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Can a 2500HD Chevy pull a 5th Wheel?


Cosmo Kramer
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It can, depending on the weight of the 5er. My first 5er I pulled with an f-250 diesel as it had a higher towing capacity than gas model. While is was well within the truck capabilities there were times when I was white knuckling it. We now have an F-350 diesel dually and I can tell I would never go back to an F-250. 

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The biggest issue with the 250/2500 class of trucks is the GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Rating) of the rear axle. 

Especially with a diesel engine (which are very heavy) there is often not enough additional capacity in the rear axle to handle the pin weight of even a moderate sized fifth wheel.  The two trailers that you mention seem to gross around 14,000 pounds (ignore the empty weight!!), and would overload the rear axle on virtually all 250/2500 trucks. 

I wouldn't even consider a 3/4 ton truck for towing a fifth wheel. Often the SRW (Single Rear Wheel) one-tons are only a few hundred dollars more and offer a significant GAWR bump. We pulled a 15000 pound fifth wheel for 10+ years of fulltiming with a SRW F-350 and never felt under-trucked. Many would recommend a dually in that weight range, and they do give significantly more RAWR.

 

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56 minutes ago, Cosmo Kramer said:

We are thinking about buying either the Keystone  Cougar 364BHL or the Forrest River Sabre 38DBQ. 

Of those two I would pick the Sabre because the seating actually faces the TV and I'm not fond of getting a crick in my neck when watching movies.

Linda

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As noted, a 3.4 ton has less payload and rear axle capacity than a SRW 1 ton.  Approximately 20% of the 5ers GVWR will be on the pin of a loaded 5er.  You cannot just go by maximum tow rating.  You also have to make sure the pin weight does not overload the rear axle of the truck.  Go ahead and get a 1 ton SRW and you are not as limited on the selection of trailers.

Ken

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You need to look at weights and limits to see what you need. The cost difference from a 2500-3500 is minimal. Are you full timing or going on long extended trips? I researched this for a while. Number 1 rule is always have more truck then you need. As when you start pushing the limits, things break more often and you feel it while driving and get whit knuckle syndrome. Are you planning on curvy mountain roads? A DRW is so much more stable on windy roads and high winds. 
People also have upgraded rigs that were heavier. Then you stuck selling a not old truck early to buy one that can do more. There is a TON of reading on this. It all goes back to rule number 1, get more truck then you need. You, your family and everyone that you drive next to will be safer. Plus you will spend less in maintenance and repair.

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A 3/4 ton can pull those trailers until the cows come home but can it take the wieght over the rear axle? The GVWR will tell you that and I doubt that you'd be within the GVWR of the 3/4 ton. I pulled a 35 ft 5th wheel with a 3/4 ton and I was over the GVWR by a few hundred pounds and really didn't feel comfortable. We bought a 1 ton dually, crew cab, long box and the comfort range went way up. Do your homework and get a truck that will do the job and is safe. Putting air shocks or bags under the rear end does not change the GVWR at all. It just makes the rear end level up. Be safe.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 6/17/2021 at 10:12 AM, Cosmo Kramer said:

Thank you for your responses!!! We had a feeling the 2500 wasn’t going to be enough. I’m going to look at the 3500 single wheel Chevys instead. If I do this, I want to make sure I do it safely. 

If you are looking at new ones plan on about 5K or more above MSRP. Even the used ones are going for top dollar. Ran into a guy at the grocery store the other day. He has a 2021 GMC 3500 Denali Dually Duramax just like mine. I bought mine before the chip shortage with the veteran discount and it was 8K under MSRP. His was 6K OVER MSRP. Just food for thought if you haven't priced any yet. FYI GM did away with the awesome veteran and first responder discount in May 2021. These trucks are hard to find.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I full timed for seven years with a 1 ton diesel dually Ram/Cummins 5.9. I had a flat on a rear tire and did not know it until my next stop in Albuquerque NM. The tire next to it held up that side fine.

