Trailer towing vs 5th Wheel


New Member
I'm confused, please set me straight.

My travel trailer is 6800 lbs. and the tow capacity of my 97 Silverado is 6500 lbs. If I want to go to a 5th wheel does my tow capacity increase? Can someone please educate me on how to figure the difference?



Ed H.

New Member
Trailer towing vs 5th Wheel

Some of the 2500 & 3500 models can indeed tow heavier 5th wheels that regular trailers, but I don't think that applies to the 1500 series. The only people who can answer that question accurately work for Chevrolet. Check with a dealer, if they can't/won't help, call GM directly. Most manufacturers want you to use their products correctly and are happy to help toward that end.
Trailer towing vs 5th Wheel

I owned a 2003 1500HD crew cab until last week. The tow rating was 8600 for a trailer and 10000 for a fifth wheel. It had the Vortec 6000 and four speed heavy duty tranny. We traded it in for a 2500HD crew cab with the Duramax.
The fifth wheel we bought weighed 8000 pounds. The truck was able to pull it as long as the grades were not over 4% and at low altitudes. When I went into the mountains it was all over with.
Chevy specifically states that the 1500's for this year at least are not meant to tow fifth wheels.
Trailer towing vs 5th Wheel


What do you mean when you went into the mountains it was all over with? Some 1500 1/2 ton trucks have V-6 engines and if you had that then I would agree with you. It all depends on the truck built and it's specifications. For example, if GM says a 1500HD 5.3 1/2 ton (shortbed) truck with a axle ratio of 3.73 can tow up to the Max. Trailer Weight of 8100 LBS, then it must be able to tow it as long as it does not exceed the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR). You must also take into consideration the 5th Wheel kingpin weight which should be 15% to 25% of the trailer weight up to the maximum amount specified in the trailering chart for your vehicle. You can obtain this info from your local vehicle service manager. Yes, a Chev 2500HD Duramax Diesel w/Allison trans would be the better choice of truck and can pulled more weight than the 1500 HD but it's very expensive to purchased. In my opinion, I would go with the Chev 2500 HD Duramax Diesel w/allison trans because it can and will tow any size of 5th wheel or travel trailer up to 36 feet or whatever your preference is.

Trailer towing vs 5th Wheel

Kams, look in your owners manual, there is an exact formula for finding your true towing capacity. It will not match up with the tow rating shown. At least I hope your manual shows it. The manual for my new Ford F-150 does. I'll Try to explain , in case yours doesnt have it. Find your total Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), Then take your truck to the nearest truck-stop and weigh your vehicle with the same amount of people in it that would normally be riding in the truck with you when you tow. Take this weight and subtract it from your GVWR. The weight that is left is the weight you can legally & safely tow. Keep in mind, that isnt saying it will pull that much weight up a steep grade at 50 mph! As Turkey stated, a steep grade will probably shut you down pretty hard. You will probably find after doing the math, that your true tow capacity is lower than the rating in your book. Mine was 6800lbs, after doing the math, I really only have 6640lbs that I can tow without exceeding my GVWR. Hope this info helps. :laugh: