Can my truck safely tow my trailer?
This is something that a lot of people new to the RV world don't think about. Most newbies think that if they have a truck, any truck, they can haul any size trailer they want. This is not the case and a lot of research and calculating goes into making sure you are safe. An RV salesman probably won't tell you if your vehicle is safe enough. He just wants to make the sale. Then once you drive off the lot, it's your problem. Anytime that a vehicle's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or the gross combination weight rating (GCWR) is exceeded, there are safety concerns, and over time, excessive wear will contribute to premature failure of vehicle components. Some vehicle manufacturers state that the warranty may be invalidated if the weight safety ratings are exceeded. Driving an overweight rig may develop into costly liability issues if involved in a serious accident involving other property or people.
One of the best places on the internet to learn about towing a 5th wheel or trailer is Fifth Wheel St. They are a one-stop self-help RV safety service for novice and experienced RVers. They supply tow ratings, vehicle tow rating reviews, tire load charts, towing guides, RV safety articles and videos, and much more. I used their site and worksheets to calculate if my truck could safely tow my trailer. It's a very informative website that I hope you will check out. Just click on the link below.
Below is how I used their worksheets to see if my truck could safely tow my trailer.
Determinating if your truck can safely tow your trailer consists of a bunch of numbers. You need to to find and copy down all the weight ratings from the stickers on both your truck and trailer and may also need to check your truck manufacturers website. I took pictures of my stickers with my phone so I could easily refer to them as needed.
This is the sticker from my 2007 Dodge RAM 3500
This is the sticker from my 2011 Crossroads Cruiser 5th Wheel
This information was taken from the Dodge RAM Website
Once I had all the numbers the next step was to get my truck and trailer weighed. One of the best places to do this is at a nearby truck stop that has a CAT scale. This cost me a total of $12.50. I did this as we were leaving on a camping trip. My truck was fully loaded with everything I usually carry including me and my wife, 2 small generators, a full 5-gallon gas can, leveling blocks, and a full tank of fuel. The trailer was also fully loaded with food, clothing, all our supplies, and a full fresh water tank. I first weighed the truck and trailer together then pulled off to a parking spot and disconnected the trailer. Then went back to the scale and weighed the truck by itself. This gave me all the numbers I needed. When weighing your truck and fifth wheel trailer it must be completely on the scale and it's best if you position the steer axle (front wheels) of the truck on platform 1, and the rear axle of the truck on platform 2. The trailer will normally show up on platform 3. When weighing the truck alone position the front axle on platform 1, and the rear axle on platform 2.
Below are the printouts I received from the CAT scales.
Now let's run the numbers. You can download a blank worksheet from this link. Once you print out the worksheet start filling in the numbers.
#1 Tow Vehicle Front GAWR, this is found on your truck's sticker. Mine is 4750 lbs.
#2 Tow Vehicle Rear GAWR, this is also found on your truck's sticker. Mine is 9350 lbs.
#3 Tow Vehicle GVWR, this is also found on your truck's sticker. Mine is 11500 lbs.
#4 Tow Vehicle GCWR, I found this on my truck manufacturers website. This is model specific so make sure you have the correct numbers. If you look at the 2007 RAM Base Weights picture above I have a 2007 RAM 3500, Dual Rear Wheels with a 5.9L 24 valve, turbo diesel, 4-speed automatic transmission, 3.73 rear axle, which makes my GCWR 21000 lbs.
#5 Hitch GTWR, I got this number from the manufacturer of my 5th wheel hitch. I have a Reese Elite Series 18K 5th Wheel Hitch so my number is 18000 lbs.
#6 Trailer GVWR, this is found on the trailer's sticker. Mine is 11700 lbs
A - Tow Vehicle Steer Axle, This is found on the first CAT print out, with the trailer attached. Mine is 4280 lbs
B - Tow Vehicle Drive Axle, This is also found on the first CAT print out, with the trailer attached. Mine is 5780 lbs.
C - Trailer Axles, This is also found on the first CAT print out, with the trailer attached. Mine is 8860 lbs.
D - Tow Vehicle Steer Axle, This is found on the second CAT print out, just the truck. Mine is 4300 lbs.
E - Tow Vehicle Drive Axle, This is also found on the second CAT print out. Mine is 3620 lbs.
Once I had the form filled out I went to the RV weight calculator on the 5th Wheel Street website (just click here) and input my numbers. I just filled in the numbers right on the screen and clicked on "Click to process". This calculated my personal 5th Wheel Truck & Trailer Weight Safety Report as shown below. As you can see from the report my Truck Front Axle is very close to overload but I can add another 744 lbs to my trailer but I am within the Safety Margin!
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