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Old 04-10-2021, 09:29 PM   #1
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Need advice on our tow vehicle/toy hauler combo

we recently purchased a 39'6 Voltage (3551) and are towing with a RAM 2500 Cummins Diesel. I am feeling like we need a 1 ton dually even with empty tanks and no motorized toys in the garage of the toy hauler. Is that the general opinion of those of you with a lot of experience or is the 2500 diesel sufficient? Thanks in advance !
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Old 04-10-2021, 10:47 PM   #2
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we recently purchased a 39'6 Voltage (3551) and are towing with a RAM 2500 Cummins Diesel. I am feeling like we need a 1 ton dually even with empty tanks and no motorized toys in the garage of the toy hauler. Is that the general opinion of those of you with a lot of experience or is the 2500 diesel sufficient? Thanks in advance !
Well, the relative word in your post is "need".

- Do you NEED a one-ton? Probably not.

- Would a one-ton work better than your 2500? No doubt that it would.

It's not that you can't tow it with the 2500... I began towing my rig with an F-250. I'm not completely positive about this, but I'm sure your Mopar trucks are just like the Fords: There's no difference at all in the drivetrain components of the F-250, F-350, or F-450... same engine, same tranny, etc.

The areas you'd find the greatest benefit would be in braking & handling... but even that has variables:

- wheelbase length
- final drive ratios
- suspension packages

And finally, you'll want to keep in mind that... the variables that work best for towing a long & heavy load, aren't those desired when using the truck as a daily-driver when not towing.

A long wheelbase, stiff springs, and short rear-end gear ratios are great for towing. Very stable in all weather/wind scenarios, and easier to pull up steep grades. But when not towing... a crew-cab, long-bed truck is more difficult to maneuver, it's harder to find good parking, the ride is "stiff", and gas mileage sucks because the engine has to turn more rpms to due to the higher gear ratio.

In other words, what combo do you want... super safe & comfortable when towing, or super easy & convenient when not? Finding the right compromise is the key.

In my case.. I began pulling my Voltage with an F-250. Did that for over a year. Towed it just fine, no issues. And then one day I was towing in the rain on I-40 back east, through the mountains of NC. Curvy road with a downhill grade between 6%-8%... and THAT's when I decided that I wanted a dually. As I began rounding some of the curves, my 16,500 lb. rig kept trying to push the rear of my much lighter 6,000 lb. truck straight ahead. So much so that I didn't even think about touching the brake pedal until the road straightened out again.

3 weeks later, I had a new F-450 dually truck... and have never felt unstable since, even on the much steeper & longer grades out here in the west.

One note: if you do decide to upgrade your truck... jot the VIN down, and get an insurance quote for it BEFORE you buy. I didn't do that when I bought my F-450... and only afterward did I find out that, for insurance purposes, it's considered a commercial vehicle... complete with the higher associated rates. Even though it's never used commercially... because of it's GVWR, all the insurance companies (and I've checked the all) treat it as such. So do your homework ahead of time.
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Old 04-10-2021, 11:06 PM   #3
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Get the 3500. I have a 3950 and it was scary with a 2500. Especially traveling thru mountains. Down right dumb looking back. 3500 (especially the newer ones) are far superior. I then went to an Ď05 3500 and did fine, although it was heavily modified. My Ď19 is like night next day difference. I tow confidently, comfortably and safely now. We weighed in when fully loaded and we were 33k truck and trailer going down the road. Iíll finish were I started. Get the 3500. You wonít regret it.
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Old 04-10-2021, 11:12 PM   #4
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We have the same 5th wheel and had a 2018 2500.

Was over capacity and could pull it, but not stable enough for me.
We decided on up grade to 300 HO CTD LB CC 4X4.
She rides like a dream.Click image for larger version

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Old 04-10-2021, 11:46 PM   #5
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Thank you for sharing your experiences.
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Old 04-11-2021, 07:18 AM   #6
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The only difference between the Ram 2500 and 3500 if you opt for the same engine and trans is the rear suspension. In the 2500 you either have coils or possibly factory air suspension. In the 3500 you will have leaf springs and possibly the factory air helpers.

If you feel the 2500 is not enough I would probably avoid the 3500 SRW because it will feel very similar despite the greater GVWR. If you get an HO with the AISIN it will have greater towing capacity but handling will be no different. You will need a dually for that improved handling and stability which then also allows you to go with shorter rear end gearing for better towing, the heavier duty Aisin trans and of course the option for a dually.

