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Old 12-03-2006, 09:57 PM   #1
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I may be new to RV'ing (shopping for our first), but I am FULLY aware that the 1/2 ton vs. 3/4 ton debate is a touchy one. I've done thorough searches on this great website, but many of the discussions are now over 3 years old. I'm curious to learn your thoughts on the new 1/2 ton trucks (SUV's) that have (or are about to) hit the road. The '07 Ford F-150, Ford Explorer, Chevy Tahoe and Chevy Silverado have all upgraded their engine torque and overall tow ratings considerably in the past several years. This is especially true in the case of the F-150 (9100lbs), Chevy Tahoe (7100lbs), and Ford Explorer (6750lbs).

My Dad is a retired flutter, vibration, and structures Boeing engineer. He understands physics better than any of us. His advice for me is to trust these numbers and load the trailer accordingly; allowing at least a 750lb variance. What do you guys think about this? You have to admit that 1/2 ton rigs today are equipped with far more powerful engines than they were 10 years ago. ****, check out the specs of a 1997 Ford Explorer vs. the 2007 model.
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Old 12-03-2006, 09:57 PM   #2
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I may be new to RV'ing (shopping for our first), but I am FULLY aware that the 1/2 ton vs. 3/4 ton debate is a touchy one. I've done thorough searches on this great website, but many of the discussions are now over 3 years old. I'm curious to learn your thoughts on the new 1/2 ton trucks (SUV's) that have (or are about to) hit the road. The '07 Ford F-150, Ford Explorer, Chevy Tahoe and Chevy Silverado have all upgraded their engine torque and overall tow ratings considerably in the past several years. This is especially true in the case of the F-150 (9100lbs), Chevy Tahoe (7100lbs), and Ford Explorer (6750lbs).

My Dad is a retired flutter, vibration, and structures Boeing engineer. He understands physics better than any of us. His advice for me is to trust these numbers and load the trailer accordingly; allowing at least a 750lb variance. What do you guys think about this? You have to admit that 1/2 ton rigs today are equipped with far more powerful engines than they were 10 years ago. ****, check out the specs of a 1997 Ford Explorer vs. the 2007 model.
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Old 12-04-2006, 05:45 AM   #3
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Your Dad is correct. If you can't trust the mfgrs. numbers, where do you begin? All vehicle manufacturers establish ratings to insure their product outlasts the warranty, operates safely within USDOT regualtions, and keeps them out of litigation. As long as these ratings are respected, any vehicle is a satisfactory tow vehicle.
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Old 12-04-2006, 08:01 AM   #4
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Ray, that's how I feel. Don't get me wrong, I obviously think that the bigger tow vehicle you get, the better off you are in most cases. At the same time, why shouldn't we trust Ford, GM, Chrysler, etc? I read a lot of opinions from experienced RV'ers on here regarding how "scary" it is to see half ton rigs pulling trailers. I guess my counter to that is it's equally scary to send a message to people that a large pickup truck (or bigger) is the only way to safely pull a trailer. I don't buy that at all.

Again, I may be new to this whole game, but I still believe that the majority of trailer mishaps are due to the "hero" mentality of the driver and not the rig itself. For example, if your rig is equipped to pull 9100lbs and you PROPERLY select (including trailer length) and load your trailer to 8000lbs, you haven't done anything wrong. It's the manufacturers who should take the heat should anything go wrong.
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Old 12-04-2006, 08:50 AM   #5
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It's essential when using the manufacturer's trailer tow ratings to read the footnotes. To wit:

1. The trailer tow rating does not take into account the pin/tongue weight of the trailer vis-a-vis the truck's GVWR. There will be a blurb in the footnotes, however, something to the effect that "none of the truck's other ratings (i.e., GVWR, GAWRs) are to be exceeded."

2. The trailer tow rating is derived by subtracting the truck's curb weight from the truck's GCWR. The problem with this is that one will normally find in the footnotes that the curb weight used for this calculation is for a base model truck (no options or accessories) with only a 150 lb driver. This, of course, inflates the trailer tow rating substantially from the real world where the curb weight must include driver, passengers, options, accessories, cargo, 5th wheel hitch (where applicable), full fuel tank(s), etc.

