Is anybody successfully pulling a (lightweight) 5er with half-ton truck?

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GaryB

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Hi - I just started a few days ago doing research on RVs.  Have made some progress - narrowed my decision down to 5er.  I don't have any tow vehicle yet.  Since my tow vehicle will be my primary everyday vehicle, I'd really like to stick with a 1500/150 series (half ton) truck for fuel economy issues.  With the "lightweight" 5ers coming on the market nowadays, I'm thinking there has to be some 5er that can be safely pulled with a half ton truck (albeit a beefy half ton truck).  But I have been cautioned (by Carl) that a 5er puts alot of force on the rear axle of the tow vehicle.  Has anyone out there found a "lightweight" 5er and half ton truck combination that is safe and has worked well?

Thanks
Gary
 

Ron

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I think a better question would be "Anybody successfully and LEGALLY pulling a lightweight 5er with a half ton truck."  If you exceed any of the weight limits you are not legal and if in an accident when over the weight limits of your truck, trailer or combination of the two you could be exposing yourself to serious liability issues as well as jeopardizing the safety of yourself anybody with you and anybody around you.

Now The members here such as Carl, Karl, and Gary, to name a few know what they are talking about so even though you don't necessarily like hearing the information they have given take it as gospel as it is factual information.  One can keep asking a question of different sources until you hear what you want to hear but that doesn't make the answer correct.

Personally I wouldn't even consider pulling any 5er with a 1/2 ton pickup since I suspect by the time you get one light enough to do so safely and legally they will have eliminated so much quality stuff to make the 5er light enough the quality will suffer. 

Bottom line don't short change yourself.
 

GaryB

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Thanks.  I was not doubting anyone's advice.  I was just confused since another recent post in Trailers Forum was discussing towing a 5er and the main idea seemed to be that it was OK as long the loaded weight of the 5er did not exceed 80-90% of the GVWR of the truck.

So, I wasn't sure if that requirement supercedes the issue regarding force on the rear axle of the 1/2 ton truck.  In other words, is it safe/acceptable to pull a 5er with a 1/2 ton truck as long as I'm operating within the confines of the 80-90% GVWR Rule, or is it NEVER acceptable to tow a 5er (no matter how light) with a 1/2 ton truck (even though the 80-90% Rule is adhered to).  That's what was confusing me and what I hoped that this thread would clarify.

Thanks
Gary
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Sure you can tow a fifth wheel with a half ton truck. You just have to be careful about the weights, both Gross Combined Weight and the trucks Rear Axle Weight and Gross Vehicle Weight (the same as with any trailer).  Heck, we towed a modest size fiver with a Dodge Dakota for a couple of years, but the Dakota is actually quite  a hefty half ton and in some configurations can outperform a Dodge 1500.

Some half tons are a lot more robust than others, as far as payload and tow rating.  Some can barely carry a half ton while others may exceed 3/4 of a ton.  You may want to get an "extra payload" option on the truck, for example, so you can better carry the hitch weight of the fiver.  This typically involves larger or higher rated tires and a stronger rear axle and springs. And Chevrolet makes their 1500 series in an "HD" model as well as the standard half tons.

But by the time you configure a half ton to be a robust towing machine, you may not be much different than a 3/4 ton except for the lighter duty chassis underneath. Fuel economy is going to be dictated by engine size, rear axle ratio, tire size & type as well as overall vehicle weight and everything you need to pull trailers well has some small impact on fuel economy.  But if you want to get

And a 3/4 ton diesel is a quite fuel efficient vehicle - think in terms of 19-20 mpg when not towing and 11+ mpg with a good size trailer behind it.  That's as good or better than you are going to get with a 5.4L gas engine when unloaded and probably much better than the 5.4L when loaded down.

But if you are convinced that only a half ton is right for you, look for trailers with a GVWR up to about 7000 lbs and you should be OK. The biggest of the Ford F150's can handle nearly 8000+ lbs OK.

 
F

Frizlefrak

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OK, an opinion from one of the "non-experts"....

I have a 21' Coachmen fifth wheel.  I haven't actually weighed it, but with full water tanks, camping gear, etc it probably weighs no more than 5500 or so.  I tow it (comfortably) with a 1989 Ford F250 XLT, 460 EFI auto. 

I also own a 1996 F150, 302 EFI auto.  I wouldn't dream of trying to tow the fiver with it.  Why not???

On a flat level surface with no wind, it would probably be OK.  Proabably.  But out here in the west, we have mountains.  Some of them rather large.  The last thing I want is to be coming down off the mountain from Cloudcroft to Alamogordo (5000' drop in 16 miles) and have the fiver start shoving my truck down the hill.  Not good.

Yes, there are some beefier half tonners out there these days.  But why take a chance on your safety just to save a few bucks?  What if you blow a tire?  A more substantial truck is going to have an easier time controlling the trailer.  Same if you get into a heavy crosswind situation (not a matter of if, but when).

