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Truck and Trailer Matchup

Originally Published in Trailer Life Magazine

Q: We have been RVing for 40 years and love every moment. We’re retired now and get too much conflicting info on trailers and tow vehicles, and are getting scared to travel because of all the negative feedback on camping advice. Please help resolve our planned setup for fifth-wheeling. We have a 34-foot Cedar Creek fifth-wheel, hitch pin weight 1,760 pounds, UVW 11,310, GVW 13,760, we usually load light, and are planning to weigh later, and we travel with 10 gallons of water at maximum.

Our tow vehicle is a 2007 Dodge Ram 2500 HD 5.9 Cummins turbo diesel, 4×4 Sport, four-speed auto (48RE) with the tranny cooler, 11.5-inch rear axle with anti-slip, upgraded with Timbrens on the rear, a K&N cold air intake, and Superchip Flashpaq tuned to trailer towing. It has 42,000 miles on it, offers a GVWR of 9,000 pounds, features the trailer tow group, sports LT 265/70R17E tires, and carries a Hijacker 18,000-pound capacity auto travel fifth-wheel hitch.

We would like to upgrade in steps for economy and pulling power, at a retiree’s income. First, a better exhaust, larger tranny oil pan and larger rear-end pan. Any other suggestions you have to help to tow safely and economically? Synthetic oils all around? What about a transmission upgrade? This is our retirement package, do you have any suggestions or should I be concerned about any of it?
Terry & Linda Wilding, via email

A: Your equipment package sounds pretty good all around. If you’ve enjoyed RVing for 40 years, why listen to those who seem bound to scare you off with their horror stories? When you start inquiring about the facts of those stories you often hear about overloaded tow vehicles, inadequate maintenance, improper equipment selections, excess performance upgrades and the like. Yours seems like a pretty sensible package that should work well.

Do you truly feel your truck delivers inadequate towing performance or is improved performance, in general, just something you think you should have? In one sense, the less you mess around with your existing equipment package, the less potential problems you may have down the road. As for fuel economy, you can only do so much with a towing setup, and the chipset you have may be your optimum situation for now.

As for any other upgrades, the Superchip you have sounds fine. A performance exhaust system could be a good match for your setup. The synthetic lubricants are costly but well recommended, although not required for successful towing as long as you observe the factory maintenance intervals for petroleum lubricants. A transmission upgrade is probably optional at most. As long as your existing transmission works, I would not worry about it. The larger fluid pans are OK and can help with fluid cooling, and perhaps incrementally longer lubricant life due to the larger volume, but I would place them in the optional category, as they are not necessary. Enjoy your towing setup!
—Jeff Johnston

Ken Freund and Jeff Johnston To send your questions to RV Clinic, write to 2575 Vista Del Mar, Ventura, Calif., 93001; or email [email protected]. Also, check out TrailerLife.TV for our expert RV how-to videos.

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