Need help choosing tow vehicle

mamakatmamakat Member Posts: 5
We're a family of 5 and will need an extended cab
vehicle to tow a 5th wheel (not yet purchased) for
a year-long trip. All children are under 45lb and
car seats will be used (thus the extended cab).
I'd like shoulder belts in 4 out of 5 seats and
anchor bolts for carseat tethers. The 5th wheel
will most likely be a 26' older (heavier) 90's
model (92, 93, 94, 95). I'm thinking 3/4 ton
diesel? Brand? Advice? Any reason not to buy a
used truck? The truck will be used mainly for
towing - occasionally for going out and about where
we couldn't tow the trailer (or wouldn't care to
tow the trailer). When we come back home, we'll
sell the truck and trailer.

The truck options seem so overhelming it is
incredible. Any help or pointers will be


  • ryanbabryanbab Member Posts: 7,240
    Check out the new Silverado 2500HD's coming out this fall. They are gonna be a very nice truck. They will have ext cabs and crew cabs available which would definitly be enough room in the back for kids. I have a 1500 silverado ext cab an the ext cab room is the largest among competitors. The 2500 hd's will also have the duramax diesel and allison trans. I know Tim will probably post tomorrow. He can give you more info this is just a suggestion. I am kinda objective to chevy sorry.

    Im sure someone could tell you about the F-250 and its features and such good truck also.

    These 2 trucks are the probably only ones you will want to consider

  • arkie6arkie6 Member Posts: 198
    I would avoid the GM 6.2L or 6.5L diesel trucks. Not considered a reliable engine. Not that powerful or fuel efficient either. The older 3/4 ton GMs with the 454 ci gas engine would be an acceptable choice with acceptable power and reliability but not that great on fuel economy. For better fuel economy, there is the Ford F-250 with the Powerstroke diesel or even better yet is the Dodge Ram 2500 with the 5.9L Cummins diesel and a manual transmission. The Dodge auto transmissions behind the high torque diesel have had poor reliability though. Any of these trucks that are used but properly maintained and properly checked out should meet your needs. The newer (>1999) extended cab GMs have more room behind the front seats and with the 6.0L gas engine would be an alternative. There is not much reliability data out there yet though. If you need an automatic transmission, I would probably have to recommend the Ford F-250 with Powerstroke Diesel as the best tow vehicle.
  • jaijayjaijay Member Posts: 162
    Mamakat, I would opt for the new 2500HD that Ryanbab mentioned. I am going to be in the same boat too and I think the new Durmax and Allison is a solid combo that will do the job. I have looked at many 15th wheel trailers, i.e. Grand Teton, Hitchhiker, Montana etc. These puppies are not light however their load is well suited for the new DMAX.
  • ryanbabryanbab Member Posts: 7,240
    Chevy has a new 6.6L diesel made in partnership with izuzu. Just wait and see how itll blow away all the other diesels. Just a side note izuzu had more diesel sales than cummins and another company i forget offhand sorry combined.

  • mgdvhmanmgdvhman Member Posts: 4,157
    will be the best combo...period that has ever come out. I agree to stay away from older GM diesels though.... You don't have to have a diesel..but it may be the best answer for what you have to haul?

    and just in case you have never done this before....get an 8 foot make life easier.

    - Tim
  • mamakatmamakat Member Posts: 5
    Ok, I'm thinking the 8ft box that Tim referred to was a shortbed truck. Right? Since we're looking at pulling only a 26' trailer, it doesn't look like we'll need a longbed.

    I was thinking a diesel for fuel economy (we'll be on the road a YEAR) and resale value.

    We're not leaving until May-June of next year (but that shouldn't matter since we're looking at used vehicles, right?).

    Thanks to arkie for all the English :) information.

    And a side question - can someone tell me what an Allison is?

    From what I can gather, a Dmax is an engine type?

    Now, treat me like a 2yo - what do the ratios mean (something to do with axles?) 3.73? and why wouldn't everyone want a diesel (for fuel economy) and a bigger engine (6.0L vs 4.9L) means more power, right? Now for the really stupid question - what does the tonnage of a truck (1/2 ton, 3/4 ton) have to do with anything? WHat does it refer to? Isn't the engine size (power - to tow) the most important? And I'm sure that there is something about axles in there too - since they're bearing the weight load...

