We have all seen the TV commercials with a Toyota Tundra pulling the Space Shuttle. We have also been told by our truck sales representatives that, "This truck has the best towing power in its class." With that being said, when looking at campers we become confident that our 1/2 ton truck, which includes F-150, Chevy, Dodge or GMC 1500's, and the Toyota Tundra, can tow the travel trailer we are looking at or own.
If properly equipped, the larger V-8 Chevy, Dodge, Toyota, and the turbo charged V-6 from Ford all have great tow ratings. Many are above 8,500 lbs. with the correct gear ratio. However...there is always a however! There is a weak point with these lighter duty trucks that consumers (and your vehicle sales representative) are UNAWARE of which are the TIRES. Now don't get me wrong, today's 1/2 ton trucks are great! I presently own one myself and Pete's RV in Burlington Vermont owns three. They truly are great trucks for towing and also as our daily drivers.
As I mentioned, the tires are a weak point that we usually do not discover until we tow. When towing a travel trailer behind our 1/2 ton truck especially at highway speeds, we will experience some cross winds or we will be passed by a large vehicle. This will cause our trailer to sway. This is actually the action where our trailer is being pushed to the side causing the tires to roll slightly on the trailer and then snapping back. This is what we call "SWAY" in the RV world. This actually can be extremely dangerous in certain situations! If you have experienced this, you know is it not pleasurable and can make for an extremely long drive to your destination. In addition, this situation is strenuous and exhausting to the driver!
Our lighter duty trucks are more susceptible to sway due to their "P" rated or "passenger vehicle" rated tires. These tires do meet or exceed all of the weight limits and ratings of the truck. However, they have a lighter duty sidewall than we will see on today's 3/4 or 1 ton trucks. The reason the truck manufacturers install these tires is to give us a better ride when we are not towing. When we are using our trucks for daily drivers and grocery getters, we want the best possible ride for our day to day routines. This is important for me too!
How do we combat SWAY when towing and not loose the good ride of our truck when doing our day to day routines? We could spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on new tires that we probably don't require 99% of the time. New tires will also hinder our current great ride! The appropriate alternative is to purchase and use one of todays state of the art load leveling and anti-sway hitch system for our 1/2 ton truck.
There are many systems on the market that will give us the same load leveling capabilities! However, be aware some systems based on price point are made of inferior metals and components (you get what you pay for...do your homework). Anti-sway and the correct load leveling bars are imperative to safe towing. We want a hitch with the best sway control possible for your vehicles tow capacity, tire load ratings, and the trailers tongue weight etc...this is a science with today's advanced vehicles and campers.
When purchasing a new camper, trading up, or buying your first used camper from a private party, I strongly recommend speaking to and listening to your local, reputable RV dealership. Your local RV dealership wants to earn your trust and your long lasting business relationship. I try to explain to all my customers....you just made a significant purchase on your camper and tow vehicle. The hitch is the number one safety factor between the two vehicles and your family's safety while towing to your destination. This is not the product you want to save fifty bucks on either in price or self install.
Ask about sway control and get educated about how it works. Inquire about which one will work most efficiently with your half ton truck before purchasing an inexpensive hitch that will work on the load however not great on the sway!
It is also important to load the truck and trailer wisely. Have a trained service technician set up your weight distribution system for the best safe tow.