Towing with a "Max Tow" Half Ton
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    Corndog Hater ColonyPark's Avatar
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    Towing with a "Max Tow" Half Ton

    Many of you don't know, but we bought a new travel trailer this past spring. My kids had outgrown the bunks in our old trailer, and we camp every chance we get in the summer, so I was hearing a lot of complaining. We bought a bunk house model which is longer and heavier than our old trailer. I towed it without incident all summer long. I am now seeking some advice.


    My current truck is a lease and the lease is coming due in the next 6 months. I love this 2016 Silverado Double Cab 1500, 5.3L with 3.42 rear and integrated trailer brake controller. Our initial thought was to go to a 3/4 ton, because we "should". However, neither my wife or I, really want a 3/4 ton as a daily driver primarily due to gas mileage, size, and ride comfort. My truck sees no more than 10,000 miles per year. This past camping season, I towed our trailer no more than 1,700 miles.


    My thought is to buy a Silverado 1500 Max Tow or GMC Sierra 1500 Max Tow. I would be looking for a crew cab, and the longer (6.5') bed to increase wheelbase as much as possible. The max tow package gives you:


    - Increased towing and GCWR
    - Automatic Locking Rear Diff
    - Handling/Trailering Suspension Package
    - Enhanced Cooling Radiator
    - Revised Shock Tuning
    - Heavier Duty Rear Springs and Increased RGAWR
    - 9.76" Rear Axle
    - Integrated Trailer Brake Controller
    - Trailering Mirrors
    - 3.73 Rear (with 5.3 V8) or 3.42 Rear (with 6.2 V8)


    As our kids get older, I see us still camping a lot, but closer to home, so I would be towing even less miles. We may throw in a longer trip each summer. But right now, our trips are within a 3 hour radius from home. My experience this summer was that this trailer tows better than our old one. We had a lot of tugging with that one. This one tows great down the road. Of course my biggest issues are wind and big trucks on the interstate. I never had any white knuckle moments this summer, just times where I could tell the trailer was back there, more than other times. I usually adjusted my speed as needed. A couple times on the interstate, I slowed to 55mph from my normal 62mph towing speed (my trailer tires are rated for 75pmh BTW) because that was what felt comfortable. Mrs. CP and I said if we felt too uncomfortable, we would exit the interstate and take a two lane state road, but we never had to.


    I tow with an Equalizer 4-Way Sway Control WDH. It is dialed in good and I have very little to no sway. I keep a close eye on tire pressure and run with the trailer tires inflated to near max. I'm seeking advice on what I could do to make my trailer and a 1500 Max Tow, tow the best possible. I am wondering just how much is changing the tires out on the truck to E load LT tires going to change my towing experience? If I added air bags or a helper spring (although the max tow already has an extra leaf spring), will that change my towing experience? If I change out the tires on my trailer to something better than the stock Castle Rocks, how much will that change my towing experience? Safety is my utmost concern, not just for my family, but all the other motorists we encounter. I know my numbers and have researched, and researched some more. Perhaps in the end, I will find that I simply need more truck "mass", and a 3/4 ton will sit in my garage, but for now, I don't want to leave any rock unturned.


    I am mainly looking for responses to my above questions. I know towing is a touchy subject, and I'm not looking to go "there". I have been to the scales and as I sit with my current truck and trailer, I am right at my max. However, I felt some real world experience from some folks I trust, would be the most beneficial. As always, thanks!
    glc, Gizmo2, DRobinson and 9 others like this.
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    JD4044M's Avatar
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    Sounds like to me you have the best set up for your truck now. I have never towed with a equalizer hitch but it would be nice to have better control swerving around a object on the road and still have it correct right! I see trailers behind trucks that look like Greyhound Buses! To me that is not camping and seems would take most the fun out of driving to your spot to set it up!

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    ColonyPark (12-12-2018)

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    My wife was used to the ride of a late 1990's Honda Accord,,
    the Honda cornered more like a sports car than a sedan,,

    In 1999, we went to look at a truck for her, the salesman put her in a 1500 Silverado,,
    She drove off the lot, then turned back on to the lot at the next entrance,, she hated the ride,,,

    I told the salesman to bring a 2500 for her to try,,
    she got into it, and fell in love,, it rode JUST like the Honda,, no body roll in turns,,

    We enjoyed that truck for almost 20 years, and added a new one this year,,

    We both LOVE the ride of a 3/4 ton,, the sway bars are so superior,,,

    Now, I got to say, my wife will not go on a cruise, as she is so sensitive to motion,,
    so, the 3/4 ton is perfect for her,,

    This year, the 2018 2500 Silverado got ALL of our travel miles,,
    the 2016 Honda sits at home, and is only used as a grocery getter,,,

    Give a 3/4 ton a try, if you have not, and honestly evaluate it.

    (Both of our 2500's have been snow plow specials, which, I have been told has even stiffer springs than the standard 2500,,,)
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    MDrew's Avatar
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    Towing at max capacity always concerns me when I do it. I have noticed that pulling my 20 ft, 10K car trailer compared to my buddy's dump trailer rated for the same weight, his brakes are way better than mine. I haven't tried a whole lot of things to improve towing. The best I've found is slowing down.

    I'm guessing you compared what you have and how it works for you compared to what you are looking at getting. How much more capacity does the new truck have over the old one? Does it move you at least 1K up?
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    Sounds like you have everything dialed in and working great. I see no reason whatsoever not to go with the max tow truck you are talking about.

