Towing a Large 5th Wheel With a Gas Truck: Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should

If you’ve got a large fifth wheel and a gas engine, it doesn’t matter what logo is on the front of your truck. It’s likely not going to do the job.

Sure, your gas-guzzling truck may be able to pull your trailer, but it’s probably not going to be pretty. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. 

Today, we’re looking at why you should think twice about using a gas engine if you’re planning to tow a large fifth wheel. Let’s get started!

How Much Weight Can a Gas Truck Pull?

Gas engines can pull a ton of weight. To be precise, gas versions of the latest Ford F-350 and the Ram 3500 can tow upwards of 18,000 lbs to 19,000 lbs, which is more like 9 tons to 10 tons.

Gas trucks are very capable vehicles and make for great daily drivers, especially if you’re not planning to tow heavy loads all that often. 

Benefits of Towing With a Gas Engine

There are several benefits to consider when it comes to gas engines. Let’s look at why a gas engine might not be a bad idea.

These guys who are nuts about trucks give you their top five pros and cons of buying a diesel versus a gasoline pickup truck.

Cheaper Maintenance

Routine maintenance on a gas engine is typically much less expensive than a diesel engine. When things break on a diesel engine, it’s not cheap to fix it. Modern diesel trucks come with a diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) system, which can create a lot of maintenance headaches.

While a DEF system decreases the amount of pollution a truck creates, you’re looking at several thousand dollars when it goes bad. A gas engine doesn’t have this type of system, which means it’s one less thing you have to worry about maintaining.

Low Initial Purchase Cost

When shopping for a new truck, the lowest price you see advertised is typically the gas version. You’ll often see gas trucks priced $5,000 to over $10,000 cheaper than the diesel version of the same truck.

The price of a gas truck is pricey enough already. So it’s probably not all that appealing to tack on an additional $5,000 or $10,000 to the price tag. 

Fuel Is Readily Available

Another advantage to choosing a gas engine is that it’s much easier to find fuel for them. We call them gas stations for a reason, and it’s important to know that not every gas station sells diesel.

So by buying a gas truck, you can avoid the wild goose chase many diesel owners have to go on when in unfamiliar areas.

Drawbacks of Towing With a Gas Engine

While gas engines appear on the surface to be cheaper, that might not be the case in the long run. So let’s take at a few reasons why towing with a gas engine may be an awful idea.

Increased Engine Wear

While a gas engine may be able to pull the load, it will work a lot harder. Diesel engines by design are better for towing.

They’re beefier engines that can handle the job over the long haul. It’s not uncommon to see diesel engines with hundreds of thousands of miles on them.

However, you’re not likely to see gas engines anywhere close to those numbers running as smoothly.

Poor Fuel Economy

Gas is not nearly as dense in terms of energy as diesel. This means you’ll need substantially more gasoline to tow the same load. While a truck with a diesel engine may get 10 mpg to 13 mpg when pulling a heavy fifth wheel, a similar truck with a gas engine would easily see the single digits.

If you’ve seen gas and diesel costs lately, you’ll want to avoid filling up as often. It’s no contest that diesel engines are far superior to fuel economy than gas engines, especially when it comes to highway driving.

Will the extra costs from high gas prices mean fewer RVs on the road?

Reduced Tow Capacity

While trucks with gas engines can still tow a respectable amount of weight, it’s not even close to the capabilities of diesel engines.

For example, the gas F-350 and Ram 3500 trucks we mentioned earlier are pulling 18,000 lbs to 19,000 lbs. The diesel versions would pull over 36,000 lbs.

As we said, it’s not even a fair fight when it comes to towing capacity between diesel and gasoline engines.

Gas vs. Diesel: Which Is Better for Towing?

If you’re planning to tow heavy loads regularly, you’re not going to want to do it with a gasoline engine. With the reduced towing capacity, you’re more likely to go over your towing numbers and increase the wear and tear on your expensive truck.

While a gas truck may be less expensive upfront, it will cost you more money in the long run. Diesel trucks typically retain their value better than gas trucks, which means if you’re looking to trade the vehicle several years down the road, you’ll get more for a diesel.

Should You Tow Your 5th Wheel With a Gas Truck?

If you’re planning to tow a fifth wheel, it’s hard to do it with a gas truck. It’s not just about being able to pull the trailer’s weight but also stopping it. Diesel trucks come with exhaust brakes that assist the truck with slowing down and stopping the heavy weights they’re towing.

However, if you can stay under your towing capacity and only make occasional trips, a gas engine can get the job done.

Where do you fall in the gas versus diesel debate?

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