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Looking to buy a MDT


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I in the market for a new to truck. Wish a HD would work but for now this will be my daily driver also. I will be using it for my small construction business.

I'm looking for a crew or extra cab.

I have seen some really good buys on the Chevy/GM 4500/5500 trucks, but have heard they are margin a l upgrades to a standard dually. Pros/Cons of these please.

I looked at some Ford F750s with the cummins, anyone towing with one of these?

I want to be able to slide the 5th wheel as far back as possible to give clearance in the bed for our motorcycle, and no its to long to ride sideways.

What is the best hp/torque for towing with these rigs. I would rather not have to do a lot of aftermarket add-ons if I can help it.


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The GM 4500 and 5500 trucks are MDTs, but at the lower end of the segment, capacity-wise. They're Class 4 and 5 trucks. GM built heavier MDTs -- the 6500, 7500, and even the 8500 (tandem rear axle) series -- that are comparable to the common RV hauling MDTs, but I don't recall ever seeing one converted for RV service. They were primarily sold into fleets (particularly utilities, for some reason).


The Ford F650 and F750 are comparable, capacity-wise, to the more common Freightliner M2-106 and International 4400 (and older 4700 models) series trucks often seen as RV haulers.


The horsepower/torque is more subjective. What you require/might be willing to settle for is dependent on the total combined weight of your rig, where you intend to go, and how fast you want to get there. When you get into the kind of weights that require MDTs and HDTs, though, torque is far more important than horsepower. The more torque you get in whatever truck you end up with, the more satisfied you're likely to be.

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First a bit on what MDT means, it is a tax classification based on weight and not a type of truck. So a pickup with really heavy springs and tires can be an MDT as well as something very different like a small IH or Freightliner. You'll be well served to put the term MDT out of your mind while truck shopping and concentrate on the numbers and the components the truck is built with.


Don't do like some folks did and regretted and buy a truck that looks like it could pull anything but under the hood it has what is pretty much a pickup truck engine. I'm thinking primarily of the IH 4000 series that came with a 444 V8 that wasn't really suitable or larger and stronger I6 engines. The same sort of thing applied to other brands but there the usual offering was a 5.9 I6 that was not a desirable engine.


Also don't buy a pickup with really low gears to boost the towing numbers and a pickup class engine, or worse one dialed back from normal pickup power levels that will be even slower.


Second on adding power, in one of these trucks you are far better off to buy a truck with the power you want and not try adding more by tweaking things. Many surprises lurk for the unwary like the aluminum pistons in the lower power IH I6 engines that melt if pushed much past factory numbers. It has been a long time since I seriously looked but back then propane injection was the only power boosting tech that got uniformly good reports.


Ride and interior noise should be a concern to you too, many of these trucks were ordered with only enough sound proofing to meet exterior noise levels and suspensions well suited to hauling gravel for short trips. Finding a used one nicely set up or up-fitting one to be more pleasant to drive/ride takes a good bit of time and money. I've seen a few nice Peterbilt trucks come from the factory, more Freightliners but almost no IHs, many have add-on packages done by the conversion shop though.


Hitch location is pretty simple on these (IH, Freightliner Pete) type trucks, pretty much anywhere you want to mount it is fine and you'd usually want it two or three feet behind the axle anyway.


I had an IH 4000 with a 530 I6 with 275 HP and 800 torque going through a six speed Allison transmission, it was adequate to haul my 31,000 pounds up every hill and pass I came to, it might be at 35 MPH in 3rd gear but it would happily honk up the hill with no issues. I usually just set the cruise control at 2000 RPM (2200 redline) and locked it in 3rd, that let me look at scenery and enjoy the climb. A lot of other folks were not happy at that level of performance and were most unhappy to realize that like any other salesman the statements they got about never knowing the fiver is back there were bunk. It was a whole world better than my maxed out pickup and I'd done my homework so I was neither surprised or unhappy.


That is not to say I' dump $70k plus into an MDT again, with the new HDT engines and transmissions I'd be far better served by one of them today. Something for you to think about as you shop, you also might take a tape measure with you and see just how close an HDT and MDT are in size and turning circle.

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  • 1 month later...

I have a medium duty 2003 Ford F650 Super Crewzer truck all set up for towing for sale along with the fifth wheel trailer listed in the For Sale section of this web forum. Truck sale is contingent on sale of trailer of course. Truck is rated at 300 hp with a Cat 3126E motor and GCWR of 43,000 lbs. Take a look and see if this might work for you. Anxious to sell, so make an offer.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I will have to say we enjoy the 2005 Chevy Kodiak C5500. Rear axles is 19,500 lbs crew cab 2 wheel drive. I was using my 2004 2500HD with the duramax to pull our camper. The duramax pulled it fine and stopped it good. But always looked like a elephane on a VW. Our camper is a 2012 Heartland Landmark Keylargo. 41ft long and over 16,000 lbs The Kodiak is 14,000 lbs and pulls the camper with ease. Can run faster with it then you would want to run. Stop it like its not back there. Ride is good with the camper and rides like a 2 ton truck without it.

This last year I have used it as my daily driver. As its the only truck I have until I get the old one fixed up. I love driving it around as it drives good and cuts better then any pickup. Park it in normal parking spots its only 18" longer then a crewcab dually long bed. Can see out of it better then my wifes new Ram 1500. Now mine is not stock it has a 270HP RV 5.9 24 valve in it and a 6 speed allison trans. With the way its set up now 350 HP and 800+ lbs or torque.

It does everything we ask of it and gets good MPG also. I do have 150 gallons of fuel on board and love filling up when I want not when I have to.

Theres better trucks out there, but this one fits our needs . Would love to have a semi as I used to drive one for a living. But this truck can go where they can't. Plus my wife loves to drive this one and does even when towing. She will drive from West Tn to East Tn Thrusday when we head over that way to camp.

Good luck finding the right one for you. And as others have put find the best one for you. Be sure to check and recheck before jumping into one. If you can test drive a lot of different ones. But make sure its just not new to me happy. When you buy one as after you buy one and drive it a while. If you still smile like a kid everytime you see it you know its the right one.

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