Where 1/2 ton and SRW trucks often come up short is in 5th wheel applications where they run afoul of the truck's GVWR or rear GAWR/tire load ratings due to the higher pin weight of a 5th wheel trailer.

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Old 12-04-2006, 11:41 AM   #6
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Where 1/2 ton and SRW trucks often come up short is in 5th wheel applications where they run afoul of the truck's GVWR or rear GAWR/tire load ratings due to the higher pin weight of a 5th wheel trailer. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Rusty, I agree with you 100% on this. I was hashing out some of these things at my local Chevy dealer last weekend. We're considering a new 2007 Tahoe. Here are the specs on the Tahoe.

Max Trailer weight 6700lbs (7700 w/4.10 axle ratio)

Payload - 1473lbs (w/4x4)

GCWR - 13,000lbs (14000lbs w/4.19 axle)

I'm sorry, but nobody will convince me that the 2007 chevy tahoe can't successfully (if not easily) pull a 5,500lb trailer. The same can be said be the new F-150 and it's 9100 tow rating.
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Old 12-04-2006, 06:37 PM   #7
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As Rusty noted, use the manufacturers GVWR and GCWR to determine the trucks towing capacity. The "tow rating" and "payload capacity" is ususally based on a base model truck, no options, no accessories, no hitch and only a 150# driver. Once you load up a base model truck, the tow rating and payload capacity are much less. I usually tell people to use only 80% of the manufacturers tow rating to allow for cargo, passengers, etc.

A 1/2 ton truck still will have a light weight transmission, brakes, suspension, frame and axle when compared to a 3/4 ton truck. But remember it is a 1/2 ton truck and not rated as a 3/4 ton truck.

Towing a trailer is not just a contest of horsepower. The power has to be connected to something that can handle the load. With the SUV's you need to watch trailer length as a typical SUV (excluding Suburban and Excursion) has a short wheelbase and a high center of gravity. Neither of which help the towing characteristics.

With all of this said, a 1/2 ton truck is capable of safely towing a properly matched trailer. Problem is I see a lot of 1/2 ton trucks towing a trailer that should be behind a 3/4 ton truck. Or a 3/4 ton towing what should be behind a 1 ton truck.

What Rusty and I are saying is backed with many miles of RV towing and even with some rigs that should not have been connected. Would we do the same thing again...nope.

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Old 12-22-2006, 12:42 PM   #8
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In my opinion a 1/2 ton truck/ SUV is fine for a max of 5500 lbs trailer if your truck / SUV is equiped with the best hitch money can buy. But if you dont have the correct hitch these numbers are far less due to sway control. the new twin cam style hitch is much better then the old friction sway control . Tires on what ever your towning with should be upgraded to at least a "D" if not a E range tire, typical c tires are like mush if you add 1000 lbs to the rear axal of any tow vehicle. Trust me 1000lbs is very conservitive poss 1500 lbs (dog , 2 kids,gas grill , bikes, 700 lbs of trailer tounge weight. Now your brakes , there isnt a 1/2 ton truck or SUV that has ANY spare brakes to stop the combo in the event of having your trailer brakes fail of become disconected. I had a short on my trailer brakes on my old TT , one of the brake wires had rubbed the insulation threw inside the axal where it crossed from one side to the other. 90% of the trailers I have looked at the wire runs inside the axal , well my trailer only had about 4000 miles on it when this happed. If I didnt have a 2500hd pickup pulling 7000lbs of camper would have been a disaster but there is more then enough brakes stop this combo as long as your going easy on it. A good friend of mine pulls a 27' boat(5200 lbs with trailer) 400 miles each year with his 1/2 ton suburan with a 5.3l and 3.73 gears , yes it will do it but it gets hot on the hills and will not maintain the speed limit on any kind of a hill ....Forget overdrive with with his combo, third gear and second on some hills.
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Old 12-23-2006, 06:30 AM   #9
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by bobbyg123:
I may be new to RV'ing (shopping for our first), but I am FULLY aware that the 1/2 ton vs. 3/4 ton debate is a touchy one. I've done thorough searches on this great website, but many of the discussions are now over 3 years old. I'm curious to learn your thoughts on the new 1/2 ton trucks (SUV's) that have (or are about to) hit the road. The '07 Ford F-150, Ford Explorer, Chevy Tahoe and Chevy Silverado have all upgraded their engine torque and overall tow ratings considerably in the past several years. This is especially true in the case of the F-150 (9100lbs), Chevy Tahoe (7100lbs), and Ford Explorer (6750lbs).

