• Buying a 2018 Ford F150 to Tow a Fifth-Wheel Trailer: Maxing Out Payload? (Ask TFLtruck)


    ford f150 towing 5th camping trailer
    Ford F150 towing a 5th wheel camper trailer

    TFLtruck has recently received the following question from Nate A. about towing a fifth-wheel trailer with a Ford F-150.

    I’m planning on buying a beefed up 2018 Ford F150 (3.5L EcoBoost V6, heavy payload package, etc) to tow a fifth wheel. Do these specs work?

    – Tow capacity of 11,700, trailer will generally be at 9,600 pounds. (82% of capacity).

    – Payload of 2,850 lbs, including pin weight will be at 2500 pounds payload.

    – GCWR of 17,100 and will be at 15,200. (89% of GCWR).

    48 weeks of the year the f150 will be an “in-town car”, 4 weeks traveling the country.

    I have a slightly less desirable fifth wheel option that’s lighter:

    – 8,900 pounds meaning I’d be towing at 76% of capacity.

    – Payload would be at 2,200 pounds including pin weight, leaving me 650 pounds under capacity.

    – GCWR would leave me at 14,600, or 85% of capacity.

    Is my option good or does it not leave me enough margin? Second option? Can I max payload or should I leave margin there as well?

    The question boils down to the importance of truck’s payload capacity. All of our towing tests suggest that the payload rating is very important, especially with half-ton trucks. The closer we get to the maximum payload rating of any truck (which is easy to do with a 5th wheel or gooseneck trailer), the more susceptible the truck becomes to sway or rougher ride as the suspension gets more an more compressed.

    New truck, such as the 2018 F150 are very powerful and confident towing machines, but leaving extra margin on payload capacity is always a good thing.  With this in mind, I would go for the second option – the 8,900 lbs trailer.


    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov is an Automotive Enthusiast, Producer, Reviewer, Videographer, Writer, Software Engineer, Husband, Father, and Friend.

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    75 thoughts on “Buying a 2018 Ford F150 to Tow a Fifth-Wheel Trailer: Maxing Out Payload? (Ask TFLtruck)

      1. I think that most do not realize you can pull most weight trailer. but can you STOP IT…. most overlooked item regarding towing imho
        CHEERS!!!!

        1. I hear you I had that happen last week coming home towing my travel trailer. Traffic just stopped but my 2015 f150 2.7 v,6 stopped well with 6900 behind me. Get a 30 ft north trail 22fbs better set up your v-6 3.5 will pull it no problem just buy a trailer e-2 trailer sway hitch and do 70 down the road.

      2. Agree for sure on the 3/4 ton.

        Better frame, better truck to trailer weight ratio, better breaks, less squat.

        Get a V8 If you don’t want to deal with the diesel engine (though personally I’d go diesel).

        500lbs didn’t leave much weight for cargo and passengers in the truck.

        1. Why is there this persistent belief in the V8 over the turbo V6 it is nowhere near as powerful in the torque which is of course what matters Towing. Seriously 100 foot pounds different get anywhere near 9000 lb towing with one engine or the other and there is no comparison ask people who done it

        2. …or fuel. Your cargo capacity is for all your cargo including fuel. Passengers, gear, 5th wheel, fuel… You will be over your payload capacity before you pull away. Never use the empty weights, you will soon be well over the empty weights. Also, dont listen to the RV dealer that say, ‘sure you can tow that your tow rating is blah blah’. Is not your tow rating that will be your limiting factor. Get a 3/4 ton you will be much happier in the long run…trust me, I’ve been in your shoes before

    1. Also you have to consider the weight of the hitch itself (200 lbs+) and the weight of passengers and anything else you put in it.

    2. Going with your first option would leave you only 350 lbs of payload for yourself any passenger/s…Even with most 3/4 tons, you’d be crowding the payload (not towing) numbers (most are in the 2500-2700 lb range). My concern would be controllability with the lighter pickup, but I’m sure it would “pull” it okay.

      1. I agree if i was driving something 8 hours a day for a couple weeks i would want it to feel very stable. Your on vacation and should feel relaxed. You will not feel comfortable towing at max especially at highway speeds. I would want to be closer to 60% before gear. Max payload is for 1 day jobs like renting a backhoe or load of dirt, pavers, shingles.

