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Buying the Right Truck then 5th Wheel


raphaman

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Hello All

I'm a new member with lots of questions. I know i want a Ram 3500 to pull a 15,000 to 20,000 pound 5th wheel. It seems to me that the truck is the first buy. We are looking to make a choice (buy) in May of 2016 .... and of course a trailer very short after. We are California residents but plan to sell our home and hit the road when that is done.

 

I see us buying truck & possibly 5th wheel in Oregon to eliminate state sales tax. Anyway I know that's a lot of info but I really am looking for input so I don't make any bone head moves.

 

Thanks in advance

 

John & Debbie Nielsen :)

 

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Welcome to Escapees. It is not as simple as selling the house and then buying an RV in Oregon to avoid sales tax. You are going to need to establish a domicile or set up an LLC.

 

As for getting the truck first, you need to know what size and weight trailer you will be getting so you get an adequately sized truck, If you are going full time, you need to get a large enough trailer and a trailer rated for full time use. This will be a heavier trailer than the standard weekend and vacation trailer, so you will need to start looking a 350/3500, 1 ton dual rear wheel trucks as a minimum. A single rear wheel truck will limit the size and weight trailer you get.

 

For the Ram 3500, you will probably need to order it to get the Aisian transmission, the 4.10 axle and the payload package for the larger trailers. The dealers do not stock them.

 

Ken

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Hi Ken

Thanks. I've followed your responses for a month or so and I appreciate your work. So I wanted to let you know that.

 

I totally get it about the truck and I need to be thinking about the max on a Ram 350 I'm trying to get the right specs for a large full time 5th wheel. I took a test drive today in a Ram 3500 SLT 6.71 Diesel with Dualies. On the paper work it lists towing capacity at 7,697kg (16,970lbs) Does sound enough or do I need more?

 

John

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In the case of buying any towable RV, I think it is best to defy conventional wisdom and literally put the cart before the horse. You need to select your RV for liveability for you, especially if you are going to fulltime in it. If you read the topics on this forum, you will note that it is even possible to end up with a 5th wheel that will exceed the weight ratings of a singled out Class 8 truck.

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Huuuum.. buying the trailer before the truck. I'm looking at Grand Design or maybe Redwood by Thor. So I've got some kind of Idea of the trailer type. I just want to know that the upgraded Ram 350 with Aisin output option, 4.10 axle & payload package will do it. I'd love your thoughts

 

John

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There are reasons most fulltimers domicile in TX, FL or SD. For most of us, it's because those three offer the lowest tax/fee alternatives, are friendly to people who domicile there with a mailing address instead of a physical residence and have health care options. For those who are not Medicare eligible, SD is usually off the list since they don't offer nationwide health insurance. You will be expected to register the vehicle in the state where you reside and sort out the sales tax based on where purchased and where you domicile. If you are currently a resident of CA trying to buy in OR to avoid sales tax, and register in SD you are at least going to make things more complicated for yourself, if not find yourself on the wrong side of the law.

 

Figure out wher you want to domicile, sort that out, then figure out how where to buy.

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Welcome to the Escapee forums! I think that you will find a lot of experience and sound advice here.

 

There have been several who discussed the truck/trailer issue with sound advice so I'll make only a couple of points. Keep in mind first that the trailer weight that you need to base your truck upon is the GVWR or maximum loaded weight and not the dry or unladen weights. And if you buy the truck first, you will then have limited your options in your choice of trailer so many of us pick the trailer first, just to be sure that we will have enough truck. Also remember that it is not wise to buy a truck which will be towing near its maximum weight all of the time, since maximums are just that and are not recommended weights for constant towing. It is much better to have enough truck to keep the loaded trailer weight at or below 80% of the trucks GVWR and GCWR.

 

On the issue of sales tax on the RV & truck purchase, sales tax on vehicles is paid in the place where you register the vehicle, which means where you have an address. If you buy while living in CA and register them you will need to do that in CA and pay the taxes there. To avoid the problem you need to first establish an address somewhere else and then begin the process of making it your domicile. I suggest that you read this article about choosing a domicile that was published in Escapees magazine some time back. In order to avoid paying CA taxes you will need to have an established address somewhere else and then keep the vehicles outside of CA until you depart the state and are no longer a legal resident of the state.

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Yep. There are some limits to how long since you buy before you can switch states and not have to pay a catch-up sales tax.

 

As for the chicken or egg issue. A lot of research has long convinced me that people that are really serious about buying an RV just once, have to develop a lot of perspective and pseudo experience to get it right on first buy. Most end up changing RVs 1 or more times before they are "settled" in the right choice.

 

We seriously looked for an RV for 3 years before we bought our rig in 2003.. after buying the "ultimate" F350 dually that would haul "anything". It wouldn't... Well it could have pulled a freight train but not off the rails. During that time, we were "certain" about several different rigs before we got our real needs dialed in with our wants. We spent a lot of time just dry sitting in models both new and used even though we were pretty sure we would buy used. It is more about imagining how you will actually BE in it for years before you start discovering little things are missing or in the way which you just happened to notice on another unit.

