Travel Trailer vs. 5th Wheel

The friendliest place on the web for anyone with an RV or an interest in RVing!
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.

Mrresearch3033

New member
Joined
May 12, 2019
Posts
3
Hi, I'm new to the forum and I have a lot of questions that hopefully you can answer, since nobody at the nearby RV dealerships could.  I'm beginning my search for either a travel trailer (24-26 ft.) or a 5th wheel (under or near 30 ft.)  I've had a travel trailer before and experienced a lot of sway even with a WD and anti sway hitch.  I was way under the towing capacity on my half ton pickup, but now I have a Ram 2500 Cummins diesel and was interested in 5th wheels as well.  I'm going to list a bunch of questions and let me thank you in advance for shedding some light on these topics.

Are all of the smaller 5th wheels designed for half ton vehicles making them unsuitable for my 3/4 ton truck with taller bedrails?  The few I've seen ride too low to be compatible with my truck.

Is a travel trailer the answer and have WD and anti sway hitches improved and by how much?

We are looking for a used travel trailer or 5th wheel for me and my wife.  Are the prices listed by dealers open to negotiation and how much?  Will they see below NADA low retail? 

My wife may be driving too ( she hasn't towed an RV yet) so would a TT or 5th wheel be better. 

We will do a lot of beach camping and may venture to other locations as we get more comfortable.

Any recommendations on models to look at that are not top of the line or the bottom?  We would like it to be as reliable as an RV can be but we are also on a budget.

I'm looking forward to your advice in our RV search.

 

Great Horned Owl

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 10, 2012
Posts
1,791
Location
Lake County, Illinois
Most of the "1/2 ton towable" 5ers, really aren't. They will most all be much better off with a 3/4 ton. Don't forget that a 5er pote 20% to 25% of its weight on the hitch. that will cause the truck to squat by several inches.

Your wife (as well as you) will find the 5er much easier to to tow. After I finally convinced my wife to try it, sh was surprised to discover that she could almost forget that it was back there.

Dealer prices are generally quite negotiable, but the amount varies considerably from dealer to dealer.

Joel
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
76,141
Location
West Palm Beach, FL
Are all of the smaller 5th wheels designed for half ton vehicles making them unsuitable for my 3/4 ton truck with taller bedrails?  The few I've seen ride too low to be compatible with my truck.
"Half ton towable" simply means the pin weight of the 5W trailer is within the range that a half ton truck may be able to handle.  In fact, only a few of the heftiest half tons can actually do that, but your 3/4 ton will no doubt be adequate for any of those labeled "lite' or "half ton towable".

Is a travel trailer the answer and have WD and anti sway hitches improved and by how much?
WD is improved these days and the better models have built-in anti-sway assist.  However, sway is mostly caused by poor trailer balance (set-up). Insufficient tongue weight is the #1 cause of trailer sway.  WD can only help so much. A properly set up travel trailer should not sway except in extreme conditions, e.g. heavy crosswinds.


We are looking for a used travel trailer or 5th wheel for me and my wife.  Are the prices listed by dealers open to negotiation and how much?  Will they see below NADA low retail?
Buying an RV is like shopping in a Turkish rug bazaar. Everything is negotiable and hyperbole (or outright lies) are common. Some dealers use higher asking prices so they can then offer discounts, special sales, or give higher trade-in values. Others maybe not so much. NADA values are not gospel as they are with cars - the book is just a depreciation guide because there is no system that tracks actual selling prices. Use NADA RV as just one source of pricng info.


