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Old 02-19-2004, 08:00 PM   #1
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Will 2000 Dodge RAM 2500 with Cummins 5.9L tow A/S well?

I need some advice.

I was just down at the Dodge dealer this afternoon, looking at a 2000 Ram Truck 2500 with Quad Cab, 4x4, Short Bed, Automatic 4-Speed and 5.9L 24V Turbo Diesel*engine.

The Dodge people say this vehicle can tow 9450 pounds.

Is this a good tow vehicle for a Safari 28W? It seems like it would according to the A/S web site spec sheet, but I'm not very experienced with all the technical details of towing heavy loads. How reliable is the the Cummins 5.9L diesel? Anything else I should be concerned about on this truck before signing the paperwork?

Thanks!

- Charlie
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Old 02-20-2004, 05:58 AM   #2
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The simple answer to you question is that it will tow it VERY well.

I am looking at new (to me) trucks also, and have been strongly considering the Dodge. Two things bother me about them - the ride height is very high, and the automatics have a very poor reputation. The six speed is reputed to be strong, however, and I do like the gear spacing.

Even so, if I buy new I am going with Chevy. Don't need a ladder to get into the cab, smooth Duramax diesel, and really slick Allison automatic.

But before you buy, talk to the salesmen over on the new truck side. I am finding it extremely difficult to justify the prices of used diesel trucks when the new ones have rebates, 0% financing, and in the case of the Dodge, both!

Mark
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Old 02-20-2004, 06:44 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by j54mark
The simple answer to you question is that it will tow it VERY well.

I am looking at new (to me) trucks also, and have been strongly considering the Dodge. Two things bother me about them - the ride height is very high, and the automatics have a very poor reputation. The six speed is reputed to be strong, however, and I do like the gear spacing.

Even so, if I buy new I am going with Chevy. Don't need a ladder to get into the cab, smooth Duramax diesel, and really slick Allison automatic.

But before you buy, talk to the salesmen over on the new truck side. I am finding it extremely difficult to justify the prices of used diesel trucks when the new ones have rebates, 0% financing, and in the case of the Dodge, both!

Mark
I have to agree with Mark on the new incentives making it awful hard not to go with a brand new truck. IMHO, the Cummins in the Dodge trucks is the very best truck engine out there. They advertise that it has 40% fewer parts than the V8 diesels. I consistently get between 20.5 and 21 mpg going to work and back. We averaged 13.3 pulling an SOB up to Gatlinburg, TN, through the mountains, and back to Florida.

No ladder needed! That's what the Putco Boss full length step bars are for. Not only does it make the truck look pretty, it's an easy baby step into the cab and even gives a step up into the bed in front of the rear wheels.

Dodge automatics ... If you buy new, you'll get the new 48RE automatic which is substantially beefed up over the old 47 trannies. It came out in 2003 although there are still some 2003's out there with the older 47RE transmission. I have not heard of any troubles with the new automatic transmission and I love mine. Most everyone with the manual 6 speed loves it also.

I could go on and on about the Dodge truck ... one great tow vehicle and once you get where you're going, one great exploration vehicle.
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Old 02-20-2004, 07:18 AM   #4
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Charlie, as the others have said, this is a superb tow truck. If buying through a dealer, I presume there will be a warranty period, and Cummins warrants the engine for 100k miles or 5 years on my 98. I mention this as the 24 valve engine has had problems with the VP44 (I think that's right) fuel pump, and a replacement is several thousand dollars. You might ask the dealer for a quote for a replacement, including labor. Prepare to be shocked. The other weak point on the 4x4 is the front end, particularly the track bar, and steering wander. All vehicles have issues. Good luck with your choice. Nick.
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Old 02-20-2004, 07:34 AM   #5
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Prepare to be shocked. The other weak point on the 4x4 is the front end, particularly the track bar, and steering wander.
There's a simple solution to this problem. http://www.lukeslink.com/

I honestly don't know why Dodge hasn't put in a recall for all trucks, and retrofitted this thing. Its cheap enough..., its certainly a safety issue, and "everyone" is very well aware of this chronic design flaw in the 4x4 front ends.

anyway, less than a hundred bucks to install it on mine, vs. the $350 + quote from the dealer. (and no guarantee that the same thing won't happen again ) And fwiw: I do not go "4-wheeling" with my truck, don't drive off road at all, don't even drive on bumpy roads. all e-z highway miles on my truck. and at only 50K miles, it needed a new track bar. ????