In winds, even strong winds, it was nailed to the road and the fiver did not wobble the truck.

Dual rear wheels are not good in sand, snow, or mud. However, I did not plan to ever take a 36 foot HitchHiker fiver and a long bed diesel dually on snow or sand. Nor go four wheeling with it. 😉😎

I really prefer the long bed trucks for full time RVing and no special hitches needed. As well, since it was my daily driver, I got rid of the one short bed RAM I tried because it rode like a truck off load. The long beds ride better when not towing and in town. But better, with the hitch in the bed, I had room up front for a 64 gallon transfer flow diesel tank, wood blocks, Propane cylinder in a milk crate, BBQ, and sewer hoses in the protective tubing, as well as my wood blocks for the front landing gear and leveling wood and blocks.

But now, if we part time, it will be a very small trailer and a small truck is fine.

You can never have too much truck.

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 Been there done that_for one trip.

A 3/4T pickup will feel safe with 12,000# GVW 5er. W traded for a 15,500#GVW 5er and it was waay too much weight for my 3/4T diesel pickup to safely handle. Gentle upgrades dropped speed at WOT, and downgrades were tense situations. Did I mention towing was tense?

The day after we returned home I began looking and a week later bought a 1T dually Duramax diesel. Once again traveling and towing our 5er was pleasure instead of tense.

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  • 1 month later...

We made one trip with my 1-ton single tire RAM when we got our old 5er.  It was a 17k gross toy hauler.  Only moderate grades on that trip, but I was so white knuckled driving is scared my wife. 

My one-ton is an older Cummins-RAM with aftermarket exhaust brake and high strength exhaust springs and a tuned 12-valve engine.  She pulled the trailer just fine, but stopping or any type of emergency maneuvering was sketchy at best.

We skipped ahead directly to an HDT for fa fraction of the money for a new (or even newer used) dually.  Best decision we ever made.

Edited by Av8r3400
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2 hours ago, griffinmike said:

Real simple... read the chevy towing specs!!!!

That may sound simple, but the Chevy towing specs aren't written by real world users, they're written by marketing people. They only care about selling trucks, not white knuckles and pucker factors. Jay

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23 hours ago, Av8r3400 said:

We made one trip with my 1-ton single tire RAM when we got our old 5er.  It was a 17k gross toy hauler.  Only moderate grades on that trip, but I was so white knuckled driving is scared my wife. 

My one-ton is an older Cummins-RAM with aftermarket exhaust brake and high strength exhaust springs and a tuned 12-valve engine.  She pulled the trailer just fine, but stopping or any type of emergency maneuvering was sketchy at best.

We skipped ahead directly to an HDT for fa fraction of the money for a new (or even newer used) dually.  Best decision we ever made.

No sense of trying to tell people about HDT's. If the spec says it will do it it will do it. I wish people would just try a pull in HDT to see the difference before they pull out the spec sheet.

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On 8/20/2021 at 8:56 AM, Av8r3400 said:

We made one trip with my 1-ton single tire RAM when we got our old 5er.  It was a 17k gross toy hauler.  Only moderate grades on that trip, but I was so white knuckled driving is scared my wife. 

My one-ton is an older Cummins-RAM with aftermarket exhaust brake and high strength exhaust springs and a tuned 12-valve engine.  She pulled the trailer just fine, but stopping or any type of emergency maneuvering was sketchy at best.

We skipped ahead directly to an HDT for fa fraction of the money for a new (or even newer used) dually.  Best decision we ever made.

Not every wants or needs a HDT.  Just use some common sense and make sure the truck is within ratings to tow the trailer you want.

Ken

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Per the last 2 comments, I wasn't going to say anything but now I must. 

1st comment, I wish people would just try a pull in HDT.  I wish people would go through real world training to operate a heavy vehicle designed for commercial use first.  These things are not light pick-ups and require a different skill set to operate safely for themselves and all others on the road.  Your years ahead with training.

