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Author Topic: Finding a tow-ready toad  (Read 27970 times)

scottydl

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Finding a tow-ready toad
« on: October 11, 2008, 08:45:37 AM »
For now I'm happy with our '99 Aurora on the tow dolly... but possibly within the next year or two we will need to upgrade to an SUV or crossover to support our growing family.  That takes me back to the possibility of the 4-down towing option.  Rather than having to budget $3-4k for modifications (which is what kept me from going 4-down in the first place), the ideal situation would be to find a vehicle to buy that's already equipped as an RV toad.  I'll be buying used, probably a 3-5 year old vehicle.

How in the world would I find such a thing?  Is there no database anywhere of such vehicles, or dealers that specialize in such a thing?  When any of your experienced towers have traded in a toad, do you know if the equipment get removed and scrapped (a real shame) by the dealer?  I'd imagine it's worth more wholesale and resale without the extra equipment that most people don't need.  With the exception of the "For Sale / Wanted" section of this forum, I've never seen a car being sold as a toad.  But I sure would like to find such a collection a vehicles!
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
1994 Thor Residency 3500 owned 2007-2012
Now looking for the next perfect RV...

Luca1369

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Re: Finding a tow-ready toad
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2008, 09:53:05 AM »
I've been looking at a tow-ready toad and the folks here were a big help.

Here's a link to Remco, the towing experts.

And here is a link to a dinghy towing guide that I found very helpful.  The guides go back several years and list the weights and towing characteristics of numerous vehicles, a great source of information.

Steve
Steve
1990 Fleetwood Southwind 36'
http://seaworthy.com

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Marsha/CA

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Re: Finding a tow-ready toad
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2008, 10:18:01 AM »
If you are a member of FMCA, you might want to check the "for sale" listings in back of the magazine that FMCA puts out monthly.  I recall seeing vehicles that can be towed (toad) listed there.

Just a thought.

Marsha~
Allegro Bus Diesel Pusher with Hyundai Tucson SUV toad. 
In case of necessity, alternate transportation is available in the form of 1 old horse.

scottydl

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Re: Finding a tow-ready toad
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2008, 01:52:36 PM »
No FMCA membership here unfortunately.  :(  That's something I should probably look into, but I don't know if we really camp enough to make it worthwhile.  In case my original post wasn't clear, I'd be looking for a vehicle that is already completely ready to tow.  NO extra equipment or installations needed.  I'm aware of all the various towing components and supplemental braking that's needed for 4-down towing, and those upfront costs are what I'd like to avoid.  ;)
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
1994 Thor Residency 3500 owned 2007-2012
Now looking for the next perfect RV...

Ron

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Re: Finding a tow-ready toad
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2008, 02:02:36 PM »
The cost of FMCA membership is a real bargan just the magazine is woth the membership but you get a lot more.  Also try posting what you are looking for in the Private for sale or wanted section.
Ron & Sam-home is where we park it. Currently located   HERE

Marsha/CA

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Re: Finding a tow-ready toad
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2008, 04:19:31 PM »
Scottydl,

Yes, I was aware of what you are looking for; basically a tow car ready to go.... :)  I really think you'll be able to find it.  What you might have to spring for is a braking system.  But then you might find something like a "Brake Buddy" that would come with the car.

Braking systems like MG or USGear will need something done to the coach to make it ready to use.  When we bought a new car, we had the US Gear system transferred from the old car to the new car.  I think it cost us something like  $400-$600 to put "our" system in the new car.  The coach was already wired.

I agree with Ron, the FMCA membership has paid off for us over the years.  You can also get Passport America at a lower cost if you are a FMCA member.

Marsha~


Allegro Bus Diesel Pusher with Hyundai Tucson SUV toad. 
In case of necessity, alternate transportation is available in the form of 1 old horse.

Gary RV Roamer

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Re: Finding a tow-ready toad
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2008, 04:47:05 PM »
RV boards siuch as this one and its many competitors usually have a for sale section and you will find toads ready to go on them from time to time.

RV Trader (www.rvt.com) the RV sales site has a category called "tow behind cars" that lists quite a few toads for sale. Perhaps the other RV sales sites have similar categories.