But ANYway...at a rally last year, I ran into a member that had a shiny new 2500 4x4 w/ the cummins deisel, and it wasn't any taller than my 1500 model. maybe not even as tall. There've been some significant changes since 2000, I guess. Mine is a 2000, and I remember looking at a 2500 on the lot, and that was one thing that really stuck out in my mind: how high up the damn thing was.
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Old 02-20-2004, 07:45 AM   #6
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one thing that really stuck out in my mind: how high up the damn thing was.
Yes, that stuck in my mind, too. After the test drive I opened the door and stepped out, forgetting about the long distance to the ground. I ended up hitting my groin on the door's threshold, and feeling quite stupid and embarrassed as I limped back into the the dealer's showroom.

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Old 02-20-2004, 08:00 AM   #7
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The Diesel question

Just traded away a 96 F250 Turbo Diesel 4x4 long-bed w/130,000 miles for a 2004 F-150 XLT 5.4 w/3.73 gearing. We're pulling a 1969 31 foot Sovereign. Here was the reasoning:

Wanted a newer vehicle to get the reliability of a newer vehicle along with the probability of fewer repairs. The new F-150 has a tow rating of 9,300#. The 300 hp engine has plenty of power along with the 3.73 gearing.

The old F250 turbo diesel had tons of power, ALL THE TIME, which we didn't need. Some of the diesel repairs were starting to hurt. We probably will be towing the AS several times a year, sometimes in the mountains. But, the rest of the year had no need for all that power.

The oil changes on the F250 were running $65.00 (that includes 15 qts of oil, $19.95 for the big filter and $11.00 or so for the change. Also had a few other expensive repairs: alternator R&R $400; rear axle bearings $800; high pressure oil repair $400. New tires needed, etc. etc. etc. Oil changes on the new F150 will be down around $20 or less, on special sometimes. Diesel repairs cost more than gasoline engine repairs. . don't kid yourself. (I'm making that claim because I've been a heavy truck mechanic for 30 years. . .argue if you like. . .just my humble opinion)

I guess the reasoning for the diesel is that the power available is intoxicating, but do you need that power all the time; especially if you use the vehicle for daily transportation?

I also thought about what it would be like to fire up that NOISY diesel early on a cold morning in a campground. . . .smoke, smoke, smoke. Anyone ever been shot at?

The mileage difference is still up in the air for us. The turbo diesel got 17mpg most of the time, but dropped down to 14 mpg. in the hills. Had to plug the truck in more of the time in the winter also to make sure it would start, especially below 10 deg. The new F-150 is getting 13 mpg right now in the winter; hopefully mileage will go up in the summer to maybe 15mpg, but expect that while towing it will be down around 12-14 again, maybe less. I hear that people with the Dodge Ram Cummins get up to 21 or so during daily driving.

Read an article a while back from Trailer Life where they compared diesel to gas and the main justification of owning a diesel truck was: IF you keep the diesel for 300,000 miles the cost per mile will be .07 cents per mile versus .12 cents per mile for a gas vehicle. . .assuming normal maintenance. You would have had to replace a gas engine during that 300,000 miles where the diesel would still be useable. (With diesel engines you're burning a lubricant which isn't trying to wash the oil off your cylinder walls . . . like gasoline.)

Just a few thoughts to chew on. I realize that there are exceptions to the norm, that mileages vary; sometimes you get a loser truck and sometimes you don't; and that you really do need enough power to pull an AS; also that being underpowered really sucks. Just consider the overall useage in your decision. I think I have compromised well for now. We'll see.

Best wishes with your new truck decision.
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Old 02-20-2004, 08:10 AM   #8
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Re: The Diesel question

Quote:
Originally posted by fritzs
I guess the reasoning for the diesel is that the power available is intoxicating, but do you need that power all the time; especially if you use the vehicle for daily transportation?

