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2002 GMC Sierra 3500 for 5th Wheel Towing

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I have a 2002 GMC Sierra 3500, 6.6 L Turbo Diesel, 4WD, crew cab, dually. I want to tow a 5th wheel and need to know how much of a 5th wheel I can tow. I know its GVWR is 11,400, but I've had a tough time finding an official source for the GCWR. I'm new to towing, but I believe those are the two numbers that matter most?


The truck on paper weighs about 6,500, but I'm sure loaded and with fuel and passengers it's closer to 7,500. Even fully loaded that seems to leave me lots of room for pin weight, almost 4000 lbs!


So what I'm really concerned with is the GCWR. I found another forum where someone said the GCWR for 3500 duallys is 23,500, but it's not an official source: http://www.dieselplace.com/forum/76-speciality-forums/127-3500-dually-trucks/159218-real-towing-capacity-dually.html. Can anyone confirm that my GCWR is 23,500?


If the GCWR is 23,500 and my fully loaded truck weights 7,500, does that mean that I can tow a 5th wheel up to 16,000 lbs as long as the pin weight does not exceed approx 4000 lbs, which would put me past my GVWR?


If that's the case, then we get to the confusing numbers that seem to conflict with that. The 2002 Trailer Life towing guide says my truck can tow up to 14,800 lbs when towing a 5th wheel. What is their number based on?


So, my big question is can I go up to 16,000 lbs despite what the towing guide says? I'm looking at some RVs with dry weights of 12,500-13,500 lbs. Their max loads go to around 16,500.


Last question. This is our first RV. Am I crazy to be getting a 37 ft 13k lbs 5th wheel? We may be using it for some long-term living, so I like having the additional home comforts that those models offer.

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I also found this link for a 2002 Chevy Silverado 3500, which is very similar to my GMC, which says the 5th wheel towing capacity is 15,800. Trailer Life tow guide says it's 14,800 for crew cab, but 15,800 for extended cab. Is the crew cab really that much larger to reduce the towing capacity by 1000 lbs?



Edited by itsmattmp
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You are on the right track with your weight calculations and finding the CGWR along with the curb wt of the truck to determine the tow wt is almost exactly what GM does to come up with their tow ratings. Your DMAX is first generation and therefore has less HP and torque than the more recent designs - but still enough to get the job done. Dual rear wheels will add to both the stability and the payload capacity. The magic formula is in order is never exceed the rear axle rating, the GVWR, and the CGWR. On a 5th wheel the pin wt is usually between 25 and 30% of the total wt of the unit so when selecting a 5th wheel the pin wt should be well under your payload as you also need to account for everything else in the truck.


From what I have seen over the years - Trailer Life is very liberal with the tow ratings - they do just report the MFG numbers in their guides. In real life I prefer to err on the side of caution and tow no more than 75% of what the MFG claims.

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