When we traded our last toad, the dealer couldn't wait to get his hands on it. In Florida, there are lots of Rvers looking for ready-to-go cars. Probably similar in south Texeas and Arizona, but elsewhere the dealers probably don't know or care about tow equipment.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
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Alaskansnowbirds

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Re: Finding a tow-ready toad
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2008, 05:21:06 PM »
I agree with Ron & Marsha. A FMCA membership is the best deal going.

I think you can also get a discount on a CoachNet membership.

But the biggest benefit of FMCA membership is the Medex membership. No additional cost above the FMCA membership fee. Medex is medical transportation to the nearest hospital or home medical facility. They will also pay for the transportation of your RV & toad back to your home if you are medically unable to do so. FMCA membership is well worth the cost just for this one benefit alone.
Don & Peg
Alaska/Arizona
Currently located here.
Weather at Camp Verde, AZ.

Buddy Tott

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Re: Finding a tow-ready toad
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2008, 03:09:51 AM »
Scotty

Though I didn't get my toad from it, I have found Craigslist a great resource.  Just keep searching for the vehicle(s) you prefer and eventually one will surface.  I bought my Honda Civic off Ebay, specifically to turn into a toad.  I bought the towing equipment and Brake Buddy 'used' locally.  The brackets for the vehicle were new and ordered from Roadmaster.  A local welding shop installed them and also configured the lighting - though I keep a magnetic set as a spare (highly recommended).   Buying used allows some leeway in how much you spend.  If you set a budget at $4K then you could but a decent toad for $3K and use the difference to make it 'toadable'.    In SUVs, Honda CRVs make great toads but so do Suzuki's/Geo/Chevvy Tracker. 

I already have an SUV (which isn't readily towable) and a p/up so I opted for a small, lightweight comfortable runabout that gives good MPG (35+).  I use the toad for local trips and has been a great overall gas saver.

BT
nil-permita illigitemii personae carborundum.

Buddy Tott

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Re: Finding a tow-ready toad
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2008, 01:48:45 AM »
I checked my local (San Diego) Craigslist and found at least two readymade toads - One a 1999 CRV with high mileage but mostly from being towed for under $5K and the other a Suzuki Sammy for under $3K.  There were other toads also but I can't recall what they were but all SUVs.  Also many Jeep models make for good toads, especially the older ones (mid 90's).  They tow well, have decent cargo capacity and reasonably inexpensive. 

BT
nil-permita illigitemii personae carborundum.

scottydl

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Re: Finding a tow-ready toad
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2008, 08:33:28 AM »
Did you search certain keywords to find those?  The problem with Craigslist for me is that the pickins are slim in my area - the closest metropolitan areas (St. Louis and Chicago) are about 2 hours away each, so I can always check those.  And I always wondered about the odometer readings on 4-down toads... seems like they'd rack up a LOT of miles when absolutely nothing on the car is being worn down (except maybe wheel bearings).
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
1994 Thor Residency 3500 owned 2007-2012
Now looking for the next perfect RV...

Jeff

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Re: Finding a tow-ready toad
« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2008, 08:40:30 AM »
Did you search certain keywords to find those?  The problem with Craigslist for me is that the pickins are slim in my area - the closest metropolitan areas (St. Louis and Chicago) are about 2 hours away each, so I can always check those.  And I always wondered about the odometer readings on 4-down toads... seems like they'd rack up a LOT of miles when absolutely nothing on the car is being worn down (except maybe wheel bearings).

Scotty:

All Hondas, Jeeps, and I believe Saturns do not register miles on the odometer when being towed. We traded our 2002 CRV with 82000 miles on the odometer PLUS 100k of towing. Brakes, trans axles, suspension, and part of the tranny are also being worn.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2008, 12:08:20 PM by Jeff Cousins »

tswms

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Re: Finding a tow-ready toad
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2008, 09:06:35 AM »
I feel that you would be better off buying the vehicle you want for a toad and adding brackets.  You should be able to get a toad on the road for about $1000 if you shop. ( Tow bar $250-300,brackets $250 Brake 500). Look at Craigs list, E Bay,
Hitch trader and forms like this.  As to vehicles, if you are interested in SUV's look at most Jeeps, Saturn Vue, CRV, and Tahoe. Small cars again Saturn , Honda Accord, Chev Cavalier and more.
I guess my point is I think you would be better off looking for a good used car that is towable and going from there rather trying to find one that is tow ready, and probably cheaper.