My wife may be driving too ( she hasn't towed an RV yet) so would a TT or 5th wheel be better.
Each has its pros and cons.  The 5W is more stable under tow on the highway, but less responsive when backing or maneuvering. Those who don't tow much usually says a travel trailer is easier to maneuver.
 

xrated

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2016
Posts
1,149
Location
"Murvil", E. TN.
Be very careful mixing 5vers and 3/4 Ton truck's if they are diesel and are fancier truck's...I.e. Loaded up with CrewCab, 4x4, etc.  I had an F250 like that with the 6.7 diesel, CrewCab, 4x4 and the payload on that truck was a very wimpy 2148 lbs.  A 10,000 lb 5ver plus the hitch would have put me right at or slightly over on payload, and that's before adding passengers, truck bed toolbox, etc.  3/4 Ton diesels really are NOT as stout as most think they are if you want to stay within the capacity numbers
 

Roy M

Well-known member
Joined
May 31, 2017
Posts
1,400
Location
southern British Columbia
He wants to stay under 30' so his 2500 should work just fine. After having a fiver I really don't want to go back to a tt, it is much easier to hook up and unhook as well as being more stable on the highway. The only downside for me is lack of box storage space.
Pricing is a crap shoot. As Gary said NADA is just a guide as pricing varies depending on age, condition and a host of other factors. MSRP, whatever that is, and discounts are meaningless on used units. Does the dealer have a large inventory he is anxious to move? Is the market in your area strong? Shop around and get a feel for average pricing on simiilar units before talking numbers and have financing arranged in advance. No point finding what you want then be turned down by the lender. Also be aware dealer finance charges will be higher as often they will accept higher risk.
 

xrated

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2016
Posts
1,149
Location
"Murvil", E. TN.
Roy M said:
He wants to stay under 30' so his 2500 should work just fine. After having a fiver I really don't want to go back to a tt, it is much easier to hook up and unhook as well as being more stable on the highway. The only downside for me is lack of box storage space.
Pricing is a crap shoot. As Gary said NADA is just a guide as pricing varies depending on age, condition and a host of other factors. MSRP, whatever that is, and discounts are meaningless on used units. Does the dealer have a large inventory he is anxious to move? Is the market in your area strong? Shop around and get a feel for average pricing on simiilar units before talking numbers and have financing arranged in advance. No point finding what you want then be turned down by the lender. Also be aware dealer finance charges will be higher as often they will accept higher risk.

I understand, just passing along some valuable information, based on personal experience.  Knowledge is power, and could possibly help someone from making a bad decision....like I did several years ago.
 

donn

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 8, 2009
Posts
5,370
Smaller fiver with a 2500 Cummins should be no problem.  Yes, the OP will need to watch his weights, but it can be done.  Half ton towable fivers are a myth for sure.  Same for "light" fivers.  Their built light by sacrificing things, like decent size holding tanks. 
 

steveblonde

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 8, 2015
Posts
4,421
Location
calgary alberta
If the poster is looking for something with a built in genny - that 2500 may be too light as most gennies are mounted in the front and the poster did say he likes to beach camp either way its doable but some attention should be made to what that yellow decal has to say  2500 can be really stout or really soft
 

Lowell

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 15, 2005
Posts
2,221
Location
Tempe, AZ
donn said:
Same for "light" fivers.  Their built light by sacrificing things, like decent size holding tanks.

I think "Light " trailers get a undeserved bad reputation.  Yesterday , I sold my 2005 Light trailer that we had bought new in 2005. In the 14 years we had it, the only expenses were tires and bearing maintenance. The refrigerator, Microwave, furnace, water heater, stove/oven and 40 gallon holding tanks were the same as in the heavier models we looked at at the time.  I'm still amazed that the trailer could set outside the whole 14 years in the Arizona sun and dust storms, yet stay cleaner inside than our house.
 

SarniaTricia

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 15, 2018
Posts
180
Location
Amherstburg, Ontario
I think the OP should post the door sticker for his truck
Then go through the weight options that his truck can handle....

Personally, I like the extra storage space that the capped truck bed gives me.... But I'm hauling a bunch a rabbits around....
 

Mrresearch3033

New member
Joined
May 12, 2019
Posts
3
Thanks everyone for the knowledge you shared.  I'm really kicking myself in the butt after looking at the yellow door sticker and seeing that the cargo capacity is 1999 lbs.  This would  put me over the limit with 2 passengers, hitch weight, and the pin weight of even the smallest 5th wheel.  This has been quite an eye opener, since I purchased the truck with the clearly stated idea of using it to tow a 5th wheel.  The salesman was very convincing in his pitch and I fell for it.  Kind of embarrassed that I chose the username Mr research, because I obviously should have studied my truck purchase more closely. At this point I am wide open for suggestions on where to proceed from here.  Buying a more expensive truck is not an option, so I will ask those in the know to continue to assist me in my RV search.  Where do I go from here? 

