No, not a television….a tow vehicle. However, it is a little funny that our 300 square foot home on wheels has 2….that’s right, TWO, a pair, of televisions and our sticks and bricks has only one. The thought of the downsize we are making is sometimes daunting but then I remind myself….this RV has 2 bathrooms, 5 beds (and soon a guest bed), 2 kitchens and 2 TVs! It’s a mansion….a veritable castle relative to the majority of the homes of the world’s population.
But that’s not what you came to read about! Alright, tow vehicles. Lots of research led me to believe we should get the 5th wheel we want first and THEN find the tow vehicle. So that is what we did. We ended up with a 2010 Keystone Avalanche 340TG that measures 38 feet long and weighs 11860lbs off the lot but can theoretically be loaded with 2520 lbs of stuff. The pin weight when empty is 2380 lbs (for the uninitiated, the ‘pin weight’ is the weight of the fifth wheel carried in the bed of the truck). Alright, I’ve got all the numbers lets find a truck!!
Everyone I talked to agreed, if we could afford a diesel truck it would be the preferred way to go with such a big rig. OK….let’s shoot for diesel!
The brand….Ford, Chevy or Ram? This is a mess. The only thing I am sure of is that if someone built a truck that had a Cummins motor and an Allison transmission they would completely own the truck market. Dodgolette Ramerado with a Cummison? I’m not sure what to call it, but it would sell like crazy!!!
Crew cab is a must for all 5 of our butts. Long bed is preferred but we could make something shorter work. 4wd or 2wd are both fine the former is better I think from a resale POV. We don’t need any fancy accessories so the “work truck” trim package suits us fine.
SRW (single rear wheel) or DRW (dual rear wheel)? These names are a little silly I think. The thought of a single rear wheel truck makes me think of those funky new 3 wheeled motorcycle/tricycle things. Anyway, for parking and general maneuverability the SRW is the way to go, but the DRW gives you stability while towing. I went back and forth for awhile but settled on an SRW if the numbers worked out. Yeah, remember those numbers for the trailer? We still need to make sure the truck numbers align with the trailer numbers and this is where it gets way more complex than it should be.
But here are a few things I learned that may help you wade through these waters yourself.
- There are generally three different views on this topic:
- Those that are completely oblivious to limitations or safety concerns. Unfortunately, many truck and RV sales people I have encountered know very little about this topic. When I asked one sales person the GCWR (gross combined weight rating) of the truck he assured me he’d get the answer. He came back with the GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) printed in the door jamb. I clarified I was interested in the gCwr and again he assured me he’d get me the answer. A day later he asked me “what exactly do you mean by GCWR?”
- Those who are aware of the “suggested” limitations but are die hard fans of such-n-such a truck and are convinced that the truck can tow/haul WAY more than those numbers suggest because “they have all sorts of built in margin tacked on by the lawyers”. They will tell you some amazing stories about things they have towed or hauled with their truck….”didn’t even know I was towing the space shuttle behind me!!”
- Geeky engineers like myself who like data and need all the numbers to line up. They look up the weight per gallon of diesel, fuel tank capacity, weight per gallon of water, fresh water tank capacity, the weight per gallon of poop (nope, couldn’t find a good source of data here) and black tank capacity. They learn the differences between GVWR, GAWR, GCWR. They find out that its often the rear axle weight limit that is the limiting factor.
- The GVWR and GAWR (gross axle weight rating) are typically listed on the door jamb of vehicles and the dry weight and GVWR of the trailer is usually printed on the outside of the trailer somewhere. BUT, the GCWR of the vehicle is sometimes tricky to track down. Know what these values are and how to use them!
- Gas engine vehicles sometimes have a higher axle ratio (like 4.1) than the same vehicle with a diesel motor (which typically have a 3.73 axle ratio) and this ultimately gives them MORE tow/haul capacity than the diesel version!
- The following 2 websites have been extremely helpful in navigating the differences that year, make, model, trim, drive train, motor, transmission, etc have on tow/haul capacity:
So, I’m still without a truck. But I am pretty dead set on getting a 2011 Duramax 3500, SRW, crew cab, long bed, work truck. I had one deal slip through my fingers but I’m starting to understand the market for these and am convinced I’ll find the right truck for us!