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RV Tech: Travel Trailer Heavy Half-Ton

Originally Published in Trailer Life Magazine

Q. We have a 2002 Chevy Silverado 1500 with a 5.3-liter engine and 16,000 miles, but not equipped with the factory trailer-towing package. It tows our 27 1/2-foot Keystone Montana travel trailer, which has a hitch weight of 920 pounds. The total weight with a full tank of gas and empty trailer is 12,000 pounds on certified scales, which is maximum for my vehicle. I have a heavy-duty transmission cooler, and tow using a 1,000-pound Blue Ox equalizer hitch. All used trucks I’ve looked at have high miles, so I am wondering if it would be smart to change the rear end to a 3.73:1 axle ratio, and change leaf springs to a 3/4-ton setup, which would add 1,000 pounds gross combination weight rating (gcwr).

— E.P., Holt, Michigan

A. It’s very difficult to avoid overloading a so-called half-ton pickup when towing a mid-sized or larger fifth-wheel trailer. Even if you add stiffer springs, the ratings of the rear axle, tires, wheels and brakes will not be increased, and will be overloaded when your trailer is actually packed to go camping. We do not recommend overloading a vehicle. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

— J.J.

Man with grey beard and wearing blue shirt leaning over open car hoodJeff Johnston, TL consulting editor, started RVing at age 6. During his more than 20 years as a writer/photographer, he has worked for Truckin’ and Four Wheeler magazines before joining TL’s technical staff in 1985. Johnston also has produced an award-winning travel video and TV commercials.

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