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Author Topic: General 5th wheel/truck combo question  (Read 22899 times)


  • Posts: 3
General 5th wheel/truck combo question
« on: May 01, 2012, 07:42:15 AM »
Hello -

I am exploring the possibility of getting a 5th wheeler.   I need more space than my current Class C provides for my growing family.

I am wondering if it's generally better to find a 5th wheeler first then the pickup truck or the other way around.   I don't have a pickup at this point.

I know it depends on a lot.  What I can afford for a truck, etc.   But if I went the truck route first what is the absolute minimum I should get in terms of power that would allow for a fairly good size 5th wheel (31+ feet)?   Does it need to be 4WD?   Does it need to be a dually?  Obviously the more powerful the better.   I don't intend to skimp on the truck.   But I am just trying to get a sense so I can start pricing them and doing the math.

Also, does anyone know if there are any 6 passenger pickups?  This is another factor I have to consider with getting a 5th wheel.  If I can fit my family into the tow vehicle comfortably for what will likely be some long rides than it may not be a good choice.....

Any suggestions are appreciated.



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  • Posts: 2064
  • Roman Forest, TX
Re: General 5th wheel/truck combo question
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2012, 07:55:09 AM »
Hi Chucky, and welcome.  It's good to see you here first, instead of after you made all the decisions.  You'll get a lot of advice and opinion here, and in the end, I think you'll end up with what you need.  So, here is my advice/opinion.

Get the 5th wheel first.  If you can, get it weighed rather than depend on the paper weights.  If not, use the GCWR of the trailer to determine how much truck you'll need.  This way you will know for sure you have the right tool for the job.  If you do it this way, you will have enough truck to pull the trailer you get when it's loaded to its maximum capacity.

As far as the truck itself, I know the Fords (F-250/350/450) CrewCab will sit 6 fairly comfortably, as long as you get the 40/20/40 bench seat in the front.  The console version will only seat 5.  And as you can imagine, the "20" in that front bench seat will be for a small person.  Although my 6 foot son has sat there a number of times.  For short distances!

4X4 will probably depend on what type of camping you do.  If you tend to get away from the pavement often, or even on occassion, you might want to consider it.  In my 3 trucks pulling my two different trailers, I have not had 4X4, and have only had one instance where I could have used it.  And it was a very rare type of event.  Again, it depends on where you go.

Dually will probably depend on the 5th wheel you end up with.  If you stick to a 30 - 32 footer, it is unlikely you will need it, but if you get much bigger, or just happen to get a relatively heavy 5th wheel, you might consider the dually.  Or if you just want to feel better about the added stability the dually will provide.

Now, I'm kinda partial to the Fords, so I will loudly tout the virtues of the new 6.7L.  It is so nice towing my 5th wheel.  It does a tremendous job.  The power and torque are unbelievable.  And as I said, I think they provide the most room, with the exception of the MegaCab in the Ram.  I believe any of the new diesels will be fine, but I sure do like the Ford.  And I recommend that you test drive all of them before you make any decision.

I hope this helps you.  And good luck!
MSgt, USAF, Retired
2011 F-250 XLT, 6.7L PSD
2010 Forest River Wildcat 28RKBS
"I thought I was wrong once, but I was wrong!"

Great Horned Owl

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  • Posts: 1312
  • Lake county, IL
Re: General 5th wheel/truck combo question
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2012, 09:22:28 AM »

I am in a similar position. What I did was to decide exactly which (new) 5er I want to buy, and then I could determine how much truck I need. I am now looking for a (used) truck.

You probably do not need 4wd. You will find that (all other things being equal) the lighter 2wd has more towing capacity than the 4wd. It also has better fuel economy, is less expensive, and has less to go wrong. My problem is that up here in snow country, they are scarce.

You probably want to consider a diesel. If you expect to be towing much weight in the mountains, you absolutely want a diesel.

All of the crew cabs seat 3 in back. Those without bucket seats/console will also seat 3 in front.

If you are looking at used trucks, read http://www.dieselpowermag.com/features/1201dp_10_best_used_diesel_trucks/viewall.html.