Why do they sell a truck with a puck system for 5th wheel hitch installation, when it is incapable of towing the smallest 5th wheel?
 

grashley

Well-known member
Joined
May 7, 2015
Posts
6,591
Location
Western Kentucky
Welcome  to the Forum!  We are here to help.

I was in your position 4 years ago.  It is amazing how much I have learned and how much help the folks here have helped me.

Mrresearch3033 said:
Are all of the smaller 5th wheels designed for half ton vehicles making them unsuitable for my 3/4 ton truck with taller bedrails?  The few I've seen ride too low to be compatible with my truck.

Is a travel trailer the answer and have WD and anti sway hitches improved and by how much?

My wife may be driving too ( she hasn't towed an RV yet) so would a TT or 5th wheel be better. 

Any recommendations on models to look at that are not top of the line or the bottom?  We would like it to be as reliable as an RV can be but we are also on a budget.

I'm looking forward to your advice in our RV search.

In spite of the advertising, only about 2% (my estimate) of all ? ton trucks have sufficient payload to tow ANY FW once to is loaded to go camping.  Your truck CAN tow those smaller, lighter FW.  Hitches are height adjustable.  There are tricks to raising the FW as well, such as flipping the axles.

Your old camper likely was tail heavy (less than 10% of weight on the tongue), causing the sway issues.

A FW is easier to tow because the weight is directly above the axle, as is the pivot point.

One critical factor in safe towing is to not overload the tow vehicle.  There is a yellow border placard on the driver door latch post which will gibe you the PAYLOAD for YOUR truck as it left the factory.  This payload must be able to handle the FW pin wt (Ignore the literature.  Use 20% of the GVWR), the FW hitch wt (40# for the Andersen Ultimate style hitch, 200# for conventional hitch) plus the weight of all passengers, pets, car seats, firewood and cargo in the truck.  This will clearly limit your FW choices to the smaller units you are looking at.

If you were to go with a TT, the math changes dramatically.  A TT only places 10% - 12% of its GVWR on the tongue, and a WD hitch only weighs around 80#.  You can pull most ant TT out there, within reason.

As stated, a FW tows better, but once you are at the camp site, TT are more maneuverable and easier to back up into tight spots.  Properly loaded, sway should not be an issue.

The BEST model for you is the one with a floor plan you love.  Eliminate the top end expensive models, and the rest are pretty much the same.  All make some real lemons, and all make some gems within all model lines.  Buying used (I highly recommend this) lets someone else get a lemon fixed.  For used campers, CONDITION is the second most important factor.

Please read lots of posts and ask lots of questions.
 

grashley

Well-known member
Joined
May 7, 2015
Posts
6,591
Location
Western Kentucky
You posted while I typed.

You can safely tow many empty FW home from the dealership.  The gooseneck can haul lighter horse trailers.  Salesmen lie!

Do not give up!  Look at TT for the reasons I mentioned.
 

donn

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 8, 2009
Posts
5,370
While I agree you are probably better off with a TT I see every day many 2500 series truck hauling fivers.
I suggest you load the truck up like your going on a trip and drive across a set of scales.  Be sure to get front, rear and total weights.  Then look at your RAWR and subtract that from scaled rear axle weight.  Add 200 pounds for hitch and what is left over is how much pin weight you can load.  At this point tire loading comes into play.
 

