Need help choosing the right truck to tow a travel trailer

anjolkaanjolka Member Posts: 1
edited July 2015 in Chevrolet
We bought a 6500 lb (dry weight) travel trailer and are looking at a Chevy Silverado 1500 to tow it. It is a 1997 extended cab; short bed 350 cc engine; 5.7 L; 3rd door; heavy duty tow package, heavy half. Can't find in the owner's guide the towing capacity or rear axle ratio (assume it's 3.73)
Will a half ton pull this much trailer weight without ruining the engine and/or tranny? We expect to take it on at least one long trip (6000 mi or more) and numerous short hauls. We live in the east with lots of hilly terrain.

We have to give the dealer our answer by Mon. morning. This is a small independent dealership (one salesperson) who had no idea and the owner is out of town. The local travel trailer sales person wasn't sure either!

This is a 29 footer and not a fifth wheel.

Will really appreciate any and all help.


See Also
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  • mullins87mullins87 Member Posts: 959
    It will "pull" the trailer down the road, but everything else about that truck is built too light to handle the load. First off are brakes, eventhough the trailer has them, the brakes on the 1/2 ton are too small. Next is the suspension, it is too light to handle all of that weight. You will have to add helper springs/air bags even if you use a weight distributing hitch. Also, with the light suspension, you will get a fair amount of sway even with sway control. A 29' TT is going to catch a lot of wind. The engine is strong enough to pull that kind of weight, but I have my doubts about the tranny. I used to have a K1500 and I pulled the tranny out of it pulling a 4k lb trailer on fairly flat road.

    I personally would not recommend using any 1/2 ton to pull that kind of weight. Step up to a 3/4 ton. You will be surprised at the little price difference and little difference in fuel mileage. Never listen to any salesman about matters such as this. The car dealer wants to sell you his truck, so he will tell you whatever it takes to close the deal. Unless of course you literally trust the lives of your family with him.

    I have a 1-ton to pull a 31' TT, overkill I know. But it handles the camper no matter what gets thrown at me. Within the last week a motorist in a town nearby blew a tire on a 26'-30' TT. He was pulling it with a 1/2 ton Suburban. Well the trailer started fishtailing and the whole rig flipped. I had a very bad weekend about a month ago where I blew two tires at highway speeds on the same trip. The trailer never once tried to step out of line. IMHO, the 1-ton is what made the difference. In high crosswinds and fast moving trucks, the trailer never tries to sway. I am running without any kind of sway control.

    I am not saying go out and buy a 1-ton, but you should think about a 3/4 ton.
  • mullins87mullins87 Member Posts: 959
    I got to thinking about the weight of the camper you bought, 6,500lbs dry. That camper fully loaded with the fresh water tank full and everything needed for a weekend of camping will gross out to probably between 8,000 to 9,000 lbs.

    You'll see some people do it, but I do not recommend it. You will thank me on that 6,000 mile trip, a 3/4 ton will make the trip much more relaxing on the driver.
  • oldharryoldharry Member Posts: 413
    That is a lot of trailer once you load it. If you take a lot of trips, you might even consider a diesel. Diesel aren't great for short commuting, but pulling heavy trailers, they pay for themselves.

  • rayt2rayt2 Member Posts: 1,208
    6500 Dry Weight ?? Look on the door tag of the tow vehicle, it will tell you the GVWR for the vehicle you plan to tow with, keep in mind that this includes the passengers and full load of fuel in the tow vehicle. Most dealers just want to sell the trailer/vehicle and will mislead you as to what the vehicle can actually pull. I just bought a new 28'TT that is 4400# dry weight & 6600# loaded weight. The truck I pull with is a 3/4 ton Silverado Ext Cab 2wd w/5.3L and 3.73 rear gear ratio rated @ 7200 GVWR. Trailer loading starts with the options you add (A/C) etc, LP gas tanks (full), potable water etc.
    So with the trailer at full load I have a 600 lb balance (myself, wife, kid, full load of fuel and essentials) before maxing out my truck, not alot left as you can see.
    Granted I do not have more than 4 or 500 lbs. of load in trailer as it is and don't normally travel with 50 gal potable water tank full either but the buffer is there should I need it.
    Any one who maxes out to GVWR is asking for problems. IMHO.

    Ray T.
  • gmengineman1gmengineman1 Member Posts: 32
    Look at it this way. The truck you prose to purchase will pull the triler you describe but at what cost to you? I pull a 30 ft 5th wheel that weighs in at 12,006 lbs wet (loaded). I have a one ton 4 X 4 pickup with modified (after market) front rotors and an air ride support system. I get about 10,000 k miles on a set of front dic pads. The driveline is supported by a Ger Vendors Overdrive giving me 6 speeds forward. It is a real chore for my truck to handle this heavier trailer but I at least have the peace of mind for heavier frame, brakes, running gear and adequate tire/ wheel combination. Think about what you are proposing to do. It will cost you a lot more to maintain in the long run.
  • saddaddysaddaddy Member Posts: 566
  • mullins87mullins87 Member Posts: 959
    We all told him NO!!!! I just hope he heeded our advice.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Administrator Posts: 11,142
    Kinda late, but also check the archived Best Power Train for Towing topic for a good discussion.

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