    Thanks so much for the time you're taking to answer these questions!
  • ryanbabryanbab Member Posts: 7,240
    DMAX is the duramax 6.6 L diesel engine
    Allison = Tranmission

    1/2 vs 3/4 vs 1 ton

    The higher the number the more it can tow and haul. The heavier duty so to speak it is.

  • mgdvhmanmgdvhman Member Posts: 4,157
    minimum..or maybe a 4:30 or so..

    4:10 means that every 1 rotation of the tires...the driveshaft turns 4.10 times....meaning the engine can haul more due to the "momentum" it can gain....if it was 1 to 1...the engine would strain...2 to 1...makes it easier...etc...4:10 does mean that the engine will be at a higher RPM for commuting....I have the 4:10 and it's been great...3:73 is the lowest I'd go for towing...but a 5th wheel?...hell no...4:10 would be minimal..

    the 8 foot box is the long box...a short box is 6.5 feet...and would cause problems when turning as the trailer would hit the cab...they make adjustable hitches that slide back...but I don't know enough about them

    Good Luck

    - Tim
  • arkie6arkie6 Member Posts: 198
    Based on what you will be towing, I would recommend a 3/4 ton truck. The 3/4 ton truck will have a heavier suspension system than a 1/2 ton to handle that load and it typically has larger and more durable gears in the rear end. In the GM and Dodge trucks, 3/4 tons are the 2500 series, and in Fords, its the F250 series.

    In general the bigger the engine size, the more torque it will put out, which is what is most important when towing. And when comparing engine sizes, compare gasoline-to-gasoline and diesel-to-diesel not gasoline-to-diesel. Diesel engines will typically put out much more torque for a given cubic inch size. While diesels will get better fuel economy when loaded and fetch a better price when you get ready to sell, they have their downsides such as being noisy, smelly, heavy, harder to start in very cold weather, and have somewhat higher maintenance costs.

    Regarding rear axle gear ratio, it depends. If you've got a gasoline engine which revs higher than a diesel then I would recommend 4.10 rear end or no less than 3.73 (the 4.10 is considered lower geared than the 3.73, 3.55, etc.). With a diesel engine that typically operates at a lower RPM and has a lower redline, I would recommend the 3.73 or your top speed will be limited on the interstate with lower gears such as 4.10 or 4.30.

    Regarding the Duramax and Allison combo, that is the new Isuzu Diesel engine and Allison transmission to be available in the 2001 GM heavy duty trucks. It may be a good package, but you can bet it will cost $35K+ for the truck with those options.
  • mgdvhmanmgdvhman Member Posts: 4,157
    The Dmax is a $4700 option and the Allison is $1100...but that's right in line with diesel prices..

    - Tim
  • jaijayjaijay Member Posts: 162
    The Allison is only a $1100 on the LT. If you opt for the LS it is much more. However with the LT you get leather, heated seats and all kinds of fun stuff. I guess an LS with an Allison will cost the same as an LT with an Allison. The difference is the LT will have more toys in it.
  • mgdvhmanmgdvhman Member Posts: 4,157
    ..I admit LT is all I look for when pricing out..sorry..I spoil myself..what can I say?


    - Tim
  • ryanbabryanbab Member Posts: 7,240
    Tim us poor people have to look at the LS. Take that into considertion we all cant have leather seats haha

  • mgdvhmanmgdvhman Member Posts: 4,157
    that LS costs just about as much I ain't....but liking a toasty leather seat under my [non-permissible content removed] I am!....(Used the heat and seat heaters this was 56 degrees....what happened to August?)

    actually a loaded LS is more than an LT...the LT gives you a discount when you buy the 8K or so of options....

    I see many loaded LS's....almost same price as LT's...why get an LS then?....I know... I know..

    "Cuz I don't like leather".......I love it..and the Cow tastes good too!..good old red meat and leather seats....ahhhhh

    - Tim

    (How DO people live on veggies alone??)
  • ryanbabryanbab Member Posts: 7,240
    Tim i configured an LT and a loaded LS before i bought mine and the LS was still alot cheaper. (gm supplier discount wise). My truck is a loaded LS everything but leather and sliding rear window.

    I am very happy with it. The rich thing was just a joke.

  • mamakatmamakat Member Posts: 5
    Thank you SO much for the "English"! What a wealth of information! I'm sure I'll come back later with more questions, but you both have given me a lot to digest. Now, why don't manufacturers use logical numbering schemes? A 1/2 ton s/b a 500, a 3/4 ton a 750,. etc...

