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Old 05-21-2014, 12:14 AM   #1
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Why the difference in GVWR on 2006 chevy 3500 gas vs Duramax

I'm looking at a 2006 chevy 3500 with the 8.1 v8, extended cab, 4X4, SRW, 4.10 rear end, to tow a 12000# fifth wheel. I know that a diesel is going to be the best tow vehicle, however, I'm only going to be using this truck only for a couple of years for just a few short hauls (mostly living in it) and then upgrade to a diesel when I get ready to hit the road a lot. In my truck price range ($10,000 to $15,000), all the diesels are 200,000 miles plus and I'm a little concerned about getting one without knowing it's history, as I've heard plenty of horror stories on this forum, how much it costs to repair these engines when something goes bad. I don't want to spend $2-3000 fixing an upgrading the engine, as I'll never get my money out of it in two years.
So my question is this? When I have looked at the door stickers on some 2003-4 chevy 3500 extended cabs with the Duramax, they give a GVWR of about 11,400#. When I had the dealer look at the door sticker (he's 75 miles away, so I wasn't going to drive there to look for myself) on this 8.1 gas one it shows a GVWR or 9900#. (I had this verified at the chevy dealer looking up the build from its VIN). The GAWR for the rear axle is 6500# (it SRW). Two dealers could not explain why there's a 1500# difference in the GVWR on two 3500 trucks, one gas and one diesel. (The dealers build printout also states that the build wt of this truck is #4495, which I find totally unbelievable as my 99 F250 weighs 6600# empty). Does anyone know why there's such a huge difference in the GVWR? Aren't they the same truck and the same rear axle?
Trailer life shows the 5th wheel towing capacity to be 15,000#. Someone on Diesel stop said it's GCWR was 22,000# (which adds up if you have a 7000# tow vehicle and 15,000# 5er). However, How Stuff Works says the GCWR is16,000#. (What's a guy to believe?) Assuming this vehicle weighs in at around 7000# and the GCWR really is 22,000# I should be able to tow 12,000# (estimating a pin wt to 2400#) without going over the limits. I know it won't be the fastest thing on the road, but should suit my purposes and hopefully I won't have to sink much money in it over the next two years.
Your opinions or thoughts or experiences would be appreciated.
Thank you Rod
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Old 05-21-2014, 12:51 AM   #2
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Rod , in your post it wasn't clear if both the Duramax truck and the gas PU were SRW. You said the gasser was but no info on the diesel.
Personally I wouldn't believe that build weight either , my 93 Dakota was heavier than that, he.. my mini van is 3300.
Can't really comment on the GVWR, but it may come down to the rear diff in use in the two trucks and if the diff housing is the same , I'm as confused as you are.
JMHO: Aluminum cylinder heads on a diesel engine , not great for the long haul, watch out for those high mileage units.
Good luck getting the info your after and finding the truck you need .
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Old 05-21-2014, 08:38 AM   #3
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The SWR GVWR of an 03 is 9900#, the 11,400# GVWR is for a 3500DWR. The gas vs diesel has no bearing on the GVWR of the vehicle in this case, it is singe vs dual rear wheels.
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Old 05-21-2014, 08:55 AM   #4
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What Frank said. It sounds like you're comparing an SRW and a DRW, and they are not the same specs. A 3500 SRW is a glorified 2500, while a 3500 DRW is a real "one ton dually". GM, Ford and Ram should all rename their 350/3500 SRWs to 300/3000 or some such so people won't get the mistaken impression that they are both "one ton" trucks.

I don't know beans about a GM or Ram, but on a Ford, the F-350 SRW has the same design Ford Sterling rear axle as the F-250. But the F-350 DRW has the much bigger/heavier/stronger Dana 80 rear axle.

Also, you can ignore the GCWR and tow rating of the SRW. It will run out of GVWR long before it gets to the GCWR. (Tow rating is based on GCWR and ignores GVWR). And a 12,000-pound 5er will probably overload an SRW, whereas a DRW can tow a trailer that grosses up to around 1000 pounds less than the tow rating without exceeding the GVWR.
Grumpy ole man with over 60 years towing experience. Now my heaviest trailer is a 7'x16' 5,000-pound flatbed utility trailer, my tow vehicle is a 2019 F-150 Lariat 3.5L EcoBoost SuperCab with Max Tow (1,904 pounds payload capacity).
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Old 05-22-2014, 10:49 PM   #5
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Thanks so much for the response. The diesel was a dually. I was under the impression that they put the same axle under both 3500's. I think I was confusing this with them putting them the same axles under a 3/4 ton and 1 ton SRW, just beefed up the springs on the one ton.
I appreciate the insights. Rod
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Old 05-28-2014, 06:22 PM   #6
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All the truck manufacturers calculate a load rating based on the weakest link as the truck is configured when it leaves the factory. Often it is the rims and tires that limit the load but the manufacturer has to put something on the truck regardless if the limitation is something that the owner can easily change later. My 2500 SRW truck weighs 7240 lbs. is tow rated for up to 17,200 lbs. and has a GCWR is 24,500. The SRW limits the rear payload to 4,000 lbs. so with a 5th wheel that put 25% of its weight on the kingpin that would translate into a 16,000 lb. towing load which is within 1,000 lbs. of the CGWR for the truck. With GM the same rear axle is used on all the diesel powered pickup trucks and has the same axle and wheel bearing load rating from AAM of 10,900 lbs. whether it is a SRW or DRW configuration. But this is misleading as the actual limitation is with the tires with a usual load rating of 3200 lbs. giving a stock SRW a rear load capacity of 6400 lbs. minus the weight of the truck and a DRW about 11,000 lbs. minus the weight of this heavier truck. DRW is all about cheaply increasing load capacity by adding two more tires. The factory can run the line all day long with one type of truck tire. Has anyone seen a truck built in the last 20 years with an axle failure? Another component will break or fail long before the axle does.
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Old 05-28-2014, 09:08 PM   #7
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I was under the impression that they put the same axle under both 3500's. I think I was confusing this with them putting them the same axles under a 3/4 ton and 1 ton SRW, just beefed up the springs on the one ton.
I appreciate the insights. Rod
Your correct.
The 8.1 big block is a excellent choice for towing heavy. The 2500 and the 3500 SRW as the DRW has the Allison and the big 11.5" AAM rear axle.
The DRW and the SRW are the same truck. The DRW simply has two more wheels and tires and a 8500 RAWR in that year model.
The 3500 SRW has up to a 15600 lb tow rating depending on truck configuration

The 6.0 3500 gasser comes with the 4L80E tranny and the 10.5" AAM rear axle and a 9200-10k GVWR all depending on truck configuration.

My buddy that ponys for me sometimes has a '04 8.1/Dmax 3500 SRW GMC. One tough truck and is comparable to the Dmax for towing heavy equipment trailers. It is a thirsty engine.
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Old 05-28-2014, 09:11 PM   #8
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A wise man once said that SRW are usually underrated and the duellies are mostly overloaded. As both trucks are usually the same other then tire capacity.
The further underrated 250/2500 get a rating to suit licensing issues limiting the requirements of some state regulations like CA.
My province licence my truck for axle capacity and F250 has same capacity as the F350 for same model year. Which is more then my neighbour earlier F350 duelly.
Barbara and Laurent, Hartland Big Country 3500RL. 39 ft long and 15500 GVW.
2005 Ford F250 SD, XL F250 4x4, Long Box, 6.0L Diesel, 6 Speed Stick, Hypertech Max Energy for Fuel mileage of 21 MPusG empty, 12.6 MPusG pulling the BC. ScangaugeII for display..
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