Towing (fwd)

From: Frank Ball (
Date: Fri Feb 23 1996 - 14:03:53 EST

& My wife and I don't own a Dakota, yet. We have a '92 Ford Ranger which
& we are thinking of upgrading to either a Dakota V8, or a Ram 1500. We
& need something to tow horses. However, we don't need to tow that often;
& the truck would be used for standard transportation 98% of the time.
& So our dilemma is this: Can the Dakota V8 safely tow 2 large horses plus
& the trailer, plus some hay thrown in the bed, etc.? Or do we really
& need a full-size truck?
& Looking at the numbers in the brochure, we see that Dodge warrantees the
& Dakota V8 to tow somewhere around 6,500 lbs. We estimate our
& trailer+horses would weigh around 4,500 lbs., but we could be off by a
& fair margin. Even so, the numbers say we're okay. But we'd like to
& hear some real-world experience before we jump into this.
& One rule of thumb we've heard is that you don't want the trailer to
& outweigh the truck, which makes sense. However, I'm having a hard time
& finding the actual weight of a Dakota. Can someone look at their
& vehicle registration slip and tell me their number? We'd be looking at
& the beefiest Dakota you can get: V8, club cab, heaviest cargo rating.
& Probably 2WD, though.

I haven't done any heavy towing, my motorcycle trailer weighs about
1300 pounds loaded up, but I'd like to make a few comments.

With the 318 V8 power shouldn't be a problem, I know people who tow
horses with old Fords with a straight six. With about a 2000 pound
load I can downshift to 4th and accelerate up a good hill to 65 mph
and leave most traffic behind.

Get the 2000 pound payload package. I also recommend an aftermarket
anti-sway bar in the rear and KYB shocks in the front. I had problems
with the stock front shocks when towing on long bridges-the expansion
joints got the front end of the truck and the trailer hobby horsing up
and down-had to slow down to 50 mph.

My previous truck was a Ford F-100 (2WD, Standard cab, 8' bed) now I
have a Dakota (2WD, club cab, 6.5' bed). The F-100 weighed about 3800
pounds, the registration for my Dakota says it weighs 3676 pounds. With
my hitch, sway bar, bed mat, camper shell, etc. my Dakota is a 4000
pound truck. It is 6" longer overall than the F-100, almost a foot
narrower, quite a few inches lower, and the wheelbase is at least a foot

For good towing stability you want lots of weight, and a long wheelbase.
Look around at the numbers-the Club Cab Dakota has a longer wheelebase
than the full size trucks unless they have the club cab AND an 8' bed.
The wheelbase (and turning radius) is the same as a Chevy Suburban.
The weight is also comparable to the wieght of the 1/2 ton F-150 and
Chevy 1500. I think the Ram is a few hundred pounds heavier.

The narrower width makes the Dakota much nicer to drive on backroads,
but the long wheelbase and poor turning radius still make parking lots

Overall I think it can probably tow about as well as the 1/2 ton full
size trucks, but most of the horse owners I know have 3/4 or 1 ton

Frank Ball 1UR-M (707) 794-4168 work
Hewlett Packard (707) 794-4848 fax (707) 538-3693 home
1212 Valley House Drive Yamaha IT175 XT350 YZF600 Seca750 Kawi KDX200
Rohnert Park CA 94928-4999 KC6WUG, AMA, DoD #7566, NMLRA, I'm the NRA.

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