Tony

Tony
90 Newmar Kontry Star
07 Saturn Ion
Siloam Springs AR (NW)

Gary RV Roamer

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Re: Finding a tow-ready toad
« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2008, 09:19:33 AM »
A "ready to tow" car is unlikely to include the tow bar or the aux brake unless you buy it as a package with a motorhome from somebody who is getting out of towing altogether. Those who are upgrading their toad keep the brake and tow bar for the next one, so you are only getting the base plates (tow brackets) in most cases. That's about $300 + labor for a new install (but you can do it yourself easily enough).

Sometimes you will find a car with a tow bar, though.

You will also find used tow bars on ebay & craigs list and sometimes used or discount new aux brakes too. Used base plates appear too, but the chances of finding the right one for any particular vehicle are rather slim.
Gary
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Marsha/CA

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Re: Finding a tow-ready toad
« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2008, 09:48:58 AM »
We've towed a Toyota Tacoma pickup and now a Tuscon Hyundai, neither accumulate miles when being towed.  Tim (husband) keeps a seperate log of miles "towed" on the Hyundai for the tires, because the odometer doesn't show the actual miles those tires have traveled.

Marsha~
Allegro Bus Diesel Pusher with Hyundai Tucson SUV toad. 
In case of necessity, alternate transportation is available in the form of 1 old horse.

Gary RV Roamer

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Re: Finding a tow-ready toad
« Reply #15 on: October 13, 2008, 10:34:39 AM »
Since the advent of the electronic speedometers, it is pretty rare for a vehicle to accumulate miles while being towed.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
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2007 GMC Acadia
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Buddy Tott

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Re: Finding a tow-ready toad
« Reply #16 on: October 14, 2008, 01:52:00 AM »
Scotty

On Craigslist I just searched the name of the vehicle...'CRV' / 'Suzuki' / 'Jeep' / 'Civic' (in my case) etc. and just read through each description in the list.  I usually don't bother with the ones that don't have pix, unless there is something in the line item that arouses my interest.    I agree with the others in making your own toad.  Much easier to find a low mileage, well looked after vehicle and adapt it.  Just make sure the vehicle you select is 'toadable'  first and the brackets are readilly available.  I preferred the Roadmaster 'Stowmaster', which fits on the vehicle, rather than one which attaches to the MH.   It is easy to take on and off (2 mins max) and I had a dropped hitch and  ball already.  Others prefer the MH attachment variety - to each his own.   I see no advantage or disadvantage to either.   I also made up my own safety cables, considerably less $$$ than buying ready-made.

As I said, I use my toad as a general runabout.  I increased my deductable on my other vehicles by $100 and the cost of the toad only added $12. to my annual insurance premium.

BT
nil-permita illigitemii personae carborundum.

dvsmith86

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Re: Finding a tow-ready toad
« Reply #17 on: October 21, 2008, 12:36:43 PM »
When I bought my Grand Vitara, we were also shown a slightly used XL-7 that already had the baseplate attached.  DW didn't like it, but after paying over $1000 to get the baseplate and wiring done on the GV, I almost wish I'd talked her into it.  Bought my used tow bar for about half the list, and got all the accessories (safety cables, coil-cord, cover, etc.) with it.  Unfortunately, the base plate I got with it did not fit the GV.