    3. I’ve found that even though the half tons have a high towing capacity, they don’t handle the towing well at those limits when you throw in cross winds, semi trucks passing you, tail winds are tough also. There is no substitution for weight in a tow vehicle and a 3/4 ton truck has that weight. My opinion is you’re to close to the limits on that F-150. I agree with Colin and CBarry. When you add passengers, cargo to trailer and the hitch weight you’re at your limit. Not a smart tow.

    4. The ratings are very conservative. It’s only 4 weeks a year pulling. I think your fine with the first trailer. Drive responsibly

    5. 2850 is the maximum payload. the GVWR of a 4 door F-150 with heavy duty payload is 7,850 lbs. An XLT with 4×4 will have an empty weight of around 5,200 lbs. Meaning your actual payload is more like 2,650 lbs.

    6. Nate A
      I think even you realize that your first option is too close to the truck’s limits for the 1/2 ton you are considering. But if you buy the second trailer (less desirable-your words) you are going to be “stuck” in this trailer for a month (30 days and nights) each year. That’s going to get old fast and in a year or two your going to want that first trailer again. Now you have to buy another new truck and another new trailer! Do it right the first time, get your first choice on the trailer and buy a super duty to pull it!

    7. I’d get a 3/4 ton Gas job…

      You’d be replacing the brakes on the F150 every 30k miles as the F150s love to warp rotors for some reason.

    8. I’m pretty sure to get a HD payload package, you have to get either a supercab with a 8′ box or supercrew with a 6.5′ box, wheelbase is around 160″. So when not towing, maneuverability is similar to a 3/4 ton anyway. And 4 weeks out of the year, you don’t want to be worried about your payload all the time. I would option out the HD payload package truck you would need for option one, then take that money and go buy a lightly used 3/4 ton for similar or less $. You’re not leaving enough wiggle room with the heavy-half F150.

    9. I like a margin in towing. No doubt the ecoboost has the power but the brakes and side winds scare me. I say smaller trailer or 3/4 ton

      1. Todger, the brakes on the trailer should be the bigger concern. Trucks brakes are rated for max payload. Not max GCVW. Even class 3 trucks are that way. A properly set up system will have you stopping correctly using the trailer brakes. Unfortunately most people don’t do maint on their trailer brakes so they rely on truck brakes. That is dangerous. Other than zombiera does anyone think a ram 3500 can stop a 30000lb trailer on the truck alone?

        The handling part does have some merit and a HD truck would handle it better but since this guy is using a 5th wheel, handling will be much more controlled than a bumper tow.

    10. Power would not be an issue, regardless of trailer, but rather controlling that much weight with a half ton. It helps that you are looking at 5th wheels and not regular travel trailers, but towing that much weight, especially when it’s a tall trailer that will catch wind, you are just better off in a heavy duty truck. I’d suggest a smaller trailer for the F150, or bumping up to a 250 or 350 for the trailer you want. If you get a F250 or 350 with the 6.2, opt for the 4.3 gears over the standard 3.73.

      1. That doesn’t change Axel limits, weight issues (too much trailer weight to truck weight).

        An F150 should never tow more than 8 or 9k pounds regularly or cross country.

        The 3.5 has the power but your fuel economy will be awful.

    11. Lots of great and knowledgeable comments. Allow one more. Are you planning to pull to a specific location and stay for a couple of weeks or a month, or are you planning to move around every few days during the four weeks. And how far away are those locations? If the former, use your head, get the 150 and bigger trailer. If the latter, use your head, get a 250 and the larger trailer.

      1. Hes talking about a 5th wheel, there is no anti sway hitch. And a Tundra wont tow that because it will be so far over payload capacity it wouldnt be funny.

        1. what? It pulled the space shuttle and that is much larger. hahaha.. Tundra has good motor but he needs a bigger truck, 3/4 ton

    12. First of all, the payload on that truck will not be 2850 lbs unless it is absolutely a no option 2×4 super cab or crew cab. If its 4×4 I can almost guarantee it will be closer to 2500 with no options.

