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MDT VS Dodge 3500 DRW

Chesters Dad

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You don't need an MDT for a 17K GVW trailer, but there can be some benefits to doing so.  The benefits you get by going to a larger tow vehicle are typically in braking capacity, weight of the tow vehicle (in other words - control) and driver position. 

Braking - An MDT (or HDT) will have larger brakes or even air brakes that will allow you to stop the combination easier.  They will also have an engine brake available (depending on configuration) instead of just an exhaust brake, which is also better for overall control of speed (especially on descents).  The better braking is especially nice when trailer brakes aren't working (which happens surprisingly often with typical RV 5th wheels).

Weight - A heavier tow vehicle is not at the mercy of a heavy trailer as much as a lighter tow vehicle.  Heavy 5th wheels are often three times as heavy as a typical LDT (pick up) tow vehicle.  When 75% of the weight of your combination is in the trailer, the remaining 25% in the tow vehicle can get man handled in less than ideal circumstances like high winds, steep grades, emergency braking, etc.  With an MDT, the ratio improves and it gets even better with an HDT.  (I had a 17K 5th wheel and my HDT also weighs 17K.  That one to one weight ration leads to more control over the trailer by the tow vehicle.  My new 5th wheel is 21k, so the trailer is now a little heavier than the truck, but not by much.)

Driver Position - An MDT (or HDT) sits up higher than an LDT.  This gives you a better view of the roadway and any potential hazards.  The seating position is also usually more "comfortable".  This is due to your legs being more underneath you than stretched forward.  The taller cab in an MDT (or HDT) allows for this more ergonomic seating position.  You also have the ability to get air ride seats, cab and suspension to improve driver comfort.  Large trucks are built for the driver to run many miles and long hours around the clock (more so HDT than MDT) and to do that in comfort to prevent driver fatigue.

There are other considerations, but these are the three big ones from my perspective.  I'm sure others will have other opinions.

Again, there is no need for an MDT (or HDT) with a 17k trailer, but there are benefits to using one over using an LDT.  It is a personal choice you need to make based on your situation and your budget.

Edited by Chad Heiser
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Towed my Teton with a 2012 dually deisel. It towed it fine. Braking depends on the Teton. Teton is just shy of 21k. I had brake trouble. It didn't want to stop. Exhaust brake helped but is nothing compared to my truck now. You get a true jacbrake with a semi. I never felt in control with the dually. My Teton made it look small. I felt small. If that 17k is dry weight , you looking at 20k. I consider my towing with the dually poor judgement. My pin weight weight overloaded my springs. Had to add air bags and made ride stiff. Rather brutal. My Freightliner Century is a sweet ride and less money than I had in dually. Gets little better mpg also. You could buy a new glider for the cost of an MDT also


Edited by GlennWest
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We just made the jump to a SportChassis from our 2014 Ram 3500 DRW 4x4 crew cab long bed.  The number 1 reason we did it?   Turning radius.  We had a 2014 Big Horn 3610RE, and then moved to the 2016 Road Warrior 420.  The turning radius issue became even more problematic, especially in tighter back in situations in campgrounds.  The Ram did well with the BH, however the RW made it only feel adequate from a control and braking perspective, otherwise the truck had plenty of pulling power and comfort features.  

The second reason we did it, was at only 36k miles on the Ram destroyed it's exhaust system (DPF, cat. converter, injectors, EGR system etc) all completely replaced, under warranty and it had been in 3-4 other times for on/off performance issues related to it.  Sadly the track record on these trucks is, you will deal with it again probably out of warranty and you can choose to spend a few thousand on replacing it all stock, or doing modifications and reprogramming at some point to avoid it all. 

The rest of the justifications is as already mentioned, things like air over hydraulic brakes with much better native stopping power, the Allison transmission, air ride everything, storage - love the storage, and the loss of a true pick-up truck bed for us was no big deal, we just drag a 6x12 trailer around when we want to goto the big orange box store or whatever.

As we just learned for ourselves, if you consider this any more seriously, check into things like registration, tagging, insurance and drivers license requirements for your locale.  The item we had to navigate with difficulty was finding an insurer that wouldn't zing us as a commercial vehicle, and in Georgia we are required to have a Class E drivers license. 

Edited by Rhyph
fixes, clarifications
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I have towed 5th wheels (15k to 21k) with all three branded LDT duallys.  Our last one was the Dodge 3500 DRW and I got tired of paying good money to have things fixed (U-joints, front axle joints, EGR, etc).  With the price you pay for a newer DRW today you can get into a nice used MDT for about the same money.  We made the move to a good used MDT and absolutely love it.  One of the big things we like about the MDT is if that 20-something decides to put their little car in the space I leave open for stopping and slams on her brakes I don't end up in her trunk!  We've also put in 12-hour travel days and NEVER get sore or stiff.   It's all a personal choice - but we will never go back.  :D

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With 11+ years on the road towing our 17.2K fiver with two F350s we have no desire for a MDT or HDT, others do and that's their choice.  We did have mechanical problems with the 6.0 F350 but our current 6.7L is doing great with 75k miles.  It's a significant improvement over older 2007.  We really do not want to climb in and out of a larger tall truck or even a taller 4x4 LDT.  We also don't want a larger truck as a daily driver.  I believe I'm more mechanically familiar with a LDT and Ford dealers are everywhere if I need one.  It's great we all can chose the truck that best suits our needs.         Greg 

Edited by Big Greg
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If I could have gotten the insurance stuff worked out, I'd have had an HDT.  Turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  Physical issues could have made the HDT harder to get into/out of.  But operationally/comfort/convenience, the HDT would have been the balls!!!

If you're considering an MDT, speak to your insurance agent before you buy.  It may or may not be impactful.

Edited by remoandiris
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 1/19/2018 at 9:21 AM, Chesters Dad said:

Planning on using a 2018 Dodge DRW, which states a 30K tow capacity. Plan on towing a 40 foot 5iver front bath with its weight around 17K.  My question is if the TV can carry 30k why would I need a MDT. Thanks in advance for all the advice.

The advice you receive is limited to those who read this (& other forums) and reply.

Spend some quality time on the MDT and HDT forums (here).!!

For LDT pickups - there are several diesel (p/up truck) forums, dedicated to each brand.  Visit & read read "problems" (if there are any) owners are having, how solved, down time, etc. 

To find those , Google: (ex):  Ford Diesel Forums.

Of course - you need to decide how deep your pockets are (or need to be) for what you are considering - as well as the vehicle(s) capability for what you wish to tow.

Then *you* decide what is best for *you*.....LDT,  MDT,  HDT.

Roll on!

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Choosing a tow vehicle is like choosing your religion. Your best bet is to determine what kind of truck you want to drive and go from there. Everyone does a good job of justifing their truck decision, they all have pros and cons.


Not sure WTH happened with this post!!




Edited by gjhunter01
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