Ford F-250 Super Duty Truck Review & Upgrades
KYD’s Tow Vehicle: 2019 Ford F250 Super Duty 6.7L diesel 4×4 3.55 gear ratio.
This is our 5th Ford tow vehicle since 2007. We’ve had a 2007 F-150, 2013 F-150, 2017 F-250 and 2019 F-450. More information about these tow vehicles can be found here.
Collectively, I’ve driven 222,000 miles with Ford pickup trucks and only replaced the oil, batteries, wipers, tires, windshields brakes and one pesky fuel pump fuse. Maybe I’m lucky, but I think trucks have come a long way in the past decade (of all brands). Many people have asked why I don’t try out different brands (especially a RAM pickup truck), but with this kind of performance (or luck) why change?
Why we did get an F250 again?
Many people have asked why we didn’t just keep the F450. We feel strongly that matching the right truck and trailer makes for an overall more enjoyable towing experience. More information about that is included below.
We really liked the ride of an F250 previously and now with towing an Airstream, we were well within the numbers to go back to that truck. There is a small part of me that thinks we should have gotten an F350 so we could have experienced the entire Ford pickup truck line, but considering we’re keeping this setup for the next several years, we wanted to go back to what we knew we liked.
Gas or Diesel?
Moving from gas to diesel was a night and day difference in the performance, fuel economy and depreciation. The 6.7L diesel engine is quiet and powerful. With the 3.55 gear ratio, it tows up steep grades at 2,000 RPMs without downshifting.
Notice the 3 degree grade in the picture above. It takes a steep grade to show 3 degrees. This picture was taken on the I-17 heading North from Black Canyon City – towing the Airstream at 8,800 pounds at 74 mph at 1,800 RMPS. Yes, too fast for towing, I agree but done for this photo.
This is a biased Ford review. It’s not sponsored, but given my history, I’m a Ford guy!
What you should know before picking a tow vehicle
When it comes to towing a travel trailer, reaching your payload capacity will likely be the first rating you could potentially exceed. You can find your truck’s payload on the yellow sticker in the door jam. The payload is the curb weight (how much your truck weights with full fluids and the driver) less the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating). As an example, if a Ford F250 weights 7,900 and the GVWR is 10,000, then the available payload capacity is 2,100. If your hitch weight is 1,000, then you’ll have 1,100 pounds available for passengers and cargo.
When it comes to picking a truck for towing, I recommend picking out a towable RV first. When you start shopping for RVs, it’s highly likely you end up buying something different than you thought. If you end up buying something larger or smaller, you may have too much truck… or worse, not enough.
Many people say there’s no such thing as too much truck. Go out and get a big truck and then you’ll be set for any towable RV. This is not my perspective. Too much truck is an unnecessary expense. It will likely be bigger and more rigid, which is fine if you need it. But if you don’t need a dual wheel drive truck to tow, why deal with drawbacks of a stiff ride, long bed or difficulty finding a place to wash it. Matching the proper truck to the trailer is more enjoyable process and by selecting the trailer first, you’ll be in a better position to accomplish this.
If you already have a truck, then start by knowing your numbers. Identify your payload capacity, towing capacity, axle rating, and gross combined weight rating. You can find this by Googling “Official Ford Towing Guide”. Then match the numbers to the towable RV you’re shopping for and compare with the RV’s GVWR and hitch weight. Ignore the dry weight! It will never be empty and RV owners tend to drastically underestimate how much their stuff weighs.
Half-ton trucks and SUVs
There are many trailers that are suitable to be towed with a half-ton truck or SUV. Posting questions to the usual RV groups, on Facebook, will get the typical comments – “get a dually!”
KYD has always been about starting where you are and then improving. The reason for starting small is because small is usually cheaper. For your first RV, it’s important to learn how you RV before investing more money in a truck and trailer. It’s not common to get it right the first time, so why spend more than you have to before knowing exactly what you want and why?
When we moved from the half-ton Ford F-150 to an F-250, the first thing we noticed was the ride. The trailer didn’t move the truck around and there was far less bouncing. This made for a more enjoyable ride and allowed us to drive further on drive days without arriving fatigued.
When we moved from gas to diesel, the first thing we noticed is that the truck no longer downshifted to go upgrades. We were able to tow with cruise control on, even up hills and the RPMs would hardly change. This also made drive days more enjoyable allowing us to drive longer without arriving fatigued.
