Tow Vehicle

Tow Vehicle

by Donna Webber
(Arlington, Texas)

When pulling a 38 foot 5th wheel which is better, the Ford 250 or the Ford 350 dually?

Comments for Tow Vehicle

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Mar 11, 2012
GMC 2500 -- and my bad math!
by: Cowgirl Kathi


It dawned on me after I wrote that last comment that my GMC Sierra is a 1998 model -- not an '89. Could this be dyslexia or just old age? LOL.
the Cowgirl

Mar 09, 2012
GMC 2500 vs 3500
by: Cowgirl Kathi


Your math is good -- my truck IS a 1989 Sierra -- and while it's got some age on it, the mileage is still low -- 62,000. I bought it in 2000 as an off-lease to pull my 16' stock trailer and 14' horse trailer. The gas mileage is so dismal (10 mpg) I rarely use it just to "tool around town" hence I have only put 12,000 miles on it in the 12 years that I've owned it. It's a real serious work truck, but unloaded or without towing something, the 4x4 suspension just about beats me to death!

I am still in the early planning stages of my "Year on the Road" and have been looking at the various types of travel trailers and Rvs out there. I don't like the idea of having to drag another vehicle around with me, so travel trailer is looking like my best choice. But when I started looking into what was required to drag one of those 5th wheels, it was quickly apparent that my GMC (affectionately known as "The Beast") wasn't going to cut it. Since then, I've started looking at some kind of TT that The Beast CAN handle.

The fuel mileage may be daunting, but I can't see letting The Beast sit around somewhere for a year while I'm gone and I sure don't want to have to go out and plunk down major $$ for a tow vehicle to boot. I can live in a smaller space if I have to; can always change up AFTER I've done this maiden voyage should I decide to become a Nomad on a more permanent basis.

Thanks so much for your valuable input!


Mar 08, 2012
RE: Tow Vehicle Question
by: Anonymous

I don't tow a 5th wheel but have sold Chevy/GMC trucks for 20 years to people who do.

How old is your GMC with with 454? That motor hasn't been around for at least 12 years now. A lot has changed since then.

Another question I would ask is, what is going to be the primary purpose of the vehicle? If it is to tow your 5th wheel then the dually will be much more stable for you. But, if you're going to only use the truck to tow occasionally and it's primary use will be around town and on the farm you may find yourself ripping those wheel flares off.

The manufacterer's rating may be a bit deceiving, as they may actually rate the 250/2500 with more towing capacity than the 350/3500, due to the extra weight of the one ton. But the dually will keep the big load much more stable on the road. It's hard to beat those 4 big tires on the rear axle contacting the road when towing a big trailer.

Another question is engine choice. While the diesel will cost more going in, it will last longer and have a greater resale value. In the GM trucks you also get the Allison transmission with the diesel, which is a huge plus. The diesel will have much more low end torque than a gas engine, giving it that "uumpgh" you're talking about. It will get better fuel mileage than a big gas engine. If you're going to tow a lot the diesel will probably pay off in the long run. If you'll only tow a little bit then a gas engine might be a wise choice.

Bottome line. If I were towing a 38 ft 5th wheel I'd want a 3500 with a diesel. Having sold GMs for 20 years, I'm partial to a GMC Sierra 3500 with a Duramax and an Allison. But I know Ford and Dodge also make good trucks and if you prefer those brands they should do great for you. Hope this helps a little bit.


Mar 04, 2012
The Tow Vehicle Question
by: Cowgirl Kathi

I don't yet own an RV, but I quickly learned that these 5th wheel trailers need a truck with a lot more umph than my GMC 2500 4X4 -- despite the 454 engine and 410 rear it packs. My truck is rated to haul up to 10,000 lb. on a 5th wheel hitch, but a 5th wheel trailer of the size you mentioned is going to exceed that.

I am not a big fan of dually trucks, primarily because they are USELESS in snow and mud...not that I plan to haul a travel trailer in such conditions, but because I need a truck that will ALSO be of practical use around the farm.

Check with FORD and see what each of the models you inquired about are RATED for. That should give you a clear answer.

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