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Old 12-14-2012, 12:33 PM   #1
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Towing Large With A 1/2 Ton Truck?

It seems the tow vehicle threads have a propensity to turn into major arguments, and believe me I'm not trying to start another one.

However, there seems to be a lot of folks today that feel the late model 1/2 ton trucks have capabilities not seen in the past below the 3/4 ton level, and it's a fact the newer trucks do have higher tow ratings than in the past.

Specifically, I would like to hear from those of you that are currently towing late model, larger, heavier Airstreams (wide body 27' and above) with 1/2 ton trucks, how you tow, how much you tow, and how satisfied you are with the "experience".

I suspect this thread will receive posts like, "you can't tow that much with a 1/2 ton", or "you'll be way over max payload", or "I have a 3/4 ton Diesel and wouldn't tow with anything less", but those are the kind of inputs that start arguements, and it would be very nice to not go thru all that, please.

Thanks,
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Old 12-14-2012, 12:47 PM   #2
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i've towed from miami to nj and back again +- 2,500 miles.

the trailer is running around 9,200 lbs. fully loaded.

i'm running the truck pretty empty with no cargo to speak of and the girlfriend position is still open, lol.

it tows well with a 12.9 mpg avg on the trip south at 60 mph on the highway and 12.5 mpg for the total trip. with little local driving.

i'm very happy with the ride other than folks drafting 10' behind the trailer!
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Old 12-14-2012, 01:25 PM   #3
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we tow 27 safari f.b. with a 2010 tundra crew max it tows like a dream. Had an older 3/4 chevy diesel wouldn't look back
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Old 12-14-2012, 01:39 PM   #4
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I have towed my 1997 30' wide body with a 1/2 ton 4x4 crew cab. No weight in the bed of the truck except for the camper shell. In order to get the weight ratio right, I had to use the 5th link from the end on a reese hitch set up. While the truck would adequately pull the trailer, I really did not like the "feel" in the rear end because of the "P" metric tires. I did not try it with the LT tires. While the truck would "adequately" handle the trailer, I did not feel as comfortable with it as I do with my 1 ton dually. BTW both vehicles are Chevrolets the 1/2 ton was a 2008 with 5.7 and 3.73 rear the other is a 99 crew cab long bed with a 350 and 4.10 rear
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Old 12-14-2012, 01:44 PM   #5
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Thanks Bruce, One question for you, did the 2008 have the four speed transmission, or the six?
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Old 12-14-2012, 02:08 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveH View Post
However, there seems to be a lot of folks today that feel the late model 1/2 ton trucks have capabilities not seen in the past below the 3/4 ton level, and it's a fact the newer trucks do have higher tow ratings than in the past.
It's mostly a paper difference.

In the 1970s, automakers didn't publish tow ratings.

In the 1990s, automakers used tow ratings as a sales tool to differentiate and sell powertrain upgrades. Powertrain upgrades were then highly profitable for them, and the difference in tow rating allowed them to sell more of them to people who tow. In order for this to work, the tow ratings of entry-level trucks were artificially lowered.

Starting around 10 years ago, automakers started using tow ratings for competitive advantage. Tow ratings of 3/4 ton trucks remained largely the same. Tow ratings of 1/2 ton trucks increased, in some cases without any mechanical changes whatsoever, although the switch to 6 speed transmissions was responsible for some of the change.

I have towed my 30' Airstream with a Nissan Titan on a few occasions. The Titan is best understood as a 1/2 ton truck despite Nissan's protestations that it bridges the gap between 1/2 ton and 3/4 ton. It worked out. The Nissan has more horsepower than my 1997 3/4 ton Chevy, but the suspension, steering, and braking aren't as strong, and so the driving experience was more mushy.

I also towed a rented 24' sob with my 1996 Dodge 1500, back in the day, which was way over the tow rating but worked out OK.

So there are several things I would encourage you and others to keep in mind when thinking of pairing up 1/2 ton trucks with big trailers:

- Obviously you can do it. People tow up to and beyond the tow rating all the time.

- That said the 3/4 ton trucks are the better choice for durability, safety, and quality of the driving experience. A 3/4 ton truck is more than a suspension change, you get different: transmission, transfer case, rear axle, front and rear brakes, brake booster, wheels, and tires -- in addition to springs and shocks. (In addition to things like a cooling system upgrade and larger alternator that are optional on 1/2 ton but standard on a 3/4 ton)

- In general the rear springs on a 1/2 ton will be loaded to capacity when towing a 30' trailer even if the bed is empty

- This sort of thing may make more sense for infrequent short trips than extensive travel

- If you already have an F-150 and want to buy an Airstream that may make sense. If you already have an Airstream and are trying to decide what truck to buy chances are you're better off with a 3/4 ton

Hope this helps.
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Old 12-14-2012, 03:39 PM   #7
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Pulled my 28ft international CCD with a 2010 F150 Supercrew 5.4 4x4 for 10,000miles. it had no trouble pulling the weight or braking but with the tongue weight,passengers and cargo I had easily exceeded the factory maximum payload.
It could pull the weight but not handle the load.

