, including a new axle…I think you need a new mechanic. A while ago….
2016 Ram 2500, MotorOps.ca EFIlive tuned, 5” turbo back, 6" lift on 37s
2017 Heartland Torque T29 - Sold.
Couple of Arctic Fox TCs - Sold

jukes
Explorer
Explorer
ScottG wrote:
Your steering gear is worn out. I suggest replacing it with a Redhead brand rebuilt unit. BTW, don't let anyone tell you they can just adjust it. That wont do it.


Hi he already put a Readhead steering box in...

He just did some more work to it yesterday I will find out what that was, but it hasn't helped.. He's $8000 in now and running out of ideas as to what else the issue could be....

ScottG
Nomad
Nomad
Your steering gear is worn out. I suggest replacing it with a Redhead brand rebuilt unit. BTW, don't let anyone tell you they can just adjust it. That wont do it.

C_Schomer
Explorer
Explorer
I’m also a fix-it guy and I’ve been through all those problems but I’d be for dumping a 400k mile money pit. I haven’t had a gasser for so long, IDK which one has the least of all the later-vehicle evils. One of the 1/2t crew cabs. At least the 8 and 10 spd transmissions are a bunch better, now. Craig
FWIW, I’ve read about new boutique steering boxes that were still sloppy. Someone who knows how to adjust it might be able to fix the wandering problem. My 12 Dodge also had those steering problems and after I replaced everything that was loose, I adjusted the box and completely stopped the wandering. I also had the alignment shop max out the caster.
2012 Dodge 3500 DRW CCLB 4wd, custom hauler bed.
2008 Sunnybrook Titan 30 RKFS Morryde and Disc brakes
WILL ROGERS NEVER MET JOE BIDEN!

Grit_dog
Nomad III
Nomad III
Caster, sticky new bjs (lol) or bad steering box are your 3 most likely causes. And not likely the first one.
Since you actually told us the symptom finally.
2016 Ram 2500, MotorOps.ca EFIlive tuned, 5” turbo back, 6" lift on 37s
2017 Heartland Torque T29 - Sold.
Couple of Arctic Fox TCs - Sold

Grit_dog
Nomad III
Nomad III
^That too.
Leaf springs/bushings
Sway bar end links.
All 7.3s are leafs I think.
Anything that hasn’t been replaced at least once on a 400k mile solid axle 4x4 is wore out or at very least not great.
But so is the rest of the vehicle by then, so it’s flip a coin whether to pile money into it or a newer rig.
2016 Ram 2500, MotorOps.ca EFIlive tuned, 5” turbo back, 6" lift on 37s
2017 Heartland Torque T29 - Sold.
Couple of Arctic Fox TCs - Sold

FishOnOne
Explorer III
Explorer III
Bushings on front suspension maybe shot and need to be replaced.
'12 Ford Super Duty FX4 ELD CC 6.7 PSD 400HP 800ft/lbs "270k Miles"
'16 Sprinter 319MKS "Wide Body"

Grit_dog
Nomad III
Nomad III
Yes there was a reason I picked those specific years as a starting point. Doesn’t mean others are no good, but that would be my preference.
In 2014 half ton rams got the bulletproof ZF8 speed. I wouldn’t cross the street for a 6 speed Dodge 64-65-66-68 trans. If I had the choice.
Ford, 5.0 I’d go 2011 or newer. Eco would be 3rd year model so 2013 or newer.
GM, personally 3 out of 4 2014 new model 1500s left my job on a rollback and never returned due to major electrical issues. First model year problems.
And as tempting as it is, I wouldn’t get an Eco diesel, if I was not a diy guy. Just in case those were looking attractive.
2016 Ram 2500, MotorOps.ca EFIlive tuned, 5” turbo back, 6" lift on 37s
2017 Heartland Torque T29 - Sold.
Couple of Arctic Fox TCs - Sold

Grit_dog
Nomad III
Nomad III
Tyler0215 wrote:
Well the only thing left is new tires. You've thrown everything else at .


Tires and drag link.
This thread is more of a “want” a newer pickup, not a “can’t fix the old Excursion.”
I get that. That ole Ford is getting long in the tooth. With 400k miles I wouldn’t have sunk that kind of money into it in the first place (likely…anyways unless it is the most pristine old 7.3 smoker you’ve ever seen). Even moreso if you’re not a diy mechanic.
At this point, rotate the tires (just because), cut your losses on the front end work and do what you really want and largely the best decision, find a newer truck.
Any 2014-newer ram 1500 if you’re good with beefing up the rear suspension. 2013-newer F150 Eco or 5.0 (a few annoying 5.0 issues to consider but overall a good choice). Or any 2015-newer GM 1500. 5.3 or 6.2. But I’d shy away from the 8 speed. And be aware of AfM issues with the LS motors.
2016 Ram 2500, MotorOps.ca EFIlive tuned, 5” turbo back, 6" lift on 37s
2017 Heartland Torque T29 - Sold.
Couple of Arctic Fox TCs - Sold

ksss
Explorer
Explorer
I was personally on the just fix it band wagon, until you said it had almost 400K on it and you don't need the people carrying capacity anymore. All that said, I would get out of it, unless you want to pay for an engine rebuild, and whatever else it takes to fix the steering. Those old 7.3's will go along time, but they wear out just like everything else. Get a crew cab pickup. I know diesel in Cali sucks to buy, but the GM half ton diesel would pull what you need and you would get killer MPG when not towing.
2020 Chevy 3500 CC 4X4 DRW D/A
2013 Fuzion 342
2011 RZR Desert Tan
2012 Sea Doo GTX 155
2018 Chevy 3500HD CC LB SRW 4X4 D/A
2015 Chevy Camaro ZL1

p220sigman
Explorer
Explorer
I think some people used to replace the springs with heavier ones off of a truck. I'd check somewhere like Rock Auto to see what they have. Probably cheaper than genuine Ford, but still good quality available. I think the F250 front springs were rated at about 2600 lbs so I'd look for at least that. I'm guessing you can probably get 2 with new U bolts for around $500 and it sounds like you guys are reasonably mechanically inclined so installing them would be simple enough for you. A whole lot cheaper than a new truck.

Steering not returning to center is usually worn suspension/steering parts, but you've replaced all of those. If the alignment were causing it, I think you would notice that even though you had an alignment done too.

jukes
Explorer
Explorer
p220sigman wrote:
The only other thing I can think of you might try is heavier springs. If I recall correctly, the front springs on the Excursions were softer than on the trucks to help with the ride. Too softly sprung could lead to wandering.

Before I sold it, I would try to find a good suspension shop and get a second opinion.


ok, it does have leaf springs which we haven't changed.. the suspension shop we took it too said it was the ball joints, tie rod ends, calipers, alignment but then it didn't fix the issues.

Husband put a new Redhead steering box in. New Bilstin 5125 shocks.
New BFG tires.

It's not returning to center......