Tow Vehicle: Maintenance and 5 Star Tuning update

by Frank Ewald

Tow vehicles are workhorses to get our cars to the track and back, to allow us to run errands and haul large items around, and in my case, a home away from home. My tow vehicle is a 2000 Ford E450 24’ Triple E Recreational Vehicle. My wife and I got it in 2008 for its functionality as a camper. I have enjoyed it immensely at the track as I am able to find a relaxing spot trackside – with air conditioning (or a furnace) if the conditions warrant it – any time I need it.


Yes, a truck may be more functional to haul a car to the track and back. Until you want to lie down in AC and have a rest. Or go to the fridge to grab a snack. RVs can be found at a reasonable price, often with relatively low mileage and, in most cases, they already have a hitch installed. Then after your track weekend you can plan a weekend camping with the family.

Moving a giant box down the road does not lend itself to efficient fuel economy. Having a giant 6.8 litre V10 under the hood is also a detriment to economy. Over the years I have monitored my mileage and have averaged between 8 and 10 miles per gallon. That is not bad, considering much of that has been towing a tow dolly with my Nissan NX1600.  Once in a while it’s an Altima or even a Honda, but usually the NX. And I do not even notice that it’s there, it pulls so nicely and fits so well behind the RV. There have been instances where I have pulled open and closed car trailers and, honestly, they tow far better than a dolly. I think that I will need to look into getting a car trailer in the future.


Breakfast time? Pull off the side of the road and make some bacon and eggs! I stopped at the side of Lake Superior and it was picture perfect. There was even a family of Loons swimming by. I try to leave areas as good, if not better, than before I arrived. At this spot I picked up a lot of litter.

However, my hauler is not perfect. In the past five years I have become irritated by how the truck shifts at highway speed on inclines. I have been envious of diesel owners and their seemingly amazing mileage. And since in a van you are essentially sitting right on top of the engine, your feet tend to get roasted.


Sunrise on the Canadian prairies. This was the start of my gas study between the original ECU settings and the 5 Star Tuning settings. What better place to compare mileage than the prairies - which are by definition flat.

This summer, as readers of my previous articles (Upgraded NX and Mission Raceway) are aware, my wife and I spent some time in British Columbia. What you did not know was that we took our now 15 year old RV across Canada. Ten thousand five hundred kilometres or six thousand five hundred miles later we have returned to Ontario with a lot of stories, hundreds of pictures, and no breakdowns or mechanical failures. Well, at least nothing that required me to pull out wrenches and get greasy. That was, in large part, due to ongoing maintenance and the pre-trip preparation that I completed.


We stayed north of the border both ways. We had thought about heading south and crossing below the Great Lakes, but then the Canadian dollar sank against its American counterpart. We decided that we would enjoy more of the Canadian Shield.
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Thursday, August 20, 2015 11:45 AM
I've been on the RV fence before, but in the end it's another (expensive) vehicle to maintain. I think I'd need to pull in 6 figures before I consider one seriously. For now, I'm gunning for a slide in. Some of the rigs that show up at the track though, holy crap, makes me want to go back in time and change some life decisions!
saturn racer
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Thursday, August 20, 2015 1:05 PM
I have an 01 f250 with the v10 and I love it. Mods are a five star y pipe kit and catless side exit exhaust with the biggest dynomax ultraflow muffler they make, and an airaid intake. The truck is VERY loud on acceleration, but not bad at steady state cruise up to about 2300 rpm, mainly due to the y pipe, so be careful if you elect to do that. Next on the list are headers and a livernois motorsports dyno tune.
Thursday, August 20, 2015 1:53 PM
My wife and I have a 2000 Ford F350 with the 7.3 diesel in it. We have a slide in pickup camper for it and it goes to pretty much every race we go to. I have it set up with air bags in the rear and a heavy duty hitch so we can haul a car with. It is well worth "bringing the house" with wherever we go. The nice part for me is, I can pull the truck out from under the camper and I have something to haul stuff around in. It's about a 30 minute process to get the camper off, but I think its well worth it.
Thursday, August 20, 2015 2:01 PM
Supercharged, you're absolutely correct. A slide in is an outstanding option, as blackdb points out, with options my RV doesn't have. What is worth considering is the price can be reasonable if you shop around for a used one - one downside, storing it in the winter. And you don't want to take it to the lumber store to pick up a load of plywood!

Saturn, that is a consideration that I would investigate seriously. I don't want significantly more noise than currently exists. RV owners who've gone that route haven't found it a disadvantage. I wonder if the huge long rear exit pipe quiets that down?
Sunday, August 23, 2015 3:45 PM
In the video, how about those crazy touring cyclists?!

As for the engine temps, I bet the tune has advanced the ignition timing making the engine run cooler along with the snappier throttle response and all that good stuff.
Sunday, August 23, 2015 8:20 PM
spdracerut, I was so impressed with the cyclists we saw. I always tried to give them lots of room. In Washington at Mt Baker the cyclists looked like they were in training. They made it to the top in fantastic time, took a mini breather and then on their way back down.

I agree about the engine temps - it was a good investment!
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