Is a dually truck better for towing your RV? My husband Todd and I towed our 5th wheel with a dually so in this article we will try to answer this question.
There are many options available for pulling your RV. Some smaller campers can even be pulled with an SUV, a car, or a small truck.
Depending on the weight of your RV, a dually truck, which is a pickup truck with two wheels on the front and 4 wheels on the back, might be the best option to use as your tow vehicle. In some cases, a dually truck may even be legally required for your specific RV.
Dually trucks are more stable and have more payload and towing capacity. Even if you don’t need it for your current trailer, you might upgrade your RV in the future.
Some recommend you buy the truck today for the camper you might want tomorrow.
Let’s take a look at some information surrounding dually trucks and you can decide if you need one to pull your RV.
What Is a Dually Truck?
The obvious answer is that a dually truck has two rear tires per side rather than one like most pickup trucks. The rear of the truck is wider to accommodate the extra wheels. The wider base and extra wheels can support more weight and make the truck more stable.
This type of truck is also designed to have a higher payload and towing capacity. You will find dually trucks in the 1-ton and larger trucks.
Some motorhomes have dual wheels on the back for the same reasons. More payload, a wider stance, reliability, and stability when operating with a heavy load.
How Much Can a Dually Truck Tow?
Like all vehicles used for towing, things such as engine, transmission, axles, and gear ratio all determine the truck’s maximum towing capacity. Drive train combined with frame and suspension specs give a truck its final towing and payload capacities.
Today 1-ton trucks have insane towing capacities with some over 35,000 lbs. These include the GMC Sierra HD, Chevrolet Silverado 3500 HD, Ford F-350, and Ram 3500.
The massive F-450 in Ford’s F-Series along with GMC and Rams 4500 trucks come standard as dually trucks. The capacities of these beasts exceed that required by most RVers but they are seen with some very large 5th wheels.
Is a Dually Truck Better for Towing An RV?
Depending on the weight of the RV, a dually may be what you need for a tow vehicle. Heavier RVs like 5th wheels, are more easily handled with a dually. You can also lessen sway if you have a long RV.
On the other hand, a dually truck could be overkill if you have a small travel trailer or a smaller fifth wheel.
When it comes to tow vehicles, it’s always better to be on the high side of towing and payload capacities. Too often, we see vehicles towing RVs that are too close and even exceding the vehicle’s capacities.
Is a 3500 Ram dually better than a Ram 1500 to tow a 2500 lb travel trailer? In all honestly, the harsh ride and extra consideration for size will be more of a pain than it’s worth.
Now, if you have a 10,000 lb 32′ travel trailer that perhaps fits in the legal range of towing for your Ram 1500, the dually is going to be a night and day difference in towing experience.
Before rushing out and putting a down payment on a new dually you must look at your individual situation. This is especially true if your tow vehicle is also your daily driver.
Dually trucks are made for working, not driving around town and taking the kids to baseball. The size and stiff ride can become an issue that, depending on your RV may be unnecessary.
As mentioned before, you never want to be over or even right on the line when it comes to towing and payload numbers, however, there is a reason they make different-sized trucks. Choosing the one that best fits your needs will be worth the research.
Tire Considerations with a Dually Truck?
Of course, dually trucks will have six tires instead of four, so that is more to replace when the time comes.
Usually, dual tires are safer in the case of a tire blowout. If you blow a tire the extra wheels do help you to stay in control long enough to pull over safely.
The additional wheels also distribute the weight more evenly, reducing the strain on individual tires and improving overall tire longevity.
There are pros and cons, which we will look at more closely in another section, however, the people’s main concern will be paying for 6 big tires… 7 with the spare.
Our Experience With A Dual Wheel Axle
On a recent trip this summer, our new-to-us Class C on a Chevy 4500 dually chassis required the replacement of all six tires.
Two were exchanged before we left, thankfully. One dually blew out early in the trip and the other went flat before we arrived at our destination. While this was a stressful situation, we did gain some helpful knowledge in the process.
When working with dual tires, you have to consider that changing that inside tire, which we had to do, will require more effort.
We were lucky to have a large area in the middle of the interstate to pull over and plenty of room for a tire change. We were able to make a few calls, find the correct tire, and find someone who would pick up the tire and come out and make the repair, all in 100-plus heat.
In the end, we decided to replace all of the tires and have a spare. From experience, you should also know that you can’t drive at highway speeds on just one of those tires. It can damage your truck or RV.
When the first tire went, we could do nothing but pull over. For the second tire, we drove slowly for a few miles with our hazard lights on to get to a place where we could replace the tire.
What Dually Trucks are Best for Towing?
We don’t want to start a war over which truck brand is the best, as we all have our favorite. Todays big three truck manufacturers all offer impressive trucks with crazy towing capacities.