Joel & Dorothy
Retired electronics engineer. Avid photographer, paddler & birder.
2011 Silverado 2500HD, Duramax, 4x4,crew cab, 8' bed
Palomino Puma 253-FBS  27' 5th wheel
1994 19' Class B Horizon / Chevy


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  • Posts: 383
Re: General 5th wheel/truck combo question
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2012, 09:48:30 AM »
For what it's worth, let me tell you what I did. I had a 29 foot travel trailer that I was pulling with my 2006 Expedition. Not happy with the way it towed and knowing that we wanted to upgrade the trailer, I looked at possible 5th wheel set ups that might interest us, ie. king bed, more space, 3 slideouts etc., and found out what the highest gross weight was for those I was considering. Looking at possibly 15,000 lbs, I then ordered my 2008 F250 with diesel, crew cab, 8 foot bed and full towing upgrades. I also added 4 wd because we live in the Chicago area where snow is a common occurrance. Admittedly, it added to the cost, I used 4 wheel only a few times without the trailer and only once with my 5er hooked in a very muddy campground out west.
The 250 is a 3/4 ton truck and with the diesel it really does the job. The crew cab gives plenty of room for my 3 teenage grandchildren. We have the console so we lose the 20% seat up front. I also opted for single rear wheels instead of duallys. I was behind a dually at a toll booth before I bought my truck and was amazed at how wide the truck was, almost hitting the walls of the toll booth. Didn't want that hassle and instead compromised by adding Firestone air bags to give me a little more rear end stability. I topped everything off with a rolling bed cover.
I couldn't be happier with my set up except for better gas mileage. I get about 8 to 9 with my 34 foot 5er hooked up. Get up and go is not a problem with the diesel.

Good luck.

Bob and Pam
Schaumburg, Ill
2008 F250 Diesel 
2009 Komfort 34' fifth wheel

Phil Hyde

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Re: General 5th wheel/truck combo question
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2012, 12:26:47 PM »
I knew exactly which trailer I was getting before I purchased a truck.   It's a big $$$ purchase, and you don't want to have to buy a new truck in a few years when you decide to get a bigger RV.

With any truck, make sure you understand the weight ratings, and in particular for a fifth wheel, the payload.  Since you mention you are a family man with 6 passengers, you need to factor in people, fuel, and stuff.  My family of 5 weighs in around 600lb.  Figure 250lb for a full tank of fuel.   Already you are getting close to 1,000lb of your payload being used up.  Make sure the truck you select has enough for your passengers, fuel, stuff, and then the pin weight of your fifth wheel.  The general rule of thumb for a fifth wheel is to use 20% of the GVWR as a maximum pin weight.  This is not an absolute, but a general guide.

4WD is something to consider, depending on where you will drive.  The truck I purchased is a DRW, and 4WD becomes a more critical option because there is less weight on each rear wheel (especially when empty).
2015 Ford F350 CC 4WD DRW
2010 Keystone Montana Mountaineer 345-DBQ

Greg 110 OVI

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  • Posts: 56
Re: General 5th wheel/truck combo question
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2012, 01:52:15 PM »
You will probably have the truck longer than the 5er. The single most common mistake truck buyers make is buying too light a truck. get a 1 ton. Two wheel is probably OK and you really probably don't need the dually. When the kids get bigger and you want a larger unit, you've already got the truck. Just my $.02.


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  • Jim
Re: General 5th wheel/truck combo question
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2012, 04:18:08 PM »
We purchased our truck first, knew what we were looking for in the new 5th Wheel though (purchased a couple of months later) purchased at upper-end, however within what we were able.  Suggest you get what you need, however don't end up purchasing 'extras' if they are not needed (we don't have leather, carpeting or electronic packages).  We ordered from factory with our spec's, did not find on a lot.  Would consider 4X4 however if you believe you will ever be in wet grass or mud, we have used the 4X4 a number of times vs sitting there with the wheels spinning in frustration.  Just how we did it.
2011 Ford F350 DRW 6.7 Diesel
2011 Cougar SRX


  • Posts: 3
Re: General 5th wheel/truck combo question
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2012, 06:46:02 PM »
Thanks everyone for the input.  Very helpful.   I can now start doing some more research and putting numbers together.


