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Old 07-30-2014, 09:33 AM   #1
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New to Towing

This is my first post to the forum. I'm very confused about the towing information available on the Web and from the truck and RV dealers. A friend of mine bought a travel trailer being told by the RV dealer his tow vehicle was fine. He ended up having to purchase a new tow vehicle.

I have a 2001 GMC Sierra 1500 Extended Cab, 6.5 ft bed, Automatic Transmission, 4.8L engine and 3.42 rear end. I'm looking to purchase a Salem Cruise Lite 261BH or equivalent.

Truck Specs
Towing Capacity: 6,300 lbs
GVWR: 6,200 lbs
Curb Weight of Truck: 4,413 lbs

Trailer Specs
Dry Weight: 4,313 lbs
Tongue Weight: 434 lbs

Would my truck be able to handle this weight of trailer? Any responses would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
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Old 07-30-2014, 09:48 AM   #2
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Glad you're aboard. IMO your 1500 might be a little lite for the job. I'm sure you will get many viewpoints from the "weight police" here in the forums. Best of luck in your decision. Enjoy your adventures and be safe.
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Old 07-30-2014, 09:51 AM   #3
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Barely. You'll be down on power and the 3.42 gears will hurt even more. Guessing you have a 4sp tranny also. The 4313lb dry weight will be higher as that's not the stickered weight on the TT. Add 2-400lbs to that. Figure 1000lbs for the average camper. Obviously it could be more or less. You'll be around 55-5700lbs loaded. That's a lot for a 4.8 spd with 3.42 gears. You'll be in 3rd all the time and 2nd on hills.
Just for fun drive your truck down the road for an hour in 3rd gear at 55-60mph and see how it feels. If you're okay with it then give it a shot. Personally I would look for a lighter trailer.
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Old 07-30-2014, 09:53 AM   #4
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First welcome to iRV2, we're glad to have you. I'm sure our experts will chime in soon.

There are tons of threads on towing weights on this forum & the first thing you'll read in them is don't believe what an RV salesman tells you. All they want to do is sell, they don't care if you're safe or not. If ya do a quick search (even in just this section of the forum) you'll find lots to read about.

Having owned a TT & a 5-r in the past, I can tell you this for starters. Throw out the dry weight of that TT, it means squat. You want the gross weight (GVWR) of it. Next, throw out the curb weight of your truck....again squat. You want the loaded weight of it - that means you in it, a full tank of gas & all the gear/people you'll be hauling in it. Take it to a scale loaded up that way & get it weighed. Then you'll want to know the gross combined rating for your truck (GCWR -that's the total weight of your truck + a trailer).

Report back with those numbers & we'll be able to better advise you.

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Old 07-30-2014, 10:02 AM   #5
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While shopping for our 5er a short while ago, the sales person said "We just have to add 750 lbs to the dry weight to cover our self". Then told me I could add air bags to my truck to increase the hauling capacity.

Lesson here: Sales does not care if you tow/haul safely. Do your own homework.
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Old 07-30-2014, 10:55 AM   #6
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Thank you everyone for the advice.
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Old 07-30-2014, 03:02 PM   #7
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I for one have towed with a similar setup, although many years ago. GM 1500 with 4 spd and 3.42 axle ratio, but it was an '89 with the old 350 motor. My 1st trailer was a 21ft fifth wheel with a dry weight around 4000 lbs, 2nd was 25ft and 4500 lbs. In 11 years I towed all over the western US, mostly TX, NM, CO and AZ but also UT, OR, WA, ID, MT and WY while visiting Glacier, Yellowstone, Olympic, Zion, Bryce, Crater Lk, Mt. Rainier, the Grand Canyon and many other places.