I also thought about what it would be like to fire up that NOISY diesel early on a cold morning in a campground. . . .smoke, smoke, smoke. Anyone ever been shot at?

Do I need the power all the time? No, but I like having the economy around all the time. (Last tank 20.6 mpg, to work and back commuting, went 604 miles on the tank.)

Smoke? You mean some diesels smoke when they start on cold mornings? Hmmmmm. Never seen any with the Cummins.
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Old 02-20-2004, 11:49 AM   #9
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If you can do it your self, diesel maintenace is not expensive. For example, I got oil filters for my Duramax on sale at Autozone for $1.99 each. Delvac 1300 15W40 is under $6 a gallon at Wal-Mart. So a home oil change is $20 for me.

I also bought a fuel filter for $20 off the 'net that cost 2-3 times that at a dealer. Allison transmission filter was quite a bit less off the 'net also. (kennedydiesel.com)

I too, love the power and economy, (18 mpg around town) of the diesel.
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Old 02-25-2004, 09:55 PM   #10
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Thanks, everyone for your thoughts. I decided to forego the 2000 Dodge with Cummins engine after I heard a 2004 Dodge with Cummins engine and noticed how much quieter it was!! A quiet engine is worth a lot to me.

Now I just have to figure out how to justify a $715 monthly truck payment...

Although, maybe I should just forget about diesel. Dodge dealer says their new Hemi is just as powerful and costs $5,000 less. Yes, I know a gas engine probably won't last as long a s diesel, but honestly, I've never gotten rid of a vehicle because the engine died. It's always the sum of the broken heater knobs, intermittent radio, wipers that stop in the "up" position, etc. that makes me long for a new truck. Having a diesel under the hood might mean I just have to put up with these annoyances longer to "get my money's worth" out of the drivetrain.

- Charlie
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Old 02-25-2004, 10:20 PM   #11
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Please do not use a half-ton truck for new trailers longer than 22 feet (though several members have GM 1500 HD trucks no longer being made that do have higher capacities -- joshua32064 comes to mind and he tows a new 28 footer -- not a Classic! not a Slide-Out!).

My Nissan Titan has a 9300# tow capacity and a great engine that has been equated with the hemi (just trying to attract trouble, a.k.a. more input FYI). The new F-150 also advertises a similar tow capacity. That doesn't change the fact that the truck still has a normal half-tonner GVWR. Your hitch weight will not be that advertised for the empty trailer -- you will travel with kitchen gear, fresh water, and anti-sway/WD that add up. Put two adults, gas and nothing else in the truck? Any new 25' trailer will exceed the GVWR in any practical usage configuration. 28 footer? Out of the question! GCWR will also stop you from carrying any practical load in either tow vehicle or trailer.

You'll appreciate towing in hilly or mountainous terrain when the trailer doesn't peg out the tow vehicle's numbers on max capacity!
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Old 02-25-2004, 10:51 PM   #12
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Bob,

I had great luck towing my old 25' Safari with my old 94 GMC 1500. A little slow going up steep grades but other than that I drove over 20,000 miles with that set up with no problem.

Now I have a beefy 1500 Sierra Denali that has Vortec 6000 and I roared up any mtn. pass. Never sway problems in either truck. So my experience tells me that 1/2 toners can handle 25' trailers.
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Old 02-26-2004, 06:52 PM   #13
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Big Dee -- No doubt it can be done. Also, a 3/4 or 1 ton diesel can tow to beat the band. (Though one would have to watch out for the limits on GVWR with a 3/4 ton and the longest trailers)

Let's overlook the inflated tow capacities and only look at the tow vehicle's GVWR. A new 25' Safari's additional allowable weight above the basic model is 942 pounds (596# for Six-sleeper!). Figure a hitch weight closer to 15% of the trailer's GVWR to be 879# (since there will be some additional trailer load, LP, and anti-sway).

