What to buy? 5th wheel & tow truck questions

We are ready to buy a used (preferably) 5th wheel and a pick up truck that will handle it. We know nothing! Your feedback based on your experience as well your knowledge gained from reliable sources, is much appreciated. We are really excited about this opportunity and look forward to the upsides and feel we can handle the downsides. Our preferred 5th wheel length is 34'-36'. Our home is sold and we have a month to make this happen. We have done some homework mostly on the internet and through dealers (including PPL), but very little from experienced RVers yet. We intend to live in this RV perhaps as long as 8 months - touring and taking next steps toward buying/building a traditional home. Sorry for so much detail, but you need to know where we're coming from. If you've read this far and think I am in the wrong forum slot, please say so.

We are overwhelmed with the brands. We live in a large market with many choices (Houston). Many units seem to turn over quickly, so it's necessary to be ready when you find the right one. I would appreciate your comments on 5th wheel brands. We were fixed on Alfa until we learned from consistent comments that their basement air is less than ideal for our hot and humid weather. So now we are open to "advice". OR if there is a ratings magazine or such that ranks them based on overall desirability... NADA helps with comparative pricing, but doesn't necessarily reflect the market value of a particular RV, in my opinion.

Brands that have been mentioned to us as more desirable are: Carriage, Tahoe, King of the Road, Mountain Aire and Cardinal. May be others too; can't remember. Looking for these brands on the internet and at dealers, it seems that the Tahoe, King of the Road and Mountain Aire are priced noticeably above similar size/type/year units. Although not mentioned to us as better units, we have found a 2004 Holiday Rambler 36' Presidential (too heavy?) and a 2004 Titanium 34E39SD appealing. To make it more complicated, there are aldo two new 2006 Carriage Compass models available that are DEEPLY discounted (reflecting their relative value??), to the point where their prices compete with some of the used RVs. There - that's it - anybody have the patience to read all of this and still have the motivation and energy to reply??

Pick-Up Truck: We'd rather a 3/4T Diesel automatic than a 1T dually for lots of reasons. Shopping for this used truck, we find that people are usually loyal to the brand they're driving. Here's consensus: Dodges (especially Cummins-equipped) and Fords seem more prominent than Chevys. Dodges have weaker (automatic) transmissions - notably torque converters, we are told. Chevys have the desirable Allison auto transmission, but supposedly the Duramax engine is not as desirable as the other two makes. We're told that Ford's diesel engines are problematic, like they spend more time in the shop than others. Your feedback? The RV we buy will dictate the amount of truck needed to haul it or vice versa, so we'll have to work through that. Hopefully we will learn enough about that to choose an adequate, safe truck.

Thanks very much in advance for wading through all of this, but you all are "there" and know this stuff better than most. T


Senior Member
Re: What to buy? 5th wheel & tow truck questions

I would suggest a 'heavy' 3/4 ton diesel (like the GMC 2500HD), which should let you tow 14K pounds or perhaps a bit more. The extended cab is very handy (carry people, or stuff protected from weather and casual theft, and allows the front seats to recline). A long bed is better for towing a fiver, but with the extended cab makes parking in todays lots a challange. The short bed can usually be compensated for with a sliding hitch and/or extended king pin.

I would avoid Ford until it is proven that their alleged problems are fixed or disproven. These are 1) a diesel engine which has severe reliabilty and service issues, 2) a policy of providing minimal support for customers who run afoul of #1, and 3) an aggressive support (not just tolerance of) the homosexual lifestyle.

I am fairly happy with my GMC 2500HD, except for the gas engine. I have no experiance with the Duramax. I am very happy with the Cummins engine in the motorhome, but have no experiance with Dodge's truck transmissions.

As for the trailer, make sure that it is rated for full time usage. Usually these will have extended insulation packages, enclosed or heated plumbing systems, and dual pane windows.

DL Rupper

Senior Member
RE: What to buy? 5th wheel & tow truck questions

If you can, check out HitchHiker, Excel and Aplenlite 5'ers. They are in the ball park with the Carriage. If you want to drop down a notch or two the Montana is supposed to be pretty good 5th Wheel.
I prefer Dodge Cummins Diesel pick-ups to tow with; however, the Chev Duramax/Allison is pretty good. Stay away from the Ford 6.0 liter Power Stroke Diesel. Too many horror stories about them. Good luck.