You might want to get to know your local Suzuki or Saturn dealer, as those seem to be really popular toads.
Doug & Vicki Smith
'12 Visa Travel Trailer
'08 Suzuki Grand Vitara
Anderson, MO home base

Gary RV Roamer

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Re: Finding a tow-ready toad
« Reply #18 on: October 21, 2008, 03:03:51 PM »
The newer Suzuki XL7 is based on the Chevy Equinox and is not towable without mods. The older ones have the Suzuki 4WD chassis and are towable.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
2004 American Tradition
2007 GMC Acadia
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SNOWDOGSX2

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Re: Finding a tow-ready toad
« Reply #19 on: October 21, 2008, 04:34:26 PM »
I should probably post this in the for sale part but.... I have a 2006 Chevy Cobalt automatic trans. Factory OK to tow 4 down, 8006 miles on the odometer, only about 2000 miles additional while being towed, blue ox base plate and aux. bulbs installed in the tailights, plugs right in to your 7 pin MH plug. $10,500.00
2009 Tiffin Phaeton 40 QTH - Oh what a ride !!
2009 Silverado 1500 4WD
Wife, 2 Bernese Mtn Dogs, Cat

Buddy Tott

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Re: Finding a tow-ready toad
« Reply #20 on: October 22, 2008, 03:32:05 AM »
Scotty

You can always post a 'wanted' ad. on Craigslist.  Just specify what you are looking for.  I found my first Honda that way - unfortunately it didn't have a/c (per the other half's insistence)  but it was a really nice, low mileage car, so I re-sold it.  The good thing about the 'wanted' ad.  is that you can put in as many vehicles you are interested in and let the sellers contact you.  It doesn't matter if the Craigslist is located some distance away.  Sellers living near you will also post if that's the only site available in the area.   

BT

nil-permita illigitemii personae carborundum.

hoppe

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Re: Finding a tow-ready toad
« Reply #21 on: April 16, 2010, 12:09:57 PM »
Perhaps I/we could impose on those of you who have recently performed this operation. I just got off the phone with the local Campers World, Parts and labor to 'Toad' my 2005 Saturn Ion with a standard tranny. Right at $4000.00! I knew the dollar had lost value but it did seem HIGH.

A list of References to source would be good!
thx
hop

scottydl

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Re: Finding a tow-ready toad
« Reply #22 on: April 17, 2010, 09:51:05 AM »
Several thousand dollars is pretty common from what I've read, for converting certain vehicles to tow-ready status... and does that even include the supplemental braking system (Brake Buddy or similar)?  That price tag is one of the many reasons I opted to spend under $400 for a used tow dolly instead.  I don't know the specifics on your Ion, but read the owner's manual on "how to tow" and see what it says, make sure CW isn't trying to charge you for parts or labor that isn't needed.
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
1994 Thor Residency 3500 owned 2007-2012
Now looking for the next perfect RV...

tswms

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Re: Finding a tow-ready toad
« Reply #23 on: April 17, 2010, 07:03:58 PM »
I have towed 2 Saturns. A2002 SL2, I found used tow brackets for $250. We now have a 2007 Ion. I couldf not find used brackets so I bought new for $398 on line.  My Blue Ox towbar  I got on E bay for $259 and Brake buddy for $450.

Tony
Tony
90 Newmar Kontry Star
07 Saturn Ion
Siloam Springs AR (NW)

workingtorv

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Re: Finding a tow-ready toad
« Reply #24 on: April 18, 2010, 06:50:18 PM »
If you want new stuff go to PPL Motorhomes you can find them using the websearch and I am sure the prices are far lower then you will need to either install yourself or find someone who can help you.
2004 Georgie Boy Pursuit
2008 Saturn AuraXR
Ontario, Canada

Gary RV Roamer

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Re: Finding a tow-ready toad
« Reply #25 on: April 18, 2010, 07:32:46 PM »
$4000 is high for a standard transmission Ion, which requires no mods to tow.  Even at MSRP (no discount), the very best tow bar package is around $795, base plates about $350-400, aux brake system around $1200 and light hook-up materials around $30. Add a generous amount for a whole day of labor ($960) and we are still talking $3400 + tax. I would expect a good shop could do it for around $3000 or even a bit less.

Camping World is very high priced on the good Roadmaster All Terrain tow bars - they get $1000-$1200 for the same ones that others sell for around $750 or even less.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
2004 American Tradition
2007 GMC Acadia
Homebase: Ocala National Forest, FL