As the new Fords are listed at higher tow capacity, on a new F-150 5.4L Super Cab 4x4 6.5' box the payload is 1470 pounds. Hitch weight + 170# (full tank) of fuel and 300# of driver, passenger, dogs or whatever is in the cab = 1349#. This leaves exactly 70 pounds of load allowable for the pickup box -- and a topper or tonneau cover hasn't been calculated into the equation yet. ...didn't add in truck options either -- no CD player, dang it!!

One can tow right up to a vehicle's limit and only time and performance are sacrificed -- and most of us can easily allow for a relaxed style of traveling. Since we don't have the towing charts possessed up at Can-Am, it is necessary to do the math and understand the greater wear and tear of going overweight -- hard to accept on an expensive new tow vehicle. Trailers at the same length slowly get lighter as they go back in time, so this should be applied to any individual situation as appropriate.

If one actually towed at the claimed 9000-plus pound half-tonner tow capacities, they would be riding alone in the cab and carrying how much gas?
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Old 02-26-2004, 07:32 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by idahosafari
Thanks, everyone for your thoughts. I decided to forego the 2000 Dodge with Cummins engine after I heard a 2004 Dodge with Cummins engine and noticed how much quieter it was!! A quiet engine is worth a lot to me.

Now I just have to figure out how to justify a $715 monthly truck payment...

Although, maybe I should just forget about diesel. Dodge dealer says their new Hemi is just as powerful and costs $5,000 less. Yes, I know a gas engine probably won't last as long a s diesel, but honestly, I've never gotten rid of a vehicle because the engine died. It's always the sum of the broken heater knobs, intermittent radio, wipers that stop in the "up" position, etc. that makes me long for a new truck. Having a diesel under the hood might mean I just have to put up with these annoyances longer to "get my money's worth" out of the drivetrain.

- Charlie
Charlie, my co-worker just dumped his Hemi-powered Ram because he was getting 7 MPG towing his 27' SOB trailer.13 not towing. The trailer wieghs 5500 pounds.
He bought the new Ram 2500 Cummins and gets 14 towing his trailer, and 19+ empty, probably more after break-in. Compare that to my Dakota with the 5.2 Magnum, getting 9.4 towing, and almost 14 empty.
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Old 03-10-2004, 05:54 PM   #15
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My Mopar is an oldie a 92 with 118k miles on it. Its the old 12 valve model 4x4 5 speed. Stock it did great on flat ground pulling by 34', it had its hands full going up long 6% grades, mostly because some engineer at Dodge put too much space between 3rd and 4th gears that and a 3.54 rearend. I bought everything that Gale Banks makes for this engine and it has made a trememdous difference. My wife even commented on it. I would love to have one of the 2004 1/2's with the 325 hp 600 ft/lbs of torque, but the cost is a factor. I love the economy 19-22 solo 12-13 towing. The truck looks great and is doing what is susposed to do and I am not embarassed when pulling with a caravan. What else is it susposed to do? But I would really love to have a 6 speed. Does anyone have one laying around?
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Old 03-10-2004, 06:19 PM   #16
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Tarheel,

How long have you been towing the 34' with your 1/2 ton Dodge? I am pulling my 30' Classic with a 1/2 tonner GMC against some member's advice but I have not had any problems. And I do have the Denali with the 325 hp engine and 4:10 gears. Also, everything on the truck is heavy duty- tranny w/ cooler, disk brakes, axles, 17 inch wheels and a Hensley hitch. As I am under the CGVWR by 10%, I am convinced that will be a good tow vehicle.

