The trailer you’ve got your eye on has just about everything you need. Big slideouts, an outdoor kitchen and a huge awning make it the perfect camper you need for years of adventure in the wild. But there’s one glaring problem: it’s heavy.
Most travel trailers are in the neighborhood of 6,000 to 8,000 lbs., and that’s before you put food, drinks, clothes and the bunches of other stuff necessary for a weekend (or longer) excursion. Your half-ton truck, while reliable, doesn’t look like it’s up to the challenge of carting it down the highway dozens of times.
Should you be concerned? Can you tow a new travel trailer with a half-ton vehicle?
In a nutshell, towing capacity is hard to measure. Truck A claims it can tow 15,000 lbs. but truck B claims it can tow 20,000. They’re the same weight with similar engines, so what gives?
The issue lies in the fact that there is no industry-wide standard for towing weight. Numbers are often skewed lower to keep consumers safe, when, in reality, most trucks can tow more than they claim. Most half-ton trucks can keep up with the weight of a travel trailer.
If your truck is less than four years old, it’s essentially a three-quarter-ton truck from 15 years ago. The suspensions and engines of modern trucks are brawnier than trucks from years past. The tow ratings on most half-ton trucks range from 6,500 to 10,000 lbs. If your trailer is less than that, you should be ok, provided you don’t overload it.
The caveat to towing a travel trailer with a half-ton truck is that you’ll need to tack some add-ons to ensure safe towing.
First, you’ll need a set of tow mirrors. RV tow mirrors extend or stick on to your truck’s side mirrors to extend your range of view and banish blind spots. While these are great for anyone towing an RV, they’re especially important for half-ton trucks.
It’s also a smart idea to invest in an electronic brake control. With a trailer brake controller, you can add or detract power from your travel trailer’s brake system, and monitor it without even stepping out of your car.
If you are towing a bumper-pull travel trailer as compared to a fifth wheel travel trailer, you’ll need a sway bar. This is one of the best aftermarket improvements you can make for your motorhome, and can keep your RV stable, even at highway speeds.
For fifth wheel RVs, the box of the back of the truck is very important. While many half-ton trucks are powerful enough to tow your trailer, they might not have the space to do so without some modifications.
Most half-ton trucks have 5.5-foot boxes, while 6.5- and 8-foot boxes are usually reserved for larger, one-ton trucks. If you’re towing a fifth wheel with a half-ton truck and a smaller bed, having an adjustable (or sliding) hitch adapter is a must. Using a sliding hitch can prevent your truck’s cab from coming into contact with your RV when making tight turns. This is also why fifth wheels are rounded on the front side.
Whatever you choose, don’t let your truck limit your trailer choices. Buy the camper you want first, then purchase the appropriate tow vehicle.
Photo courtesy WikiMedia