If you really need fuel economy too....compromise.  Buy a slightly used 3/4 ton or better pickup, and get an old but reliable beater economy car to commute in.  Best of both worlds.

Good luck.
 

FleetProwl

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I have a '95 Fleetwood Prowler 21L5B fifth wheel and pull it with a '06 Silverado 1500 Ext. Cab with a 6.5' bed.  The truck has the 5300 V8 and the towing pkg. The GVRW of the 5th wheel is 5,600 lbs.  I only pulled the camper with this truck once on a local camping trip (about 50 mi. round trip).  The truck seemed to handle the camper fine, although I wish it had the 3.73 gear ratio (it has the 3.23's).  I am going to test it better this weekend when I take it out of state (about a 600 mi. round trip).  The trailer is actually about 23.5' long and has most of the options that the big 5er's have, but it is small and a little cramped on the inside.  If it had one slide, it would be a lot better, but slides add between 600-800 lbs. of weight from what I understand.  My previous truck ('93 Sierra 1500 Reg. Cab w/5.7 liter and 3.42 gears) pulled the trailer with ease, but it did squat the rear of the truck more that it does with my new truck.  If I was looking at a new 5er to pull with a 1/2 ton, two of my favorites are the Jayco Jay Flight 24.5 RBS and the K-Z 23JFS.  I would lean more toward the K-Z because it has the rear kitchen, but thats just me.  Both have a single slide and are quite roomy for short, light 5th wheels.
 

OldSoldier

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I have a 2006 Jay Flight 24.5 RBS and love it, but I tow it with a Chevy 2500HD 6.0 Gasser, 4.10 rear axel.? The set travels very well and tow performance is excellent.? While the Jay Flight Series is marketed as the "1/2 Ton Series" it really pushes things too close to the margins of a 1/2's capabilities for my comfort.

Having been a Maintenance Officer int he Army for over 30 years I tend to be rather conservative.

I wish you luck, just be Verrrrrrry careful in your selection.
 

GaryB

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OldSoldier

Thanks for your reply.  If you don't mind me asking, what kind of gas mileage do you get with the 2500/Jay Flight setup?  I'm wondering how much worse the mpg would be between a 1/2 ton and 3/4 ton when towing.  Jake told me he's getting 11-12 mpg when pulling a lightweight TT with a Ram 1500 Hemi.

Thanks
Gary
 

OldSoldier

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In May we travelled from Sierra Vista, AZ to Fools Hollow State Park in the White mountains of AZ.? It was a very mountainous trip.

Now to answer your question.? I got 11.8MPG on the way up and my wife got aobut 11.4 on the way back. (snicker-don't tell her I told you.)? Keep in mind that the 2005+ 6.0 gasser is a multi-grade engine and I use 91 octaine when trailering and 87 around town.? I was plesantly surprised.
Chevy recommends high grade octane when towing or if the engine pings.

:)
 

GaryB

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Doesn anyone know where to find published mpg figures for 3/4 and 1 ton trucks?  I just found out that the government doesn't require mpg ratings for 3/4 and 1 ton trucks.  I'm trying to do an "apples to apples" comparison of a 1500 versus 2500 to see what the difference in mpg is under the same conditions. 

Surprising I noticed from the Dodge website that the Dodge Ram 2500 has the same engine as the Ram 1500 (5.7L V8).  If that's true, are the main differences in the suspension?  If that's the case, should they both get almost the same gas mileage?

 

Gary RV_Wizard

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The gas engines and their matching transmissions are the same, whether 1/2, 3/4 or 1 ton. However, the larger gas engines and the diesels areavailable only in the 3/4 and 1 ton trucks.  The 3/4 & 1 tons are heavier and have larger tires and so get slightly less fuel mileage than the half ton models.  They are fairly close, though.  The diesels available in the larger trucks are very fuel efficient and provide excellent economy as well as outstanding power, though at a substantial extra cost.

It's true that EPA fuel economy tests are not required on 3/4 ton and larger vehicles and none of the manufacturers do them (they take a lot of time and money to perform).    The Intellichoice - Silverado 2500 website gives fuel economy figures for the Chevy 2500 3/4 ton and you can call up other makes and models as well. I don't know the source of the mpg figures, though.
 

GaryB

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Thanks RVRoamer for the good info

So it sounds like it's more of a suspension, bulk and tire issue when upgrading from the 1500 to 2500.  Hopefully that will have only a minor impact on mpg (maybe just 1 mpg max??) when operating under similar circumstances.

Gary
 

Carl L

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GaryB said:
Thanks RVRoamer for the good info

So it sounds like it's more of a suspension, bulk and tire issue when upgrading from the 1500 to 2500. Hopefully that will have only a minor impact on mpg (maybe just 1 mpg max??) when operating under similar circumstances.

Gary

Add brakes to that list.
 
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