Lou Schneider

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Re: General 5th wheel/truck combo question
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2012, 08:54:46 PM »
One more thing to keep in mind is the published tow ratings are derived by subtracting the actual weight of the truck from the truck's Gross Combined Weight Rating - how much the entire combo can weigh.

They use an empty truck with 1/2 tank of fuel and a 150 lb. driver as the weight they subtract from the GCWR to get the tow rating as large as possible.

Anything else you put in the truck - people, cargo, even a couple of hundred pounds for the hitch platform itself - subtracts a like amount from the allowed trailer weight.   That's something to consider if you're going to regularly carry 6 people in the truck.  Unless you account for their weight you can exceed one or more weight ratings and be legally overloaded.

In other words, don't push the weight rating.  Especially if you plan to load up the truck with 6 people, etc.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2012, 09:03:27 PM by Lou Schneider »

Stewie Griffin

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  • Posts: 355
Re: General 5th wheel/truck combo question
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2012, 07:28:23 PM »
Do yourself a favor and get a one ton (F350/3500) and not a 3/4 ton (F250/2500) truck. Most people pulling fivers with a 3/4 ton are over their payload. Now that doesn't mean you need to get a dually, they all make single rear wheel one tons and with the exception of the gvwr and badging the one ton SRW's are exactly the same as a 3/4 ton.
Also, get a long box unless a 22' truck is too long for you. You would avoid the need for a slider hitch.
Sorry if I offended the 3/4 ton crowd but a 3/4 ton just doesn't make much sence these days, they all ride the same between classes unlike 20 years ago, a 3/4 ton is just a derated one ton SRW.
2017 F350 4x4 Crew Cab LB SRW Lariat Longbox 6.7L
2013 Heartland 415 Road Warrior toy hauler


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  • Posts: 400
    • Wheatfarm.com
Re: General 5th wheel/truck combo question
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2012, 08:36:37 PM »
The stability of the dually rear end is nice in corners though. I have one and I'd gladly buy one again (F-350 diesel dually).
1988 Alpenlite DL 27' 5th wheel
Tow rig: 2000 Ford F-350, 7.3L, CC, LB, 4X4, ZF-6


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  • Posts: 144
Re: General 5th wheel/truck combo question
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2012, 09:20:55 PM »
As stated above good decision to ask the questions before you buy. Also as you can see several different opinions.  You are correct in doing your own research, as most RV dealership sales people will give incorrect advise on the tow vehicle to sell you their trailer. Also mega cabs or whatever Ford/GM call their larger cab trucks will reduce your payload as they are heavier trucks. Drive all 3 and decide which one is for you.

When looking at trailers DO NOT USE "DRY HITCH WEIGHT" as the payload number. Nobody pulls a empty trailer except the guy who delivered the trailer to the dealer.

Also as with anything you buy there are different levels of 5ers as far as quality, reputation, construction, customer service, warranties etc. go. Check the various owners forums to get a feel for how the owners of your targeted 5ers think of their units. And look at as many as you can before the purchase.

Good Luck
2017 Grand Design Imagine 2150RB
2016 Chevy 2500HD LT 6.6L DMAX 4WD
Equalizer Anti Sway Hitch

Stewie Griffin

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  • Posts: 355
Re: General 5th wheel/truck combo question
« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2012, 06:26:19 AM »
excellent points bailer6334, especially the one about RV dealers telling you that your truck can pull a trailer it has no business pulling.  Most of these RV dealers don't really know much about GVWR and GCWR, just because you have a diesel F250/2500 doesn't mean you can pull a tripple axle toy hauler that grosses out at 17.5K but they will tell you it will.  Everytime the wife and I upgraded RV's we never had a dealer that didn't tell us we could pull anything on their lot.  Be very careful of that.  anything that has a GVWR over 13K should have a dually pulling it.  Some of that is the truck but most of the reason for that limit is the tires on a single rear wheel, especially on hot days, are maxed out with that kind of pin weight. 
2017 F350 4x4 Crew Cab LB SRW Lariat Longbox 6.7L
2013 Heartland 415 Road Warrior toy hauler


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  • Posts: 85
Re: General 5th wheel/truck combo question
« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2012, 10:30:31 AM »
This presented a problem for us when we decided to get our first 5er recently.  We had a BRAND NEW F150 King Ranch that we had bought in April 2011.  In August 2011, we decided we were going to go full-timing.  We started looking at campers that our F150 would accomodate. We learned QUICKLY that it wouldn't tow much and with the short bed, it limited our options even further.  In November 2011, we traded in our BRAND NEW F150 and bought a F350 dually.