One of the things we enjoy about towing with a Travel Trailer is having the entire truck bed. When we towed a 5th wheel, most of the items in the truck bed would end up wet from towing with the tonneau cover open. As a result, we stopped storing things in the truck bed and our 5th wheel storage was cluttered with all the gear for the truck and the trailer.
RV Towing Truck Accessories
RVing is a journey. When first starting, selecting the right towable RV and truck can be overwhelming. Then towing for the first time can be nerve-racking. Next comes all the essential gear you need to even take your first trip.
Yet it doesn’t take long before you get into a rhythm and know what is essential and just nice to have. Then attention can be shifted from the RV to cool truck accessories and suspension systems that will make towing even more enjoyable.
This season we partnered with Stage 3 Motorsports for these upgrades and they are providing the KYD community a promo-code (KYD) for up to 10% off through the end of June 2020!
Use Promo Code “KYD” at Stage 3 Motorsports to get up to 10%
This is not an affiliate link – only savings to you and Stage 3 doesn’t do this often because they already provide the best prices with free shipping.
If you’ve been considering some truck upgrades, take advantage of the savings.
Below is a list of all the custom truck parts we installed:
S&B Replacement Fuel tank
When towing, we’re getting roughly 10-13 mpg gas mileage. Tricia’s favorite truck part is the replacement fuel tank. It’s a truck upgrade that you’ll be reminded of every time you drive, which is why we like it so much.
When it comes to a tow vehicle, I like the truck to be level. Level trucks perform better and look like they can handle the load. If you’re using a weight distribution system, it’s critical to add air before you tighten the chains or the air will remove the tension.
In this case, I selected Air Lift again due to the internal jounce bumper, but I like Firestone bags equally. It’s important to mention that Firestone Ride-Rite may not be compatible with some 5th wheel hitch installations.
BAKFlip Tonneau Cover MX4
If you like the sleek look of a pick-up truck like we do, but want your gear to be locked and dry, a tonneau cover is the way to go. I particularly like the smooth OEM look of a BAKFlip.
As I mentioned in the video, I don’t think I’d go with a BAKFlip if I had a long bed truck or if I wanted to mount bikes above our truck bed like our F150.
The BAKFlip keeps the water out of your truck and secure nicely. It’s also nice to only flip the first section or two to reach most of your gear.
This upgrade makes RV Life a little easier. Getting gear in and out of your truck bed is constant and a bed slide brings your gear to you. Yet, I couldn’t live without my 5 gal containers of extra freshwater and gas, propane and generator. So I installed a 5 foot (short bed) Bed Slide to leave 16″ inches forward of the bed slide.
The next concern was the clearance of my standard tall containers to hold tools and other RV gear. I took a chance and it worked out. We’ve been RVing for the past four years and never had the need to carry tall items, so this configuration works well for us. But if you have a bigger generator, stand up paddle-boards, bikes or other gear, you may consider pairing a truck cap with you Bed Slide.
This is the first time we’ve done a BedRug. Candidly, I never trusted myself to keep the bed of a truck nice. On the other hand, while RVing fulltime, the bed of the truck can quickly turn into the combination of a misc storage container and trash can. The BedRug will force me to take better care of the truck bed and combined with the BedSlide, it’s already been a great choice.
I was surprised that the BedRug material was padded. It makes it comfortable to sit on the tailgate. I really like the sharp look to it too.
Other types of truck upgrades:
Upgrades that I tend not to do, include exhaust systems and lift kits. These types of aftermarket truck parts do not improve towing performance and I lean toward function. Except of course for my 23″ Groover air horn. Cliff’s Welding pre-wired the airhorn to an upfitter switch and I just need to get some brackets made.
If you’re not equipped to do the truck upgrades yourself, don’t just search for “truck accessories near me”. Rather, find a trailer hitch shop that specialized in RV related truck upgrades. We have found Cliff’s Welding in Phoenix and TAPs Auto in Paso Robles (not sponsored) to be very knowledgable with great customer service. We also enjoyed working with Summit 4×4 Company in Prescott, Arizona, but they are mostly a Jeep shop. Of course, many truck owners can do these installs themselves and save money by buying directly from Stage 3 Motorsports.
What questions do you have about these truck upgrades and modifications? Leave a comment below. Your comment might not show up at first, but we’re working on a way to block spam so comments show up quicker.