Selecting the right truck to tow your fifth wheel or travel trailer can be a daunting task. I suggest deciding on which fifth wheel or travel trailer you have your heart set on first. That way, you will know the most important factors you will need in selecting the right truck: pin weight and trailer weight.
Pin Weight and Truck Payload
Payload is the maximum amount of weight your truck can carry (different from towing). This means the total weight of all passengers, cargo, and the trailer pin weight. The pin weight of each trailer can usually be found on each trailers spec sheet. A good conservative estimate is to take 15-20% of the trailer weight and that usually will give you a rough estimate of the pin weight. Although many people claim you can exceed payload and try to push the limits, I do NOT suggest this for fulltimers and would NEVER put my family at risk (I discuss the risks below in detail).
Trailer Weight and Truck Towing Capacity
The towing capacity of the truck is simply that . . . How much can the truck pull? This is usually listed in the truck’s spec sheet or owner’s manual.
To determine the amount of trailer weight being pulled, subtract the pin weight from the gross trailer weight. Do note that the listed weight of the trailer which is usually listed on its side panel does not include any personal items you will store in the trailer, propane, or water.
Each gallon of water you have in your tank is about 8 pounds so a 60 gallon tank at full capacity adds about 480lbs to your trailer weight. Also, full propane tanks can be 30-40lbs each.
GCVWR and Risks of Being over Weight
Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating is the MAXIMUM combined weight of the truck, trailer, and everything therein. If you exceed this, not only could you put yourself and those around you in extreme risk, but you could face severe penalties and possible prison time if you get into an accident.
Being over payload or towing capacity can make it:
- Difficult to stop
- Difficult to turn
- Overheat transmission, engine, etc
- Loss of control, jackknife, truck / trailer rollover
- Damage to breaks, suspension, axles
- Shorten lifespan of truck / trailer
And I’m sure I’ve missed a lot more.
Also, don’t get caught up in all the hype over which brand is better. Choose the trim that suits you. If you want to know how and why we selected the Ram 3500 Dually, you can read about it (here insert blog link).
Be safe, have fun, and just remember the reason why you are choosing to buy and truck and trailer: to go on YOUR National Adventure.
We would love to hear your feedback in the comments below. I can answer any questions and update this posting if necessary. Thank you for joining us on Our National Adventure!