I did some extensive research and I traded for something heavier that was designed for pulling my trailer and the extra weight of passengers and gear.I now do not worry about taking things with me(generators fishing tackle,extra gas,wife ,dog,son etc).
Could have bought a 3/4 ton but drove the 1 ton also and found that due to the progressive springs they ride the same.Price difference was negligible so I choose the 1 ton but what you get for the difference was a no brainer for me .I am very happy with my decision and drive the truck every day.
Bonus now my engine does not scream when going up mountains.My transmission does not hunt for gears consistently because the truck was designed to do what I use it for.The big bonus is I now have a 8ft box instead of the small 5.5 box that the F150 had which was always a pain in the a** (for me).
For me I made the best decision as I could never forgive myself if I got someone hurt for my negligence or just plain lack of knowledge.
I believe that the engineers that designed the trucks state a maximum payload in writing for a reason.It is the maximum weight that they can haul safely without a parts failure and a release of liability for the manufacturer if something bad happens.
In my case a 1/2 ton will not work with a 28ft Airstream as I enjoy taking passengers and gear ,but with a smaller trailer it would be fine.

Research is the key. Facts not opinions.

I have been in the automobile business for 37 years and I am still learning. 2cents
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Old 12-14-2012, 04:54 PM   #8
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I tow our 34' widebody with a 2009 F150 2X4 5.4L V8, 6 speed auto trans. It has been back and forth to Alumapalooza (via the Dragons Tail of NC) That part was by accident, but it does have 12% grades and the truck handled it just fine. I have towed the trailer with this combination for several thousand miles, but haven't kept track of how many. When I first started with this truck/trailer I had a Reese Hitch and didn't care for the feel of the setup. I upgraded to a ProPride and after a trip through the CAT scales to set it all up, it has been a finger-tip driving experience.

The trailer is around 8200#, the bed of the truck is mostly empty, and the cab holds my wife and I along with two middle school children and a dog. We are just under or at the max combined gross weight.
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Old 12-14-2012, 06:52 PM   #9
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Our tow vehicle is used almost exclusively as a tow vehicle for our AS or as a heavy hauler. Under our circumstances a 2500HD with a gas engine made perfect sense.

MPG for our 2500 gas engine is very similar, while towing, to our previous 1500 truck (2012 GM 2500HD vs 2008 GM 1500 V8). Non-towing mpg is lower for the 2500 truck. A 2500 as a daily non-towing driver could be fairly costly because of the low non-towing mpg.

As previously stated there are significant strength difference between a 1500/150 vs a 2500/250 truck. My truck brakes would have no problem stopping my AS in the event of a total AS brake failure. The brake improvement alone is massive. Recent model 2500/250 trucks are very comfortable rides. Tires a E rated LT tires. No concern on exceeding payload capacity or tongue weight capacity.

If you are in the market for a tow vehicle it makes good sense to at least explore the pros and cons of a HD truck.

edit: I just noticed you already own a 2500 diesel. So you understand the benefits of a 2500 already.
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Old 12-14-2012, 07:56 PM   #10
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Pulling with a 1/2ton is completely doable while staying within all the manufacturers specs, if the 1/2 ton has the right options.

I tow our 30' Safari (8800 lbs GVWR) with a 2012 F150 SC 4x4 with Max Tow and HD Payload (as called in Canada). Payload capacity of 2150 lbs as printed on the sticker on the door jam.

The Ecoboost engine provides excellent power and torque. The torque is all available at very low RPM (2500) which is excellent for pulling. Following the Ford guidelines for towing capacity, the truck is rated to pull 8900 lbs when loaded to maximum payload capacity.

With the capacity of the truck I can pull the trailer plus ProPride hitch, family of 4, some gear in the back, canoes on the top and still have room for a guest.

The real test will be the planned trip next summer out west...
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Old 12-14-2012, 08:52 PM   #11
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Kind of comes down to full versus part time, doesn't it? A "vacationer" ought to be fine with a 1/2T with just about any A/S.

Some nicely done reports above this post.

.
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Old 12-14-2012, 09:06 PM   #12
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Steve, your spec'd tongue weight is less than mine and I don't leave the wife at home with our Ram 1500 5.7 4x4.

The engine doesn't scream going up hills nor constantly shift up and down because I've learned how to select the gear we need, six to pick from and next year's model eight to pick from.

And it's a really nice riding and handling truck with decent fuel economy.

doug k
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Old 12-14-2012, 09:15 PM   #13
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well, shoot, a V8 working hard is one cool sound. Might not be a 318 Detroit, but we'll take what we can get.
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Old 12-14-2012, 09:18 PM   #14
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Depends on the 1/2 ton. I had a 99 Chevy with a 6 cyl and 3.08 gears for that a 16' would be pushing it. On the other hand my father's 02 1500HD it's not a problem 6L and 4.10 gears, 2956 lbs payload, 10,000 lbs towing, oh yeah and 8 lug wheels, sounds pretty close to a 3/4 ton to me.
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