Help, I'm new, I bought a heavy 5th wheel and I can't find a truck to tow it!

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JaynaJuggles

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Nov 7, 2012
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I bought a giant 5th wheel toyhauler. It has 3 axels and weighs 13,500 dry. I haul a small circus, so I'd be adding between 2500-3500 in weight.  I assumed an F-350 diesel dually would haul this fine, so I began hunting.  Friends recommended the 7.3L engine, so I was looking at trucks '99-'03.  I doggedly pursued them and almost bought one when, luckily, I came upon the GCWR and I'd be WAY overweight!  Even the 2005-2007 6.0 engine Fords (faulty engines yikes) can hardly tow it.  I'd be towing right at the max capacity, plus, I think that engine has too many problems.  So I've shifted my focus to the Chevy/GMC Duramax engine/Allison Transmission combo.  I can't seem to find an accurate chart anywhere on their tow capacities.  What's the oldest year that can tow this kind of weight?  My budget is only $17,000.00 to $24,000.00 and if I buy at my upper end, I'll be struggling.  Any recommendations of year/model/engine/tranny combos that will haul this weight in my budget.  I seriously can't thank you enough for any advice you have time to give me.

~Jayna~
1999 GMC Sierra 1500
Circus Stella
 

longhaul

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I see '05/'06 3500 DRW Dmax/A GM have up to 16600 lb tow ratings and 23500 lb GCWR numbers and 8500 RAWR numbers. Generally any brand one ton DRW diesel that old will usually have lots of hard working miles on the odo. 
Also many tri axle toy hauler owners report lightweight pin weights, 15-18 percent, especially after loading the garage.

I would also look at those year models 3500 DRW Dodge/Cummins with those big 9350 RAWR for carrying even more axle/tire loads.
 

stormy2000

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fl
also good for info is the duramax forum & silveradoforum, go in the towing section and you'll get some good info.
i have a 2010 silverado 2500hd (diesel) and i can pull your th empty w/no problem, but
once you put in all your stuff then i'd be over.  i know the new 2012's have a higher wtg towing cap but are past your budget.  might
need look at used tv.
 

edjunior

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Roman Forest, TX.
Let this website be your friend:

http://www.trailerlife.com/trailer-towing-guides/

It sounds like you are into F-450 and beyond territory.  You got yourself one big trailer, and you're gonna need a big truck to haul it.  Good luck.
 

donn

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Get an MDT.  For the size trailer you have this might be the most Cost effective  alternative.
 

Foto-n-T

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donn hit the nail on the head.  Medium Duty Trucks can be had for well within your price range.  You can stop by any truck sales lot and find used MDT's that have been used for delivery service.  Keep in mind that an MDT with 300k on it is nothing to shy away from.  Our Freightliner FL50 now has 355k on it and is actually 2 1/2 feet shorter than our old Ford F250.  Same fuel mileage and easier to park than the Ford as well.

I weighed our rig again just before leaving Wyoming this fall, we're right at 16,000 pounds on the 5th wheel with a combination weight of 29,200.

MDT's are not for everyone but if you've ever towed a 5th Wheel with one you'll cringe at the thought of ever doing it with a pickup again.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Make sure you look at 5W towing rather than ball hitch - they will usually be substantially different.

The late model 1 ton dually diesels with the right configuration might (barely) handle that much trailer. For example, a 2007 Chevy/GMC Duramax dually with extended or crew cab and long bed will be rated for 16,000 lbs or more with a 5W trailer. The best is the extended cab 2WD model at 16,300. You need the long wheel base models to get max 5W towong capacity, so the larger cabs and longer beds are usually better than a regular cab shortbed, even though the truck itself weighs more.

Some of the 2008 Ford Supercab longbeds, with the right rear axle (4.10 or maybe even 4.30), are also rated a tad over 16,000 lbs.

But you are really into medium duty territory, e.g. F450 or Chevy/GMC 4500 for those years.


By 2010, tow ratings were going up and some Fords, Dodges and Chevys were rated at 17,000 or better. It's not clear what, if anything, changed besides the rating in the brochure. If you can stretch your budget to the newer models, you will be on safer ground.
 

Foto-n-T

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I'm going to add a little to what Gary has said regarding the F450/GM 4500 series.

