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Truck experts - "axle ratio" for towing? Sierra or Ram?

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  • Truck experts - "axle ratio" for towing? Sierra or Ram?

    I am going to be buying an 09 or 2010 pickup to tow a 2 horse bumper pull trailer and to be my family vehicle. I'm looking at 4 doors, 4x4 with the max towing package. The Dodge Ram would be the Laramie most likely, and the GMC would be the Sierra 1500. (I've ruled out the Tundra because the interior was very stale, and after driving 3 different ones, I still felt "bouncy" between 40-60 mph - I really tried as I love Toyotas but the Ram was a MUCH better and smoother ride and so was the GMC)

    Both the Ram and GMC have the 5.7 L or 5.4 L engine - the Ram is the Hemi. Both will have Class IV hitch. Tow capacities range from 9,000 to 10,400 lbs. - a bit overkill for the weight I will be towing but I want to be safe, safe - most often towing 1 horse, sometimes 2. Towing would be few times a month, perhaps 20-30 minutes away - flat roads.

    Someone (an acquaintance) who is very familiar with pickup trucks and who sounds extremely knowledgeable was concerned about the axle ratios of both trucks. He is recommending I go with a 6.0+ litre engine on both, so that I can get a 3.92 limited "slip rearend" axle ratio or higher. Is this a huge concern towing a 2-horse trailer with two 1100 lb. horses? Would love any advice or opinions and any more feedback on these 2 trucks - I had posted on another topic but would love more!! I am leaning toward the Ram Thanks!

  • #2
    Honestly for your intended purposes, either truck will suffice and personally think the hemi is a fine choice.

    What the taller gears get you is: it keeps the RPMs higher, so the motor is in the closer to the optimal power band. However, they also degrades the MPG a bit.
    Experience is what you get, when you didn't get what you wanted.


    • Original Poster

      Thanks Blaster. I too thought either would suffice, after doing alot of research, speaking with more than one trailer salesperson including a local trailer repair place. He kind of threw me for a loop implying that these trucks wouldn't suffice even with their tow capacity well over what I would be towing, etc.


      • #4
        We have a 2005 Chevrolet Silverado 4WD extended cab with what I think is a 5.7 engine, and the towing package. I don't remember the axle ratio but the towing capacity is about 8,000lbs. It pulls our two horse bumper pull anywhere, including over the mountains in SW Virginia. We drove it to Florida a few years ago, full of everything we needed for ourselves and two horses for the 3 week stay. I was very pleased with the way the truck handled.

        I also tow with my Chevy Tahoe. The Tahoe tows well for local trips, but for anything over 2 hours, or over the mountains, I prefer the truck.


        • #5
          the taller gears also increases your torque, giving you more "get up and go" in low gears. The RPMs will be a bit higher at cruising speeds and therefore, as blaster said, decreases your MPG a little. Also, max speed will be slightly decreased, but that should not be a concern as a tow vehicle. Husband always recommends tallest gears available, 4.10s being ideal, but at least 3.72s. Hope that helps.


          • #6
            We used a GMC

            I can only talk from my experience: we have a 97 GMC 1500 that hauled our Trailet NY Eventer for three years fine. It was replaced by a 3/4 ton GMC Duramax Diesel when the 97 fuel pump died on Route 2 In Mass(NOT a place to break down!) Fortunately we had no horses on board. The 97 GMC hauled the heavy-ish Trailet great. We did try a 3/4 ton gas truck briefly(a Dodge in fact) to retrieve the trailer when the 97 GMC died on Route 2. We filled up to go down there and re-filled up on the way home...seemed to love gasoline! It sold us on the diesel truck concept until the '08 fuel issues came up. I still haven't been able to understand diesel pricing since. Anyway I think the key is in your usage observation: you aren't commuting to Florida monthly with horses and this is supposed to be a "family vehicle" too...with a few trips a month on the flat either truck will do fine. As for safe, AAA Plus and a lot of contacts is the answer because any or all of these trucks could have a problem at any time..there is little guarantee. SO I would recommend a gas truck for the short hauls and a diesel 3/4 ton for those Aiken/FLorida runs that seem to come up more often now. Any more than that and mini-18 wheelers loom on the horizon..:-) Enjoy the new truck.