 

A final decision factor for the RV was that it had to feel like HOME every time we walked in. It wasn't all just about the specs and the glitz and the price. What you find and what size and weight it is will dictate the truck you really need to be comfortable with it. You will quickly start dreading the next move if previous moves always end with white knuckles and a neck ache or an argument.

 

A year after buying the RV we bought the Volvo 770 and have been completely happy with both ever since. At the time, the Volvo with 562k miles was less expensive than a used F550 of the same age. WE took a hit to get rid of the F350 but we don't stress about the next move, either.

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Get the towing guide for your truck and pull out the numbers for the equipment you are going to order on it. That is the maximum safe set of weights, for a fiver the rear axle and combined weights are usually the most critical. Things like the tow rating and cargo capacity are usually iffy, calculated with only a 150 pound driver, little fuel and flat ground with no wind. You'll need to keep the unrealistic situation in mind as you use anything but the maximum weights in your calculations.

 

Get the weight of the truck as equipped and factor in your body weights, full fuel, hitch and any cargo to get a starting point there. For the fiver most folks suggest going with the maximum rated weight for it. Seems high but as most of us have found out it doesn't take long until you are at that weight as you add things you forgot or find you need down the road.

 

So if your calculated weights come out to less than 100% of the truck's axle, gross and combined weights the truck will meet the minimums the manufacturer feels are safe for braking, acceleration and handling.

 

Now for my personal experience, I did exactly what I wrote above and it was a horrible error. I tried to fix my problems by adding an exhaust brake, air levelers and a pile of Banks Power parts. The wife hated it and refused to drive it except under perfect conditions and I didn't enjoy driving it. The solution was a new higher rated truck and taking a bath on the trade as well as the expensive band-aids I'd added on.

 

I'd recommend using 80% of the combined weight as your maximum, that is the real scale combined weight too - not the estimated weights you get from the sales fliers.

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Opinions are like noses, everyone has one, so here's mine.

 

If you get a HDT you'll be able to tow anything you can afford.

 

If you get a 3500/350 dually you'll be able to tow 90% of the 5vers out there.

 

If you get the same truck but not dually you'll be able to tow 75% of the 5vers out there.

 

So, you won't be making a truck mistake with any of the above although your choice will be somewhat limiting.

 

Of course, if you plan on getting a 42' toy hauler so you can carry your rock collection around with you all bets are off!

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Class 6 MDT Crew cab or HDT! :D

 

Spending 1/2 the cost of a new RAM, and getting So Much More! ... I just can't put into words how safe, secure, and confident I felt towing our new home!

 

 

 

I post this link because I have an 2004 M2! :D ... and it has quite a few rigs to drool over! :lol:

 

http://www.rvclearinghouse.com/listings/view/17/toters-and-trucks-2004-freightliner-m2-106/13083

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One more think to be careful about. Have you & Debbie taken time to seriously consider all types of RV out there, or are you only shopping for fifth wheels? The reason for the question is that if you have little or no RV experience, you would be very wise to spend some time just considering all of the different types of RV available. In particular you should walk through some class A rigs but all types warrant at least a look through just to know what is available. There have been many a couple who found exactly what they believed that they wanted without spending time in any but one type, who soon after buying discovered that they could have found something which worked much better and while they were happier in, but of an entirely different RV type.

 

There are many people who will tell you that different types of RV work better for particular styles of travel, but in more than 35 years of RVing we have found that choice between a motorhome and a trailer is more a matter of individual taste and priority than of any logical process. To trade RVs is an expensive proposition, so take some time and make sure that you are looking at the type which really will suit you and Debbie the most.

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Hi John Again

On the sales tax. I'm a little confused. How do I take advantage of the no sales tax option. Can I buy the truck in Oregon then do domicile. We were thinking South Dakota for a domicile.

 

John

 

You can certainly buy the rig in Oregon and not pay sales tax there. However, you will pay sales tax when you go to register it in whatever state you've selected as a domicile. South Dakota will collect 3% (seems I've read something within the past year that SD raised this to 4%???), Texas will collect 6.25%, and I don't know what Florida's tax is upon registering vehicles.

 

One thing to check into before making South Dakota your domicile if you are not yet on Medicare...health insurance. It's nearly impossible for fulltimers who do not reside in South Dakota at least 6 months every year to get pre-Medicare health insurance. If you can find it, it will cost an arm and a leg plus your first-born child!

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Basics for understanding Match Truck to Trailer

It is important to understand the concepts you will be dealing with so that you can make good sound decisions.

This will also show you where to get the numbers which you need to consider.

We all want an easy answer to this question (Will this truck work...) but there is no easy answer.

Getting real scale weights is the best information. Everyone loads differently. Stanley and Budd give good sound counsel to consider.

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Grew up tenting, back of pickup with topper, pop-up camper, small trailer, big trailer, medium size motorhome.