Here was our thoughts, we were going full time, we didn't want to have to upgrade the truck later.  If we had a truck that could darn near pull the biggest thing out there, we were good.  In January 2012 we became the proud owners of our 38' Cedar Creek Silverback and quite honestly, the F350 pulls it fantastic.  Our gas milage is pretty good (average has been about 11).  We didn't want any issues as far as towing goes and even had we decided to get a smaller 5er, we wouldn't ever have to worry about whether or not we could pull it.  AND we can comfortably seat 5 (or 6 if it is little kids in the back seat) in the F350. 

Good luck!
Jim and Lee Ann
And our pups Buster and Abby
US Navy Retired
2012 F350 DRW 
2013 Redwood 36RL

Phil Hyde

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Re: General 5th wheel/truck combo question
« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2012, 12:35:20 PM »
Jim, that is exactly the situation I was in, and I don't regret buying my 3500 DRW one bit.  ;)
2015 Ford F350 CC 4WD DRW
2010 Keystone Montana Mountaineer 345-DBQ

Ed B.

  • Posts: 4
Re: General 5th wheel/truck combo question
« Reply #15 on: May 05, 2012, 06:44:17 AM »
The one thing we don't know is are you buying a new trailer or a used one that might sell before you get a truck.  If your looking to get the best deal you can on a used one you might not want to put the cart in front of the horse.  Unless you can get the trailer delivered.
As far as the truck goes.  We have a 2004 Chevy 6.0 gas engine.  3/4 ton 4wd crew cab 6 passenger.  We haul a 5th wheel camper.  32' and if I remeber correctly, around 10,000 fully loaded.  We are comfortabe hauling our family of 6.  I had the truck long before I ever thought about buying a 5th wheel.   The truck we use use works for short hauling around MI.  but I would not even consider heading for the mountains.  I'm lucky to get 6mpg on the hwy.  Going up even small hills almost makes the tach run in the red.  If I get to the point where I can afford a new truck again it will be basically the same with the 6.6 Duramax diesel.  Diesel is more expensive at the pump but fuel economy is much greater.  I have used 4wd towing the camper.  I was on a very soft sandy road travening at around 10mph.  I also use 4wd getting the trailer in my yard.  I have to back it up hill in the grass.  It will just spin the tires in 2wd.
Good luck in your purchases.


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Re: General 5th wheel/truck combo question
« Reply #16 on: May 07, 2012, 05:21:22 PM »
What I did was to research the type of floor plan and size of fiver I wanted and then quickly decided I needed a truck that could pull between 15-18K based on this research.  I bought the truck first (2011 F-350 Dually, 6.7) and then the fiver (a 2011 Voltage 3950) and have loved both.  I agree with the comments about getting the bigger truck because you may buy a smaller fiver only to upgrade later and need a bigger truck.


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Re: General 5th wheel/truck combo question
« Reply #17 on: May 09, 2012, 06:09:39 PM »
My 2 cents having 4X4....
Yes, I do get less mpg , but I enjoy the comfort knowing that I can get into some places a little easier having 4x4.
Using the 4x4 with the front hubs not locked is easier on the tranny for backing up a slope with a load.
If the slope is quite steep I put it into 4x4 low , it just makes it so easy to baby it into position.
This I know because my driveway has a slope on it and I just basically idle it into position.
Now having said that... my truck still has the stock tranny...I will be having it checked and rebuilt (whatever is needed)
including a better TC, plus a HD Tugger kit.... making it , it the words of my tranny mechanic, 'bullet proof'.
The 7.3's 4r100 tranny is known to be a weak link in the power train...the engine will go forever  insert<fingers crossed>here.

Good luck in your choice.

Nanaimo , B.C., Canada
Okanagan  25.5 foot 5th Wheel
2000 Ford F350 7.3 Powerstroke
Super Duty Larait
Ext. Cab L/B Dually


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