But as the above poster stated you will likely step into the ďcommercialĒ territory with the greater GVWR which will likely translate to higher insurance cost AND annual registration costs too.

Most people will tell you that you can never have too much truck from a safety standpoint but IMO there is such thing as overkill and of course unnecessarily expensive taxes and insurance.

I will say with a relatively new 2500 you will likely exceed the GVWR by the time you hook up your trailer but you still might be under the axle weight ratings and tow capacity of the truck. As to what it means to be over the 10,000 lb GVWR is a subject for a healthy debateósome will tell you that it is not safe to get within a couple thousand pounds of your capacity and others will say you are safe exceeding GVWR as long as you are within axle and tow capacity on the truck. As an example, you are probably far safer in your 2500 than you would be in a 3500 or 350 from 20 years ago that is rated higher but still technically exceeding the truckís specs.
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Old 04-11-2021, 08:51 AM   #7
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...But as the above poster stated you will likely step into the “commercial” territory with the greater GVWR which will likely translate to higher insurance cost AND annual registration costs too...
In re the above, just a note here:

Again, I’m not all that familiar with the Ram truck specs... but I do know this about the Ford lineup:

The F-350 can be had as either a SRW or DRW model... while the F-450 is a DRW truck only.

The F-350 DRW option can be configured to the exact same specs as the F-450, with the exception of a single extra leaf spring in the rear. And it’s that extra leaf that raises the GVRW of the 450 above the threshold, and puts it into the commercial vehicle category.

The F-350 DRW, which doesn’t have that leaf, is considered a “normal” truck... and I suspect that maybe the Ram lineup may be similar.
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Old 04-11-2021, 01:26 PM   #8
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I spent my Saturday researching 2021 DRW trucks. The main thing I am looking at is the width of these trucks. From what I have read the Chevrolet 35000 DRW and the Ford 450 DRW ( Ford 350 DRW has the narrower rear axle) are both 96 inches wide at the rear tires. For those of us with larger toy haulers this is significant in terms of stability and safety, also DRW trucks have better braking. Many other trucks are 80 inches in width, even the RAM DRW is only 1ft wider than my current truck which is 79.5 in. I am also interested in hearing if the HO Cummins with the new AISIN gearbox is a noticeable improvement in power from the standard Cummins. I have towed about 4000 miles in the past 4-5 months and on steep grades and from a stop, the standard Cummins is not impressive due to the gearing most likely.

I am surprised with the added width of some DRW trucks I am not seeing more folks choosing specific models for towing.
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Old 04-11-2021, 03:01 PM   #9
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Correction; the 2021 Ford 350 DRW is also 96 in in width.
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Old 04-11-2021, 03:49 PM   #10
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In re the above, just a note here:

Again, Iím not all that familiar with the Ram truck specs... but I do know this about the Ford lineup:

The F-350 can be had as either a SRW or DRW model... while the F-450 is a DRW truck only.

The F-350 DRW option can be configured to the exact same specs as the F-450, with the exception of a single extra leaf spring in the rear. And itís that extra leaf that raises the GVRW of the 450 above the threshold, and puts it into the commercial vehicle category.

The F-350 DRW, which doesnít have that leaf, is considered a ďnormalĒ truck... and I suspect that maybe the Ram lineup may be similar.

In California as soon as the GVWR exceeds 10,000 lbs then you step into commercial territory and registration costs increase. Ram artificially limits the GVWR on their 2500ís to 10,000 lbs and doesnít provide any options to change the configuration to increase this. I believe both Chevy and Ford allow you to configure their 2500 and 250 with a greater GVWR resulting in a greater capacity door sticker.

I read a lot about Ramís because I have one and enjoy the heated debates that ensue on this subject. Some say the only thing that matters from a safety standpoint is axle weight rating (GAWR) and towing capacity and they argue that if the manufacturer keeps everything on the two trucks identical but only changes the rear suspension from coils to leafs that that would not magically increase GVWR by exactly 2,000 lbs every time no matter the size of the bed, cab, etc. Others claim the only thing that matters is the door jam sticker and it doesnít matter what your truck can safely handle because the sticker is the factor.

Also, as far as braking goes I think with a properly set up trailer and truck that the trailer brakes stop the trailer and the truck brakes stop the truck. When I had my brakes replaced last year the owner of the repair shop was adamant about this. Too much variation in either direction is bad. If you are relying on the increased braking capacity of your dually to stop your trailer then I donít believe you have a proper set up. While it is no doubt safer to have that extra capacity in the event of an emergency you again get back to my argument that there is such thing as overkill.