    Thanks again!!
  • remington5remington5 Member Posts: 4
    If you have this many questions about trucks, engines, long or short beds, etc. you should also ask an important question of yourself. DO I KNOW HOW TO DRIVE THIS THING. Too many people get these rigs and don't have the slightest idea how to pull them around, much less back it up, turn it around in tight spaces like campgrounds, and stop the thing in a hurry it needed. Hey it's great to have one just know what you need to know as well as the driving skills needed to do it safely.
  • mamakatmamakat Member Posts: 5
    We drove a 25' RV for 3 weeks (in snow, rain and on beaches) for 5500+ miles and at least 2700 of those were on backroads (we hated the Interstates). We actually took that thing (it was a rental) down a dirt one-lane road off a Mesa in southern Utah (or N. Arizona). What a trip!!!

    Anyway, back to your point - what specifically would you suggest?
  • polsenpolsen Member Posts: 25
    With a short bed a fifth wheel will hit your back corners of the pickup cab when turning sharply as in backing up. Look at the numbers, a 8 foot wide trailer rotating in a 6-7 ft bed will be one foot too wide and contact the cab short of a 90 degree turn. There are fifth wheel hitches that will roll back to allow a tighter angle but a 8 ft bed is much simpler. Also check your weights and stay within 60-70% of your max weights. The older fifth wheels were generally heavier than the newer ones of equivalent lengths. Consider also that the half tons are not for serious towing, the 3/4 tons can have higher towing numbers than the 1 tons, 2x4 higher than 4x4s, and duallies offer more stability and insurance against catastrophic blow-outs.
  • RichinKsRichinKs Member Posts: 412
    Most 5th wheels can be had with extended pin box. In fact, many have it as standard. This allows the 5th wheel to turn corners without hitting the cab of a short bed pickup. Its no extra charge on most. .... Also if chosing a diesel you might avoid the 4.10 rearend as someone here said. You will end up turning too many rpms on the interstate for a diesel unless you install larger diameter tires. Both Dodge and Ford have great diesels and mostly Dodges are seen at campgrounds with the diesel, hardly no Chevies. If you can wait till next year Chevy may have a great diesel, but I doubt with their track record they will make September delivery as they have said. Maybe by January. ... If you want a gas engine both Ford and Chevy make great V8's for towing up to about 10,500 pounds or about 30 foot or less fifth wheels. Don't go by the empty weight of the fifth wheel but what it will weigh loaded. The wieght of new 5th wheels is required to be posted in the camper. Ask the salesman to see it as sometimes its hidden inside a kitchen cabinet door. Also with the kingpin load of a double slide 5th wheel, current chevies cann't handle most of them. But the SD Ford or Dodge can. ... If you want a bigger 5th wheel such as a triple slide 34 footer a 3/4 ton Dodge or Ford diesel or Dodge v10 will handle. One ton pickup basically give you the capability to tow 5th wheels with a higher kingpin weight but the dually doesn't neccasarily gave higher total weight. Some have the dually for safety in case a rear tire blows. ... Rich
  • rrichfrrichf Member Posts: 211
    Very well said.
  • fordtuffordtuf Member Posts: 101
    I'm slightly biased, I own F250,supercab(not the crewcab with 4 full doors) with a V10. I pull 27' trailer. I am looking right now for my mother a rig to go RV'ing fulltime. On a limited budget and just in case she doesn't like it, here's my thoughts.

    A used vehicle would be fine. There are plenty to choose from. I/we are looking at Ford F250, diesel, with an auto transmission, with no more than 40K miles. The dodges are too loud and, in my opinion, you can't rely on their transmissions. The F250 (3/4 ton vs. the F350 1 ton) will ride better unloaded. I have two children (a just turned 4 yr old and an almost 2 yr old). The supercab is fine for us with both in car seats. We also carry our dog in the cab with us.

    As for the 6 1/2'to 7'(short bed) jack-knifing when you back up, I wouldn't worry about too much. If you can't see your trailer about to hit your you don't need to be driving it anyway.

    The thing about keeping it one year and then selling...I speculate that it will be easier to sell a short bed(my opinion). I would also like to find a truck not set up to tow heavy loads. If it is set up already then it has probably been doing it already.