    13. I have a 07 XLT f150 4×4 ext cab long bed 3.55 gear 300 HP add 50hp more with chip for power and fuel and air cleaner cool kit, I tow a 30ft 5th wheel weight 6,800 with gear people full water tank weight is up to 7,800 tow limit is 9,200 and the bed moves down to leaval cause the back sets up higher then the front they come that way from the factory
      I go to all state parks in a 50 to 70 mile radius and any longer I use my ford dually but my f150 pulls so good rain wind what ever hills can run 65 ,70 like easy and I’ve towed for years so what I’m saying is some f150s run better then other to ,fords any ways do,im just saying

      1. The Ford 5.4 motor was a pooch for pulling in the F150. Stop traffic a mile ahead so you can pull out to have time to get up to speed. hahaha

      2. You tell them. I have a 2016 f150 SuperCrew v8 4×4 with 61/2ft bed. I tow a 34ft keystones cougar tab. I tow it with no problem. Weight distribution hitch works fine. No problems.

    14. It would be nice to know the actual details of the truck this guy wants. 2×4 or 4×4, supercrew/supercab/regular cab, trim, etc. Without that info I have a hard time believing he is going to actually have 2850 lbs of payload on a real truck.

    15. I have a 2014 f350 suoerduty with an 8′ box and I tow a 42 foot overall 5th wheel at 14200 dry and I don’t even know it’s back there. Buy the right truck and there are no worries.

    16. All I can say is the truck is what it is I’m retired from Ford and Ive order my trucks with tow package but this truck I bought at the dealership new that was ordered but not sold, I liked it so I bought it and it’s been a great truck if I can I’ll send pic of it hooked up I’m just happy as can be with it. It has 72,000 plus on it and it’s a XLT 4×4 has the shifter on floor for 4×4 has a lot of options.thats what it is not saying your wrong it’s just this truck what it is great, thanks

    17. I know it’s hard to believe but this f150 is all that, I’m like what is going on my self, but look I’ve had duallys all my life, I’ve had so many 7.3s I stopped counting and now a new one I’m 62 years old so I know the difference in power of trucks, yes it’s a 5.4 eng and they are known for there power at 4 to 5 rpm range and your right on need a mile to get going I’ve been in other f150s but this truck I can get it up pettery fast not like my dually but it does good, now the truck is a half ton so I do have my 5th wheel and truck set pretty good on the brake set up tho. So I’m just putting this out there for all to read and things are not always right on. I’m still thinking whats with this truck, you gotta laugh about it, it’s like the little engine that could haha

    18. The question isn’t can I pull it it is can I stop it. If you are worring about can my truck pull it, remember a Toyota tundra pulled the space shuttle across a bridge. But if he had been going at speed or more as you crazy drivers do when your pulling something and think you are a trucker, someone cuts you off and you have to brake hard or coming down a mountain, like Fancy Gape in VA, or Black Mountain in NC. Can you take it down without overheating a a braking system that isn’t designed to handle that kind of stress. All I can say is slow down and for God’s sake don’t run up on me out of control or my family because you are too cheep to buy the truck you wouldn’t even have to wonder about. Like a Ford 350 Duelly or a Ford 450 etc.

      1. Another brake comment. Those that actually tow knows that the trucks brakes are mainly for the trucks weight. The trailer has its own set of brakes and they MUST be adjusted properly and WORKING properly. The truck is not going to stop effectively 16,000lbs. To do that you will need to go into a F450 or F550 chassis cab rated for that weight. So many people here thinks the trucks stops the combo but in reality the trailer must be doing the majority of the braking.

        1. So many people here thinks the trailer stops the combo but in reality the truck is doing the majority of the braking, because people don’t know to adjust brake controller, exactly like TFL.

    19. Just because it’s possible doesn’t mean it’s advisable.
      In the summer I pass many 1/2 tons that are clearly overworked and holding up traffic while pulling boats or travel trailers.
      But I’m sure the salesmen and fanboys will have some excuse for this.

    20. Silverado 2014 Z71 5.3 i pull a gooseneck 4 horse 9700lbs with gear and horses. Set your truck up right add HD spring or like I did add a bag kit. I run the air lift 5000 and have perfect control of my suspension. Like someone said your using all of your payload “compressed” using the bags eliminates stress one your factory suspension. Quality brake controller a must. I’d your truck is chiming with a HD Towing package you most likely will have a built in brake controller.

      1. I to am a big fan of an add on air lift system for Towing. You can deflate it for normal driving and have the nice ride of the factory truck or just air it up when towing.