Let’s take a closer look at three of these dually truck options that are the most common for RVers.
Ford F-350 Dually
With a maximum towing capacity of over 35,000 pounds, the Ford Super Duty F-350 is a great option to tow your large fifth wheel. For the most towing power, the Ford Super Duty can feature the 6.7L High Output Power Stroke Turbo Diesel engine with 500 horsepower and 1,200 lb-ft of torque!
Ram 3500 Dually
The Ram 3500 is another great option. It offers a wide range of towing capabilities and several powerful engine options. The Ram 3500 can be equipped with the available 6.7L Cummins Turbo Diesel engine, with 420 horsepower and 1,075 lb-ft of torque. With the right configuration, it can tow up to 37,090 lbs and provide a maximum payload capacity of over 7,680 lbs!
Chevrolet Silverado 3500 HD and GMC Sierra 3500 HD
The Chevy Silverado 3500 and the GMC Sierra 3500 HD are known for their towing and hauling capabilities. They boast a strong and durable chassis and offer multiple engine choices, including a 6.6L Duramax Turbo-Diesel V8 engine, with 445 hp and 910 lb-ft of torque.
When properly equipped, these rigs can tow up to 36,000 lbs and provide a maximum payload capacity of more than 7,290 lbs.
How Much Does A 5th Wheel Weigh?
The average dry weight of a 5th wheel is 12,500 pounds but can be up to 16,000 pounds or more. Some luxury brands can exceed 20,000 pounds dry weight.
Five of the largest 5th wheel campers on the market include: Grand Design Solitude 380FL, with a GVWR of 18,000 pounds; Keystone Fuzion 419, 17,000 pounds; Eclipse Attitude Stellar 3928XR, 14,000 pounds; Keystone Montana 3763BP, 17,000 pounds; and the Forest River Cedar Creek Silverback Edition 35LFT, 16,000 pounds.
Of course, there are lighter 5th wheels and even some half-ton models. However, most are heavier than travel trailers.
6 Advantages Of A Dually Truck
There are several advantages to using a dually truck to tow your RV.
- Dually’s have higher payload capacity and can pull more weight than a normal truck.
- Due to their rear width and their dual wheels, they are also more stable.
- 4WD models have increased traction.
- When you choose to sell your dually, you will have a higher resale value.
- Also, because of their wide rear end and dual wheels, you will find you have better sway control.
- Potential to have better control during a blowout.
6 Disadvantages of a Dually Truck
- A dually truck initially has a higher purchase cost.
- You will find that these big trucks have higher maintenance and tire costs.
- Dually trucks will have higher insurance costs and possibly higher registration costs, depending on the state you register the vehicle.
- They can be inconvenient to park and maneuver in tight spaces.
- These big trucks will also provide a harsher, stiffer ride when you don’t have a load. That could be a no-go for some.
- Inside tires will be more difficult to change if you have a flat.
Are Dually Trucks Worth It?
If you own a large RV that you need to tow, a dually truck might be necessary. Make sure you know numbers such as GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) so you choose the proper tow vehicle. It’s likely that if you have a travel trailer or lighter 5th wheel you won’t need a dually.
RVers who put lots of miles on may benefit from the dually’s durability and longevity. Add in a diesel engine and you have a truck that will last a very long time. Also, you never know what RV you may purchase in the future so having a dually means you will always have a capable truck that can handle a lot of weight.
If you plan to use your dually on a daily basis such as driving to work, you may want to purchase another vehicle to use. Dually’s tend to be rough riding when they don’t have a load so that could be a negative factor.
If you require one by law or are even close to the legal limits of a non-dually truck, then dually is the answer. If it’s overkill and you can use a 1/2-ton or single 3/4-ton safely you will probably be happier with that.
Final Thoughts About Towing an RV With a Dually Truck
While there is some downside to owning a dually truck, there are a lot of positives to using these big vehicles to tow.
First, you will want to consider your daily use of the truck and whether it is overkill for the load you plan to pull.
You should consider that dually trucks are more stable, have more payload and towing capacity, and can pull the triple axle, luxury 5th wheel trailers. They are built to safely tow heavy weights and have a definite space in the RV world.
In summary, a dually truck is a great option for fifth-wheel owners who need a greater towing capacity. Owners of long, heavy travel trailers looking for a smoother, more stable towing experience will also benefit.
At the end of the day, you will have to choose what’s best for you and your towing needs. The most important factor when it comes to choosing a tow vehicle is always safety and staying legal!
About the Author:
Terri Nighswonger and her husband Todd have been RVing and work camping for five years with their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Newton, and their Minnie Australian Shepherd, Remi.
They originate from the Midwest but plan to enjoy the West for a few years, wintering in Arizona and summering wherever the road may lead. Writing is Terri’s passion, but she also loves hiking, kayaking, walking her dogs, and anything she can do outdoors.