RVRAC

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 11, 2012
Posts
1,512
It is sad how little salespersons in the dealers know about FW.  I once was in a RAM dealer and the guy told me a 2500 was good enough. I asked to check with the service manager.  He came back letting me know what I already knew, I needed a 3500.  That's what I bought at that time. You need to stay with a TT. Sorry.
 

rbrdriver

Well-known member
Joined
May 23, 2016
Posts
327
Location
Visalia, CA
It is amazing how few newbies towing fifth wheels think about pin weight and payload issues. All they look at is total trailer weight and max trailer hauling ability and think they got it covered. That is probably why you see so many 3/4 ton trucks pulling large fivers when you know they gotta be over on payload by a lot.  :-\
 

xrated

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2016
Posts
1,149
Location
"Murvil", E. TN.
Mrresearch3033 said:
Thanks everyone for the knowledge you shared.  I'm really kicking myself in the butt after looking at the yellow door sticker and seeing that the cargo capacity is 1999 lbs.  This would  put me over the limit with 2 passengers, hitch weight, and the pin weight of even the smallest 5th wheel.  This has been quite an eye opener, since I purchased the truck with the clearly stated idea of using it to tow a 5th wheel.  The salesman was very convincing in his pitch and I fell for it.  Kind of embarrassed that I chose the username Mr research, because I obviously should have studied my truck purchase more closely. At this point I am wide open for suggestions on where to proceed from here.  Buying a more expensive truck is not an option, so I will ask those in the know to continue to assist me in my RV search.  Where do I go from here? 

Why do they sell a truck with a puck system for 5th wheel hitch installation, when it is incapable of towing the smallest 5th wheel?

I'm so sorry to hear that....as I stated earlier, I went through the same thing several years ago before I knew anything about heavier towing.

I ended up buying a fairly large 13K GVWR tow behind toy hauler that ended up being about 1250 lbs of tongue weight when loaded (about 11.5% of the trailer loaded weight).  It's probably your best option (tow behind) since you do not want to go to a large truck.  There are some very, very nice tow behind trailers out there and hopefully you can find something that works for you guys.  Just make sure you get a good quality weight distribution hitch that is heavy enough for the tongue weight you will be putting on the truck.  Always base that weight on a fully loaded trailer, not empty weight, and set it up according to the manufacturers directions.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
76,141
Location
West Palm Beach, FL
the cargo capacity is 1999 lbs.  This would  put me over the limit with 2 passengers, hitch weight, and the pin weight of even the smallest 5th wheel.  This has been quite an eye opener, since I purchased the truck with the clearly stated idea of using it to tow a 5th wheel.  The salesman was very convincing in his pitch and I fell for it.
If it's any consolation, ignoring the cargo capacity vs pin weight is a VERY common mistake.  Most sales people don't have much truck-specific knowledge - they are the regular car sales people pushing another vehicle out the door. Salesmen tell you what you want to hear!  I've bought three new trucks and have encountered only one dealership where they had a "truck guy" who knew how to configure a truck for a given job.  All the other sales people were supposed to clear their truck sales orders through him, to make sure they weren't selling the wrong thing. But that was years ago, when the vast majority of truck sales were working vehicles.

Why do they sell a truck with a puck system for 5th wheel hitch installation, when it is incapable of towing the smallest 5th wheel?
That's a bit of an overstatement - that truck is adequate for 5W up to around 7500 lbs.  And not every trailer is a RV-type 5W either. Folks tow gooseneck or 5W utility and flat bed trailers that are balanced differently, yielding lighter pin weights.  Last, the hitch prep is part of the basic truck; the problem came when the rest of the configuration yielded a rather modest payload. A 3/4 ton can be configured for a much higher payload - 2500-3000 lbs is common. The one you bought, however, was not configured well for 5W RV towing.  That often happens when upscale trims are added, especially on crew cab models. All that extra stuff adds weight, decreasing the payload and the tow rating.

Question: Did you select the features and order the truck, or buy one off the dealer's lot?
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
76,141
Location
West Palm Beach, FL
That means the dealer chose the features on the truck rather than you, so he probably wasn't focused at all on towing parameters. His sole motivation was what would be attractive to the largest number of potential buyers, which usually means styling, creature comforts and price.
 

Latest posts

Forum statistics

Threads
123,932
Posts
1,258,133
Members
129,759
Latest member
Whatthenobo
Top Bottom