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Old 10-12-2012, 08:31 AM   #1
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GMC Sierra 3500HD vs. Ford F450 for fifth wheel towing

I am looking for a tow vehicle to pull a 36’ Mobiles Suites with a GVWR of 18,500#. I am looking closely at either a 2012 GMC Sierra 3500 HD or a 2012 Ford F450. In either case, it would be a diesel dually. In looking at the specs for both trucks, either of them would easily exceed my needs in terms of 5th wheel towing capacity, GCWR, and axle weight ratings. However, I am somewhat concerned with the maximum payload of the F450. The GMC 3500 has a GVWR of 13,025# and a curb weight of 7,285#, leaving a payload of 5,740#. The F450 has a GVWR of 13,300# and a curb weight of 8,178#, leaving a payload of only 5,122#. If my Mobile Suites was fully loaded at its GVWR and 25% of the weight was on the pin, the pin weight alone would be 4,625#. By the time I add in the weight of the hitch, passengers, fuel and any cargo in the truck, I am concerned that I could exceed the F450’s maximum payload. Although I wouldn’t intend to max out the weight of the 5th wheel nor have 25% of the trailer weight on the pin, I am wondering how concerned I should be with the F450’s lower payload.
While I realize that truck owners tend to be extremely loyal to their own brands, I would be interested to hear the pros and cons of each of the trucks I am considering for towing a fifth wheel with a 18,500# GVWR. Thanks!
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Old 10-12-2012, 09:43 AM   #2
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Folks pull that load with a 3500 dually just fine. I've seen that load pulled with non-dually's. The 450 would be a better choice. Freightliner would be the best choice. The weight police will be along shortly.
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Old 10-12-2012, 10:09 AM   #3
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My triler weighs around 17K pounds. I had a 2002 GMC 3500. Back then GM only put a 3:73 rear gear in the 3500. I have not researched what they do now. But my 3500 had difficulty pulling my trailer up steeper hills, that was in eastern PA which does not have mountains like found in other parts of the counrty. I traded for a 2006 F-350 with 4:30 (Tow Boss Package) gears and it pulled great. I just got a 2012 F-450. Why, because the F-350;s only came with the 3:73 gears. The F-450 comes with 4:30's.

If the new 3500's come with shrter gears than 3:73, it should do fine.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old 10-12-2012, 05:35 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GordonPC View Post
The GMC 3500 has a GVWR of 13,025# and a curb weight of 7,285#, leaving a payload of 5,740#. The F450 has a GVWR of 13,300# and a curb weight of 8,178#, leaving a payload of only 5,122#.
Did you not stop to think why an F-450 pickup would weigh 893 pounds more than a similar truck from Government Motors (GM)? The Ford is much more "heavy duty" than the GMC, even though the GVWR and GCWR specs are close to equal.

The 2011-up F-450 is an F-350 DRW with a 4.30 axle ratio. If you equip the F-350 DRW with the exact same options as are std on the F-450, then the rear axle is the only difference.

If you can afford a Mobile Suites 5er, then you can afford to spend a few more bucks to get exactly what you need to tow it with. Not an F-450 pickup, but an F-450 chassis cab with a custom tow body. GVWR is 16,000 pounds, or almost 3,000 pounds more on the chassis cab than on the pickup. You have to add a bed or tow body to the chassis cab to make a complete tow vehicle, but there are numerous choices to make your tow vehicle unique and capable.
Beds and Tow Bodies for Chassis Cab Trucks - Diesel Forum - TheDieselStop.com

F-450 chassis cab with 60" CA (cab to axle length) is the starting point. Add trim pkg up through Lariat, and if you add the Lariat Interior pkg (96L), you'll have about all the luxury anyone should desire. Std GCWR is 26,000 pounds with diesel engine, which is not quite enough for your Mobile Suites, so add the High Capacity Trailer Tow Pkg (535) and you'll have plenty of GCWR for your RV. Add whatever other options you want from the chassis cab ordering guide. Then tell the dealer to code the order to ship thru your choice of upfitter to add your choice of bed or tow body. Or if you prefer, have your local Joe's Truck Equipment shop install your choice of tow body limited to the brands he carries (or can order).

Here's my choice of tow body, but it's not my money, so I don't get to choose:
Elite - Utility Bodywerks - Manufacturer of RV Hauler Beds

Notice the normal tow body is for a tow vehicle with 60" CA (close to the same as a long-bed pickup), but if you want more space to store "stuff", then they make one for an 84" CA too.

