Monday, November 28, 2022


Ask Dave: What size tow vehicle do we need to safely tow our fifth wheel?


Dear Dave,
We just bought a Grand Design Momentum 351M and now need to determine how big/strong of a tow vehicle we need to be safe. Please help! —Ann

Dear Ann,
According to the 2022 Grand Design website, the Momentum 351M is a beast of a unit and you will definitely need some horsepower!

Towing capacities

The specification list shows that the unit has a 14,700 lbs. unloaded vehicle weight (UVW) rating and a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 16,800 lbs. That means you will need a very large truck to pull this safely. It also lists the hitch weight at 2,900 lbs. All this is an average, so you will need to get the actual weight of the rig you are purchasing and after you load all your “stuff” into it.

I am a firm believer in not loading the rig up to maximum weight capacity, as I do not want to have the maximum weight behind a tow vehicle when I need to stop in the mountains or even on slight hills. I also do not want to be at maximum weight trying to get up an incline. The RV Safety & Education Foundation, which I have worked extensively with, suggests at least reducing the weight by 10% of your tow vehicle’s towing capacity.

The tow vehicle to get the job done

If you look at the 2022 Ford Towing Guide here (pdf), it looks like the only vehicle with enough towing capacity is the F-350 with 6.7L Turbo Diesel. As you can see, there is a wide variety of models, engines, and therefore towing capacity, and it will depend on how you load the rig. If you load to GVWR, you will need something that can tow the 16,800 lbs. plus the 10% safety factor, which means the units with an 18,000 lb. towing capacity will not work.

I would suspect you will probably get close to GVWR as there is only 2,100 lbs. cargo capacity, which is the unloaded weight of the rig and GVWR. Keep in mind, the 2,100 lbs. typically includes any water and propane, as usually the UVWR is dry weight. This unit has a 155-gallon fresh water tank. With water at 8.2 lbs. per gallon, that’s almost half the carrying capacity.

You can view the Chevrolet specs here (pdf). Again, with the weight of the Momentum, you will be in the larger diesel market.

It is important to know your weights and be mindful when you are loading. Do not shove everything into the bedroom and front compartment due to the weight that will add to the hitch and the back of your tow vehicle.

Once you get it loaded, go to a weight scale such as a CAT Scale and get it weighed on the platforms. The best is to have individual wheel positions weighed from RVSEF. You can find teams here.

Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.

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Bob p
6 months ago

If he a novice he better invest time and energy in a vacant lot to learn how difficult that rig is going to be. He may have to wait awhile for that truck to be built as most dealers won’t have that sitting on their lot, unless he is near a farming community, but then most farmers don’t buy 80,000 to 100,000 $ trucks either.

Martyn Price
6 months ago

Maybe this was a posed question to make Dave look knowledgeable, but what strikes me is would I want to be anywhere near on same road or mountain pass to what appears to be a very inexperienced or perhaps even naïve driver when it comes to towing a large rig.

Bob p
6 months ago
Reply to  Martyn Price

Amen to that, I hope they’re not novice as they will ugly have many surprises.

Leonard Rempel
6 months ago

What a beautiful RV with AWFUL cargo capacity! 2,000 lbs will be used up fast and most people will overload this beast.
I’ll stick with my 35′ Montana with 3,800 cargo capacity! I am up to about 2,400 cargo which now includes washer/dryer, 4 x AGM batteries, fresh water, etc. It adds up fast folks, don’t get suckered into buying something that doesn’t have real good cargo capacity!

Sharon B.
6 months ago

Our process was backwards from most, we bought our new GMC 2500 diesel first, keeping in mind the largest truck I would want to drive, we FT and this would be our only vehicle while traveling. Ours is a crew cab, long bed, which takes away from towing capacity. Then we looked for the 5th wheel we liked the most in our tow capacity. We have been very happy with both.

6 months ago
Reply to  Sharon B.

Not backwards at all. I did same thing. Bought 3/4 ton diesel first then my trailer. How are you supposed to transport it if when you buy it if you don’t have the truck?

Thomas D
6 months ago

Nobody mentioned the space required to park it. I love when a guy pulls up to park with one of those behemoths. More than once has the driver given up and driven away. Great entertainment. I’ve got friends that have dually’s and wish they didn’t. Always have to park in the outlot. They don’t fit in a parking spot. Is that extra room REALLY necessary. I don’t believe so. Just my opinion though.

6 months ago

My God! Should have bought a nice used Class A and take the 1 ton truck out of the equation!!! Those things are $80,000+ easily. Not to mention the additional maintenance and insurance. I agree, salesperson should have been more forthcoming.

6 months ago

Wow. What a question to ask, after purchasing a large trailer. It does not imply experience. The salesperson was apparently not forthcoming on the large equipment and skill necessary to safely move such a rig. I bid them safety.

dale rose
6 months ago

I believe that if the person can afford it, the best solution would be to buy a medium duty truck, as in the picture of a unit being weighed. It’s better to have too much truck.

Timothy Smith
6 months ago

In my experience, some/many tend to gravitate toward POWER when searching for a tow vehicle, as a primary factor. While there is no question that power is a major piece, many discussions, on social media, omit or side step an equally (if not greater) issue to consider in a tow vehicle.
For me, the F350 was going to be my solution to any towing concern, little did I know, my brand new 4×4, would not have the STRENGTH to tow my 44’ toy hauler.
My first trip suggested my brakes may not be strong enough to stop without wondering …can I stop in time. My second trip forced me to consider the dip my tail took when Retracting the landing gear. So back to the dealership I go, complaining I need air bags. It was THAT VISIT where the lightbulb came on and I learned how critical it is to consider that 3K pounds of pin weight over my rear axle.
Trading my brand new F350 4×4 for a F350 DRW provided the STRENGTH of the rear axle and the massive braking system I needed.

Greg S
6 months ago

No mention of pin weights in the article. A 250/2500 could handle the gross weight, it might not have the cargo capacity for the pin weight along with the weight if the wife/girl friend/significant other, the dogs and beer coolers.

6 months ago
Reply to  Greg S

He did in article at 2900 lb. called it Hitch weight.

Tom Hosack
6 months ago
Reply to  Greg S

And no mention of checking the “Door Jamb Payload Sticker” vs the GVWR of the tongue weight or pin weight of a trailer.

RV Staff(@rvstaff)
6 months ago
Reply to  Greg S

Hey, Greg. If you had your “wife/girl friend/significant other” along, I think you would have a few more problems than just the pin weight. Just sayin’. 😆 Have a good day. 😀 –Diane

Tommy Molnar
6 months ago

Probably should look into a dually as well.

John Irvine
6 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

And why not an F450, dually for sure.

Bob p
6 months ago
Reply to  John Irvine

Actually the F450 tows less than the F350 due to chassis weight. The only advantage the F450 offers is more load capacity and shorter turning radius. Check Big Truck Big Rv on you tube he has one he explains the entire thing.

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