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Author Topic: Totally confused! What can my truck safely pull?  (Read 27934 times)

RV-Tom

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Totally confused! What can my truck safely pull?
« on: April 02, 2011, 07:55:31 PM »
Hello everyone, newbie/first post here. I have been reading the forums, searching the internet, and called my local Chevy dealership and I am still confused on what exactly my truck will pull. I hope you fine people can help. I have a 2006 Chevy Silverado K1500 Extended Cab Short Box (6'6" box) 4WD, with a 5.3L engine, factory installed tow package with tranny cooler. The Axle ratio is 3.42. According to my truck manual the maximum trailer weight is 7700 LBS for fifth wheel or gooseneck. And trailer tongue weight should be 10 to 15 percent of total loaded trailer weight up to 1200 lbs on models with NHT Enhanced Trailering Performance. The GCWR is 13000 lbs. So is this 7700 lbs max trailer weight the same as GVWR? I am confused because my truck manual does not use the term GVWR. I have found a 5th wheel that has a dry weight of 7102 lbs, a GVWR of 11706, and a hitch weight of 1546 lbs. Will my truck safely pull this trailer? If it's not what will my truck pull? I would like to get a 5th wheel but if I'm too limited I may have get a TT. So that brings up another question, how heavy of a tow trailer can I get? Thanks in advance to everyone who responds.

glockholiday

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Re: Totally confused! What can my truck safely pull?
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2011, 07:58:29 PM »
First off any truck can pull more 5th wheel than it can tongue pull so I would stick with a 5th if you need bigger but I think that one is a little big for a 1/2 ton. The more knowledgeable people will be along shortly.
Don't worry, if your parachute fails, you have the rest of your life to fix it.
2007 Fleetwood Redline 35' Toyhauler Pulled by an 02' F-350 CC Dually 4x4 with 7.3. The toy in the back is a 2012 Polaris Ranger RZR XP4 900 LE

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Totally confused! What can my truck safely pull?
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2011, 09:04:29 PM »
The tow weight your manual gives is the maximum loaded weight of the trailer. It has nothing to do with the truck's GVWR (see the RV Forum Glossary for all these terms).  It does, however, have something to do with the trailer's GVWR, which is the trailer's own maximum loaded weight.

So according to the owner manual, you can pull a trailer that actually weighs 7700 lbs. However, that 7700# assumes the truck is empty except for a 154 lbs driver and a tank of fuel. No wife. No dog. No cooler in the back seat. And no 5W hitch either. All of those things add weight to the truck, and subtracts weight from what the truck can tow. As a rule of thumb, we suggest discounting the max tow capacity by about 10% to allow for carrying extra things, and maybe a bit of safety margin too. That means you should be looking at trailers whose actual loaded weight will be about 6900 lbs (7700 - 770 = 6930). Since you don't know what the actual loaded weight of the trailer will be until you buy it and load it full of gear, use the trailer GVWR as an estimate. You may come in a little under that number in actual weight, but it never hurts to be conservative.

A 5W will have about 20% of its actual loaded weight on the hitch pin (not 10% - that's for travel trailers). Your truck has to be able to carry that much weight, just like it was a load of rocks dumped into the back. Make sure you have enough truck payload to handle 20% of 6900# (1380 lbs). Once again, remember that your truck is also carrying every bit of weight you stuff inside it, so you cannot use all the payload rating to carry the pin weight of the trailer.

I cross-checked with the 2006 Trailer Life Tow guide and it agrees that 700 lbs is the max tow capacity for that truck.

Hope this helps clear things up. Feel free to ask for further explanations.
 
« Last Edit: April 02, 2011, 09:08:32 PM by Gary RV Roamer »
Gary
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RV-Tom

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Re: Totally confused! What can my truck safely pull?
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2011, 09:16:56 PM »
So Gary are you saying that I should get a 5th wheel with a GVWR no higher than 6900 lbs? Wow if that the case then I am really limited to what I can get. Buying another truck is not an option. So I might have to stick to a TT. What are my options there?

Carl L

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Re: Totally confused! What can my truck safely pull?
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2011, 12:44:02 AM »
Let me add to Gary's comments.    If you would tow a trailer in the 11 Western States, make that 10% more like 20% to allow for the effect that the altitudes out here in the west on gasoline engines.   Normally aspirated engines lose 3% of their rated HP for every 1000 feet over sea level that they are operated.  Almost all gasoline engines are normally aspirated.   (Almost all diesels are turbo-charged and do not take the hit.)
 
That means that at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, for instance, your engine is delivering only 80% of its rated HP.   So if you the West is in your plans, keep that trailer GVWR to 6160 lbs.   
 
 
« Last Edit: April 03, 2011, 12:46:57 AM by Carl L »
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Totally confused! What can my truck safely pull?
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2011, 08:51:43 AM »
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are you saying that I should get a 5th wheel with a GVWR no higher than 6900 lbs?