            • #7
              5.7 or 5.4L are sufficient for towing, but in general wear a hell of a lot faster than the larger engines. I plain flat wore a 5.7 L out in a couple of years several years ago pulling a 2-horse.

              Axle ratio also doesn't stand alone, it's the combination of engine/transmission final ratio/rear end ratio together that do the job. Highly recommend the 4.10 for ANY towing on ANY vehicle. I did run a 3.7 something on a 1993 diesel and, with the diesel torque, it worked fine. Certainly use nothing LESS THAN a 3.7.

              Occasional towing with one or two horses and a small trailer, all of the options work fine. Regular towing with two big old warmbloods, a large trailer with dressing room, hauling every piece of tack you own, through the Rockies or Appalachians (like, through Cumberland, MD) - you're in for a major epiphany if you've got a long rear end, maybe even if you don't.


              • #8
                3:73 unless you pull through mountains a lot. Then burn more gas with a 4:10


                • #9
                  I have an older F250 with a Powerstroke diesel that has a 4.10 rear axle and 5-speed. It is capable of moving small mountains, but it is limited in top speed (when not towing, of course--the only thing I'd change about my truck is to add a sixth gear) and it does degrade mileage. I was caravaning with a friend in FL once, she has the same truck but with the 3.73 rear end & automatic, and I could not keep up with her without turning too many RPMs. We were both pulling 2H BP trailers at the time, her with two aboard and me with my huge draft cross.

                  That said, she now hauls a large three-horse slant gooseneck and the truck does fine with the 3.73, but that IS with a diesel engine.

                  I still think that, for local towing of a basic 2H, that either of those gas engines, even with a 3.73 (which will probably be easier to find) will do okay. Esp if you are using it for your daily vehicle, so that mileage will be a consideration. I don't think you can get a larger gas engine without going to a V-10 in the Dodge, and I think GM may still make a monster V-8, but for a daily vehicle you'll spend entirely too much time (and $$) at the gas station if you go with a larger engine. Otherwise, larger means diesel and I'd think twice about a diesel for a lot of short, stop-and-go trips around town. You won't set any land speed records if you encounter serious hills while towing, but if that isn't an every-day occurance, you'll be okay with either 5.x engine and the 3.73.
                  "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                  Spay and neuter. Please.


                  • #10
                    Your axle ratio will do just fine.

                    You will kill the transmission and suspension over time if you haul frequently with a half ton (ask me how I learned this one). The reason the ride is smoother in the Dodge/GM is that they have put in softer suspension because people wanted their trucks to drive like grocery haulers. Which is fine for commuting. But they don't do well under work -- I have an 08 1/2 ton Silverado which is my truck for work (not hauling, my personal truck is a 01 diesel F250 for my 2H BP, also has the 3.7 axle) and that suspension (same as you'll find on the GM) sags under any weight at all (there's a winch on the front) and as a result, I have to get it aligned about every six months and it eats tires up.

                    I hauled for several years with my old Tahoe and loved it, but won't do it again because the tranny warned me loudly that it just couldn't take it (I hauled about once or twice a month). Hence why I traded it in for the diesel and will never go back. Even though you may not like the stiffer rides, that does mean they will handle weight a lot better...think it over and decide what is best for you. If you are serious about truck longevity, get a 3/4 ton, if you don't mind a shorter vehicle life span and more frequent repairs/wear, the 1/2 ton will work.
                    Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                    Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                    We Are Flying Solo


                    • Original Poster

                      Thanks everyone - I guess my other question is, do you consider hauling twice a month 20-30 mins. each way max, "frequent" hauling or work? I was originally thinking SUV but everyone warned me away and I agree with those warnings. I guess I wasn't expecting "get a heavy duty or you'll be sorry" posts - as I see Ford F150's, Silverado's and Rams hauling 2-H bumper pulls ALL the time. How can a truck that is capable of hauling 9,000 lbs.+ not be capable or "enough" to haul 6,000 currently? I'm confused. (not being snide, just honestly confused and want to make the right decision.) I thought these trucks would be great for the work intended - mostly for family driving and occaisional towing.


