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1/2 Ton Silverado Trailer Capacity


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#1 MDSilverado

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 10:26 AM

Hey...I'm thinking of purchasing a travel trailer. What do yall think is a reasonable weight range to be looking to tow with my 2009 silverado ltz 5.3(with tow package). Also, when I look at trailers should I be looking at the dry weight or something more than that?
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#2 spurshot

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 11:04 AM

What gears do you have?

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#3 brims

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 11:06 AM

You'll definately want to upgrade the auxiliary transmission cooler, dry weight doesn't include anything like A/C units from what I've read on here so there's a lot more weight that's added over dry weight.

Read this post, and the entire thread, there's some good information there. http://www.gm-trucks...?...st&p=907511
http://www.gm-trucks...howtopic=102294

Edited by brims, 21 September 2009 - 11:07 AM.

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#4 Rod R

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 11:07 AM

a few comments for you...
- rarely will your travel trailer ever be at dry weight... that is the weight they ship them out of the factory... you will always have some extra weight in the trailer, camping stuff, bedding, propane tanks, food, tools, and WATER.
- when looking at trailer weights and truck capacity you should consider a trailer weight closer to the Gross weight (maximum loaded up weight of the trailer).
- in a 1500 (1/2 Ton) you are going to be limited by the payload capacity of the truck suspension.... the new GM trucks can safely operate with very high rated tow capacity of over 10,000 lbs for pulling, stopping, and transmission cooling....., but you still have to have safe suspension to do this...
- Based on a GVW of 7,000 lbs for your truck (unless you have the Max Trailering option, then 7300 lbs) and a truck curb weight of about 5300 lbs, then you have an available payload of about 1700 lbs.
- so your hitch weight (which will be about 10 to 15% of the Gross Trailer weight) plus your full tank of gas, plus the people and luggage and misc stuff in your truck --- all cannot exceed 1700 lbs.

So you should be OK if you have a 7,000 lbs gross trailer... you will have a hitch weight of about 800 lbs, full fuel of about 200 lbs, leaving 700 lbs for people, luggage and misc in the truck.

Anything much heavier than this, it would be wise to consider a 3/4T truck. The trailer manufacturers all have some models that they promote as "1/2Ton pullable", but some of these get up to be some pretty big trailers... the real key is to check the payload that you are putting in your truck, and don't overload your max. axle capacities... get some help from the trailer dealer to look at the details of the payload and trailer weights....... and this is a good way to find out if he/she really understands the issue, (if you are looking at a big trailer and the salesman says... oh don't worry I have lots of local farmers that pull these things with their 1/2Tons all the time... then walk away, because that salesman is just trying to push a trailer on you!!!)

Also.. you may have a tow/haul switch for your transmission... make sure you use it whenever the trailer is being pulled.... if you have a 4sp automatic without the tow/haul mode, then always (.... that is always...) have your transmission in '3' (not OD) whenever pulling the trailer to lock up the trans and save it from overheating....(expensive repair bill...)

Depending on the size of trailer you will need a trailer with electric brakes, and your truck equipped with brake controller.... and you will need to use a load-levelling or weight-equilizer hitch.

And... In my opinion, I would NOT consider a fifth-wheel trailer on a 1/2Ton... there are some out there on the road but.... for the similar size of trailer a 5th wheel is heavier than a conventional travel trailer.... and the hitch weights are higher, which compromise your available payload.

Edited by Rod R, 21 September 2009 - 12:49 PM.

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#5 spurshot

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 11:18 AM

Trailering is rarely limited by horsepower, since most people just go as fast or slow as the available power they have will let them. It's about brakes, tires, suspension, etc..

If you're gonna tow 7000-8000 lbs of trailer more than about 25-30 miles, you oughta be thinking about some real tires. Look at your factory tires. I don't think you'll find a LT rated tire on your truck. It'll be a "P" rated tire, which is a metric (euro) rating for car tires. They are not suitable to be used for heavy towing. If you're going to tow 7000-8000 lbs and have your family's best safety in mind, as well as others on the road, get some tires with a load range of "D" or even better, "E". A blowout with those cheapo factory tires while towing is something you never want to experience.

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#6 MDSilverado

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 11:44 AM

Thanks for the excellent responses!
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#7 music

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 03:00 PM

I use the Reese "dual cam" weight distribution and sway control system and have been well pleased. You'll find similar endorsements for the Equalizer system, but I have no experience with it.

