Matching truck to camper

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Rosamindy

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I just bought a Travel Lite slide in camper, 2004 (I think the model is 890 something or other) from a used-camper lot.  The dealer said it would fit onto my Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab just fine, and it should be able to carry it well.  He suggested and installed air bags to beef up my suspension.  However, when my husband drove it home, he said it made the truck sway quite a bit, and felt very topheavy.  I'm very new to this (this is my first RV), and don't know if this is normal.  I want to drive this to Disney World this winter solo, but don't know if I should risk such a long road trip with this combination.  Any insight out there?
 

Carl L

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Not a truck camper type myself, but when you said....

The dealer said it would fit onto my Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab just fine, and it should be able to carry it well.  He suggested and installed air bags to beef up my suspension.

....the red flags went up.    How do you tell when a dealer is lying?  His lips move.  And then you said....

However, when my husband drove it home, he said it made the truck sway quite a bit, and felt very top heavy.  I'm very new to this (this is my first RV), and don't know if this is normal.

... and the sirens went off.

First thing is get the  the gross vehicle weight rating of the truck.  Check on the plate on the drivers side door.  It should give it and both axle maximums.  Now you need the weight of that camper.  It may be somewere on the rig itself on a plate but it is better to actually weigh the truck and camper as loaded to travel. 

Go to a public truck scale.*  Tell the weighmaster that you want two weights and that you do not need certified weights.  Pull the truck fully on to the scale and get that weight.  Then pull the truck's front wheels off the scale, leaving the rear wheels on the scale and get that weight.

If the first weight, the total weight,  is greater than the gross vehicle weight rating of the truck, there is nothing you can do.  You have a mismatched camper and truck.  It will be unsafe to operate.

If the second weight, the rear axle weight,  is greater than the rear axle gross axle weight rating, but not by much, beefing up the springing and shocks may help.  I would consult a shop that specializes in suspensions and alignments or a Dodge dealer that sells a lot of trucks.    If the weight discrepancy is too high this condition may not be curable either.

If all the weights are in specs, then I would recommend looking into heavier duty shocks and maybe airbags.  The 1500, like the GMC 1500s or the Ford F-150 are light duty trucks, with a compromise between load carrying and passenger car ride.  A 2500/250 class of truck will be a lot happier with any camper bigger than a camper shell.

Hopefully actual truck campers will butt in here and give some advice.  In any case you are right to be anxious.


[*Public scales are found at truck stops, terminals, contractors rental yards, and such.  Look in your yellow pages, or, better yet, your local business yellow pages.]

 

 
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Rosamindy,
Only the lightest truck campers can be carried on a half ton (1500 series) truck. Get it weighed as Carl advises - this is really crucial to your safety!

The current year Travel Lite 890 model campers weigh between 1640 and 1820 lbs "dry", which means empty and with no propane or water in the tanks. Travel Lite specs  That's quite likely in excess of  the max payload of your Dodge 1500.  The Quad  cabs typically have a lower payload and regular cabs because the body is heavier.  A quick check of the 2007 models shows payloads as low as 1300 lbs for 150 Quads, which would mean your truck is dangerously overloaded.  Get to that scale but drive extremely carefully!
 

Rosamindy

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Thank goodness you guys are here!  I checked out with the Chrysler company, and my little truck is only rated for 1275 lbs payload!  The camper weighs in excess of 1900 lbs!  It was an accident waiting to happen...no wonder it swayed so badly.  Too bad I can't get my money back on this...it was a private sale with the dealer acting on commission, so it looks like I'l stuck.  Anyone want to buy a beatiful, almost-new camper? :'(
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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First of all, the dealer was acting as the seller's agent (that's why he got a commission) and so shares in the  responsibility for the transaction.    Since he is in the business of buying and selling campers, the law presumes him to be (or should be) knowledgeable enough to give proper advice.  When the dealer represented to you that your truck was adequate for the camper, he committed a  gross error that put you at a severe safety risk.  I think you have a very strong case to get your money back - I'm sure a lawyer would happly take the case.  And the dealer likely has insurance for "errors and omissions" commited in the course of doing business.

