Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Advice on a suitable vehicle to pull horse trailer

I am considering getting a vehicle to pull a 2 horse bumper pull horse trailer - so it would need to pull at least 6000lbs. This would be my only car, so looking for best value used vehicle that would work for ‘regular’ life too. What about Tahoe? What should I be looking for in features etc? Could look in the $18K range. Thanks!

IMO, two horse trailer, think diesel. You don’t want to be on the top end of the vehicle’s towing capability. And no car is gonna do this kind of duty, you need a truck (and a Tahoe is a truck).

Are you sure that this has to be your only vehicle? For 18K you can buy a cheap, cable if not exactly stylish truck for the trailer work and a darned fine sedan that get two or three times the MPG for the rest of the time. Depending on how often you actually need to tow the trailer and your total annual miles driven, the fuel cost savings alone could pay for the tax, tag and insurance on an older truck.

If you’re hauling horses, you’re hauling supplies too. A pickup is always best for all the tack and hay and stuff, even with bumper pull.

I agree on the diesel, that’s probably gonna give you the best bang for your buck. With the stigma of trucks today, you could probably pick up a fairly new diesel truck for your price range. Look for an off-lease truck

Diesels still sell at a premium; my best deal two years ago was a one ton V10 gas engine. I get the same mileage pulling a large horse trailer as my brother in law, who has the dodge Cummins diesel. We also get about one mpg difference when not towing…go figure.

You should also make sure the truck is capable of hauling ALL the stuff you intend to carry in the trailer. Look at the trailer specs for tongue weight and Gross Vehicle Weights (GVW) and compare that to what the vehicle manufacturer says the vehicle is capable of hauling. Don’t skimp on this area - oversizing ensures good longevity of the truck.

Also be aware that trailer manufacturers tend to understate what their trailer weighs and overstate what the trailer is capable of. Oversizing the trailer pays benefits as well.

I would buy a Chevy Suburban with a V10 engine, and a Hyundai Accent, if I were you. A used Suburban can likely be had nowadays for under $10,000, and a decent Accent shouldn’t cost over $8000.

The Pathfinder Armada gets about 19mpg (when NOT pulling a trailer). It’s towing capacity is 7500lbs so it can easily haul the trailer and horse. And it’s a very nice vehicle to drive.

A two horse trailer is pretty light and any good half-ton pickup will handle it for modest distances. A 3/4 ton or one-ton is good for long distances as you’ll tire of “white knuckle” syndrome with the 1/2 ton if you travel more than an hour or two.

Diesels are inappropriate for occassional use unless you really enjoy them. I do…and I still don’t buy them because it just does not make economic sense. And there is some real danger that the previous owner “chipped” the engine or otherwise fooled around with it trying to get better mileage or more power. Avoid those, period.

I learned to drive in a 1964 Ford pickup and have owned many trucks of all brands over the years since. The import trucks are not horse-capable machines regardless of how adroit their marketing. They do not have the history of engineering knowledge and experience. Bear in mind, as a driver and horse owner, you are responsible for their well-being. Horses move around in the trailer and, if you have an accident, imagine what happens to them. I don’t think there are any horses in Japan…at least, not in the hands of you’re average cowgirl. Go to a horse show and look around. F250, F350, C2500, C3500, Ram 2500 and 3500’s. That is what is used by the experienced. Those of us on a budget get by with half-ton trucks. A good friend and long-time trainer I know uses a worn-out Expedition with, get this, 325,000 miles on it. She thinks nothing of stuffing four horses in a stock trailer and filling the manger up with hay and towing half way across the state.

Finally, don’t expect a horse-hauler to double as a grocery getter. The mileage on any truck capable of hauling animals safely will be less than 15 as a rule. While towing, it will be a lot less. A lot of people will argue this but, as a rule, they will be wrong. You don’t move 6000 pounds of truck with the wind signature of a barn door down the road and get 22 MPG.

Personally, I use a one-ton pickup and haul four horses these days. I would have bought a 1/2 again but SWMBO bought two more horses…

GM does not build a V10 engine.

It might tow 7500 pounds…but it won’t tow it far. Carry plenty of food and water for the horses…they might be stuck for a while. And 19mpg is what you get at 45 MPH. Downhill…like from Ohio to Florida.