                      • #12
                        Heck I've got 3.55s in my 03 Ram 1500 HEMI.

                        I'm never very quick off the line when hauling anyway, but I've still got plenty of go if need be towing a 2 horse straight load w/dressing room Trail-Et and about 2000 lbs of horse.

                        You could always do a gear swap after you buy it if you've got the money.


                        • #13
                          1/2 ton twice a month for 30 minutes is obviously fine. More local trips than that are probably fine also. 8 hours to Poplar 4 times a year probably isn't, although frankly the truck will probably do it.

                          The bottom line result is that the smaller, lighter duty trucks must work harder. If they work harder, they wear out faster and are not as pleasant to drive. They all work, some better and for longer than others.

                          Like I said earlier, I had a 1987 5.7 or 5.4 or whatever gasoline F-150. Bought a used horse trailer with dressing room, never had a horse trailer before, thought I was in hog heaven. Expected to pull once a month, but within 6 months was pulling somewhere every weekend. Plain flat wore that poor old truck out!


                          • #14
                            [quote=tpup;4516816]Thanks everyone - I guess my other question is, do you consider hauling twice a month 20-30 mins. each way max, "frequent" hauling or work? quote]

                            No, unless you live in W VA.. I bought my Dodge Ram Diesel 3/4 ton 4.10 axle ratio because I was hauling EVERYweekend and to shows often thru hilly terrain between NC and VA. Now that I live in the flatlands and do infrequent hauling, it is way overkill. As people have said, longevity will be based on what type of usage.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Tom King View Post
                              3:73 unless you pull through mountains a lot. Then burn more gas with a 4:10
                              4.10 is totally unnecessary on a Dodge diesel. I have 2 2005's, one a 3500 dually and the other a 2500. I tow with the dually a lot--have over 300,000 miles on it. both have the 3.73 rear end. But I have the 6 speed manual trans. the 6th gear is an overdrive, so when you get to the hill, I just downshift to 5th.
                              3.73 is best for fuel economy. 4.10 is definitely not necessary with the gearing on today's trucks. And by the way, I live out west and run the western mountains all the time.
                              Discipline is the Bridge between Dreams and Accomplishments


                              • #16
                                i don't exactly live in the mountains (NJ)

                                but i have to tell you that i often wish i had a higher gear ratio on my f250. i find when climbing long inclines on the highway i fall behind.

                                if i were shopping for a new truck i'd buy one with a high gear ratio.
                                TQ(Trail Queen) \"Learn How to Ride or Move Over!!\" Clique


                                • #17
                                  With regards to the OPs modest expeditions and an SUV.

                                  There are SUVs and SUVS. Part of what you want to consider is the length of the wheelbase. Short ones (think of a Ford Bronco) tend to be pushed around by loaded horse trailers. So even the shortest trip-- if it includes traffic, wacky lane-changing drivers on a highway, wind or whatnot-- can be stressful in a compact SUV. Buy a Suburban (an SUV on a truck frame), on the other hand, and the problem goes away.
                                  The armchair saddler
                                  Politically Pro-Cat


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by tpup View Post
                                    Thanks everyone - I guess my other question is, do you consider hauling twice a month 20-30 mins. each way max, "frequent" hauling or work? I was originally thinking SUV but everyone warned me away and I agree with those warnings. I guess I wasn't expecting "get a heavy duty or you'll be sorry" posts - as I see Ford F150's, Silverado's and Rams hauling 2-H bumper pulls ALL the time. How can a truck that is capable of hauling 9,000 lbs.+ not be capable or "enough" to haul 6,000 currently? I'm confused. (not being snide, just honestly confused and want to make the right decision.) I thought these trucks would be great for the work intended - mostly for family driving and occaisional towing.

