towing with Dodge 1500,5.9litre.3:9axle

looking for first T.T.,new to Rving,and awed by all the choices.My stated towing rate by Dodge is 7800lbs,I am figuring I should look for a trailer with a total loaded weight of 6,800 just to be safe.Mostly camping in florida so Am I safe or can I go closer to the stated max towing weight.Also is there a known quality diff between a Keystone sprinter and a Fleetwood pioneer?Looking at both companies 25'.Thanks

C Nash

Senior Member
towing with Dodge 1500,5.9litre.3:9axle

Hi Steve,
Welcome to the forum and the wonderful world of rving. :approve: The Fleetwood products seem to get a lot of negetive reports but, I personally have never seen where they are any worse or better than others in the same price range. Spend a lot of time and look at all brands. Sit in them, lay on the bed, sit on the potty but don't use :eek: stand in showers, walk on tops, crawl under, ck storage, look behind cabnits, never could spell that along with most all words now, Shoddy workmanship will show up in the hidden places :( Try to go and sit in them during heavy rains, even new ones can leak and be damaged before you even buy them. Just find one with a floor plan you like and deal for it. You should be ok in that weight range if your Dodge has the proper tow package and you get the right hitch set up. Keep us posted
towing with Dodge 1500,5.9litre.3:9axle

Thanks for the info.I just bought my Dodge(a 99) and how do I really check if it came with the factory towing package.It has the hitch,no electric brake switch,and I don't know enough to tell the heavy duty radiator or anything else that was supposed to come with the towing package.Could Dodge or the dealer it was originally sold from tell that from the VIN?


Senior Member
towing with Dodge 1500,5.9litre.3:9axle

One thing to look for is a transmission cooler. That is an additional radiator in front of the regular radiator, hooked to the transmission lines. There will (probably) also be an A/C radiator up there, so make sure there is one hooked to the transmission.

I can't say for sure, but in the past, most trucks had a sticker in the glove box which listed all the options (in secret code). With those and the VIN, the dealer should be able to tell.

7800 pounds is probably with a stripped (no options) truck, no cargo or passengers or much gas, just a 150 pound driver. For that reason, you may want to keep your trailer gross weight to around 5000 pounds. It that's too restrictive, you can try higher, but I suggest you get accurate (measured) weights before sealing the deal, to ensure you don't exceed the 3 important weight limits (Gross Vehicle Weight, Gross Combined Weight, and Gross Rear Axel Weight). Many trailers don't include a lot of the options in their stated weights...

Lightweight trailers are flimsy; that's how they get them lightweight. Telling shoddy from flimsy is difficult... Perhaps equally as important as the manufacturer is the dealer. A shoddy dealer can suck all the joy out of a great trailer, and a good dealer can sometimes make up for a shoddy trailer. Fleetwood gets a bad rap, but then they probably sell more units than anyone else. My Terry is a Fleetwood (lightweight) product, and although it has had problems, the dealer took care of them.

Remember, list price is for suckers. You ought to be able to get 25-30% off list (and make sure it really is list price, not an inflated price picked by the dealer so he can 'discount' heavily. If you find a last years model you like, you can really clean up. Just be willing to walk out the door if they won't come down after you came up. Also, I only deal in out the door price. That way, no hidden charges can creep in (like an $80 paperwork fee - about $10 per typo :). When buying used, use the NADA guide's low retail value as a target.

Beware the after sales office. That's where they push the extended warrentees, finish protection packages, etc. Much of it is crap and all of it is at least twice what it's really worth... If
you do decide on any of this, read the fine print, and shoot for at least 50% off.

In hitches, I hear the PullRite is a good choice. It allegedly pulls a travel trailer with the same stability one expects from a 5th wheel.
towing with Dodge 1500,5.9litre.3:9axle

Thanks to both of the repliers...GREAT INFO!Now another newbie question...wife says now she is in love with the wildwood by Forest River.Personally I think it is too close to the towing limit,weighing in at 5800 with a GVWR of 8010lbs.But I need someone to reply with a quality outlook on that brand please!Dealer is quoting us a price of 17,500 for a 28FKSS model.Any help appreciated greatly!
towing with Dodge 1500,5.9litre.3:9axle

Another crisis,I am more and more confused about towing ability of my truck! I am looking at my owners manual now,it says 7600lbsGCWR(truck,trailer,cargo,people,fluids).My GAWR for the front is 3,650,back axle is 3,806.GVWR is 6,400.How in the world do I figure out what the hell I can TOW?Do I look for the shipping weight of a trailer? Do I have a clue what the heck my truck allready weighs on the axles with nothing in it?What is the difference between GCWR and GVWR(7,600 vs.6,400lbs).Please someone help unconfuse me!And what is the curb weight vs. the load weight my owners manual is talking about when computing GVW?
towing with Dodge 1500,5.9litre.3:9axle

Hi RDSteve,

Go to and input your model and engine/trans combo. It gives you a weight limits in layman’s terms and does most of the math.