    Sorry for being long winded....Good Luck.
  • ikenoikeno Member Posts: 13
    I have a Komfort 22' fifth wheel. It's dry weight from factory is 3300 lbs. with 1700 lbs of add ons and food, water,etc. for a total of 5000 lbs tow weight. In the pick up I will have 500 lbs added weight (Tools, fifth wheel pedistal , generator and people)It has an extended pin box and no problems with a short bed.
    With that info , I am going to get a 2001 Silverado SB 1500 LT.
    Questions : engine size
  • ikenoikeno Member Posts: 13
    (hit wrong key)
    locking Diff.
    ride control
    3.42 0r 3.73 rear end

    Any body answer these questions ?
    Thanx - Ken-o
  • fordtuffordtuf Member Posts: 101
    Get a Ford instead. Just kidding.

    One quick thought, are you SURE you're not going to get a bigger camper in a few years? If you are you might want to think about F250. Oops I mean the 2500 series. If not no worries.

    My father-in-law and my brother have the 2000 1500 Silverado and Siera respectively, with the 6.0. They tow a 25' and/or 27' TT's at a little bit higher weight than yours but not much. They would not want to tow any more at all. Knowing you don't have to work the truck to death when you go through the mountains(even the small ones in North Ga.) is a good thing. I'm sure my brother has the 3.73 gears probably my father-in-law too. That would be the way to go.

    As for locking diff./limited slip/posi trac whichever it is called, DON'T buy without it. You will need it. Almost all campgrounds and I would say every state park has some dirt, rocks, wet leaves that will give you fits. Especially when you have to back onto a board to level you camper.

    Happy Camping.
  • ryanbabryanbab Member Posts: 7,240
    Engine size : 5.3 (biggest you can get)
    Rear end: 3.73

    Also what is it 2wd or 4wd???

    If its a 2wd definitly go with the locking diff. I have a 4wd with the locking rear and i like it glad i got it.

    Mine is a 5.3 with the 3.73.

    If you get a 4wd and do alot of towing id opt for the 4.10 rear end.

  • ikenoikeno Member Posts: 13
    thanx for reply - plan on this trailer until I quit trailering.Had a Ford and that's the reason I went to Chev.Dealer told me can't get 6000 in a 1500 - has to be a 2500.Have a 97 Silverado 1500 now with a 5.7 Vortex,auto, 3.73 rear , locking diff.
    Have had no problems but do have new truck fever and am trying to figure , do I really need a 3.73 or should I go to a 3.42 and a 5300 Vortex?
    also no way would I go back to
    (F)ix (O)r (R)epair (D)aily

  • ryanbabryanbab Member Posts: 7,240
    Get the 5.3. the 3.42 rear end is only available on the 2wd is that what you are looking to get?

  • ikenoikeno Member Posts: 13
    have choice of 3.42 ,3.73 and 4.10 .
    I think I prefer (from given choices) the 5300 Vortex with a 3.42 and auto.Just 1 more question.
    Will it be slower on take off with the 3.42 ?
  • ikenoikeno Member Posts: 13
    Forgot to state - it's a 2 wheel drive
  • ryanbabryanbab Member Posts: 7,240
    the 3.42 will be slower but probably not noticable very negligible. Id opt with the 3.73 gas milage difference is miniscual (sp??)

  • ikenoikeno Member Posts: 13
    Thanx - since milage is neglibile between 3.42 and 3.73 ,If strain on engine between the two is also negibile (Is it?) I'll opt for the 3.73
  • ryanbabryanbab Member Posts: 7,240

    opps sorry bout the caps

    a 4.10 will be more powerful than a 3.73.
  • cdeancdean Member Posts: 1,110
    Don't get the 3.42...pretty useless when 3.73 gives more power and practically the same mileage.

    These new GM engines don't seem to care what rpm they run at. Even the trucks with 4.10 gears are getting pretty dern good mileage.
  • ikenoikeno Member Posts: 13
    Appreciate all your imput - can now make a proper decision - 5300 Vortex w/auto/OD 3.73 locking rear end

  • ryanbabryanbab Member Posts: 7,240
    Sounds like the best combo. Itll do the job you need it to do and then some dont worry.
  • fordtuffordtuf Member Posts: 101
    about the 6.0 in the 1500's. They have the 2500's with the 6.0 L.

    By the way I spell it
    F(irst) O(n) R(ace) D(ay).
  • ikenoikeno Member Posts: 13
    second way I spell it

    (F)ound (O)n (R)oad (D)ead

  • meredithmeredith Member Posts: 575
    After 30 or more days of inactivity....

    this topic is being "frozen." It will be archived or deleted in the next 10 days or so. Thanks!

    Front Porch Philosopher
    SUV, Pickups, & Aftermarket and Accessories Host
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