My SRW 2500 is already a challenge to park and take through drive-throughs, etc., and in some cases a dually would be too wide. Crowded parking lots generate dirty looks when I park and many times tires on both sides of my truck touch both stall lines.

I enjoy being able to unhook my truck when camping and go places more easily than I would with a dually.

So like in most cases I think you have to consider many factors and not just one or two when making this decision, and it is an expensive and time consuming decision that you really canít undo after the fact.
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Old 04-11-2021, 04:06 PM   #11
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I have my Gain set at 8.5 when towing. It brakes fine, I am hearing the added rubber of a dually helps things slow down with a trailer behind you. As you all have pointed out, my initial goal was to not have too much truck, then my trailer size increased. We live in an area that is somewhat spread out and country so hopefully a DRW isn't too difficult in town. I guess I would rather walk in a building from a further parking spot, field a few dirty looks from other people parking than be uneasy when towing our 5th wheel down the steeper grades, for my family and other drivers sake. For the record , I drive conservatively and safely. Some of our neighbors are simply recommending to install an air bag kit for leveling, but I am not convinced that spending more on the 2500 will change my feelings thus far.

Living in California I just assume we will get nailed on everything from insurance to registration but I appreciate the heads up on these costs.
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Old 04-11-2021, 04:47 PM   #12
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Here’s a link to a video I have saved in my YouTube library. It’s a few years old now, and is all Ford based... but it provides good info on SRW vs DRW setups:

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Old 04-11-2021, 05:15 PM   #13
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Thanks for the video Tom !
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Old 04-11-2021, 07:14 PM   #14
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The more I comb the truck websites, read and watch user stories, the more I realize how towing capabilities and numbers are somewhat misleading. I was way too quick to purchase not only my truck but the larger trailer needed to wait in hindsight.
Can my truck tow a 15,000lb 5th wheel toy hauler ? yes. Is my truck designed to tow this size trailer in challenging conditions? maybe.

I made a rookie mistake and advise anyone towing almost anything to go straight for a dually. Even for the sake of safety during a rear tire blowout. A lot of responsibility rests on the tower of any large trailer.
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Old 04-11-2021, 10:06 PM   #15
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one last thing for anyone reading this thread, look at the front axle width and turning radius capability of a Ford F450 before buying a dually if you tow a 40 ft toy hauler. I am not a Ford guy but this is impressive.
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Old 04-12-2021, 02:09 AM   #16
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Glad you made a decision. No doubt you will be safe. My guess is probably a a grand or two more per year between insurance and registration and maybe a few hundred more averaged out per year on additional brakes and tires, which is far less than what an accident would cost you.

Happy camping.
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Old 04-15-2021, 12:08 AM   #17
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Matt,
I have a 43ft Toy Hauler, and just for info, once you add all the stuff, you put on a lot of weight, with a washer and dyer, side by side kids stuff, dog stuff, a little gas and water besides what goes in the truck,.............Well I have a over 20k in my rig, so when you go in the mountains and have to come down you want that 3500 or F450 with better brakes, On real windy days you can tell between 2 wheels and 4 wheels back there, I first purchased the RV with a 2500, took it home, and quickly went to 3500
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Old 04-15-2021, 02:57 AM   #18
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I ended up buying a RAM 3500 Dually. I probably could've ran my 2500 RAM diesel into the ground pulling the toy hauler all over camping without any problems, but I am very cautious. Thanks for everyone's input as I looked at this carefully. We planned a bunch of trips this summer and my hopes is the rest of all you are having fun camping as well ! Thanks
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Old 04-15-2021, 03:32 AM   #19
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I ended up buying a RAM 3500 Dually. I probably could've ran my 2500 RAM diesel into the ground pulling the toy hauler all over camping without any problems, but I am very cautious...
Peace of mind is priceless on the road. Congrats, and let's see pics of that bad boy when you get a chance.
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Old 04-15-2021, 03:51 PM   #20
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I like safety with a bit of over-kill, which is why I went with a dually and 5,000 pound payload in 2013. My inner dually had a blow-out with my wife at the wheel. She felt nothing change in the truck's handling but did hear a rumbling sound. She pulled off to the side and I changed to the tire. I can only imagine the outcome if a rear tire blew with a SRW.
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