2nd comment, Not every wants or needs a HDT.  You can now get pick-ups with up to 36k and higher GCWR, are campers/RVs really getting that heavy?  Even living full time in an RV, one that big/heavy?  I could say more but I don't want to offend...

My comments come from being properly trained and a retired driver.  I have seen plenty of properly trained drivers get into bad situations, I can't imagine how much worse it could have been if a rookie/non-experienced operator would have been at the wheel.  I shudder every time I see/hear someone goes to a dealer/private sales and drives off in an HDT, having no training/experience operating a heavy truck.  Everyone should be required to go through a school to be trained before receiving a license to operate an HDT whether for commercial or personal/RV.  I shudder every time I see one going down the road, whether I'm in a car, truck, or truck pulling a camper, I do my best to get away from them.  I know the damage an HDT can/does do, it only takes one moment, one oh-poop moment to ruin a day/life.  Won't be me involved in that mess.

The above IMHO, everyone has their opinion but I can see someone getting upset over my beliefs.

 

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5 minutes ago, noteven said:

For 350/3500 trucks and down, best towing performance is achieved by taking the MAX tow rating and multiply it by decimal 5 (.5).

 

That's pretty much my approach to most tools. A beefy tool used lightly will have loads of safety margin available and with such a light duty cycle, will last a very long time. Using that philosophy with my HDT, it's still going great at almost 2 million miles. Jay

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7 hours ago, NDBirdman said:

Per the last 2 comments, I wasn't going to say anything but now I must. 

1st comment, I wish people would just try a pull in HDT.  I wish people would go through real world training to operate a heavy vehicle designed for commercial use first.  These things are not light pick-ups and require a different skill set to operate safely for themselves and all others on the road.  Your years ahead with training.

2nd comment, Not every wants or needs a HDT.  You can now get pick-ups with up to 36k and higher GCWR, are campers/RVs really getting that heavy?  Even living full time in an RV, one that big/heavy?  I could say more but I don't want to offend...

My comments come from being properly trained and a retired driver.  I have seen plenty of properly trained drivers get into bad situations, I can't imagine how much worse it could have been if a rookie/non-experienced operator would have been at the wheel.  I shudder every time I see/hear someone goes to a dealer/private sales and drives off in an HDT, having no training/experience operating a heavy truck.  Everyone should be required to go through a school to be trained before receiving a license to operate an HDT whether for commercial or personal/RV.  I shudder every time I see one going down the road, whether I'm in a car, truck, or truck pulling a camper, I do my best to get away from them.  I know the damage an HDT can/does do, it only takes one moment, one oh-poop moment to ruin a day/life.  Won't be me involved in that mess.

The above IMHO, everyone has their opinion but I can see someone getting upset over my beliefs.

 

I see how a high percentage of truckers run now days. If it wasn't for the rumble strips on the side of the road they would go in the ditch. I run  I80 a lot is where I get my observation.

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14 hours ago, Jaydrvr said:

That may sound simple, but the Chevy towing specs aren't written by real world users, they're written by marketing people. They only care about selling trucks, not white knuckles and pucker factors. Jay

What? The specs are made by the engineers not the marketing people. If this were the case every pick up could tow a million pounds. 

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In answer to the question posed in the title. Yes it can. Would I do it? Probably not full time, but part time for sure. Each of us have different situations, needs and desires. I am much more happy pulling my home now than I was with the prior trailer and an F350. I do miss my truck (the 1999 F350), but know where it is and what it's still doing, so that's OK. I could not pull my current home with a one car garage and a one motorcycle garage in addition to ample living area for a single guy with anything other than an HDT. That's my situation, need and desire. 

 

Rod

ps. My HDT is still less expensive than any 2500, F250, 3500 or F350. It does not always happen that way, but for me it did. 

rl

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