So, yes your combo can work. But the 3.42 ratio is not a good towing ratio, in only the best circumstances will you be able to use OD and you either tow above 65 mph to keep in OD or drop back to 55-60 mph and tow in 3rd. If your truck is 2wd, the best towing investment you can make is spending around $500 for a gear change to at least 3.73 ratio or better yet, 4.10 if the truck will mostly be used for towing. Second upgrade would probably be an aftermarket transmission cooler since it is unlikely any 3.42 ratio truck included a factory cooler.
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Old 07-30-2014, 04:54 PM   #8
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I was towing a 6,200# (loaded) 29' TT with a '11 F-150 (5.0, 6 spd, 3.55 rear end ratio) and I considered it barely adequate. I would sometimes drop all the way down to 3rd gear on hills and crank out 4400 rpm for 30 seconds or so. I just bumped up my tow vehicle 3 weeks ago, and have only towed once. I'll never go back to a gas truck... that diesel is amazing... And... I went to a 3/4 ton truck, because if the trailer brakes fail, you still need to be able to stop. The bigger brakes make me feel a bit safer in that respect.

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Old 07-30-2014, 05:02 PM   #9
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Its not realistic to just look at the dry weight of the trailer. When you go somewhere it will not be empty. Food, water, clothing, etc, etc should be added to the weight when calculating what you would need for towing it.
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Old 07-30-2014, 05:27 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by schrederman View Post
I went to a 3/4 ton truck, because if the trailer brakes fail, you still need to be able to stop. The bigger brakes make me feel a bit safer in that respect.
Everyone thinks bigger brakes, must be better. But all you need to do is look at the test results from any auto magazine and you will see that stopping distance is basically the same for 1/2 ton, 3/4 ton and 1 ton trucks of the same brand/model year. Meaning it takes bigger brakes just to stop the extra weight of the heavier truck. And the numbers are unloaded trucks, not trucks operating at their respective GVWRs let alone their respective GCWRs. Now if the trailer brakes fail, the better combo would be say an F450 pulling a pop-up. But in reality, bigger brakes on a bigger truck almost always means a heavier trailer behind it, and I don't mean just more weight, but a higher weight percentage.
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Old 07-30-2014, 06:19 PM   #11
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I would agree, that your truck will be somewhat over-loaded. Some websites list the Salem Cruise Lite 261BH at 4600-4700 lbs. Add an easy 800-12000 lbs of stuff + people and your over your 6300 lbs.
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Old 07-30-2014, 06:39 PM   #12
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If you truck is not enough then 90% of trailers towed by 1/2 tons are not also.
I towed a similar weight trailer with a 2.9l 1/4 ton Ranger for 3 years. The braking was the best I ever had since.
We traveled the whole east coast from Canada to Florida.
It had over 150k miles (50k towing) when we traded for GM 1500.
It's understood that a gas engine works best towing at 3000 rpm. And I would never tow at lower RPM.
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Old 07-30-2014, 07:02 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by dayle1 View Post
Everyone thinks bigger brakes, must be better. But all you need to do is look at the test results from any auto magazine and you will see that stopping distance is basically the same for 1/2 ton, 3/4 ton and 1 ton trucks of the same brand/model year. Meaning it takes bigger brakes just to stop the extra weight of the heavier truck. And the numbers are unloaded trucks, not trucks operating at their respective GVWRs let alone their respective GCWRs. Now if the trailer brakes fail, the better combo would be say an F450 pulling a pop-up. But in reality, bigger brakes on a bigger truck almost always means a heavier trailer behind it, and I don't mean just more weight, but a higher weight percentage.
True to a degree. But the brakes on a 3/4 ton SRW are the same as a 1 ton SRW. The tow ratings for a 1 ton are higher than a 3/4 ton, which means the brakes on a 3/4 ton are not working as hard. Empty it's a wash but considering the brakes on a 1 ton have to stop more towing weight than those same brakes on a 3/4 ton SRW should be better when towing less.
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Old 07-30-2014, 09:00 PM   #14
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Thanks again, everyone for the great responses. I had a transmission cooler added years ago as I tow a bass boat and thought it would be a good idea.
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