Technically these trucks are classed as Mediums but they both use "bolt down" cabs.  My "Dream Truck" used to be an F-550 until I rode in one, OUCH!!  For anyone looking into an MDT I highly recommend riding bobtail in what you think you want for about 50 miles before you sign on the dotted line.  Freightliner, International or Pete & Kenworth trucks use air-ride cabs, seats and rear suspension.  The ride difference is like night and day believe me and typically you can find a better price on a used commercial truck than you can Ford or GM for some reason.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Good advice, Joe. If you can get across the mental boundary to choosing a "real" MDT, the difference is night and day. They are available at attractive prices too - one that is "old" for OTR hauling likely still has a lifetime of RV towing in it.  Buying one of these at bargain prices and spending several thousand on customizing the cab and hauling platform is a very viable option.
 

JaynaJuggles

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Nov 7, 2012
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Thank you so much everyone for the kind advice!  You've given me so many good ideas, and I will spend the afternoon googling I believe!  Fortunately, I have a lot of time to find a truck, so I can wait for the right one to show up in my search criteria.  I will follow every lead that each of you have given me, thank you!  I'm so glad I joined this forum! 
 

Rancher Will

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I am not writing about Fords. We have and have owned and used Dodge trucks for over 50 years. I own and we have on our ranches, including mine and those owned by my employees, a half dozen Dodge 350's and 3500's. These are the ones we use pulling our ranch trailers as well as our 5th Wheel RV's, all but two are duallys.

None of my RV's have been, or my employees' RV's are, as heavy as you mention. (Mine is a Montana 3750FL now.) However we often pull ranch trailers with total weight over 20,000 lbs, and some with shifting loads such as when loaded with livestock. Our 350's are all stick shift but for RV pulling I would think that an auto transmission would be OK since RV's are not like heavy ranch work.

You will find that any "One ton truck" such as our D-3500's has plenty of power. Be sure that you have an engine brake installed since it is as important to be able to stop as it is to go. Also, keep in mind that the 450's and 550's trucks have the same engines as the 350's. The difference between all of these is basically the suspension, gearing, etc.

I also own semi-trucks for really heavy hauling but this not pertinent to your question.
 

Opontee

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League City, Texas
I have a MDT for sale, 04 Chevy Kodiak 1.5 ton:

http://www.rvforum.net/SMF_forum/index.php?topic=56816

The price is asking, not actual. :)

You would need one of these hitches:

http://www.rvforum.net/SMF_forum/index.php?topic=54100.0
 

John From Detroit

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Just do this.. Google: Trail Hauler

You will find a link to a tow vehicle that can handle that trailer without any strain, I promise.  I've seen a few of them in my travels.

Some folks worry about the capacity of their tow vehicles,  The folks who buy Trail Haulers... They don't worry so much.
 

R. J. Barton

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Jefferson City, MO
Always better to have more truck than you need. Pushing limits on your tow vehicle takes the fun out of the journey and can be dangerous. When it comes to trucks, bigger is usually better.  ;)
 

Lou Schneider

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There are some people who have just skipped over the MDTs and found they can get a retired over the highway Class 8 tractor for a similar price.  The Volvo 660/770 series are especially popular.  It'll take a year or more for a typical RVer to put as many miles on one of these as it sees in a typical month of over the road use.  A truck that's built to haul 80,000 lbs. will transport 1/4 that weight without breaking a sweat.

Google HDT RV tow vehicle for ideas.
 

Foto-n-T

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As someone who drives Class 8 trucks for a living and also uses a Medium Duty Truck for an RV hauler I agree with Lou that a used Class 8 is a very real option for those who find MDT's too expensive, but there is a rub.  Even the size of an MDT can be intimidating but if you "Supersize" to a Class 8 the size issue becomes extreme.  The turning radius of most Class 8 trucks can be measured in acres not feet, not to mention the perceived width of Class 8's can make finding a parking spot in the same county as the store you want to visit almost impossible.  On the other hand a Class 8 can be easily modified to accept a deck on the rear behind the cab that will hold a car, this would negate the need to use the BIG truck for an everyday driver. 

The prices of used Class 8 trucks are very attractive.  Several years ago I met a gentleman from Bullhead City AZ that had purchased a used Kenworth Class 8 with sleeper for less than 10k.  Since he had no use for the dual drive axles he had the front one removed at no cost simply because it could be re-sold by the shop for close to $10k in an of itself.  Just as MDT's aren't for everybody the same holds doubly true for Class 8's.  By the way, we haven't even touched on maintenance costs.  This last spring I had occasion to have to replace the radiator on my FL50, OUCH!!!  Between parts and labor I was almost $5,000 poorer by the time I drove away from Corpus Christi Freightliner.  The year before I found out that the power steering pump Freightliner used was made by Mercedes and replacing that amounted to $1,500 and that was the CASH price.  Although Medium's and Heavy's will go many many miles before they wear out, anyone considering purchasing one should keep in mind that a cash reserve for repairs is a must.
 
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