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Recommend Truck

Ok your mission if you choose to accept it;
Single female looking for RELIABLE used truck for under 10k
4dr, 4wd,shortbed, tow package. Able to tow 12’ fishing boat or 18’ bumper pull travel trailer over Eisenhower or Vail pass in Colorado without having to stop and breath, cool off, and keep up with traffic flow.
Preferable years 1996-2005

Current vehicle (don’t laugh) 1995 Toyota 4Runner V6 automatic 4wd with 210k. Named Hi Ho Silver but Silver will not get out of his own way much less pull a trailer. ATC light comes on, on long pulls and he pukes transmission fluid. Has had trans cooler flushed and transmission drained and filled but afraid to flush transmission for fear of loosing transmission. Just had new catalytic convertor, muffler and tail pipe installed improved performance slightly. Did not improve ATC problem. Toyota can’t duplicate problem but won’t send tech with me on a drive along.

Any Ideas guys? Please help lady in distress :slight_smile:

You’re driving a 19 year old vehicle with 210,000 miles on it. They’re not going to send a tech on a trip with you to try to duplicate the problem in a 19 year old vehicle with 210,000 miles on it.

What’s the travel trailer weigh? How much does the boat and its trailer weigh? What was the original tow rating of the truck when it was new?
Did the truck have a “tow package” installed with a heavy duty tranny cooler?
Have you had the engine’s compression checked?

Now, the painful one: can you afford something new? If not, you’re going to have to choose from what’s available o the market, and with trucks you need to be super careful. People who buy trucks don’t usually get rid of them unless there’s a problem or they’re pretty well beat up. And the one you like may have already fried its tranny once from towing much more than it should have been towing.

Post the answers. They may affect the recommendations.

Ouch. MtBike hits this on the head. Trucks with those exact specs are rare, and typically cost a bit. Any used example under $10k is likely very well used. It might have as much age and as many problems as your Toyota, but when fixed will have the ability you want. The high elevations present problems most of us rarely or never encounter. Engine power for a naturally-aspirated engine is substantially lower as you climb. Turbos have that problem to a much milder degree, but you can’t afford to either buy or own a truck with a turbo-diesel. If you find one cheap it will be in even worse shape than a gasoline model. Despite their commercial associations, diesel pickups are expensive to keep running, needing more maintenance, especially as they age.

I really think you should ask for advice on truck models on a trailer site. If you come up with a few models that seem popular among those folks (who understand what you need), you can then come back here with the list of models and the mechanics here can tell you what they think. If you’re lucky there will be some models and years both groups like.

Get a Silverado,with less then 100K and be done with it,get one with towing package and the 5.3 or 6.0 engine, I 'm not a big Chevy fan,but these seem to be pretty good,Avoid the lesser of the Domestic big three though-Kevin

You can get a F150 regular cab with a 4.6V V8 and 100,000 miles for under $9500 at a dealer. Similar Sierra will be a little over $10,000, while the Silverado will be a little under $10,000

Maybe the answer’s a new, upgraded AT for the Toyota? It sounds like the only (mentioned) deficiency is the AT getting too hot and malfunctioning on extended upgrades.

I’d also invest in a decent independent shop. Your dealer might only want to invest time and effort in customers with new cars (that are likely to buy new, again, soon) whereas an independent might be willing to try harder.

Meanjoe, I got the impression from the post that it had was struggling to pull the trailer.
I’m still wondering how much that trailer weighs. And how much the vehicle was rated for… 19 years ago.

I agree. Loaded trailer weight is the most important missing detail. And a 2005 4Runner Sport with the V8 is certainly within the price constraints, too. But @HeadGasket‌ said she wanted a short bed vehicle, and I assumed she was after a pick-up.

Any Chevy or Dodge (Ram) V8 powered truck. Get one with the factory tow package which among other things have a solid hitch and wiring harness already installed. A Ford V10 will do it too, but cost more to maintain and feed…If you can drive a stick shift, that would be my choice…When towing with your RAV4, do you lock out the overdrive? That will help with the tranny overheating…Pulling the grade from Denver up to The Divide is a torture test for ANY vehicle…

How many miles a year will you drive this vehicle ??

I use a 2003 f150 long bed for work. Its 2wd, single cab, v6 and has 117k on it. I got it in overall clean shape for $4300. If I had to do it again, Id get an extended cab and the v8. While the v6 is fine for around town, It really has no power on the highway, which I can live with, but its annoying. Like you I wanted a 4dr, 4wd but given my budget and actual needs, I went with the single cab and 2wd. The 4 dr 4wd models are the most coveted and you’ll pay a lot more for a high mileage used truck. You can get a newer, or atleast lower mileage 2wd single, or extended cab for less money.

Of course if you have a good steady income and can afford new, get yourself a new one. I looked extensively at new and you wont go wrong with any of the big 3, but ultimately I bought used and am glad I do not have a car payment.

I have no idea what truck prices are where you live but that’s an impossible find in Washington State.

If I were pulling an 18 foot travel trailer I wouldn’t do it with anything less than a Silverado, Tundra, F150, or Ram1500. I wouldn’t feel safe with a 4-Runner or Tacoma. You’ve not only got to pull the trailer up the pass you’ve got to safely steer and brake it down the pass as well.