    21. I with at a RV lot and see this a lot, i don’t have wind issues with my horse as it is quite a bit shorter than a fifth wheel. I move and deliver a lot of units and the fifth wheels do catch a lot of wind. Look into Springdale fifth wheels, they have the lowest profile and are under 10k pounds you can get down to high 8k depending on floor plan. Full fiberglass front cap,laminated sides and rear.

    22. You guys all fail. If this was a TFL test you all fail. Tell me I am wrong and I will go sit in my corner with a dunce hat on, but I am taking a case of beer with me.

      If he is pulling a fifth wheel then being at capacity or a little above is very conservative as the entire truck gets heavier, the front and rear axle will take on load so it will be fine so long as you drive correctly. You also have less sway to worry about and the trailer would come with its own brakes. Buying a 3/4 ton is a waste of money, you will get worse fuel mileage the majority of the time and add additional expensive maintenance costs to the table, insurance goes up, payment goes up, interest goes up, mpg is worse and its sluggish, slower and rides rougher the majority of the time. Plus the gas option is not as powerful as the ecoboost in the 1/2 ton that can actually maintain speed on the highways. But the 3/4 ton is safer and more capable depending on the situation you are using it for, but this guy sounds like he would only use it seldom, so 3/4 ton vs safe vs cost would not be my cup of tee. If we all wanted to be completely safe then the economy would tank itself. If you have unlimited money than get an AZ licence and buy a tractor trailer with 6 wheel drive that has a built in camper and you wont have to trailer nothing.

      Now the question states that he will have 11,700Lbs of towing, does the person understand, what he is reading on paper may not be what the truck door sticker will say. 11,700 may be the base model XLT and as soon as you add an option to the XLT these numbers shrink. The heavyduty payload package is only available up to a Lariat, after that they dont offer it, but if you get into a Lariat vs an XLT then your towing and payload will drop considerably. You also have to understand that with the heavyduty payload package you are very very limited to the options you can choose. For example if you select heated steering wheel as an option in the Lariat trim you have to lose the HD payload package. The lariat is missing a lot of features so if you want a certain feature as an option you have to drop the HD payload package. At least in Canada you do, maybe the US is different but doubt it.

      1. I am going to the corner too if you are taking beer.
        He is going to end up over the legal gvwr a majority of the time. Truck is rated the same no matter what. It will handle it sure, done it before, but found the closest dumping place possible, farthest was 3 miles. Lots of 6500-7200 lbs trips, with 6900 lbs gvwr rating, trucks handled like crap everytime. Fifth wheel needs a 3/4 ton or above. Even a 250/2500 is a borderline home owner truck.

    23. Nate, the traditional view of half-ton trucks was that they’re more like station wagons with an open bed than a ‘real truck’. Ford has (somewhat) changed that with its current F-150, but the stereotype still holds validity. Having owned and towed bumper-hitch and 5th wheel trailers, I have to agree with others that you’ll be right at the limit for an F-150, and that’s no place to be when you’ve got those you hold dear in your truck and you’re towing a trailer loaded with bikes, baggage and water in the tanks so the toilets can be used when you’re out on the highway with no truck stop in sight (every-day gas stations aren’t made for long rigs).

      I bought an F-150 with the dealer’s assurance that “This truck is designed to pull that kind of load! Anything within the load ratings is safe.” Ha! That guy was nowhere to be found when I was coming out of the mountains with my family in the truck and the trailer loaded with all of our stuff! My heart was in my throat, and I swore once and for all that I would never, ever put my family in that situation again. The terms “porpoise” and “wallow” had new and sinister meanings in my world. (And yes, I learned to go and touch the hubs on the trailer wheels every time we stopped to make sure I wasn’t over heating the brakes.)

      The load ratings may be safe for a short utility trailer that’s loaded with ready mix concrete or dirt that is used locally. The dynamics change in an instant, however, when the trailer length and height are increased and you’re on an interstate highway with the wind blowing and traffic going past at 80 mph.

      You’d be much safer in an F-250, even if you’re only towing one day a year. Scary things don’t seem to notice how often you’re towing a heavy load.

    24. 3 classes:

      1/2 ton: 1,000# haul / 8,000# tow
      1 ton SRW: 3,000# / 20,000#
      1 ton DRW: 6,000# / 30,000#

      The little toy trucks and 3/4 tons are silly.

      But y’all do whatever the bleep you want to.

