See Why Heavy Duty Trucks Are Best For RV Towing With A 5th Wheel Trailer

rv-towing-with-hd-truck-by-soulrider222.jpg Towing large heavy 5th wheel RVs pushes most 1-ton dually pickups to the max. 

When was the last time your truck was pushed too far out into the intersection because you tried to stop a little quicker than usual?  I bet it wasn’t all that long ago. 

Have you ever considered setting up a used Class 8 heavy duty truck as your next tow vehicle?  Seriously.  This is the way to go if safety is a high priority for you.

Here’s why you might want to do your RV towing with a heavy duty truck (HDT), otherwise known as a semi truck or toterhome:

  • You can get a used semi tractor for around $25,000 with about 500,000 miles on it.  That’s only mid-life for commercial heavy duty trucks. 
  • At 25,000 miles a year, it will outlast you.
  • Rated to handle a gross weight of 80,000 pounds, the heaviest 5th wheel trailer won’t hardly flex the suspension.
  • Speaking of suspension, it’s air ride.  Driving comfort is better than any 1-ton pickup truck.
  • You have all the conveniences that your pickup truck has: cruise control, front and back air, you may even have a bed and refrigerator — if you get one with a condo sleeper.
  • You’ll never fear running out of power on long hills again.  The standard diesel engine is rated at 500 HP. 
  • With all its extra capacity, you can build storage space, water tanks, or whatever you need behind the cab. How you convert your HD truck is up to you.

You may want to give this some serious thought.  Improving your safety on the road by towing with larger truck might be a wise investment for you.

 

More About Using Heavy Duty Trucks To Tow RVs

 

Curtis Carper

I’ve been involved in RVing for over 40 yrs -- including camping, building, repairing, and even selling RVs. I’ve owned, used, and repaired almost every class and style of RV ever made. I do all of my own repair work. My other interests include cooking at home, living with an aging dog, and dealing with diabetic issues. If you can combine a grease monkey with a computer geek, throw in a touch of information nut and organization freak, combined with a little bit of storyteller, you've got a good idea of who I am.

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  • amber

    Hey, great article- would like to know more about transmissions. Most of these are manuals, right? Do you need a CDL or will a regular one do since it’s not being used commercially?

    • Curtis

      Thanks Amber, Yes virtually all class 8 trucks are manual transmissions. No you don’t need a CDL (Commercial Drivers License) because it would no longer be under commercial regulations. In some states you may still need a special license because of it’s size, you should check with your own motor vehicle dept. to confirm this. If your driver’s license meets the requirement of your state, and the truck is registered and insured in the same state as well, all other states will honor your right to drive it even if their requirements are different. You may be required to label the truck “Not For Hire” or “Private Coach” to clarify its status for law enforcement.

    • Curtis

      Thanks Amber, Yes virtually all class 8 trucks are manual transmissions. No you don’t need a CDL (Commercial Drivers License) because it would no longer be under commercial regulations. In some states you may still need a special license because of it’s size, you should check with your own motor vehicle dept. to confirm this. If your driver’s license meets the requirement of your state, and the truck is registered and insured in the same state as well, all other states will honor your right to drive it even if their requirements are different. You may be required to label the truck “Not For Hire” or “Private Coach” to clarify its status for law enforcement.

    • The Duke Of Earl

      Amber, I have been driving the big rigs for 14 years now, and I am totally in agreement with Curtis that the smart way to pull big trailers is with a Class 8 tractor. The Class 8 trucks have such incredible reliability and longevity and can handle heavy loads so well that you would never even notice having a heavy RV trailer behind you. I am licensed in Oregon, and the rules here are that your drivers license be classed for the weight of vehicle you drive. Class C is what most Oregonians have to drive cars or light trucks. Class B will allow you to drive a vehicle combination up to 26K (26,000 pounds) gross weight (your Class 8 tractor by itself will usually weigh 17K to 19K depending on the size of engine). With the Class B license, you would not be able to pull a trailer weighing more than 10K. The study time for the test, and the cost of license is all about the same, so why not just go ahead and get the Class A license, which is what I have, and with this license you can pull heavier trailers and handle any gross weight that is allowed on the highways. One other thing you will need is the Air Brakes endorsement, but this is a super quick study and a very cheap add on endorsement to your Class A license. Learning your way around Air Brakes can be muddling if you try to learn from the manual, but just go to any truck stop and any of the truckers will be glad to show you the basics, and this will make the test a breeze. Don’t be intimidated by the idea of the study and test for the Class A and the Air Brakes endorsement, as it just isn’t that hard and the reward will be worth it. I recommend buying your used tractor from a Freightliner dealer, as you will have a nice 1 year warranty. Buying from private parties isn’t worth my time because they want just as much money for their used tractor but there is no warranty. Further, if you have a Freightliner and ever need a repair, they have by far the most repair shops scattered across the country, and the most reasonable hourly shop rates IMHO. The Volvos are nice trucks in every way, and are famous for their smooth ride, so I would be very tempted to choose Volvo for the RV life. The Kenworths are generally thought of as the best built. Engine life expectancy will be 1 million miles on the engines built since the mid-90s (with recommended driving practices and oil changes). There is ample evidence that adding an aftermarket oil filtration system to remove even the smallest particles from the engine oil can result in an engine lasting over 3 million miles. Reliability and longevity is what Class 8 customers demand in a very competitive freight hauling market, and the Class 8 builders deliver just that, and they certainly have my respect. Regarding transmissions, the automatics are gaining popularity, so they are easy to find if you shop for a trucks in the range of approx. 2007 or newer. I’m just sayin’.

  • amber

    Hey, great article- would like to know more about transmissions. Most of these are manuals, right? Do you need a CDL or will a regular one do since it’s not being used commercially?

  • Johnathome

    Hello! I hope you know your poop! Here’s my problem: I have a 2003 Cougar 5th Wheel with what looks to be a Thetford Aqua-Magic V, handflush toilet. I have owned it for two months and lived full time in it with another person for one week. When I was doing weekends, the toilet backed up. I used a plunger and that freed it. Yesterday it backed up again. The Plunger doesn’t work. The tank is empty; it reads empty on the snesor box and when I push on it from below I can tell it has no water in it. But the water will not drain. I put a wand down there and all it did was fill up the bowl, which I then had to bail out and try again. Nothing seems to work. I was using little packets, but have poured Aqua-Kem last night, but still nothing this morning. Today I poured TST Orange power (recomended by Camping world guy). Still nothing. It seems there is some blockage between the toilet flap and the tank, isn’t it just a hole? BTW have used the correct TP all the time. Help!!!

    • Curtis

      Johnathome I’m suspecting your system is plugged with solid waste. Too much poop, to little water. Throw the plunger away, this isn’t a house it won’t work here. You need to run some sort of snake through the blockage then use a garden hose to flush lots of water through the tank. Solids have settled in the tank under the pipe coming from the toilet to the point where it has sealed off the pipe. Once your able to get water in the tank fill it about 3/4 full and drive the trailer around for a while. Let it sit over night so the material softens then drain the tank. Stick the garden hose down the toilet and flush it some more. A lot more, you need to be hooked to a sewer line as the only way to clean up this mess is with lots of water. Once you’ve got everything working remember when your at the resort your BLACK WATER VALVE STAYS CLOSED. Only open the valve to drain the tank when it is full, do not leave it open just because your hooked to a sewer. By the way, chemicals are for odor control ONLY… Before you use the toilet always have it half full of water. Being stingy on the water is what got you in this mess.

      • The Duke Of Earl

        Curtis, I had a similar blockage because I had left the black water tank valve open while hooked up long term at an RV park. The local RV shop recommended that I pour 6 gallons of laundry bleach into the toilet so it would go down into the tank. I had to push the soft solids around with a stick and keep working it as I poured, and sometimes I left it to give time for the bleach to work in and I would come back and top it off with bleach again until I finally got the entire 6 gallons in. The RV repairman told me to let it sit a minimum of 24 hours, but that 2 to 4 days would be better. Then he said the tank should dump okay. It did work exactly as he said it would. My only concern was if the bleach would harm any seals, but he assured me no harm would be done. It’s been over a year now and so far so good. Just thought I would share this tip, and seek your comments. And thanks for all that you do on this site.

        • Curtis

          Duke, I learn something new every day. I don’t see where this solution would hurt anything and if it did the job, so much the better.