If you offered this guy 10K cash, I’m sure he would take it…

GMC Sierra 2500HD 4x4 6.0 V8

They made lots of these

Won’t have a problem finding a mechanic comfortable maintaining and working on the truck

In my opinion, a 1/2 ton truck is not heavy duty enough for the job. 3/4 ton and above is the way to go, in this situation

You need to be prepared to spend more than 10K, if you want to meet all the other criteria

Giving a towing requirement of a 12 foot fishing boat to an 18 foot travel trailer is a difference of 250 lbs for the boat and trailer to 3 to 5 k for a travel trailer which requires more then a bumper hitch. Without more specific info we are just on a one of those routine truck recommendations that can vary from a 4 cylinder Tacoma to a Dodge Ram with a diesel.

Thank you so much for your comments guys.

Yes I know I am driving a 19year old truck I live on a budget and was brought up to drive it till the wheels fall off but maintain it, however a transmission for the 4Runner would exceed the value of the 4Runner and not sure it would solve the problem.

I really want a truck not another SUV like my 4Runner. The trailer weighs 2100 lbs single axle but it is tall. It sleeps 4 has a bathroom and kitchen so I guess you would call it small camper trailer it fits in a normal parking space. Not sure what the tow rate of the 4Runner is. I installed the trailer hitch myself it was a direct fit that I got off a 1993 4runner in a salvage yard. My Dad and I wired the plug and we could install a trailer brake on the tow vehicle because the trailer has one already in place. The Boat is a small 12’ Lund v hull and weighs less than the camper trailer.

I was looking at the Chevy Colorado I really like the style (girl thing) but is it too narrow to tow the camper trailer ie wind resistance? My second choice would be Silverado Z71 but here in Colorado they are very expensive even for the older ones. I can not afford a new truck 10k is the top of my budget. I do need 4wd because I hunt deer and Elk it would be hard to get either in the 4Runner so I bought a rack that fits behind the tailgate, also reason why I would like a truck. I can drive a stick shift but I have never driven a diesel. I camped in tent last year and froze my you know what off that is why I bought the trailer it was delivered to my house and that is when I discovered the 4Runner will tow but struggles.

The ATC light was coming on prior to towing anything and it was also sluggish trying to climb the pass empty it is great once it gets there but it is the getting there that is the problem. Maybe one of the mechanics here can offer suggestion?

So consensus is Silverado, Ram or Tundra, which engine? What year spread although 1996-2005 is what I am looking at. Or does the additional information give you guys any other ideas?

Once again thanks for you comments

You’re wanting to know if any used truck you purchase will be RELIABLE; caps used as per your post.

That is going to be an impossible question to answer. Even if you purchased what could debateably be the finest truck on the planet per the brand name that does not mean the truck will be reliable and it could turn out to be the most unreliable vehicle within a 100 country miles.

Much depends upon how the truck was driven and maintained. Even the most thorough of inspections does not guarantee a problem-free ride. The only thing the inspection does is bump the odds up a bit more in your favor.

Flushing the transmission won’t kill your transmission but the process may get the blame if it goes belly-up soon afterwards.
The reason they won’t send a mechanic along for a test ride is because mechanics don’t get paid for test rides due to their working under the flat rate system.

An 18’ travel trailer sounds like a lot of weight for a 4-Runner to lug through that area. Every time I’ve been through there I’ve seen a number of overheated vehicles sitting on the shoulder and which were towing nothing before they ended up on the shoulder.

Yep understood. You run a risk even with a new vehicle I was just hoping for a consensus of reliability from this forum thinking owners of trucks would brag on them??? I have only owned the 4Runner 3 years and all in all it has served me well except for this ATC mil and overheating transmission. I have asked mechanic about larger tranny cooler but have yet to get solid answer.
I have kept up on all the maintenance and the catalytic convertor was the latest repair caused by the tail pipe falling off the muffler and muffler holes so thought it would be prudent to replace cat back.

The Chevy Colorado is rated at 4,000lbs with the 5cyl engine. Reliablity really depends on the particular truck. I was helping my dad look at full size trucks in this price range a few years ago. We mainly looked at Ford F150’s and Chevy/Gmc 1/2 ton’s but we didn’t plan to use the truck as a daily driver. Within a few hundred miles of Olympia WA there are trucks for under 10K but with mileages ranging from just over 100,000 all the way to 300,000 for around the same asking price. You might also see if you can find a Tundra or T100 in your price range but around here most have over 200,000 miles on them for around 10 grand.

A transmission that is slipping slightly can overheat the fluid and cause it to puke out of the vent or dipstick tube. An engine running hotter than normal can also cause the transmission fluid to run hotter if the radiator trans fluid cooler is still in use and with no external fluid cooler in place.

If the vehicle were mine, I’d be tempted to drop the transmission pan and service it. If the transmission pan is gunked up that would be due to friction material from the clutches in the transmission and would also mean that it’s time to worry a bit.

Trucks are huge around here and I can’t say that I’ve heard much one way or the other about which is best. Some Ford owners are disgruntled, some Chevy owners likewise, some Toyota people the same, etc, etc.

For what it’s worth anyway, some of my brothers in law are in the masonry business (as was my late father in law) and have used Chevys for decades. They put a lot of tough miles on them every year and are pretty well satisfied with them.

Tnx for that info. Is the Colorado considered a 1/2 ton? or more of the S10 style not sure it would tow in mountains either being a 5cylinder?