                                    Before I express my opinion, a short description of my experience:

                                    I pull a 4 horse Sundowner about 200 miles a week year round.

                                    Add to that an occasional longer trip and you get a lot of miles over the years.

                                    Not loaded to the max. One 1250 lbs horse and 20 hounds and sometimes two horses and hounds. 20 hounds will weigh 1200 lbs.

                                    Probably 500 lbs. in the tack room.

                                    My regular route has 6 miles of 9% grade. That is steep. That is the kind of grade that makes big trucks brakes smoke.

                                    My last three trucks were straight gear Ford F250's and F350's.

                                    The last two had 3.73 rear ends. I don't remember the earlier ratio.

                                    My last was a 1999 7.3, 3.73 6 speed manual. 357,000 miles.

                                    I bought a 2008, automatic with the camper and trailer package, 3.73 rear end in February 208. It has almost 60,000 on it.

                                    The difference between the older trucks and this truck on that 9% grade and in every other imaginable respect is unreal.

                                    So my point is that it is a big mistake to get all hung up over rear end ratios. The way to go about this is to find a similar user, find out what his engine, truck, transmission and axle set-up is and try to find the same thing if you like his.

                                    One thing to remember is that a 4.10 ratio is going to be very noisy at high speed on the highway so if you drive the truck every day over high speed roads, you do not want a 4.10 unless it is absolutely necessary.

                                    As for 20 minutes each way every week or two: Anything should be able to do that so long as it is heavy enough to brake properly and can make it away from any stop sign or stoplight on a steep hill.

                                    Remember that brakes are more important that anything else when your life depends on them. There are many tow vehicles that will pull more than they can handle safely during an emergency stop or a long downhill.

                                    And providing the springs are strong enough to give stability on the route.

                                    So all of the discussion about rear axle ratio means nothing unless you factor in everything else.

                                    If you drive it every day, get a 2009 F350 diesel with the camper and trailer package or a GMC Duramax equipped the same.

                                    When not hauling, they both ride like a luxury car.



                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by tpup View Post
                                      I guess I wasn't expecting "get a heavy duty or you'll be sorry" posts - as I see Ford F150's, Silverado's and Rams hauling 2-H bumper pulls ALL the time. How can a truck that is capable of hauling 9,000 lbs.+ not be capable or "enough" to haul 6,000 currently?
                                      Here's the problem -- those trucks totally CAN haul that weight. I used to haul my BP with the older style, heavy, long based Tahoe, it hauled great. The problem is in maintanance and longevity. Those engines have to work REALLY hard to pull that weight, especially if it's hilly (there is a difference between 2x a month in Kansas and 2x per month in Colorado or east TN). Which means the transmission is compensating a lot of the time. Which means it's all wearing out faster and burning up.

                                      So what you are hearing is us saying, yes, it is possible, but the truck will wear out much faster than you think and won't survive the workload over time. So, if you are financially able to just go out and buy trucks for replacements, more power to you. For me, I am on a TIGHT budget and when I buy a truck, I need it to LAST ten years or more. Which just ain't gonna happen towing with a 1/2 ton.

                                      Most of us, I'd be willing to be, have learned this by experience. We usually start with the half ton. It does it, but it wears out/works WAY too hard/gets such abysmal mileage while hauling that it drains the wallet (mine did all of these). Then we move up to the Super Duties and realize we should have just done that in the first place and saved said wallet and sanity. :-)
                                      Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                                      Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                                      We Are Flying Solo


                                      • #20
                                        "Buy a Suburban (an SUV on a truck frame), on the other hand, and the problem goes away."

                                        Only if you buy a 1999 or older. Suburbans got the soccer mom treatment in newer models.

                                        Also heard a strong rumor that GM will no longer build the Suburban due to that pesky financial problem they have.