Discussion in 'Towables' started by KateyJ, May 3, 2009.

  1. KateyJ

    KateyJ New Member

    hello, all -- I am a real newbie, have never towed anything larger than a 15 foot popup with my minivan. But, my kids and I are making the big leap and going to take to the road as soon as we can get the house sold or rented, the stuff downsized, sold, doanted and stored, and ourselves out the door.

    So now I have this hulking '08 Chevy Duramax/Allison 3500 HD dually sitting in my driveway (next to the minivan, which I used to think was a really big vehicle..). I've put a deposit on a 2006 Cypress Newmar 5th wheel, about 37' long, and should pick it up within a month.

    I have been all over the place online, researching GVWR, GCVWR, etc. I know I'm bumping right up against my truck's combined weight rating of 23,500 and a tow capacity of 15,900. The Chevy truck's curb weight is listed at 6694, with 5th wheel hitch (how much do they weigh?) and fully loaded it will be around 7500?

    The trailer's listed approx. dry weight is 12,250 and its gross capacity is in the 16,000 range. I figure if I want to have a ten percent safety margin, we're only going to be able to have about 1,400 in propane, water and STUFF for a family of three plus dog. And that's if the truck's curb weight and the trailer's approx. dry weight are even close to what's stated.

    Theoretically and in all ya'all's experience, can my one ton dually safely tow AND STOP this combo if I'm, say, at 22,000 gross combined? Keeping in mind that I am as green as it gets?

    I know I need to load up the truck and get it weighed so I can see the actual GVW I'm dealing with, and I need to call the dealer holding my trailer (with a deposit) and get it weighed so I can see if the options it came with have increased the approx dry weight too much beyond that 12,250.

    I also am reading that I should get exhaust brakes installed. And if so, what brand, and who does this work? I don't want to mess around with the safety and reliability of the brakes. (duh).

    Tell me what you think -- I can tell from past posts that THIS group is NOT shy!!! :laugh:
  2. Grandview Trailer Sa

    Grandview Trailer Sa Senior Member

    Re: So another "CAN I TOW THIS" QUESTION!!!

    Sounds like you are making a huge jump, but in my opinion, you have the best truck to tow that trailer. I am not adding up all those numbers, but I know you can tow it.
  3. brodavid

    brodavid Senior Member

    Re: So another "CAN I TOW THIS" QUESTION!!!

    Ken should know he does this for a living
  4. KateyJ

    KateyJ New Member

    RE: So another "CAN I TOW THIS" QUESTION!!!

    Thanks, Ken and BroDavid --

    I wonder how many 5th wheelers out there actually tow under their GCVWR and truck tow capacity? How many actually abide by the suggested 20%, or heck, even the 10% margin?

    And, I think I'm going to go ahead and have an exhaust brake installed. Any suggestions on brand, how to find a reliable installer, etc???

    BTW, I found out my trailer left the factory weighing 12,680! Geezzz...

  5. Grandview Trailer Sa

    Grandview Trailer Sa Senior Member

    Re: So another "CAN I TOW THIS" QUESTION!!!

    Make sure that exhaust brake won't void your warranty!!
  6. DL Rupper

    DL Rupper Senior Member

    Re: So another "CAN I TOW THIS" QUESTION!!!

    Hey KateyJ, the exhaust brakes are great, but I think you should take GTS's advice. Check your warranty. The Dodge CTD trucks with automatic or manual transmissions can be ordered from the factory with a Jake (Jacobs) exhaust brake or any computer controlled exhaust brake can be installed after market. However, I believe there may be warranty issues with the GM trucks.
  7. jewallac

    jewallac New Member

    Re: So another "CAN I TOW THIS" QUESTION!!!

    I've been doing this a while and have lately been going through a similar exercise with weights but more pertinent to the hitch weight which you didn't discuss. I currently have a 3/4 ton Chevy with the duramax diesel and allison transmission and just had it weighed. Mine weighed in at 6960 lbs. with the hitch and toolbox installed. A lot higher than I was expecting. I was looking at a new 5th wheel and was fine on the trailer towing weight but the problem was the GVWR of the truck which is 9200 lbs. That only left me 2240 for hitch weight. Most 5th wheels I've looked at with the bedroom slide have hitch weights starting at 2000 lbs unloaded. I think that would easily put me over my gross weight rating for the truck when every thing was loaded. My point being is that you should weigh everything and shouldn't exceed the limits to be safe. As to stopping a heavy rig - the last 5th wheel I had weighed in at over 10,000 lbs dry and was fully packed since I was full-timing. I just had to be aware that stopping took me a lot longer and adjusted accordingly. Never had a problem and you'll love that allison transmission. Since I'm looking to move up to the 3500 Chevy, I would appreciate it if you post the actual weight (once you have it weighed) and what the GVWR is for your truck. Happy camping!

  8. KateyJ

    KateyJ New Member

    Re: So another "CAN I TOW THIS" QUESTION!!!

    Lots of good information coming from this group, and I want to first talk about the brake issue, and then address June's post.

    Thx, Ken and DL, my Chevy owner's manual and the Duramax manual (2 separate books) mention engine-enhancing modifications (chips, programmers, etc) and warn that those mods could void the GM warranty. No specific mention of exhaust brakes or engine retarders, which I now THINK? are two different gizmos. Other forums have discussed the warranty issue (and there are older threads on this forum, too..) and it seems to come down to whether or not the dealer can prove your engine or trans failed because of the modification made. And it seems some exhaust brakes may be more prone to causing excessive pressure than others?

    I read a 2004 truck magazine article about a lawsuit filed against GM for refusal to replace a failed engine under warranty because a Banks brake had been installed (after-market). In the end, engineers brought evidence that the brake was not the problem, weak metals were, and GM quietly reimbursed the owner for the repairs and for the entire truck. But obtaining the proof and the ensuing legal process were a hassle, I'm sure.

    From reading this and other forums, it seems there are two schools of thought about exhaust brakes: 1) they're great, work fine, don't hurt the engine, and could help you avert disaster, and 2) don't need 'em, the Allison does the job just fine, and why worry about the warranty problem? So, I think I'm going to pick up the trailer in mid-June, drive it around here in the Midwest and get used to tow/haul, manual mode, engine braking, manual trailer braking and all the various combinations of that equipment (I'm having to read my manual and RE-READ my manuals!!!) and THEN make a decision about the exhaust brake. I will be avoiding steep grades by staying out of the mountains, for a few months. Thanks for all the input here.

    June, you're right to bring up hitch weight. There are plenty of warnings from GM about not exceeding the truck's rear axle weight rating of 8,200, or the GVWR of 11,400. The trailer I'm getting weighs 12,680 with an apprx. empty hitch weight of 2,470. That's about 21%, so if the same holds true when loaded, say, to 15,000, my hitch weight could be around 3,100.

    I called GM to get my truck's actual weight off the assembly line. The GM rep told me that my truck, as built and including allowance for a full fuel tank, weighed 6,093. Now, this seems suspiciously light to me, as it's a dually and 4x4, and GM's own literature gives a ballpark curb weight at 6,694. So, if I assume it weighs 7,000 lb., then adding 800 lb. for people, dog, stuff, the hitch, the after-market step bars, the truck's at 7800, and I have 3,600 lbs. left for hitch weight. Worst case, if the truck weighs closer to 7500 empty, as I've read on this or other forums, it's going to be really tight.

    The truck's rated to pull 15,900 and the GCRW is 23,500. Just FYI, as you're going to move up to the 3500, the single rear wheel's GCRW is 1,500 less at 22,000.

    I'll post a new thread when I have actually weighed my truck. By the way, I do like driving it, now that I'm getting used to the extra length AND width in the rear, and the fact that it's just not as nimble as my Honda Odyssey. The dually wheels, so far, haven't been much of an issue. I watch out at corners, and when shopping just park farther out and walk (which should help to lighten the load in my truck when we finally get out on the road! ;)

  9. DL Rupper

    DL Rupper Senior Member

    Re: So another "CAN I TOW THIS" QUESTION!!!

    kateyj, you need to be leery of what your truck really weighs opposed to what the GM rep tells you. I always thought my reg cab, 2 wheel drive, 3/4 ton Dodge Turbo weighed about 6,000 lbs. I weighed it last year with 2 of us in the cab + some extra books/gear in the doors and behind the seats, full of diesel, reese hitch, med size loaded plastic tool box and leveling boards in the bed. Grand total was 7,200 lbs.

    I wouldn't travel out west in the Rockies or even in the eastern mountains without my Banks exhaust brake. I do have a manual transmission and the exhaust brake work best with a manual trans. I have 126k miles on my Dodge and still have my original brakes front and rear. The last time I had the brakes checked was in Nampa, ID last year at around 105K miles and was told I still had 50% left on the front and even more on the rear brake discs. That tells the whole story. I let the exhaust brake slow the truck down as I down shift to a stop. I do this even when I'm not towing. At the rate I'm going the exhaust brake is certainly paying for its self. :)
  10. KateyJ

    KateyJ New Member

    Re: So another "CAN I TOW THIS" QUESTION!!!

    Hi, DL, you're confirming what I suspect. How could my 3500 with 4x4 AND dually wheels weigh only 6,000? I don't believe it. If your truck, loaded as you described it, weighed 7,200, I'm betting mine will weigh around 7,500 or so. That's going to make it really important that I watch our cargo weights carefully.

    I am certainly leaning toward having the exhaust brake. How do you go about finding a competent mechanic to install it? And, can it be detected by the dealers via computer checks (I'm sure they can just look underneath and see it... :disapprove: And is there a difference in brake models (BD, Pac, Banks) and how well they work with my specific truck (GM/chevy)?

    thanks. kateyj

    GEEZ, there is so much to LEARN!!! And so much to do before we are actually on our way...
  11. DL Rupper

    DL Rupper Senior Member

    Re: So another "CAN I TOW THIS" QUESTION!!!

    The exhaust brake is installed a short distance behind the turbo and yes any mechanic looking underneath your truck can clearly see that you have an exhaust brake on your vehicle. As to where you can find someone competent to install it depends on where you live. I happened to bump into a good low priced mechanic while RVing in Tucson AZ that quoted me a lower price than the Gary Banks factory rep quoted me to have the factory techs install one. The guy in Arizona delivered on the price and I have been happy with the Banks Brake.

    I had a Pac exhaust brake on my 1995 dodge and it was a manual switch activated brake that worked once in a while. The Banks exhaust brake I purchased in 2003 was a new computer chip controlled brake and that's why I chose the Banks brake at the time. Now all of the exhaust brakes are computer controlled and should work satisfactorily.

    Try a GOOGLE search of the various exhaust brake manufacturers and then e-mail or call them to find out where in your local area they have retail outlets. Actually I think the Banks rep gave me the Tuson mechanic's address when I told him I was in Arizona and wasn't heading to their California factory anytime soon. Good luck.

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