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Towing Vehicles -- Too confusing!!!

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  • Towing Vehicles -- Too confusing!!!

    I feel really stupid, but I can NOT figure out exactly how much truck I need for my trailer.

    Trailer is a 1990 Turnbow steel 2-horse gooseneck, 7' tall with dressing room. GVW is 7440 lbs; GVWR is 10,000 lbs. I have been pulling with a 1992 Chevy 2500 but it's about dead. So -- the search starts.

    My dad and my riding instructor both insist that a "heavy half-ton" will pull this trailer. I cannot believe that a half-ton truck will pull this trailer (and yes, I haul two horses weighing right at 1,000 lbs each, plus their tack, so I'm sure I come in between 9500 - 10,000 lbs every time I pull). But I live in Kansas, and finding a good 3/4 ton truck in my budget is next to impossible. However, I believe this trailer would chew up a half-ton truck and spit it out in a heartbeat, and I haven't even mentioned braking yet! I can't see a 1/2 ton truck having the power or mass to stop my trailer well.

    So, all you COTHers who know a heck of a lot more about this than I do -- what size truck do I need to pull this trailer??? In terms simply of engine size, what can I eradicate from my search list? When I go truck shopping, what goes on my list of things to look for? What can I do without, and what must I have?
    Last edited by Alex and Bodie's Mom; Jul. 11, 2011, 03:17 PM. Reason: One more question: How much harder is it to hook up a trailer to an extended cab truck vs. a regular cab?

  • #2
    If you look at specifications on the trucks, that should tell you. For example a GMC Sierra 1500 will tow up to 10700 lbs; the 2500 can tow significantly more. If you are towing beyond the flat plains, I think I'd look for the bigger truck.
    We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........


    • #3
      You definitely need a 3/4 ton. While the 1/2 ton will move the trailer, it won't do it well or for very long. Yes, I know that dealers / sales people will tell you that some halfs are 'rated' to pull that weight range, but the reality of a live load is that bigger is better.

      Hooking up a GN with an extended cab is not hard - you can still see the hitch in the bed. A crewcab, on the other hand, is harder unless you are tall enough to see into the bed.

      "Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
      - Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926


      • #4
        Buy AS MUCH truck as you can afford.....Sure a 1/2 ton will pull it....Id be WAY more concerned if it can STOP it!!!!


        • #5
          Remember salesmen want to sell you a truck...

          I would go for at least a 3/4 ton.


          • #6
            Thanks to Mr. Ayers I've learned that if you look on the door of any truck you'll find the GCVWR (Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating). This is the maximum that the truck and any trailer being pulled can weigh. It is independant of the "tow rating" that the maker might advertise.

            So weigh the trailer. This gives you your first number. Then weigh truck. This gives you the second number. Add the two and substract the total from the GCVWR and you'll have how much you can put into the truck and/or trailer.

            Don't take the seller's word on how much a truck weighs. Most haven't got the foggiest idea. They will likely under-estimate the weight (so you think you have more capacity than you really have). You can weigh both at a local truck stop on the CAT scale. It will cost you $15-$20 but can save you, literally, thousands.

            Good luck in your search.


            P.S. If I messed up I'm sure Mr. Ayers will correct me.
            Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


            • #7
              If you were hauling that trailer with one horse every so often to your trainers 30 miles down the road, I'd say a half ton would be okay. Ish.

              With that set up, two horses and often, you'll be happy to get a 3/4 ton.

              A student and I have very similar trailers, the only difference being theirs has steel skin and mine has aluminum. There's is taller, mine is a good bit longer. They're pulling with a new 1/2 ton and I'm pulling with an older 3/4 ton. We followed each other to a horse show, over the foothills, 4 hour drive, me with two horses, them with one. My truck out-towed theirs like nothing else- that was enough convincing to make me glad I waited on my F250.
              Big Idea Eventing


              • #8
                KS here too, and I see quite a few folks show up places with half tons and SMALLER goosenecks. Never quite sure why they do it, but they do. Short hauls wouldn't bother me too much, however I did have a light 3/4 ton, it was geared high and didn't like to pull so well. 3/4 diesel I've got now, oh my, do I love her. Been to northern NY empty and back with 2 horses and the rest loaded with household goods, and she never missed a beat at all. I was grossing around 20,000 lbs on that trip and it was fantastic even up in the hill country.


                • #9
                  There are so many configurations of trucks out there that it is not very helpful to throw out blanket statements like "a 3/4 ton is better than a half ton".

                  I have towed with a 3/4 ton that was nowhere near as stable as my 1/2 ton HD -- 3/4 ton had smaller engine, shorter wheelbase, etc.

                  As Guilherme said, just do the math. Find out exactly how much your trailer weighs, find out how much the truck weighs, and look at the numbers.
                  The big man -- my lost prince

                  The little brother, now my main man


                  • #10
                    You are right -- it will chew up the tranny and other parts on a 1/2 ton.

                    At least Kansas is flat, I guess? Your trailer should have brakes that will stop it, but they can fail, so it's always good to have backup.

                    If it was me, I'd stick to my guns and find a 3/4 ton and don't be afraid to travel to get it. I hauled with 1/2 tons for a long time, we did ok with one horse in a bumper pull. But then I got the 3/4 ton and I am NEVER EVER EVER going back.
                    Life doesn't have perfect footing.

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


                    • Original Poster

                      Thanks a ton (or a 3/4 ton?) guys! Although half tons are easier to find around here, I will hold out for a 3/4 ton. I am SO worried about braking power -- I live on the KS/OK border with casinos all along the way and sheesh, people think nothing of pulling out right in front of you! Brakes worry me more than acceleration, to be honest.

                      And I certainly don't want to walk into a dealership and not know exactly what I want and need. Been there, done that, and I hate salesmen who can't answer my questions! All your answers -- esp. Guilherme -- give me a lot more ammo.

                      And yes, it is fairly flat where we are, but we're right on the edge of the Flint Hills and depending on which way you go, it can get hilly, fast.


                      • #12
                        Heavy 1/2 ton or not, I won't pull with less than a 3/4 ton long bed.


                        • #13
                          Correction to a prior item: The GCVWR on my truck was not on the driver's door but in the Owner's Manual.

                          It got dark before I could check but I've been told it also might be on a plate under the hood. I'll check in the a.m.

                          Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


                          • #14
                            A few things to consider;

                            1. A GN 2H w/d room, steel or otherwise, does not weigh 7440lbs, unless it's a 20 foot long DR or lined with lead. If it is much more than 5000lbs, that would cause me to raise an eyebrow.

                            2. The GCWR is rarely, if ever, found on the door sticker. The GVWR (how much the pickup can weigh) always is.

                            3. You mention 'dealer', meaning newish pickup. A newish 1/2 ton is plain and simply MORE (more power, more brakes, and most likely more spring left in the springs) truck than the 1992 you've been using.

                            If you're worried about stopping, spend the time and money on a good brake controller (Prodigy) and making sure your brake wiring/connector/plug is in top shape. The pickup, no matter how big it is, will be of little help in an emergency if you lose your trailer brakes.
                            Nearly all of what I post will be controversial to someone. Believe nothing you read on a chat room, research for yourself and LEARN.
                            Not in the 42% or the 96%


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by 2bee View Post
                              The pickup, no matter how big it is, will be of little help in an emergency if you lose your trailer brakes.
                              I would never say the tow vehicle would be of little help, it's going to be the only help you'll get.