Friday, July 20, 2012

Cost of Setting up a New Toad (tow vehicle)

Wesley Chapel, Florida  (high 92, low 74)

This blog is mostly for future reference for us, so it will be a little dull.  Sorry…   I just might post a tubby kitty picture at the end though!

Al has been doing the research and  making the necessary calls to find the best place to get the new truck set up to tow behind the motor home.  He’s ran into some obstacles, but finally made some decisions.

Changing toads is not an easy or cheap task. 

Certain vehicles can be towed 4 wheels down with no modifications.  Our old Nissan Frontier truck that had a manual 5 speed transmission was one of those vehicles.

Our new Nissan Frontier truck with an automatic transmission, will need some modifications.  We knew this going in, but we decided we wanted an automatic transmission this time.

The other costs would be the same and not avoidable unless we would have just kept the old truck.


Here is what we will need:

1.  new base plates that will fit the new truck.  Unfortunately they don’t make a one size fits all base plate.

2.   a driveshaft disconnect, so that we can tow four wheels down.

3. transfer our toad braking system (we have the Air Force One system) from the old truck to the new one.   Never did we dream this would be so expensive.

A few other items not related to towing,  are a  new “topper”  new floor mats,  and mud flaps.  We ordered some of the Weather Tech rubber mats that we’d seen advertised on TV.  They are very nice and should keep most of the sand, mud and dry grass off the carpeting.   I hate when I remove the floor mats and there is a ton of grass and sand underneath them.  These mats should prevent that from happening.

I like the fact that the mat goes underneath the foot pedals and up against the side, as well as over the side where your feet come and go.

weather tech floor mats

weather tech floor mats


I wanted to document all these costs and aggravations, should  “anyone” decide he wants a new truck any time soon.  Smile with tongue out


Our decision to get the new truck was made due to the high mileage on the old one and the fact that we want to go from two vehicles to only one.  Until we discovered that Nissan made a Frontier with a Crew Cab (larger one than the old one)  and a 6 foot bed, we thought our only option was a full size truck.

We didn’t want a full size truck because, they are too tall and would make it difficult to put the kayaks on top, and they are just so honking big for maneuvering around parking lots and such.


The new Nissan Frontier Crew cab will allow adults to sit in the back seat and the 6 foot bed will give us lots of storage.   We love the new truck.

However…..the costs to change toads are pretty high.

Besides the actual cost of the new truck, here are the extras:

1.  Weather Tech floor mats.  We love them.   $189

2.  Truck topper  $1344

3.  driveshaft disconnect parts and labor  $1435

4.  Blue Ox baseplate, $430, labor $285,  hardwire $155,  adapter to make Blue Ox base plate fit our hitch, $80

5.  remove Air Force One braking system from old truck and reinstall on new one  (this cost is ridiculous in our opinion, but this was the best price we could find.)  $570  (6 hours @ $95 per)

6.  tax $206.85

7.  mudflaps  $120

So, the cost of the transformation is around $4600. 

This was not totally a surprise to us, other than the cost to change out the Air Force One.  Of course the labor rates were higher than the last  time we set up a toad in 2005.

We drove the truck/boat  over to Clearwater to have the driveshaft measured.   They wanted to actually look at our truck and take measurements before they ordered the driveshaft disconnect part.

The parts are ordered.  The driveshaft disconnect has to be specially made for our vehicle, so it will take the longest.

Once the parts are in, we will have to drop the truck off for a few days of labor.   Winking smile

We’re having it done at Rentz Trailer Hitches in Clearwater, Florida.  We spoke to both the owner, his son and the mechanic.  They all seemed very knowledgeable and we’re comfortable with them doing the work.

I guess this is just another cost of being full time rv’ers. 


Baxter got weighed yesterday and he is now 13 pounds.   He will turn one year old next month.

He had to have an “attitude adjustment” yesterday.  I was trying to clip his nails and he hissed at me and tried to bite me.  I smacked him and “hissed” back at him!  He was a little startled by that, to say the least.

Here our Big ole Boy (bob)

Baxter, 11 months

He is definitely chubby, but he is also definitely extremely furry.  Not all the roundness is fat!


  1. And you will be making sure that "someone" doesn't want another new truck any time soon, right? lol Your BOB weighs the same as my Skitz but certainly is a lot fluffier.

  2. Like someone (a non-rving friend) commented to us one time, "rving sure ain't cheap is it?" My response back was "No, but it's worth every cent in the long run!"

  3. Well I suppose that cost isn't too surprising, although a little hard on the pocketbook.
    Certainly an eye-opener.
    We never had any need to tow over the 10 years we had our class A, but ours was only an "Anytime" RV, as opposed to a "Fulltime" RV. We did cart along bikes on some trips though.

  4. that is quite the expenditure list!..Baxter doesn't enjoy his mani-pedi sessions?..we throw in a 'toe hair' trim for our boy too..he loves it! small doses!

  5. I'm a newbie to RVing. I have a question to which I don't know the answer. Why can't you buy a little trailer to put the pickup truck on and two the trailer behind your MH?

    1. You can tow a front wheel drive vehicle on a tow dolly, but we prefer 4 wheels down with no trailer.

  6. Ok I am convinced. My current truck is perfect.

  7. You are right, the cost to remove and install the AF1 system is way too high. It takes less than an hour to install the whole system on both the car and MH. Good luck finding a better shop.

  8. I'm starting to get numb to the prices. Every time something is less than $1000 I feel like it is a good deal!

    We are looking into a drop attachment for our Blue Ox. Still haven't heard from them.

    1. Merikay when we were at the place getting the estimate they had a bunch of Blue Ox drop hitch bars on display. We've bought them before at a Uhaul dealer.

  9. Whew! that was an expensive project! Think we will keep our little tracker for a LONG time! Baxter! you are a good kitty mom and know how to talk to him properly! The other thing I would have done is grab him by the scruff of the neck like his mom would have. Reminds him who is mom.

    1. good idea. My first reaction was just to hiss back at him, after I smacked him!

  10. Thanks for sharing those costs, I was going try and convince Tracy that it was time to invest in a toad, but I won't waste my time now and will just start saving.:)

  11. We know exactly what you are going through. A year ago we bought our new CRV and forgot that we would have to buy a new tow hitch...YUCK! We called the same place that put the other one on and they could do it the day we picked up the car. Great for us but bad for the pocketbook!

  12. That is expensive!! As I recall the whole set up for the Saturn was a round $2500, but that was towable without mods.

    1. It didn't cost this much initially the last time either.

  13. Oh my I loved the pics of Baxter as a kitten and now as a "big boy" he certainly is adorable.

    Just love the unconditional love of pets and the independence of kitties!

  14. Al’s Trailers is an Oregon RV dealer and major provider of RV parts, Supplies and Accessories Als Trailer Sales We specialize in New and Used RV Sales, RV Service, RV Parts and Accessories.


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