Towing with 1/2 ton

Hello everyone! I am new to the forum and already love it!!! Also already have a question. I love to camp and have always had a pop-up camper. I really liked the pop-up but now I'm ready for a travel trailer. I am currently looking for a travel trailer and wanted some advice on towing with a 1/2 ton truck. I have a 1997 1/2 Dodge 4x4 with a 360. Will this be fine to tow a 26 - 28 ft travel trailer? The truck never knew the pop-up was back there and I don't want to buy a travel trailer and regret it because I don't like pulling it. I have just recently purchased a new 1/2 Dodge with a Hemi so buying a new truck is not an option and the majority of the towing will be with 97 model. Thanks!!

Gary B

Senior Member
Towing with 1/2 ton

Hi Camper1, welcome to the forum. I personally think 26' would be the most you'd want to tow with a 1/2 ton. This of course all depends on the total weight of the trailer & how you load up the truck/ fuel, passengers, tools, BB grills, fire wood etc. You'll have no problems power wise towing, but handling and stopping could be troublesome. Get a good brake controller, and weight distrubting / anti-sway hitch. Good luck with the search. :) :laugh: :cool: :bleh: :approve:
Towing with 1/2 ton

Yes this is the same post that I have posted many times in the past ... but ... if it will help one more person and maybe save someone a lot of misery, then I can put up with the flamers and critics..

So here goes ..... again

I believe that you will find most people saying "no-way" when they see a 1/2 ton truck trying to pull anything heavier than a 5000 lb trailer (wet weight).

And .. that 5000 lbs is the fully loaded and ready to go weight, with all your clothes, food, fuel, passengers, etc, etc... sometimes referred to as the "wet" weight. The average weight of the "stuff" that people usually take with them on their trip weighs about 1500 to 2000 lbs

It's not so much the trucks ability to tow the trailer as it is the ability to stop or/and maneuver in an emergency situation..

Yes, the trailer has brakes and should stop itself... but if the brakes are set correctly on the trailer they will engage a split-second or so AFTER the truck brakes engage.

With a light weight truck like the 1/2 ton, this could be dangerous. In that split second of time, the trailer could push the truck into a "jackknife" with the trailer.

Plus think of what will happen when going down a steep hill in the 1/2 ton with a 7000 or 8000 lb (and heavier) trailer pushing it from behind. You can't ride the brakes all the way down, it could cause a fire.

The combination of a 1/2 ton truck with any trailer over 5 or 6 thousand lbs (wet)can be a dangerous combination on the open highway at speeds of 60 plus mph and lots of hills and valleys to cross.

"air bags".. Some people don't seem to understand that adding air bags or air shocks or overload springs to a truck ... DOES NOT INCREASE ITS CARRYING OR TOWING CAPACITY.

The carrying capacity of any vehicle is directly related to the wheel bearings, axle, tires and rims..
If the rear axle is rated at ...just for an example,, say.. 2000 lbs, that’s the total amount of weight that the truck can carry .... including the truck's weight and no matter how many overload devises you install on the truck, it still will NOT carry more weight..

This not a put down on 1/2 tons, there is nothing wrong with a 1/2 ton pulling a trailer,,,, if it's within a safe weight...

I do sincerely wish everyone with a 1/2 ton truck the best of luck, and as I always say.. "it's just my opinion and everyone to his own"


Ed H.

New Member
Towing with 1/2 ton

The best thing you can do is find the literature from Dodge that lists the towing capacity of different models with the various drive train combinations. This would have been in the sales literature for the '97. Since you just bought a new truck, the dealer should be willing to help you locate this information.
What that will tell you is the absolute maximum trailer weight the Dodge would let you tow without voiding the warranty. You want a little safety factor in there (how much depends on how far, how often, & where yoy will be towing), so look for a trailer that has a GVW rating that is less than your maximum.
There are plenty of posts re: wet weight vs. dry weight vs. GVW. When choosing a trailer, pick one that has an ample capacity for all of what you take with you.
Like Gary B said, you will need a good weight distributing hitch and brake control; take the time to set them up right as it DOES make a big difference in handling and stopping.
All that said, there are plenty of trailers on the market that your truck can safely tow, you just have to look carefully to find them.
Towing with 1/2 ton

Thank you guys for your advice. The majority of my towing will on flat roads will small hills. There are a few large hills but nothing to be concerned about stopping the rig. I do have a trans temp gauge installed on the truck as I pulled the pop-up in overdrive to save gas so I wanted to make sure I did not over heat the tranny. I have pulled a buddy's travel trailer on occassion and kept the truck in drive and the tranny temp stayed pretty much normal. My main concern is the wear and tear on the engine and transmission over the long haul. I don't want to buy a travel trailer just to ruin my truck. Thanks again for your input!!
Towing with 1/2 ton

hi camper1, im new to the forum also,i was also wondering about towing with a 1/2 ton, i want a 2004 f-150 4x4 crewcab, my trailer (wet) weighs 9000 lbs, its 26 ft and made to handle atv's or motorcycles I tow about 90 miles round trip all on flat ground about 15 times a year,
i checked into e f-250 diesel, but the price of maintinence and the vehicle shot that down, i saw an ad in some magazines that the new f-150 can tow 9900 pounds, is this true? i know that the truck they are talking about is probably a stripped down 2 wheeldrive standard cab model, but does anyone have any information on this truck, any help will be appreciated, please stick to facts, there seems to be alot of opinions on this site. JUST KIDDING! any info would really help.

C Nash

Senior Member
Towing with 1/2 ton

Hi snowman71, not really familar with the F150 but find it hard to believe that you could tow 9000 lbs safetly but ha ha thats JMO[:D Maybe they have beefed up some of the 150s chassis and with the right towing equipment, engine, trans and axle ratio it could be done. Generally the 4x4s have a lower towing than the 2 wheel drive because of the extra weight of the front axle. Should have the towing rates on some of the ford webs.

Gary B

Senior Member
Towing with 1/2 ton

Hi Snowman71, yes some of the new 2004 Ford 150 supercrew 4x4 can tow up to 9200 lbs with a 3.73:1 rear axle and auto tranny, and the 5.4l engine 138.5" wheel base, per Trailer Life mag. 2004 tow ratings. But I would be very carefull trying to tow that large/heavy a trailer with a heavy half. Good luck and a big welcome to the forum. :) :laugh: :cool: :bleh: :approve:
Towing with 1/2 ton

hey, thanks alot for the information you guys, i went to the ford web site and sure enough youre right, 9200 lbs,that would be pushin it for sure, i might check in to a used f-250, thanks again.
Towing with 1/2 ton

I am struggling with the same issue. Instead, I put the cart in from of the horse.
I purchases a TT but am yet to find a suitable vehicle to tug 8500 lbs.

I am looking a 3/4 Suburban. ANy ideas if that would be a enough?>


Senior Member
Towing with 1/2 ton

Possibly. Go to the dealer or a website and find out the GVWR (maximum the truck can weigh) and GCWR (maximum of the truck and anything towed by the truck). Now for the hard part - figure out how much the truck will weight filled with all the accessories, people and stuff that will be in it. If this is below the GVWR by several hundred pounds, then subtract this loaded weight from the GCWR to see how much you can tow. The reason your loaded weight must be significantly less than the GVWR is that the trailer adds some weight to the truck (pin weight).

In the past, at least, tow ratings from the manufacturer were based on a stripped truck (no accessories, no passengers, no stuff, a 150 pound driver and a minimal amount of fuel). Thus it is wise not to rely on this value.