Most first-time RVers ask us this question. They want to know the brand of truck they can use to easily tow RVs without any problem. Choosing the right truck to pull a Fifth Wheel RV can seem like a very challenging task, especially if you’re a first-time buyer. Sometimes, an internet search, will provide a myriad of different tow ratings and calculations from each truck manufacturer, that makes finding a truck to match your RV almost impossible.
We want to keep this article very simple so that you don’t get confused searching for a truck to pull your Fifth Wheel. You can also find additional useful information here, RV towing when starting your search.
Alright let’s get started
Long Bed Versus Short Bed
The configuration of the trunk – especially the bed length is an important factor that you need to consider. You are more likely to tow a Fifth Wheel RV with a long bed truck in almost every case. We usually recommend an eight-foot bed, which is the longest you can get on any pickup. The advantage of a long bed truck is that not only can it carry more, it can store bigger items in the bed of the truck, like a generator. When the long bed is hitched to a fifth wheel trailer, the space between the front of the hitch and the back of the truck cab allows for the trailer overhang to clear the back window of the truck cab. So when doing a tight turn, you will not risk the front of the fifth wheel hitting the back window of the truck cab. If you want to use a short bed truck, which has a six and one half foot bed, you will need a special hitch (Super Glide) by PullRite because of the decreased turning radius over the bed.
Understanding The Trucks Tow Ratings
When choosing a truck to tow your Fifth Wheel RV, you need to check the trucks tow ratings online. It is crucial to understand and stay within the weight ratings of your RV and tow vehicle to insure your family’s safety as well as others around you. Understanding the following terminology will help.
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) means the maximum allowable weight of the fully loaded vehicle, including liquids, passengers, cargo and the tongue weight of any towed vehicle. Note: The tow vehicle and RV each have a GVWR.
Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) is not a limit or specification. It is obtained when the fully loaded vehicle is driven onto a scale. The Gross Vehicle Weight, should not exceed the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) or the vehicle’s warranty could be voided. Refer to the owner’s guide for the specific vehicle.
Gross Combination Weight rating (GCWR) is the maximum allowable combined weight of the tow vehicle and the attached towed vehicle. GCWR assumes that both vehicles have functioning brakes, with exceptions in some cases for very light towed vehicles (less than 1,500 lbs). Check your chassis manual or manufacturer towing guide.
Unloaded Vehicle Weight (UVW) is the weight of the unit as built at the factory. The UVW does not include cargo, fresh water, LP gas, occupants or dealer-installed accessories.
Again, you want the payload of your pickup to be suitable to handle the King Pin weight that will be placed in the bed. You will also need to consider the Curb weight, since the simple logic shows that the heavier your tow vehicle is, the better it will handle the weight. You don’t want your fifth wheel overpowering your truck when it comes to hauling a big Fifth Wheel RV.
Diesel or Gas Engine?
We also recommend ¾ or 1 ton trucks because they will have higher towing capacities. Again, you are better off using a diesel engine because of the capacity for so much towing power and torque. Most newer Diesel models come with an integrated exhaust brake. An exhaust brake is a means of slowing a diesel engine by closing off the exhaust path from the engine, causing the exhaust gases to be compressed in the exhaust manifold, and in the cylinder. Since the exhaust is being compressed, and there is no fuel being applied, the engine works backwards, slowing down the vehicle. The amount of negative torque generated is usually directly proportional to the back pressure of the engine, which allows less wear on the braking system. If you decide to use an automatic transmission, you will need to ensure that the truck has a large transmission cooler or add a supplemental cooler.
Single Rear Wheel(SRW) or Dually (DRW)?
When towing a big heavy Fifth wheel across the country, the dually really provides an added comfort level of control. The additional rear wheels provide a smooth ride during high winds and can provide some additional safety if you have a blowout. The downsize of the DWR is that once unhitched, the truck can be burdensome for drivers not used to the extra size. Parking at the local grocery store usually requires finding a space farther away from the entrance and with plenty of room.
What do the pros say?
We conducted a survey and based on the opinion of many truck owners who pull Fifth Wheels, the most popular truck was the 2016 Chevrolet 2500 HD with a Duramax Turbo-Diesel V8 engine.
Other trucks include:
2016 Ford F-250/F-350 Long Bed
2016 Chevy/GMC Silverado/Sierra 2500/3500 Long Bed
2016 Ram 2500/3500 Long Bed
Finally, the make of truck you can use to tow your Fifth Wheel RV is a matter of choice. Any of the Ford, Chevy or Dodge models will get the job done, as long as they meet the your Fifth Wheel weight specifications.
Read Choosing the right RV for fulltime travel