My Dad is a retired flutter, vibration, and structures Boeing engineer. He understands physics better than any of us. His advice for me is to trust these numbers and load the trailer accordingly; allowing at least a 750lb variance. What do you guys think about this? You have to admit that 1/2 ton rigs today are equipped with far more powerful engines than they were 10 years ago. ****, check out the specs of a 1997 Ford Explorer vs. the 2007 model. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I totally disagree with the statement of engines being more powerful today vs. 10 years ago.
I am on my 5th chevy tahoe. Current tahoe is the new '07 w/5.3L motor, 4.10 LS rear end. Our first tahoe was a '97 with a 5.7L (350 ci) 3.73 LS rear end, all tahoes have been LT with tow packages, ect... The 5.7L was a much more powerful motor vs 5.3L, but the new '07 chassis does handle a load much better than the older styles. GM marketing dept. tells us how powerful and that fuel ecconomy is getting better every year. IMHO, each newer year tahoe has less power and worse ecconomy vs. the 5.7L. BUT, we don't drive at sea level on flat roads around here.

With that being said, there is no way I would EVER tow what GM says that the tahoe is rated for. I have towed 5000 lbs with our '07, it handles ok, but if your going to tow you need more than a little 1/2 ton chassis, brakes, drive train, ect.... You need at least a heavy 3/4 ton, IMHO. Trying to haul 7000 lbs with a little 1/2 ton you will work the guts out of it and wear the thing out prematuraly.

Do it right and get a HD 3/4 ton, it does not cost that much more up front, vs, trading the little 1/2 ton next year because you realize that you need a bigger tow vehical.

I learned the hard way and tried towing with a 1/2 ton, and I still own a 1/2 ton (for a family car) that I can compair to my real tow vehical.

I love our '07 tahoe for a family car, but would never use it for a RV tower. If you really want a SUV tow vehical, please concider upgrading to a 3/4 ton suburban, you will be happier with the longer wheel base and heavier components (drive train, brake system, chassis, ect...).

Your dad may have been a boeing engineer, but is/was he a RV'er? and has he towed boats, TT, 5th wheels, jet skis, and ATVs???

Good Luck and happy camping.
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Old 01-05-2007, 03:30 AM   #10
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I've been trying to figure this whole 1/2 ton tow issue out because I believe that I would get better gas mileage with a 1/2 ton and could tow successfully, even up a graded road PROVIDED I matched the correct trailer weight to the 1/2 ton.

So here's my sample figures, (from an e-mail I send a friend)
I welcome ALL feedback, I am: Correct OR Crazy?

For an example,at the dealership we used a 15002WD drive Ext Cab with a 5.3L V8 engine & 3.73 axle ratio
It has a Max trailer weight of 7900/7800 trailer weight & a GCWR of 13,000 This truck has a trailering pkg but a 3.23 axle so the dealer said to add 25lbs for a 3.73 axle

Total dry weight is 4749 lbs
Deducted for fuel, 25 gallons at 6lbs a gallon=150 lbs
Deduct for me & Maddie=180lbs
Equals=4419

Ok I used a 19ft Sunline trailer at 3770 UVW (unloaded vehicle weight) and GVWR weight of 5500 for the example trailer

I then added the 4419 truck weight to the GVWR weight of trailer of 5500 = 9919 lbs
Deduct that from the from GCVW of truck at 13,000 = 3,081

I would want a flat lockable box cover so the dealer said that would weight about 200 lbs
So I deduct 200 lbs from 3,081 = 2,881

So I would have 2,881 lbs left over from the GCVW truck weight of 13,000 lbs
I could throw a bike, some tools and Maddie's canned food, some dirty laundry in the back of the truck and still be good

Mileage for this truck is 21 HWY 16-18 Town
Deduct 25% to tow= 15.75 miles per gallon

However I know that whatever I look at, a TT or 5th Wheel,I must stay with a GVWR of 5500 or less to pull successfully with a 1/2 ton


<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by gearman:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by bobbyg123:
I may be new to RV'ing (shopping for our first), but I am FULLY aware that the 1/2 ton vs. 3/4 ton debate is a touchy one. I've done thorough searches on this great website, but many of the discussions are now over 3 years old. I'm curious to learn your thoughts on the new 1/2 ton trucks (SUV's) that have (or are about to) hit the road. The '07 Ford F-150, Ford Explorer, Chevy Tahoe and Chevy Silverado have all upgraded their engine torque and overall tow ratings considerably in the past several years. This is especially true in the case of the F-150 (9100lbs), Chevy Tahoe (7100lbs), and Ford Explorer (6750lbs).