I input the following:
2003 Ram Truck 1500 SLT, Quad Cab, 4x4, Short Bed, Automatic 5-Speed, 5.7L V8 engine

and came out with these weight limits:
With 3.92 Axle Ratio You Can Tow 8550 lbs
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) = 6650 lbs
Payload = 1360 lbs
Curb Weight = 5292 lbs
Curb Weight Front/Rear = 3075 / 2218 lbs
GAWR Front/Rear = 3900 / 3900 lbs
Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) = 14000 lbs

GCWR is the total weight of the truck, trailer, passengers, fuel and stuff you have loaded.

Don't worry about the axle weight. It is more important not to exceed the payload rating, in my example above 1360 lbs, with the tongue weight.

Looking at the Wildwood T230L ( ) the hitch weight (dry) is 320 lbs and the GVWR of the trailer is 7320 lbs. The site doesn't list the total dry weight as that depends on the options you choose, but having had a Forest River trailer that was fully loaded i would guess the dry weight is about 5850 lbs. (approx 80% of GVWR). So in this scenario you would be safe to load up the trailer trip, hook it up and take off without a problem and still be under the GCWR of your truck.

Forest River puts a sticker in a kitchen cabinet that lists all the weights you will need to look at. Specifically the dry weight.

Don't stress it to much about numbers, let the web do it for you.



Senior Member
towing with Dodge 1500,5.9litre.3:9axle

Sorry, but I would not trust anything a dealer claims about what a truck will tow. They are in the business of selling vehicles, and (at least in the past) have used misleading tactics to make sales they shouldn't have. Perhaps the new models can really tow what is claimed, but in the past, it was (although technically correct), in reality, a fudged number.

Here is what those numbers mean and how to use them:

The GVWR is the maximum weight which the truck can be, with all options, cargo, accessories, passengers and gas, plus any weight added by the hitch and any trailer.

The curb weight should be what the truck weighs, without cargo and passangers. The best way to find this out for sure is to take your truck and have it weighed. Sometimes quoted curb weights are without some options included, and always without the accessories you have added to the truck, particularly the hitch. Drivers are assumed to weigh 150 pounds

cargo capacity = GVWR - true curb weight, and is how much stuff/people you can carry in the truck.

The GAWR Front/Rear, is the maximum weight which can be placed on the Front and Rear axel, respectively. This is limited by the suspension ruggedness and the tires used. Unfortunately, the rear axel weight IS critical, as adding a trailer (particularly a 5th wheel) often causes you to exceed this value even when under the limits everywhere else. Generally the Front axel weight is not a concern unless you have some massive weight accessories or cargo mounted to the front of the truck, or REALLY heavy stuff/people in the front seats.

GCWR is the maximum weight the truck can safely move and stop, including the truck and any trailer.

maximum trailer capacity = GCWR - (true curb weight + passenger weight + cargo weight)
maximum safe trailer capacity = GCWR - GVWR

The trailer has 2 weight ratings, GVW (the maximum the trailer can weigh, and the 'dry weight', which is the weight of the trailer without any propane, water, waste or contents. Like published curb weight, published dry weight is unreliable, as it often does not include some or all of the accessories built into the trailer. Therefore, buying a trailer because the dry weight is under your maxiumum trailer weight is an unwise move. It is safer to use the GVW of the trailer, because that truely is the maximum the trailer can weigh without problems.

One final concern is the pin weight of the trailer. This is the weight which the trailer exerts on the truck at the hitch point. You need to ensure that this weight does not cause you to exceed either the GVWR of the truck or the GAWR of the rear axel.

Exceeding any maxium weight value is unsafe, unpleasant, and possibly damaging to the truck (or trailer).

Also, be advised that even if you are below all weight limits, a 6L gas V8 engine may strain pulling a trailer up hills (mine does, but perhaps Dodge engines are better suited).
towing with Dodge 1500,5.9litre.3:9axle

you wont have any problems towing that trailer with that truck, just use your head and take your time, my buddy has a 99 dodge 4wheel drive extra cab with the 5.9 and he tows a 29 foot weekend warrior with it and he doesnt have any problems, i tow a 26 foot 8000lb nomad toybox with my 2003 f 150 4x4 with the 5.4 and it does just fine, and contrary to popular belief on this site it stops just fine. so good luck and have fun. donohue

C Nash

Senior Member
towing with Dodge 1500,5.9litre.3:9axle

Steve, most of us have been there and done that and through experience with the bad and ugly offer our opinions as to what is safe for you and others on the road. We generally assume you are new to towing and wanting advice from those of us that have been there. Both John and Jay have given some great advice. If you have done a lot of towing and are careful you probably could tow the Forresr river but, in my opinion you will not be satisfied with the performance and it will be tough of the tow vehicle. You will probably be towing out of the flat lands sooner or later. I have towed for 55 years and jusr recently went to a MH and found that stopping was the biggest adjustment. Most of us that have been there and done that do tend to overkill. If you decide to go for it just be careful and like donohue said enjoy :)