Go have a talk with the dealer. Try the reasonable approach first but don't be afraid to push if he tries to evade responsibility. Or perhaps the dealer could help you get a truck that will carry the camper safely.
 

Ron

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Gary is correct even though it was a private sale the dealer received a commission therefore is responsible for giving you bad advise putting you and your family at risk of possible injury or worse.  If the dealer doesn't settle to your satisfaction best to see a lawyer.  These type of dealers could cause you or somebody else serious injury or death by giving out bad advise to make a sell.
 

ZuniJayne

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Rosamindy,

The previous answers about NOT believing RV dealers are correct.  Weight limits are VERY important.

For example, I would love to put a 10.5 ft Arctic Fox camper on my 1993 Ford F250 truck.  However, the DRY weight of this camper is over 3000 pounds.  This combination is a recipe for *disaster* by overloading my truck, even with air bags and other marginal supports.
 

PancakeBill

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For what it is worth, w will not sell an overweight combination, we have forms for all the weights, the truck capacity, dry weight, net weight etc.  My sales manager looks this over, and if the net was not enough he won't approve the sale. 

Air bags are great, but they don't increase capacity.

Why not hold onto the camper and get a heavier duty truck? 
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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or what it is worth, w will not sell an overweight combination, we have forms for all the weights, the truck capacity, dry weight, net weight etc.  My sales manager looks this over, and if the net was not enough he won't approve the sale.

Glad to hear that, Bill.  Nice to find a dealership that makes sure the customer will be safe.  I suspect, however, that the forms and the sales manager approval came into being after prevous experiences with salesmen who were a bit too glib.  ::)
 

PancakeBill

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Not sure about that, just know the policy.  We have customers that tell ius wrong info, we rely on the Trailer Life or manufacturers specs. 

Amazing, customers are pretty much split between "My truck will pull anything" to "Only show me what I can safely pull" 

 

Carl L

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PancakeBill said:
Not sure about that, just know the policy.? We have customers that tell ius wrong info, we rely on the Trailer Life or manufacturers specs.?

Amazing, customers are pretty much split between "My truck will pull anything" to "Only show me what I can safely pull"?

Bravo to you and your dealership, sir.

As far as trucks that will haul anything.  I know of only one type.  Picture attached.

 

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Ron

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Carl Lundquist said:
Bravo to you and your dealership, sir.

As far as trucks that will haul anything.? ?I know of only one type.? Picture attached.

Yep would probably haul anything but wouldn't go as fast as the F150.? Would take for ever to get where your going at 35 MPH. ;D ;D  That truck only has three speeds; slow, slower, and slowest.  ;D :D ;)
 

Carl L

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But shoot man, that bad boy has a maximum CC of 840,000 lbs.? ?That'll carry most any slide in camper and Tom's boat besides. ?3-4000 kegs of Bud too.  ?Up a 10% grade on a dirt road no less.

Can't have everthang, yew know. 8)
 

ZuniJayne

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Greetings, all....

I did have a crazy idea for a pickup camper sorta thing.  I have an '01 Arctic Fox 26X travel trailer with a slideout.  Its actually a great rig, but now I want to take my little 4WD with me when I travel.  I definitely don't want to tow the 4WD behind the Fox behind my truck.  Too long, too heavy and dangerous.

However, I thought  = what if I got a good used flatbed cabover truck rated under 26k, and put the Fox on that, sans axles?  As long as the truck chassis wasn't too far off the ground, the Fox wouldn't be too high in the air.  Then I could tow the 4WD along behind it.  I don't have a Class A license but I do have lots of trucking experience.

Anyone ever see such a combination???
 

ZuniJayne

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Carl,

Go and take a look at the tank plumbing on that Fox and think about it.

I did, and as long as the flatbed (or just the chassis rails) has enough clearance on each side, I could work with it.  One good thing about a Fox is the tanks are completely closed and insulated.

Yea, a motorhome might work, but most of them don't have high enough clearance for where I want to go.  :)  Besides, they are a lot more expensive than a good used flatbed.
 
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