My Dad is a retired flutter, vibration, and structures Boeing engineer. He understands physics better than any of us. His advice for me is to trust these numbers and load the trailer accordingly; allowing at least a 750lb variance. What do you guys think about this? You have to admit that 1/2 ton rigs today are equipped with far more powerful engines than they were 10 years ago. ****, check out the specs of a 1997 Ford Explorer vs. the 2007 model. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I totally disagree with the statement of engines being more powerful today vs. 10 years ago.
I am on my 5th chevy tahoe. Current tahoe is the new '07 w/5.3L motor, 4.10 LS rear end. Our first tahoe was a '97 with a 5.7L (350 ci) 3.73 LS rear end, all tahoes have been LT with tow packages, ect... The 5.7L was a much more powerful motor vs 5.3L, but the new '07 chassis does handle a load much better than the older styles. GM marketing dept. tells us how powerful and that fuel ecconomy is getting better every year. IMHO, each newer year tahoe has less power and worse ecconomy vs. the 5.7L. BUT, we don't drive at sea level on flat roads around here.

With that being said, there is no way I would EVER tow what GM says that the tahoe is rated for. I have towed 5000 lbs with our '07, it handles ok, but if your going to tow you need more than a little 1/2 ton chassis, brakes, drive train, ect.... You need at least a heavy 3/4 ton, IMHO. Trying to haul 7000 lbs with a little 1/2 ton you will work the guts out of it and wear the thing out prematuraly.

Do it right and get a HD 3/4 ton, it does not cost that much more up front, vs, trading the little 1/2 ton next year because you realize that you need a bigger tow vehical.

I learned the hard way and tried towing with a 1/2 ton, and I still own a 1/2 ton (for a family car) that I can compair to my real tow vehical.

I love our '07 tahoe for a family car, but would never use it for a RV tower. If you really want a SUV tow vehical, please concider upgrading to a 3/4 ton suburban, you will be happier with the longer wheel base and heavier components (drive train, brake system, chassis, ect...).

Your dad may have been a boeing engineer, but is/was he a RV'er? and has he towed boats, TT, 5th wheels, jet skis, and ATVs???

Good Luck and happy camping. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
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Old 01-05-2007, 06:38 AM   #11
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(Total dry weight is 4749 lbs
Deducted for fuel, 25 gallons at 6lbs a gallon=150 lbs
Deduct for me & Maddie=180lbs
Equals=4419)
If I understand what you figured, you should add, not deduct fuel ect. from the dry weight. That will put you right at 13K.
From past experience I would not tow 5500lbs. with a 1/2ton. Not considering power but stability, the 1/2ton does not have the tires and suspension to do a good job. You should try towing the same trailer with both (1/2ton & 3/4ton). Don't just go a couple miles on some local roads but get out on the highway with the semis, some sharp curves, quick lane changes ( be real carefull here) etc.
I have towed with a car, 1/2ton, 3/4ton and now my present 1ton dully. Each time I have increased the size tow vehicle, I have towed the same size trailer with both and the stability was much improved. Granted you don't need a dully to tow a 5K trailer but if things got real serious it would handle the situation better.
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Old 01-05-2007, 10:18 AM   #12
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Yup your right!
What was I thinking?

However adding those weights and then adding trailer weight and then deducting from GCVW tow weight of 13,000 still leaves me with 2221 lbs by my calculations?