My current setup: Truck in sig, Reese dual cam w/ 1200 bars, camper is 32-ft bumper/tongue and ~7k lbs loaded and ready to go. Unhitched tongue weight is high (well over 1k lbs), but the WD hitch distributes it well. Weighed at the scales, the total truck weight is right at GVWR with everyone/everything on-board and WD engaged. My previous camper was ~5k lbs loaded. I also pull a utility trailer, sometimes overloaded with mulch (3k+ lbs)

Based on this experience, my feeling (stock setup)

2k lbs and under: Easy
3k lbs: Easy, but starting to need trailer brakes
5k lbs: You'll know it, but pretty easy. Need trailer brakes. Pull steeper/longer grades @ ~2.7k+ rpm. Overdrive in moderate hills.
7k lbs: Tow "feel" is the same as 5k lbs. Pull steeper/longer hills @ ~3.3k+ rpm (guess)... 4-spd @ 55 mph is 3.6k rpm in 2nd w/ throttle to spare at 1k ft above sea level. Don't use "overdrive" much, except on flat lands.

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#8 MDSilverado

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 07:05 PM

How do I know if I have the "Heavy Duty Cooling" package on my truck? I dont see it itemized on the window sticker, but when I look at the engine compartment I do see that I have three cooling radiators in front of the main engine radiator...even a very small verticle radiator that looks like it is for the power steering. There are also two sets of what appear to be high pressure lines connected to the engine radiator itself. Is there one thing that would identify the "Heavy Duty Cooling" package. I ask because it adds about 3,000lbs to the towing capacity of my truck if I do have it...going from about 6,000 to 9,000. It's a company truck that I didnt purchase so that's why I dont know what I'm driving...in case you think I should have asked before I baught. My trailer is 5,000 dry weight so I'm hoping I have the extra capacity.

Edited by MDSilverado, 30 December 2009 - 07:06 PM.

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#9 music

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 11:17 PM

Unhitched tongue weight is high (well over 1k lbs), but the WD hitch distributes it well.


Re-reading this thread I realized I had posted a bit of mis-info before. Actual tongue weight on our camper is probably more in the 1000 lb range... not "well over" it.

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#10 music

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 11:25 PM

How do I know if I have the "Heavy Duty Cooling" package on my truck? I dont see it itemized on the window sticker, but when I look at the engine compartment I do see that I have three cooling radiators in front of the main engine radiator...even a very small verticle radiator that looks like it is for the power steering. There are also two sets of what appear to be high pressure lines connected to the engine radiator itself. Is there one thing that would identify the "Heavy Duty Cooling" package. I ask because it adds about 3,000lbs to the towing capacity of my truck if I do have it...going from about 6,000 to 9,000. It's a company truck that I didnt purchase so that's why I dont know what I'm driving...in case you think I should have asked before I baught. My trailer is 5,000 dry weight so I'm hoping I have the extra capacity.


It sounds like you have it, but you should verify the RPO code(s) for your model (I don't know them, but some guys here do). All SLE (LT) trucks around here that have a 5.3 seem to come w/ the "power pack plus" (mine did), which includes the trailering pkg. If you have the trailering pkg, you automatically get the "HD cooling pkg", to the best of my knowledge.

From GM's web site:

Power Pack Plus, Includes Vortec 5.3L V8 SFI engine or Vortec 5.3L V8 SFI FlexFuel engine, heavy-duty automatic locking rear differential, Trailering Package and 17" 6-lug aluminum wheels.


Edited by music, 30 December 2009 - 11:26 PM.

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#11 born-to-fish-

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 11:27 PM

Check your owner's manual, it has all the necessary info. on your towing capacity, allowable tongue weights, etc. It all pretty much comes down to what your truck can legally tow. Sure, a lot of people say their truck can handle more, or they add springs or air bags to the suspension, but it really comes down to the legal GCVW (gross combined vehicle weight). If you are in a serious accident, and an investigation determines that your rig is overweight, your SOL. A weight distributing hitch will definitely take some of the weight off the tongue and make for an easier tow, I would highly recommend one.
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#12 clemsonblozz

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 12:18 AM

In the front of the truck, you should have a radiator, the ac condensor, tranny cooler, annd a power steering cooler(the long skinny cooler)..

and if you had a diesel, you'd have an air to air charge air cooler..

just one radiator though..

#13 Stevens11

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 08:49 AM

IF you want to tow comfortable down the road and still be able to pass someone when needed, then I'd keep the trailer UVW under 6000 lbs. JMO but I found that to be "comfortable" for towing each weekend to those great get away spots.

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#14 music

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 09:36 AM

IF you want to tow comfortable down the road and still be able to pass someone when needed, then I'd keep the trailer UVW under 6000 lbs. JMO but I found that to be "comfortable" for towing each weekend to those great get away spots.


I'll second that opinion.

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#15 wages999

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 01:44 PM

Try looking at light weight travel trailers. They cost more, but sometimes weigh a lot less. I have a 29 foot airstream that weighs around 4,400 lbs dry and is very easy to tow.




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