Yeap.


Quote
So I might have to stick to a TT. What are my options there?

Same numbers with a TT - has to be less than 6900 lbs gvwr.  The only difference with the TT is that the tongue weight will be in the 10% range rather than 20% for the 5W pin, making payload a less significant factor.

Your truck is a hauler compared to a typical passenger car, but as trucks go it is a lightweight. You really don't have any options.
Gary
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marc7976708

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Re: Totally confused! What can my truck safely pull?
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2011, 12:19:26 PM »
Quick question because I'm running through the same questions right now.

As the trailer (5th wheel) that I'm looking at right now sits on the showroom floor, the dry weight is 7160# and the hitch weight is 1190# or 16%.  (Side note, I take these #'s as actual because they are different from manufacturer's specs, so it seems the dealer actually used a scale to get these #'s rather than a copy and paste from the manufacturer's #'s)

That said, is the 16% hitch weight ratio transferable to actual GVWR of the trailer?  When we add all gear, etc, is the proportion/ratio still going to be 16% or is this a sliding scale that will change when the trailer is loaded up and get closer to the 20% mentioned?  Or, is 16% going to stay 16% regardless of an empty or full 5th wheel?

Ned

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Re: Totally confused! What can my truck safely pull?
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2011, 12:26:13 PM »
The hitch weight will depend to some extent on how you load the trailer.  Put lots of heavy things near the back and the hitch weight may be too little, put them in the front and it may be too heavy.  For towing calculations, use the trailer gross weight, not the dry weight (a fictitious number).
-- Ned -- Fulltimer 1997-2013
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2007 GMC Canyon

Joezeppy

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Re: Totally confused! What can my truck safely pull?
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2011, 02:25:45 PM »
That said, is the 16% hitch weight ratio transferable to actual GVWR of the trailer?  When we add all gear, etc, is the proportion/ratio still going to be 16% or is this a sliding scale that will change when the trailer is loaded up and get closer to the 20% mentioned?  Or, is 16% going to stay 16% regardless of an empty or full 5th wheel?

As Ned mentioned, it depends on exactly how you load the trailer but most 5th wheels have huge storge compartments in the very front under the "upstairs". This means that as you fill up this space, you are adding more weight on the pin which will push it closer to the 20% mark.
Joe & Kim
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Totally confused! What can my truck safely pull?
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2011, 03:01:58 PM »
A typical 5W pin weight will be 20-22% of the actual loaded weight. The 16% is low and valid only before anything is loaded inside. Kudos to the dealer for displaying actual weights, but I suspect the numbers came from the factory. Manufacturers are now weighing each rig before it is shipped to the dealer because they need that data for the DOT required weight labels. The marketing brochures just have a typical number, since it applies across a variety of features and options.
Gary
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marc7976708

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Re: Totally confused! What can my truck safely pull?
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2011, 03:44:46 PM »
All good input, thanks guys!

It seems like having easy access to a good set of scales will be imperative when setting up (loading) the trailer for the initial outing just so you can get a good idea of what a proper set-up/distribution looks like. 

I think I'd initially be tempted to carry some heavier items (generator, tool box, full cooler) in the bed of the truck , but understanding the weight geometry of the whole thing makes it seem like you get a discount (80%) for carrying them in the trailer.

It seems too, like if you're not full timing it, it would just be easier to carry cash than to carry items - no real reason to stock up and buy 30 cans when spaghettios are on sale and add an extra 30 pounds when you're thinking about jettisoning the spare tire.... :o  I'm kidding!  Just saying, cash weighs almost nothing and items all weigh something so it might not be smart to stock up for a month to go on a month long trip - just buy it a few days at a time if weight is going to be an issue.

Sorry, I'll quit thinking out loud as I'm sure you've all "been there, done that".

Thanks again!

Carl L

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Re: Totally confused! What can my truck safely pull?
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2011, 04:49:12 PM »
All good input, thanks guys!

It seems like having easy access to a good set of scales will be imperative when setting up (loading) the trailer for the initial outing just so you can get a good idea of what a proper set-up/distribution looks like. 

Not really.  I would do a full scale weighing of the whole rig as loaded for travel, after, say, a few months of use.   By then you should have incorporated most of the kitchen gear, bedding, and miscellaneous toys and you will gain a fairly accurate picture of the weight distribution you will be coping with in the future.   We have a weighing procedure in our Library.    If you are still worried about it, consider getting a small hydraulic scale like THIS unit to measure your hitch weight as you go.   They run a bit over $100 at retail.

Quote
I think I'd initially be tempted to carry some heavier items (generator, tool box, full cooler) in the bed of the truck , but understanding the weight geometry of the whole thing makes it seem like you get a discount (80%) for carrying them in the trailer.

Actually you do get that discount -- 80% of the item weight will be borne by the trailer axles.   That is one of the reason why trailers are used.   
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

Prowler 23LV TT pulled by a '95 Ford Bronco