Senior Member
Re: What to buy? 5th wheel & tow truck questions

We're all partial to our trucks, so take all our opinions for what they are. I prefer a one ton pickup with the 8' bed. As far as brands. Some will say Ford really dropped the ball in 03 when they came out with the 6.0 diesel. It was a very good motor if you got a good one. If you got a bad one, seem like it stayed bad. They finally got about all the bugs out it in late 05 and the 06's seem to be trouble free. With the new emission standard Ford had to make a motor change, a 6.4 diesel which will be out in Oct. of this year. Shows a lot of promise but I would wait a year. Dodge and the cummings is rock solid. The GMC Duramax diesel really suprised me. It turned out to be a very good engine. With the Allison transmission a very good combination. Noticed you're from Houston. Did you look at trailers at Holiday World off the Katy Freeway? There are about four different dealers within a couple of miles. Well good luck and take care. ;)
Re: What to buy? 5th wheel & tow truck questions

thank you shadow

We did in fact look at the dealers on Katy Fwy - virtually no used 5th wheels in inventory in the size we want. Ron Hoover has a 2004 Titanium - made by Glendale in Canada - which looks nice, seems to be well appionted with quality materials and components. I've gotten no feedback on the brand - its the first we've seen.

Holiday World has one unit, a 2004 Holiday Rambler Presidential. It wasn't cleaned up (but needed to be!) and the sales person said they wouldn't clean it until it is sold! I think it is one of the heavier trailers, heavier pin weight than many, if I remembe correctly. PPL is showing one of these also as a new arrival.

We would prefer the GM brand pick up. I spoke with Ford sales person this evening who said exactly what your're saying. Basically his message was to avoid '03 & '04 models, because '05s and 06's are drastically improved. He also says Ford has sold more diesels than GM and Dodge combined!

Are you pleased with your Montana? If, by chance, you didn't buy it new, how long have you owned it and what are your thoughts about it versus other brands, forgetting luxury, cosmetics, fluff etc.?

Many thanks for your comments. Very useful.
RE: What to buy? 5th wheel & tow truck questions

Thanks - I would like to have the Chevy but really respect Dodge's Cummins turbo. Hard to decide. Supposedly Ford engine problems sort of went away with 2004-4-6 models. You can see, I can't decide yet!!
RE: What to buy? 5th wheel & tow truck questions

Please check RV.org for ratings. We are also considering a fifth wheel and found that some of the brands we really liked scored very low. I know this is a bit pricey, but it was worth it for us when considering such a large purchase.
Good luck!



Senior Member
RE: What to buy? 5th wheel & tow truck questions

Hi again Twitch, We did buy our Montana new from Holiday World in Katy. It's only our second 5th wheel, so I really can't compare it to the other brands you mentioned. We did hit a lot of dealers and shows in the area, and the Montana kept drawing us back. We felt like we got a lot more for our money. A lot of other brands charged extra for most of the things standard on the Montana. It has two slides, and you can access the whole trailer with the slides in. Really like the big shower and it also has a full king size bed. It came generator prepped, wired for a second a/c, and has the hookups for a washer dryer. If you go back to Holiday World, ask for Roy Moore. Hope you find what you're looking for, It can sure get confusing.
RE: What to buy? 5th wheel & tow truck questions

Good info - thanks!

Assumming you stayed with the single A/C, has it been adequate for Houston's H&H, if or when you used it here? I get mixed reviews on that subject from dealers and PPL.

The models on our short list at the moment are equipped with a single A/C and wired for a second (in the bedroom and it serves the bedroom only, as I understand it).

We started out searching the used market with no success. We're now looking at a new '06 Carriage Compass 34' and a new '06 (Montana) Mountaineer 36'. Their specs seem roughly comparable but the Mountaineer is $4,100 less. We will see an actual Mountaineer tomorrow but we'll have to drive to Rockport. 'Can't find '06 Mountaineers here in Houston (that fit our needs).

Did you consider a Mountaineer? I believe it is a step beneath the Montana brand, like the Compass is beneath the Carriage Cameo line.

Thanks again. Good to hear from you.


Senior Member
RE: What to buy? 5th wheel & tow truck questions

We did look at the Mountaineers. But like you said we thought the Montana was a better built trailer. It may be to late, but off 35 in Bay City there is a dealer who sells Gulf Streams. Seen Yellowstones and Sedona's there. Not sure if they will fit your needs. Maybe Grandview Trailer Sales can help. Also in Orange, there is Lloyd's Rv. He has the Keystone brands and I think I have seen some Carriage Brands there. His phone is 409-745-2904. Decisions, decisions, ain't this fun. :laugh: