Brand New RVer

I am a first time RVer and I am working very hard at trying to learn the things I need to know regarding everything from purchasing to actual travelling. My first problem is selecting a rig that would be appropriate for our needs. We intend to initially take the unit on a trip that will see us spending several months at one location in Missouri and after that move west and spend anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months at various places until we reach California. Once there, if we still enjoy the lifestyle, we are hoping to take a trip to Alaska.
Having said that, we have been looking for rigs at dealers, RV shows and privately owned units and we are looking very hard at 5th wheel units in the 32-36 foot range with multiple slide-outs.
I currently do not have a truck and have started to look at what I need to haul a unit that size. I am getting conflicting information regarding the size, type and make of a truck that will do the job.
I could use some help from experienced 5th wheelers that can help me decide on things like diesel versus gas, Ford versus General Motors, dual wheels versus single wheels, extended cab versus standard cab, 3/4 ton versus 1 ton, etc.
Any help from experienced 5th wheelers would be greatly appreciated.
Brand New RVer

There are a lot of things we as RVers need to know from you. Where in the USA are you located. We need this to give you ideas on good and bad dealers. What kind of money do you want to spend and is your preference to buy new or used. How many people will be going on your outings? Hopefully you will get many RVers to reply to your posting.

Good luck and welcome to the great world of RVing.
Brand New RVer


I have done months of research and found it to be a personal preference on motorhome vs fifth wheel. I personaly find that the fifth wheels have much more living space than any motorhome out there. I also love the fact that I can park the fifth wheel and leave it all set up, while having a truck to do my running around. I own a chevy 2500HD Gasser, If I had it to do over I would have gone with the diesel. Had a ford (hated it) 3 transmissions later I got rid of it. I love my chevy and have pull over 3000 miles without one problem. Hope this helps.
Brand New RVer

I currently live in Florida about 15 miles south of Tampa. We are looking to spend about $80-$100 thousand dollars on both truck and rig. We would like to get a new 5th wheel so we take advantage of the manufacturers warranty but we are looking at a '04 truck. There will be only two of us travelling most of the time.


Senior Member
Brand New RVer

The size of truck is completely dependant on the size of trailer (weight actually) and vice versa. Best methodology might be to figure out the general size of trailer you want and find the weight range of that size, find the truck which should handle that weight range, then decide on the exact trailer. This allows you the greatest flexibility. Or you could just buy either the truck you like or the trailer you like, and then search for the appropriate match.

Finding the right dealer is probably more important than finding the right trailer. Just browse through forums like this one to see the horror stories of people who bought a lemon and got inadequate service.

I'm partial to Chevy/GMC; Fords and I seem to have a mutual agression pact, but that's just me. Dodge may be ok, but I don't have any experiance with them, except their bodies don't seem to be as durable as Ford's and GM's. As for size, 3/4 may not be able to tow trailers in the range you are interested in. On the other hand, some states are rumored to have additional costs/restrictions on registering 1 ton trucks. Perhaps the 'heavy 3/4' (like the GMC 2500HD) might be an acceptable compromise if this is the case.

An extended cab is wonderful in a pickup. It allows you to carry more people, or stuff protected from weather and sticky fingers, plus allows the front seats to recline. Also, the added wheelbase is alleged to improve towing stability.

Long beds are great for towing, and carrying stuff, but they make the vehicle much harder to park and garage (particularly if you also have the extended cab). If you go with a short bed, you will need to have a sliding hitch, an extended pin, or both. Dual wheels can provide slightly more stability and much better traction, but they do make the truck wider (even harder to park) and require more maintenance. Those who have them claim that the extended wear compensates for the cost of getting 6 tires rather than 4. I suspect this decision will largely depend on personal preferance.

Gas vrs diesel is a major, and difficult, choice. If you will be using the truck for every day travel, then gas may be more economical/usable. If you will be using the truck mostly for towing, then diesel may be more effective. The cost of the diesel truck and maintenance will likely be significantly higher, but the longevity should be much greater. There are parts of the country where gas is more expensive than diesel, and parts where diesel is more expensive than gas. There are (or at least were a few years ago), places where you could get gas but not diesel. Usually you will get better fuel economy and towing power from a diesel, and better performance and convieniance from a gasser.

What it comes down to is the gas engines (except perhaps the biggest ones like the 454) seem to struggle to pull a heavy, headwind sensitive trailer up hills, while the diesel just keeps chugging along.


Senior Member
Brand New RVer

Hertig is on target with the weight issue, but I think that I would put a bit more emphisis on it. Check out the weights of trailers that you like by visiting the dealers and taking notes. The key there is that GVWR is what you will tow and the pin weight will be on the truck. Both are factors to consider when choosing a tow truck. As you look at those weight ratings, you should also be checking out the empty weight versus the gross and see what they list as CCC, or cargo carrying capacity. Remember that CCC is the amount that you can safely add to the trailer before you overload it. You will need on the order of 2000 - 3000# for the things that you take along as well as food and toys. So the trailer must have enough capacity to carry what you wish to take along, as well as being large enough to meet your requirements for space. Once you determine that, you can get a range of weights and then start to look at trucks. For the heavier trailers you actually need more than the 1 ton pick-up type truck and should consider one of the medium duty trucks built for towing a fifth wheel trailer. Those can come from Ford, Freightliner, and probably a few others.

There is a great deal to learn before you start to shop. I suggest you visit the RV Consumer Group at and get the information that they send to new members. It will cost you about $150 to join but the education is one that is very difficult to find anywhere else. You can learn a lot with far less work if you spend the money to join.
Brand New RVer

Thank you all for advice and the sharing of your experiences. With the information you all have provided I will be able to make a much more informed decision which should be a better decision for the travelling we want to do. I hope one day I will be able meet you folks on the road and be able to thank you in person. Thanks again.