I am wondering if you feel good on the freeway with the Semi's rolling past? Any sucking? How do you feel about the braking distances with all that trailer weight behind you? That's is the only concren with my rig- how well will it stop downhill?
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Old 03-10-2004, 07:17 PM   #17
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My first real pull with anything was with my 92 Dodge 250 Cummins in the spring of 2000. It was stock at the time 158 hp x 395 ft/lbs torque taken at rear wheels. Since then I have added everything that Gale Banks makes for my engine and have up it to 225 hp x 610 ft/lbs torque again measured at rear wheels.
Semis are not too much of a problem specially if you see them coming. I feel them the most when they are about 10' aft and alongside. They give a gentle pull to them. Not all of the big trucks do this it seems like the better the airflow is on the semi the less effect it has on me. Box vans, flatbeds, and car carriers seem to be the worse and the faster they over take you the more pronounced the pull. I use the 2 second rule mulitplied by 3. I try to keep a minimum of 6 seconds between me and the rig ahead of me be it a 4 wheeler or an 18. I look in the 18's left side mirror and when I can see his face I flash my lights so that he will know that he is clear and that I am aware that he is coming over. Most of the drivers appreciate the thoughtfulness others just take your front fender. You have a gas engine so you may not have experienced trying to slow down a diesel. When you let off the gas the engine gives you some breaking, a diesel does not. I had a pac brake installed along with heavier exhaust valve springs, just a butterfly in the exhaust line, this helps me control downhill breaking. I can desend a 6% grade without touching the brakes as long as I downshift to 4th and hold the speed to 55-65 mph. It gets a little tricky when coming down Black Mountain just outside of Asheville NC its a long 9% grade and a posted 45 mph for trucks and rv's. I use 4th and hit the brakes when i reach about 47 which is too close to redline for my comfort level (I go on the governor at 2500) 47 mph in 4th is right there. I only pulled my 31' on two trips both close to home for a total of less than 250 miles. I personally think that the 3 axel tralier pulls truer than the 2 axel. I also have a sway brace that I use with it. I have forgotten to tighten it after I moved out of a tight campground and really haven't seem much difference, but I still use it. We all talk about how well our rigs do pulling hills but going down is much scarier. Going up hill all you have to do is take your foot off the gas and you stop, it aint the same coming down. Brake fade and failure has only happened too me once and that was in 1962 and I still remeber it well.
My rig is on the right with the tandom bike on it. Im the old goat walking towards it. The reason for the stop was the 454 chevy's brakes were overheating, I hadn't used mine, just the exhaust brake.
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Old 03-10-2004, 07:52 PM   #18
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Big Dee,

Assuming that you are, in fact, within all weight limits - rear axle, gvwr, cgwr, etc., there is nothing about your truck that will make it tow in any way inferior to a 3/4 ton. Wheelbase on all GM full size trucks is the same, varying only by cab and bed choice. Track is the same. All the larger engines are the same - 325 hp is the same 325 in the 1/2 and 3/4 ton. There is nothing that you will "feel". I think the disks are larger (maybe in the back, but don't quote me), but you would notice that only if the coach brakes failed.

The issues that will arise, if at all, will be more rapid wear in the differential, wheel bearings, suspension components, and possibly transmission (don't know if current GM transmissions are beefier for the 3/4 and one ton - they have been in the past).

Obviously, these items are de minimus if you are towing little. If you tow lots, they start to be noticable.

There is sometimes a false perception that a 3/4 ton will somehow "pull" better. That is obviously a function of hp and torque, which can be had in a 1/2 ton as easily as a 3/4 ton.

If it is going to be close, and it is time for a new truck, there is little reason today not to go with the larger capacity. Prices are not all that mcuh greater, truck for truck, engine for engine. The ride quality on the new 3/4 tons from the big three is really excellent, and isn't bad at all in the one tons. And the exterior dimensions are all the same across manufacturer lines.

On the other hand, if you've done the math, and the loads are within limits, I sure can't see staying up late nights worrying about what somebody on some forum said.

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Old 03-10-2004, 09:00 PM   #19
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I saw a recent article where people bought the diesels because of the long lifespan. According to the article the average first owner traded it in after 60 k miles. I bought mine second hand and it liked to have beat me to death before I put decent tires and shocks on it. The new 3/4-1 tons ride great, mine runs and I think thats great, but its paid for and thats a big plus for me.
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Old 03-10-2004, 09:19 PM   #20
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All the cost calculations were done when fuel was cheap.
I think getting a Diesel truck now will save you a lot in a short while from now.
Fuel will hit $ 3.00 sooner or later. A fresh Diesel will allow you to continue driving your truck affordably, due to the excellent mileage. You won't lose money trading in your gas guzzler for it, and they really do last a very long time with just reasonable care. Diesel repairs are definitely more expensive, but reliability is way up, especially with the Cummins. Just more stuff for you to ponder.
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