    To answer one of your questions - E rated tires will make a world of difference. You said you feel very comfortable now on the highway - E rated tires will make enough of a difference to make you very comfortable even with the wind.

    The only drawback will be a slightly rougher ride when not towing. A cure for that - if you have the initative - is to run a higher tire pressure when towing than not - say 50# towing and 40# for daily driving. But once you get used to running the tires at any pressure you will soon forget all about it - unless you are on rt 219 down by the PA border.......(like I87 used to be).

    Get the 1/2 ton max tow and have them outfit it with E rated tires and trailer on.
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    I put Load Range E tires on my Tundra for towing my camper and it made no noticeable difference. Check your weights and see what you have. If you need them, you need them. But if you don't absolutely need them, I wouldn't bother.

    I'm not a fan of airbags or booster springs. I installed Timbren SES Rear Suspension Boosters. They have no effect on the truck when the bed/hitch are unloaded but act as bump stops once the frame drops down under load and prevents your back end from sagging.
    Last edited by JimR; 12-12-2018 at 03:52 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColonyPark View Post
    ...I would be looking for a crew cab, and the longer (6.5') bed to increase wheelbase as much as possible...
    I'm not completely up on the 1500's, but I didn't think that configuration was available? I though with the 6.5' bed you could only get the double cab?
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    I read all about the tow vehicle, but I could find no mention of the trailer size, weight, etc? The trailer will mostly determine what you need for a tow vehicle. A thought for you.... If you have concerns about a 1/2 ton doing the job, then you already know that you need a 3/4 ton. A 1/2 ton is really just a "play" truck. If you really want some "work" done, you need a 3/4 ton or bigger. My 3/4 ton came with E rated tires which have a max pressure of 80# and with the TPMS, you cannot reduce the pressure very much before the low pressure warning light comes on. The door sticker specifies 80# rear and 65# front and that is what I set them at. No doubt the E tires will handle better, but will not provide what you need, which a 3/4 ton or bigger will.

    I have towed with a 1/2 ton and a 3/4 ton, and there is no comparison. The 3/4 ton wins, hands down. Yes, there is a little rougher ride, but you get used to it quickly. Gas mileage on a 1/2 ton equipped for max tow, will not be any better than a standard 3/4 ton, and the 3/4 ton will tow it easier. My 3/4 ton has the 6.2L gas engine with the standard 3.73 axle and, when not towing, it gets 17-18 MPG using non-ethanol gas, but drops to 15 MPG using ethanol gas. If I can get the ethanol gas enough cheaper, then I use it, otherwise I use the non-ethanol gas. 5th and 6th gears are overdrive, which makes a big difference as it only turns 1800 RPM at 70 MPH. And I can pull my 31ft gooseneck trailer(7300# empty) most of the time in 6th gear.

    When towing, you really don't want to be using cruise control as you will be shifting gears most of the time. Just let it pull down a little bit on the hills and your gas mileage will be much better. Also drive a little slower. I usually drive around 70, but tested it at 65 on a long trip pulling the trailer and got 1 MPG better mileage. Not a big deal no more than I tow, but it gives you the idea about how to improve mileage.

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    glc
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kennyd View Post
    I'm not completely up on the 1500's, but I didn't think that configuration was available? I though with the 6.5' bed you could only get the double cab?
    I might be wrong, but I think the bed length deal is only with the GMC. Fairly certain the Chevy short bed will be the 6.5' regardless of cab configuration.

    My brother has the GMC Sierra with a crew cab and it's only the 5.5' bed. I couldn't handle that! I told him he went with the wrong truck!

    Mine is a 1/2t double cab with the 6.5' bed. I have the 5.3 with the 3:42 rear end, and max tow.
    Last edited by glc; 12-12-2018 at 06:06 PM.
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    I don't know man. I think the best option for you is to move to a 3/4 ton, even if it's an older one. I you go older you can get another vehicle for daily driving. The post-2001 trucks are super capable, especially if you get a diesel. The 6.0 is a very capable engine too.

    I say this because I wouldn't want to be towing at max capacity. I tow around 8k at most which is 8/10ths of the capacity of my truck in it's current set up (2001 silverado 2500hd cc/sb, 4 speed auto, 6.0 vortec, 4.10 gears, 4x4 with the factory hitch and tekonsha p3 brake controller). I wouldn't want to tow a full 10k all the time. Could I? sure, but things will start breaking before to long. You will most likely want to go bigger with the trailer later on, so prepare now (not to mention the price of trucks keeps going up, so save yourself some $$$$ and get one now instead of spending an extra 20k on the same thing you could have got for less)

    It's been my experience that the newer trucks ride rougher than old, but maybe thats just me. Trailering smooths the ride out by a lot.

    If you are looking for mileage, a diesel is the way to go. You can get the mini-duramax in the silverado 1500, and the silverado HD trucks. I have a 6.0 in my truck. I pulled the 4510, loader, backhoe, and forks plus 16' trailer to a jobsite to help a friend out the other day. I was on a windy, hilly road in wet conditions so I was going slow. It took 1/4 tank of gas to go 24 miles. Thats 3 mpg. I can't imagine if I had a full 10k back there. I'm sure a diesel would have been much better. The other thing is the gasser can be a b!tch to get going on a hill- it simply doesn't have the low end power to get the rpm high enough to make real power. A diesel wouldn't have this issue. The mini-duramax is reported to get astonishing mpg on the highway, so there is that too.

    Just my thoughts. Take it how you will, and I wish you luck on your search.
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