I’m typing this section out right now from the top of my head. I’ll make changes as I go along.
Click Here for a list of specific questions and eventual answers.
Here is what I’m thinking about studying up on:
- Need for 2″ risers or not: Some warn to watch that the bottom of the fifth wheel front end is not to close to the top of the bed sides of the truck where they may collide. A 2″ riser is a piece that is installed below the trailer’s frame lifting the trailer by 2″. I believe the need for this can vary between trailer type or truck type.
- Gear ratio for truck rear end. I’ve read where trucks come standard with a certain gear ratio they felt best for the truck to operate at peak efficiency which is at a certain engine RPM. If one expects to travels hills or flat areas the most then they may want to change the gear ratio. This ratio has to do with how many times the axle rotates compared to how often the wheels turn. For example a 4.10 rear end turns the rear axle 4.1 time for every turn of the wheel. This ratio is effected by changes in wheel size and is effected by the transmission of the truck.
- Transmissions are confusing. So far I’m seeing where you can option in different transmissions which fortunately also auto correct rear end selections such as when trying to build a Ford truck on their website.
- Trim package levels by model: And what the heck is the difference between say a GMC and Chevy truck. I’m starting here. For example I now know the difference between a the Ford trim packages and what comes standard or what is available as an option in any given model.
- Weight ratios: Fairly straight forward for me other than having to do some math estimating cargo we will have such as fuel, people and dogs in order to see what cargo capacity is left. Then I’ve got to come up with a way to guess at the pin weight of any given trailer, loaded with stuff, that will sit on the axles of the truck which have various capacities. Some say pin weight is generally 20% of the total trailer weight.
- How much safety or need for future expansion built-in: By this I mean how much greater capacity than our actual trailer/cargo weight should be built into the truck for safety reasons. And, how over built do we want a truck planning for “maybe” someday upgrading the trailer. I’m starting with specifying a truck to handle 16,000 to 19,000 pound trailer weight classes.
- Electronics and more: Tons of new camera options for example. As the truck will be our only vehicle we may spend a little here. We own a Lincoln today and have always optioned out our vehicles. Karen and I will have to decide what we really don’t need. But remembering there will be a lot of driving involved. Also, maintenance issues on the interior based off living outside. Really like the idea of a side warning light that tells me if someone is next to the trailer and truck is example of what we might want. Karen has it on her Fusion car where a light shows on her side mirror when another car is next to hers. One of my fears when driving a motor home was getting on the highway and not seeing down the side of the vehicle when merging because the mirrors where at a strange angle until the vehicle straightened out. Navigation systems when we will most likely own a RV GPS. Do we want built-in tire inflation monitoring or not. So much to consider. Yes – we have a budget!
- Insurance: Enough said other than I’ve received warnings an F450 may cost more to insure than and F350. Not sure if the Chevy/Dodge 3500’s have that issue.
- Which of the 4 trucks: Chevy, GMC, Ford and Ram being the ones. Can I come up with say 2 that we would want to own that would give us the greatest flexibility in find a good deal. Or do we just go to all three dealers and have them price out whatever truck we want. Or do we just say the heck with it and go after just one truck. I watched a trusted video where a guy said they can all three handle a 16,000 pound trailer so don’t narrow down to just one brand.
- Getting advice: Already found a Chevy guy that has owned a Ford. Really checking the forums for those people seem to default to. That way when we spec out a truck for maybe three fifth wheels we are interested in, we can run the truck by one of the experts and have him okay the setup. Saw someone post once the trailer they were getting and the truck they were considering. Others were able to give some pretty specific feedback because of it. The only difference for us is maybe having three trailers to consider.
- Turn radius and other easily missed stuff: For example I heard the F450 has a tighter turn radius than the F350, important for moving around in narrow lanes when backing for example. Then I heard you can get a narrow or wider turn setup on the F350 – or something like that. What else can one easily miss as a needed option? Are there battery options and alternator options?
- Tire and wheel size: What are the options and why. Are there also brake options?
- What about air ride systems: That help keep the truck level when towing and allow for a softer ride. Is this part of a “properly equipped truck” some refer to when they say a certain truck can handle a certain weight if it’s properly equipped?
- Fuel and DEF (diesel exhaust fluid) capacity: For example in one brand there is a 13 gallon difference between two heavy duty trucks. And one brand holds a lot more DEF than the others.
- Truck color: Not a deal breaker but would be nice to consider. White might make that an easy decision. The silver cars I’ve owned are also easier to keep clean (show dirt less). The red ones showed small dents. The dark blue don’t seem that much hotter in the summer. Will have to ask friends about that with their black or brown ones. You get the drift. I do so like the two-tone truck I last owned. Small thing, but I don’t like a lot of stickers on it – especially anything advertising a dealership so those have to be easy to remove without damage to the surface. But then again, some of the user applied pen stripping and detail shops adding an additional color might be an easy option provided they don’t show a lot of wear from the sun over time.
- Durability: Son-in-law has a Consumers Guide account so I’ll hit him up for that. Last Ford I owned showed a lot of rust. Good thing they changed to all aluminum which I’m not afraid of. Heard Chevy is looking to do more of the same by 2020 but that could be a rumor. Driving around sea salt for the first time in my life for extended period – issue or not?
- Differences between model years: Should be learning that as I go along, especially since we have only three years to consider that being 2017, 2018 and 2019. I’ve heard Dodge may be making changes in 2018. Ford already did it big time in 2017 and I heard Chevy changed a few things in 2017 model in the engine area. I’m not one to worry about buying the first model year where there were big changes, expecting engineering changes later to fix stuff not working right. Those spark plugs in the F150 changed after I bought my last one, before that they sucked to change out. I’m also not one to be concerned with major body changes so am open to taking advantage of buying last years as a new truck where others are wanting the fancy new design that goes out of style a couple years later. Towing capacity in all three brands from at least 2017, and earlier, are huge anyway compared to years ago.Here