Towing an RV – It’s complicated!

I have been researching RV’s and trucks for several months now and I am no closer to making a decision than I was at the start! It’s complicated! At least towing is.  

Here’s my dilemma

I still can’t decide whether or not to purchase a fifth wheel, which I feel I could easily live in full-time. To do that I’d need a 3/4 ton truck (read on). I almost got laughed out of a Chevy dealership because I said that I was told I could pull a fifth wheel with a 1/2 ton truck. Their response was – “there’s no way in hell you can pull a fifth wheel with a 1/2 ton truck.” The tongue/pin weight was overcapacity in this case. Not sure why they were laughing at me – that’s what I was told. Sure, you probably could pull it, but you’ll be right up against the maximum towing capacity – and that’s not safe, they said. I’ve also read that from numerous sources.

I think a 1/2 ton truck would be better for me as far as daily driving when I’m not RV’ing, but I feel that a 3/4 ton truck would definitely be better for towing anything over 8,000 lbs. fully loaded. 

Who is right?

I’ve read on many RV blogs and in RV groups on Facebook, etc. that to be on the safe side, you should never tow more than 80% of the trucks’ max towing capacity. I can only assume that’s correct – at least my gut agrees. I just want to make sure I have enough power to get in and out of the  mountains without tearing up my truck, or falling off the side of a mountain because I can’t stop on the way down! 

I’m looking at an ad right now that boldly states that the fifth wheel is 1/2 ton tow-able. It’s dry weight is 7,000 lbs., GVWR is 10,000 lbs. Most 1/2 ton trucks can’t pull that weight except (maybe) the EcoTec3 6.2L V8 w/max trailering package (or a similar truck). The Chevy dealer I spoke with told me the 6.2L V8 with MTP is very rare and very hard to find, so unless you’re lucky enough to find one get the 2500, he said. Sure, I could probably order one, but I can’t afford a brand new truck.

I’ve also been told that I could simply add airbags to a 1500 and be just fine vs buying a 2500. After further research I have learned that adding airbags does absolutely nothing to increase the max towing capacity of the truck, or how much weight the rear axle can safely bear. The max towing capacity of the truck is on a sticker inside the door and in the owners manual.  The most airbags will do is make your ride a bit smoother.

Safety first!

You also have to consider this: whether you’re towing a fifth wheel or a travel trailer, you will be pulling a huge box behind you. That’s not the same as pulling a boat or a bunch of hay on a flatbed. When the wind hits the walls you’re pulling down the road, it will most definitely push it around. So make sure you look into stabilizers for trailers. 

If you are thinking about purchasing an RV – please, please, please – do the research on towing. Make sure you are towing safely – not only for you and your family, but for others around you on the road as well. I’m no expert, as you can tell. So please do the research required for safe towing. There’s plenty of good information on YouTube and other places on the Internet.  Just make sure you’re using reliable sources – not a bunch of people arguing about towing capacity on Facebook. Refer to towing guides by the truck manufacturers! And know all the weights associated with your RV.  I’ve seen too many people who think the only weight they need to be concerned with is the dry weight. Not so!

Finally,  if you are towing over capacity,  you are putting yourself at risk of not being covered by your insurance company in the event of an accident. Not to mention being sued by someone injured in a crash. Some States even stop and inspect rigs for legal towing, so keep that in mind.

Do the research! As frustrating and confusing as it may be, I feel more comfortable knowing, with a great amount of certainty, that I will be safely towing.

It will all come together!

I’ll figure it out eventually, but I think I’ll stop stressing over it for a couple of months. February will give me plenty of time to find what I want before July (when my apartment lease expires). Besides, Christmas is coming fast, and I don’t want to be worrying about trucks, RV’s and towing!

If you have any helpful hints or suggestions they will be most welcome. Comment below, please!

Safe travels and happy holidays to all!

-Deb

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