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Old 10-30-2012, 06:17 PM   #1
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Question Understanding towing capacity

We are planning to buy our first RV within the next year. We have decided that the best option for us is a 5th wheel, so we will be purchasing a truck as well as a trailer. My question is about determining how much trailer we can safely tow. I have been doing lots of reading and I believe I understand how the limits work. I have tried talking with some truck salesmen but they seemed to know less about it than I do! I thought it would be a good idea to share my calculations so those of you with more experience can confirm Ive got it right.

We are not planning to buy the truck until we know exactly what trailer we will be getting, but are fairly certain that we will be buying a Ford F350 Diesel 4x4 crew cab long bed (likely DRW, although wed prefer a SRW if it could handle it).

Here it the information I have found on the Ford website for the SRW truck.

The GVWR is 11500
The max 5th wheel towing is 15900
The GCWR for the SRW is 23500
Estimated curb weight is 7795

I estimate 960 lbs of additional weight in the truck (without the trailer): hitch - 180 lbs, 37.5 gallons fuel - 230 lbs, 2 passengers - 350 lbs, toolbox - 100 lbs, misc cargo - 100 lbs.

GVWR is 11500. I subtracted the curb weight (7795 lbs) and the cargo weight (960 lbs) which leaves 2745 lbs before hitting the GVWR limit. That means the pin weight would need to be less than that. If I use an estimate for pin weight of 20% of the trailer weight, then the 5th wheel, fully loaded, would need to weigh 13975 lbs or less.

The GCWR would be the weight of the truck, its cargo and the weight of the trailer. The GCWR is 23500. The combined weight of truck and cargo is 8755, so the heaviest trailer that would meet the limit is 23500 lbs - 8755 lbs = 14745 lbs.

Bottom line is the GVWR limits us to 13975 lbs and the GCWR limits us to 14745 lbs, neither of which is close to the 15900 towing limit that Ford has on their website!

I know we dont want to be operating right at the limits - I mostly just want to make sure I am understanding how to calculate them, but I would appreciate suggestions on how much cushion we would want to have. Is 1000 lb under the limit reasonable? should we allow for more?

Please feel free to tell me if Ive gotten any of this wrong - you wont hurt my feelings at all.

Thanks!
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Old 10-30-2012, 06:48 PM   #2
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Have you added any food clothing pots and pans and anything elce that you may want to put into the rig?
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Old 10-30-2012, 06:59 PM   #3
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For planning purposes, I am using the GVWR for the trailer since we shouldn't load the trailer any heavier than that in any case. That should cover food, clothing, water, etc.
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Old 10-30-2012, 07:21 PM   #4
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Also, you need to be using the wet and loaded curb weight of the truck...this is with all passengers, cargo, hitch and full fuel.

It is great that you are doing the home work ahead of time rather than go by the uninformed sales person.

My F350 CC DRW, 2012 scales a 8810# loaded with, hitch, toolbox, cargo and passengers. The GVWR is 13,300#.

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Old 10-30-2012, 08:33 PM   #5
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The best way to run the numbers is to weigh the truck as if you are going camping. I mean full of fuel, dogs, kids DW etc. Than subtract that weight from the trucks GVWR. You generally find the truck weighs more than you thought. Next deduct the weight of the hitch from the number and that gives you a good working number for the pin weight. Know what your tire & axle capacities are to stay safe.

I think your on the right track. Just a bit more to finalize the numbers. Above all don't believe what a RV salesman tells you if he/she is trying to sell you a trailer over your numbers.

Good Luck
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Old 10-30-2012, 08:54 PM   #6
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cdbinns,
You are on the right track, I am not sure how close you are with your estimate of the loaded truck, but if you are staying around 1000# under max, you should be very close, you missed one thing with a swr truck you have to watch the rear GAWR, most 5ers will max out the axle weight before you max out the GVWR, or the GCWR of the truck.
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Old 10-31-2012, 08:46 AM   #7
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On a 3/4T pickup, most will be maxxed out at the TIRE ratings--no matter what the pin weight will (would) be, if you go over the TIRE ratings, you are certainly unsafe. For instance, camping this weekend, friend has a SRW 3500HD GMC--tires are rated at 3025 each, giving a max of 7050 on the rear axle. Just need to weigh the truck as loaded for camping and see what is on the rear axle, then subtract that from max tire loads and that is the most pin weight you should have. And if you run anything at near max rating, service life is usually reduced. On most SRW GM trucks, the rear axle rating on the door is usually the max tire load.
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Old 11-01-2012, 12:42 PM   #8
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Try the Chevy 3500 CC 4x4 SWR long bed for better towing capacity than the Ford. Here are the numbers for 2013:

Max Payload 4143 lbs
Max 5th Wheel 16,800 lbs
GCWR 24,500 lbs

See it here: 2013 Chevy Silverado 3500HD Pickup Truck | Capabilities | Chevrolet

This truck should handle most 5th wheels out there except for the really big ones.
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Old 11-01-2012, 05:29 PM   #9
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Don't mean to hijack but looking at 18k toyhauler would a f 450 be ok ? How much safety margin do I have I can't find the numbers and really don't know how. Do I need to step up to a semi? It would be my Fulltime vehicle so don't really want a semi thanks
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Old 11-01-2012, 06:51 PM   #10
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Understanding towing capacity - don't trust the web

Don't trust the web sites you get through "Ford.com" etc. Go to a dealer and get a printed towing guide. It will show all the options needed to get the capacity advertised. The GVWR in the original post seems low to me. I had a 2005 F350 single rear wheel with a 11,400 GVWR (on the door sticker) the truck weighed 7400 on the scale leaving a payload of about 4,000. In 2005, the dually F350 advertised a payload of 5,600 pounds. Suggest you visit a few dealers, open the doors and look at the stickers showing the actual ratings.