    25. You need to slow down Jimmyboy. When I took 80,000Lb trucks through BC, I would do 20-40 mph max on the downgrades. Take 1/2 hour to get to the bottom of some of the hills I went up. Just because your truck is rated to pull 12k does not mean you have to do the speed limit coming down a hill, just slow down for the one trip a year on long down grades and you will be fine. If you scared yourself and your family then promise to slow down, a truck will not save you.

    26. I tow 10,500gvw 5th wheel with my 2014 F150 EcoBoost max payload supercab longbox with trailer towing package. Pin weight is about 1700 lbs. It sits level when loaded – high in the back unloaded. It pulls like crazy – 110 kph (or faster if you wanted) up the Coquihalla or Hope Slide hills in BC. Braking is different – I use the engine to brake big time – 2nd gear is my friend. I have 85,000 kms and original brakes with some heat spots on the front rotors. Negligible sway – the wind would buffet the truck around as much with or without the trailer. I tow about 25% of the mileage on my truck.
      I’d do it again.
      Oh yeah, it’s on propane!

    27. My ford will go real fast downhill.
      But coming out of the Sierra’s on two lane roads I travel down in 3rd gear on mountains roads I could go up in 4th.
      I downshift to 2nd on many turns.
      I will stop and shift into granny gear prior to extremely sharp hairpin turns that can have unbelievable down grades. And i have never over heated my brakes.

      I have started down beautiful roads that turned into crushed rock hammered out of granite mountain sides.

      Mountain driving is different than a short trip to the coast.

      So remember this word of caution if you intend to travel on 2 lane back roads in the Sierra’s or the rockies.

    28. I would go ahead and do the first fifth wheel. Load e range tires and 5 k airbags from either fire stone or air ride and you’ll be fine. I’ve got a 15 super crew with max payload, 5k air bags and a loaded weight 2300lbs camper and my truck handles it great. I know I’m probably 100lbs or so over my gvwr overall but I’m ok with that.

    29. So the Titan rode better than the Military grade light weight Aluminum truck. Great for speed not so much when hauling that much weight! Get the 3/4 ton if I were you. Safety first..

    30. I figured the Ford engineers know a lot more about their truck than all of you people out there. If you stay in their limits, the truck is good to go. Why are all of you trying to second guess the Ford Engineers??

      1. Because all that goes into producing a truck is not just limited to engineers. ofttimes, marketers and financial controllers make pickup trucks.

    31. No you cannot. The one thing people don’t realize is that with a 5 th wheel TWR of 11,700 the maximum pin weight is 1,755lbs, 15% of TWR. Even if the truck has more payload available that is the maximum pin load. I’ve called Ford and talked to them about this specifically and that is the answer I was given.

    32. A bunch of old farts here who can’t admit that a quiet little ecoboost can kick the shit out of most trucks. Today’s f150 is like yesterday’s f 350. Your only towing 4 weeks a year, I like your plan

    33. Being that 90% of its life it is not Towing heavy I think you can put a close to its limits the 10% of the time. But just remember you’re close to your limits and take that into account on steep downgrades or Crosswinds and such

    34. I wouldn’t go over 9k with a 1/2 ton. If that trailer decided to move on you that truck wouldn’t have the weight to keep it under control.

    35. Yesterday’s f350, (1975), had a gvwr of 8000lbs.
      Max trailer weight of 10,000lbs.
      Gcvwr of 18000lbs.

      That means you are asking a lot more of that f150 than what yesterdays f350 was rated for.

    36. Nate how long is your 5th wheels?

      Since I hauled rv’s for a living a few years ago. The biggest concern is the wind. The higher the wind speed is the harder it is to manage the trl in it. That is one reason I ask the length question. The longer it is the more you will be chasing the trl around, especially when the F-150 is pretty light to begin with. To me the weight is not going to be the biggest factor in this purchase.

      Nite night Knight you all.

    37. I have a 16 F150 XLT, V6 Ecoboost, pulling a 8k lb 30′ 5th wheel, up and down NC mountains like it’s not even there. Have your 5th wheel break control set correctly and no problems. The V6 Ecoboost has more tow power than ANY half ton made, even with the V8’s.

    38. It was decisions like these that helped make up my mind to get the F250 Diesel. Then i drove one. Won’t be second guessing that going up or down the mountain. Can’t wait to do my own Gauntlet. Be safe.

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