DH & I finally tried a fiver & pickup. Driving the pair was terrible. Even though the size combination was right,

they were not compatible. Individually they were great. Then I found the HDT forum here. Research, look,

research, look, research, buy an HDT. Pulled the fiver great. NO issues. Fiver was smaller than the truck, so

we ended up getting a 40' fiver with 3 slides. Dh is a tool-nut & we ended up with most of his hand-tools plus

anything else that fit. For us, it was the factor that we could stop securely, not that we could pull. Being able to

stop safely was more important than being able to pull. For the size rig you want to pull, an MDT or HDT would

be better and safer. They come as automatics now & while they look big, are big, they are easily drivable by

you or YOUR WIFE. Plus a nice HDT would be as cheap as the big pickup and last a lot longer.

My thoughts only. yours are entitled to be different. Make sure your other half agrees and helps with the research.

Selma

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Think about how much time you will be spending in each. You will likely be spending many times more time in your RV than in the Tow vehicle. Add to that the ongoing maintenance requirements of each and you can feel the money dribbling out of your pocket on the tow vehicle even when it is sitting for weeks or months.

To us, it is way more important to have the right Trailer to start with. That will dictate what the most appropriate tow vehicle should be. Picking the tow vehicle first may force compromises in your long term satisfaction with your daily living space, cause an upgrade to the TV or make moving it all far more risky than it should be.

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You can never have too much truck. Barring willful ignorance, we all make our tradeoffs in size, price, trailer, truck, or both. Of them all, you can never have too much truck.

 

I don't think I ever heard anyone complain that their truck was too big, but many say they are not big enough.

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Welcome to the Escapee forums! I think that you will find a lot of experience and sound advice here.

 

There have been several who discussed the truck/trailer issue with sound advice so I'll make only a couple of points. Keep in mind first that the trailer weight that you need to base your truck upon is the GVWR or maximum loaded weight and not the dry or unladen weights. And if you buy the truck first, you will then have limited your options in your choice of trailer so many of us pick the trailer first, just to be sure that we will have enough truck. Also remember that it is not wise to buy a truck which will be towing near its maximum weight all of the time, since maximums are just that and are not recommended weights for constant towing. It is much better to have enough truck to keep the loaded trailer weight at or below 80% of the trucks GVWR and GCWR.

 

On the issue of sales tax on the RV & truck purchase, sales tax on vehicles is paid in the place where you register the vehicle, which means where you have an address. If you buy while living in CA and register them you will need to do that in CA and pay the taxes there. To avoid the problem you need to first establish an address somewhere else and then begin the process of making it your domicile. I suggest that you read this article about choosing a domicile that was published in Escapees magazine some time back. In order to avoid paying CA taxes you will need to have an established address somewhere else and then keep the vehicles outside of CA until you depart the state and are no longer a legal resident of the state.

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Yep. There are some limits to how long since you buy before you can switch states and not have to pay a catch-up sales tax.

 

As for the chicken or egg issue. A lot of research has long convinced me that people that are really serious about buying an RV just once, have to develop a lot of perspective and pseudo experience to get it right on first buy. Most end up changing RVs 1 or more times before they are "settled" in the right choice.

 

We seriously looked for an RV for 3 years before we bought our rig in 2003.. after buying the "ultimate" F350 dually that would haul "anything". It wouldn't... Well it could have pulled a freight train but not off the rails. During that time, we were "certain" about several different rigs before we got our real needs dialed in with our wants. We spent a lot of time just dry sitting in models both new and used even though we were pretty sure we would buy used. It is more about imagining how you will actually BE in it for years before you start discovering little things are missing or in the way which you just happened to notice on another unit.

 

A final decision factor for the RV was that it had to feel like HOME every time we walked in. It wasn't all just about the specs and the glitz and the price. What you find and what size and weight it is will dictate the truck you really need to be comfortable with it. You will quickly start dreading the next move if previous moves always end with white knuckles and a neck ache or an argument.

 

A year after buying the RV we bought the Volvo 770 and have been completely happy with both ever since. At the time, the Volvo with 562k miles was less expensive than a used F550 of the same age. WE took a hit to get rid of the F350 but we don't stress about the next move, either.

Woow gives me lots to think about.. I'll keep you posted . John

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You can certainly buy the rig in Oregon and not pay sales tax there. However, you will pay sales tax when you go to register it in whatever state you've selected as a domicile. South Dakota will collect 3% (seems I've read something within the past year that SD raised this to 4%???), Texas will collect 6.25%, and I don't know what Florida's tax is upon registering vehicles.

 

One thing to check into before making South Dakota your domicile if you are not yet on Medicare...health insurance. It's nearly impossible for fulltimers who do not reside in South Dakota at least 6 months every year to get pre-Medicare health insurance. If you can find it, it will cost an arm and a leg plus your first-born child!

Thanks for that information. I'm 70 and my wife Debbie is 57. She retires next year and will use COBRA, good for 3 years. So I think the SD will work

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