As you are doing, I bought a trailer first, then bougt a truck big enough to tow it safely. You'll have to search a few dealers to find one that has a real truck guy. I found a little dealer with more knowledgable staff than the big ones with the fancy show rooms.
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Old 11-02-2012, 01:50 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsronco
Don't mean to hijack but looking at 18k toyhauler would a f 450 be ok ? How much safety margin do I have I can't find the numbers and really don't know how. Do I need to step up to a semi? It would be my Fulltime vehicle so don't really want a semi thanks
450 can tow a house! 350 dually's pull toy haulers with ease. 450 is more than capable.
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Old 11-02-2012, 03:25 PM   #12
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450 is more than capable.

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Old 11-03-2012, 09:49 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsronco View Post
Don't mean to hijack but looking at 18k toyhauler would a f 450 be ok ?
2013 F-450 GCWR = 33,000 pounds. Wet and loaded truck should weigh less than 10,000 pounds. So you can PULL a toy hauler that grosses up to about 23,000 pounds without exceeding the GCWR of the tow vehicle.

GVWR of the pickup determines the max hitch weight you can have. And the GVWR has varied over the years for the F-450 pickups. 2008 thru 2010 had 16,000 GVWR. 2011 and 2012 had 13,300. 2013 has 14,000.

2013 F-450 GVWR = 14,000 pounds. So with a heavily-loaded tow vehicle that weighs 10,000 pounds before you tie onto the trailer, you can have up to 4,000 pounds hitch weight before you are overloaded over the GVWR of the tow vehicle. Assuming 20% hitch weight of an 18k toy hauler, you hitch weight will be 3,600 pounds. So you can HAUL the hitch weight of a 5er/gooseneck trailer that weighs up to about 20,000 pounds.


So you should be fine with the 2013 F-450 dragging a toy hauler that has a GVWR of 18,000 pounds.

HOWEVER, model year makes a difference. 2011 and 2012 F-450 pickup has a GVWR of only 13,300 pounds. They have a max hitch weight of about 3,300 pounds. So if your F-450 is a 2011 or 2012 model, then any toy hauler that grosses over about 16,500 pounds will overload the F-450.

2008 - 2010 F-450 pickups were "real" F-450s, with 16,000 pounds GVWR, 19.5" real truck tires, bigger brakes, etc. If your F-450 is one of those, then you're good to go.

Quote:
How much safety margin do I have I can't find the numbers and really don't know how.
GVWR, which determines payload capacity, is your limiter on 2011-up F-450 pickups.

For a 2013 F-450 pickup, your payload capacity limits your maximum hitch weight to about 4,000 pounds. If your toy hauler has a GVWR of 18K with a 20% wet and loaded hitch (or "pin") weight, then your wet and loaded hitch weight should not be more than about 3,600 pounds. So you have about a 400 pounds "safety margin" before you run over the payload limits of your 2013 truck.

But if your F-450 has a GVWR of 13,300 pounds, then your 18k wet and loaded 5er will overload the pickup over the GVWR of the pickup. If your F-450 pickup has a GVWR of 16k, then you're good to go with lots of "safety margin"

Quote:
Do I need to step up to a semi? It would be my Fulltime vehicle so don't really want a semi thanks
You don't need a simi, or even a medium duty truck. The F-450 will be all you need, provided you skip the 2011 and 2012 model years. Either buy a 2013 F-450 pickup, or find a 2008-2010 model with the max tow pkg that gave them 33,000 GCWR.

If you haven't bought the truck yet, then one option is to order a new F-450 chassis cab truck and add a tow body or flatbed or even a pickup bed. Your Ford dealer's fleet department can have the new truck shipped from the Ford assembly plant thru an upfitter that will add your choice of bed or tow body. The chassis cab has a GVWR of 16,000 pounds, and it's a "real" F-450 with 19.5" truck tires, bigger brakes, etc. With the chassis cab underpinnings, your "safety margin" goes way up because of the extra 2,000 pounds of payload capacity available for hitch weight.

If you haven't bought the truck yet, then don't buy a 2011 or 2012 F-450 pickup, because they don't have quite enough available payload for your hitch weight when wet and loaded for the full-timing road.
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Old 11-03-2012, 09:56 AM   #14
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The GVWR on the 2008-'10 450 pickups is 14500--maybe 16000 is for the Cab/chassis?
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