Unlike the F-450 pickup, the chassis cab can be ordered with one of two different gas engines as well as the optional diesel. Of course, you want the diesel. The high capacity towing pkg requires the 4.30 axle ratio and diesel engine.
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Old 10-12-2012, 05:55 PM   #5
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A big difference between the new 450 and the 350s is the reduced turning radius--this can be a big help in manuevering in/out of campsites. Also, big difference in where you can u-turn without a 3-point backup. I would choose the 450 for this reason alone. Other than that, I feel either the GM or the Ford will easily work for you.
At 18500 gross, you will hardly ever be there unless you are a packrat, and I don't think even then you would be over 42-4300 pin weight.
If you don't already have the MS, be sure to opt for the 17.5" wheels...
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Old 10-12-2012, 07:36 PM   #6
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Read the real world towing tests on mrtrailer.com and the April issue of Car and Driver. They involved pulling 19K loads for over 2k miles and over Eisenhower pass. Good info.

The F-450 is better for towing over 20k with its 4.30 rear end gearing as was already mentioned. The F-450 with its additional weight has a lower payload capacity than the F-350 as one should expect. But for the rear axle the two trucks are identical.

For less than 20K tow loads I would go with the GM 3500HD to get the better integration of the Allison and exhaust brake and tow control setup and to get the much stiffer frame. Ford does provide more tow package options for its trucks if you take the time to investigate them thoroughly and not rely on the folks at the dealers to do the selecting.

I had a 4,000 lb. load in the bed of my 2011 GM diesel and with over 3600 miles of travel from sea level to over 8200 foot passes going through Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada, I never had to touch the brakes to control the decent of the truck even on 8% grades and even one 19% grade.
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Old 10-12-2012, 09:42 PM   #7
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I don't know if the F-450 has the same diesel engine as the F-350, but if it does you may want to look on the Ford forum where they talk about the bosch pumps and engine failures and Ford not accepting responsibility. I know of 2 people who are going through this situation now and are looking at $14,000 repairs on new trucks.
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Old 10-12-2012, 10:04 PM   #8
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For the most part, all 3 major mfgs only put one diesel in all of their pickups--I haven't heard of the Bosch failures, but if in warranty don't see how Ford could deny coverage unless there was a tuner or bad fuel involved.
Seems all the mfgs are getting tougher on warranty work...
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Old 10-13-2012, 04:18 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the feedback. The GMC Sierra 3500HD diesel dually still only has the 3.73 axle ratio available vs. the 4.30 in the Ford F450. Since I do hope to spend a fair amount of time in the western U.S., I wonder how much of a struggle this would cause in climbing and descending steep grades with the GMC?
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Old 10-13-2012, 06:10 PM   #10
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I think you would find either of these vehicles will do well climbing mountains. If you haven't driven them, please do--do not depend only on the paper figures. If you don't like the interior; if you don't like the driving 'feel'; if you don't feel comfortable sitting in them for long periods--no amount of tow rating figures will get you to like it.
As I said earlier--the shorter turn radius of the 450 over the 350/3500 is to me a big item.
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Old 10-13-2012, 08:18 PM   #11
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The 450 cab chassis motors are derated versus the 450 pickup. I forget something like 330 and 660 versus 400 and 800.


Quote:
Originally Posted by wingnut60
For the most part, all 3 major mfgs only put one diesel in all of their pickups--I haven't heard of the Bosch failures, but if in warranty don't see how Ford could deny coverage unless there was a tuner or bad fuel involved.
Seems all the mfgs are getting tougher on warranty work...
Joe
Check out the Ford forums for pump failure, US military also did testing, while not catastrophic it was not pretty.
Also you can look at the series Bosch pump used versus the series used in the VWs that are being looked into and Fords answer to the preliminary investigation. Or you can look at the cetane and lubricity recommendations from Bosch for their pumps versus the US standard.

All that said I drive the 2011 F350 and love it.
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Old 10-13-2012, 08:28 PM   #12
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Well, I'm still correct and so are you. Ford only uses the 6.7L diesel, but does detune it to 300HP/660tq for the cab/chassis models. Not sure whether GM does any detuning, but I think also Dodge does.
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Old 10-14-2012, 05:01 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wingnut60
Well, I'm still correct and so are you. Ford only uses the 6.7L diesel, but does detune it to 300HP/660tq for the cab/chassis models. Not sure whether GM does any detuning, but I think also Dodge does.
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True.
I just like to have people make informed decisions. I bought the Ford because after weighing it all I liked the interior better.
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Old 10-14-2012, 09:54 AM   #14
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Thanks for all the feedback. The GMC Sierra 3500HD diesel dually still only has the 3.73 axle ratio available vs. the 4.30 in the Ford F450. Since I do hope to spend a fair amount of time in the western U.S., I wonder how much of a struggle this would cause in climbing and descending steep grades with the GMC?
Did you check out the transmission gear ratio's between to 2?
Could the GMC have lower 1-2-3 gears?
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