<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by CD:
apackof2
(Total dry weight is 4749 lbs
Deducted for fuel, 25 gallons at 6lbs a gallon=150 lbs
Deduct for me & Maddie=180lbs
Equals=4419)
If I understand what you figured, you should add, not deduct fuel ect. from the dry weight. That will put you right at 13K.
From past experience I would not tow 5500lbs. with a 1/2ton. Not considering power but stability, the 1/2ton does not have the tires and suspension to do a good job. You should try towing the same trailer with both (1/2ton & 3/4ton). Don't just go a couple miles on some local roads but get out on the highway with the semis, some sharp curves, quick lane changes ( be real carefull here) etc.
I have towed with a car, 1/2ton, 3/4ton and now my present 1ton dully. Each time I have increased the size tow vehicle, I have towed the same size trailer with both and the stability was much improved. Granted you don't need a dully to tow a 5K trailer but if things got real serious it would handle the situation better. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
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Old 01-06-2007, 06:03 AM   #13
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As a previous travel trailer/pickup owner, I thought I would add my two cents worth. We towed a 5000 lb. ultralight trailer with a 1/2 ton Silverado with 4.10 differential (8800 lb. towing capacity). Even though we were well below our towing capacity and had absolutely no problems in over 30,000 miles of towing, if I had to do it over I would seriously consider a 3/4 ton truck.

As was mentioned elsewhere in this thread, towing capacity is only part of the story. Gross vehicle weight rating and gross combined vehicle weight rating are the rest of the equation. Calculations by apackof2 and CD show a fully-loaded 5500 lb. GVWR trailer will get you close to the GCVWR of a half ton 2WD truck with a little to spare, so no problem.

Now consider GVWR. Instead of the weights for a 2WD truck and one passinger given by apackof2, I will use the example of our 4WD pickup and 2 passingers plus some additional cargo.

Our 4WD extended cab pickup had a dry weight of just under 5000 lb. (4985 I think), so I will use 5000 lb. as a round number. Add to that fuel, water, and oil for about 200 lb.; options; two adults (we used to weigh less in our college days) and a dog for about 400 lb.; a little firewood for our weekend camping trip; a meduim-sized tool box; some personal items; and 2 bicycles. The weight of the truck, passengers, and cargo will easily approach 5800 lb. Subtract this from the 6400 GVWR of our truck and you are left with only 600 lb. for the tongue weight of the trailer. The tongue weight should be at least 10% of the trailer weight or 550 lb. for the example trailer fully loaded. Many trailers (front kitchen for example) will have more than 10% of the trailer weight on the tongue. Fifth wheels, even the smallest, are out of the question because pin weights are usually more like 15%.

Keep in mind the numbers I used above are for a 1/2 ton extended cab 4WD pickup. If you plan to buy 2WD, you will be slightly better off as with the weights given by apackof2. If you are looking at a Tahoe, the dry weight will be considerably heavier than a pickup.

If the 5500 GVRW trailer is the biggest you EVER plan to own (at least without buying a new tow vehicle) you are probably OK, especially with 2WD and especially if the trailer isn't fully loaded. However, my experience is once you get into RVing, you end up yearning for a bigger RV. I know we did, but we couldn't buy a bigger trailer without buying a new tow vehicle (we ended up buying a motorhome instead).

For a little extra money up front for a 3/4 ton tow vehicle, you can have a good bit more reserve towing capacity, GVWR, and GCVWR. The extra weight and larger engine often found in a 3/4 ton aren't going to cost you that much in fuel ecomomy if you drive sensibly.
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Old 01-06-2007, 06:30 AM   #14
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Thanks for your reply as the cost issue, fuel, of the 3/4 ton was a concern with today's gas prices.

I figured getting about 15-16 mpg HWY with a 1/2 ton.
So what would I get with a 3/4 ton pulling a GVWR 5500 lb trailer?

In addition, I believe I forgot to deduct
the weight of the hitch itself (Class V,weight distributing hitch) to the weight of the truck which will decrease my remaining carrying capacity.

So in reality, I would have less left over from the 13,000 GCVWR of truck than in my orginal calculation.

As far as wanting something bigger, I am sure I will but as far as wanting to pull something bigger, I don't think I will want to however I am considering a small 5th Wheel, like the 19ft Scamp too






For a little extra money up front for a 3/4 ton tow vehicle, you can have a good bit more reserve towing capacity, GVWR, and GCVWR. The extra weight and larger engine often found in a 3/4 ton aren't going to cost you that much in fuel ecomomy if you drive sensibly.
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