• Chevy Silverado HD 2500 vs 3500: Do You Need a Dually When Towing? (Video)

    2017 2018 chevy silverado hd 2500 3500 diesel duramax towing specs payload

    Do you need a heavy duty 3500 dually truck for towing, or can you get away with a single rear wheel 2500 or 3500 HD pickup to get the job done? We get this question a lot, and the answer really comes down to engine choice, suspension, and rear axle ratio.

    There is a simpler way to look at it. If you need to haul X amount of weight, get a 2500-series “3/4 ton” truck. If your needs are a bit higher, then a Single Rear Wheel (SRW) 3500-series “1-ton” truck is the ticket. You can step up to a 3500 SRW pickup with a small price increase and without a big impact to your fuel economy or maintenance costs. If that’s still not enough, you can choose a 3500 Dually. A dually truck provides a big leap in capability, but it will cost extra in initial price, maintenance and lower fuel economy. Check out the data table below for capability ratings.

    The increased maintenance costs come in when it comes time to perform tire rotations (there are six of them) and tire replacement. Since a dually truck is significantly heavier and has more rolling resistance, the fuel economy goes down as well.

    The specifications listed below refer to Silverado HD crew cab 4×4 trucks in base configuration. A truck with additional options will have a heavier curb weight and lower payload and towing ratings. We chose the crew cab 4×4 configuration because it is the most popular.

    Chevy Silverado HD

    Max Payload (lbs) Max Towing (lbs) GCWR (lbs)
    Silverado 2500 3,186 14,800 21,100
    Silverado 3500 SRW 4,058 17,200 25,300
    Silverado 3500 Dually 5,761 22,700 31,100

    At the end of the day, if you are looking to tow a medium-sized 5th-wheel camper, then a 2500 or a 3500 SRW may be the right choice, depending on the loaded weight of the trailer and the tongue weight with which is pushes down on the truck. If you are looking for even greater stability and a bigger/heavier trailer (perhaps heavy construction equipment), then a 3500 Dually is the right tool for the job.

    Check out this latest look at the 2017 Chevy Silverado HD 2500 and 3500, as Roman takes them for spin empty and loaded with a 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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    38 thoughts on “Chevy Silverado HD 2500 vs 3500: Do You Need a Dually When Towing? (Video)

    1. I have heard you get better fuel mileage in the dually when fully loaded but not when empty and this makes sense if you look at the simple math behind it. Pressure + Force / Length x Width

      The pressure in tire in the HD is maxed 80lb/sq-in and the width of the tire is about 8 in. So re-arrange the formula to find length is the length is the flat spot that develops under the tire. If each truck has a 4000Lb load the dually has 32-in of tire width and the SRW has only 16-in. So 4000/(80×16) is Length = 3.13-in and in the dually 4000/(80×32) = Length = 1.56-in. So the dually only has to overcome a 1.56-in flat spot where the SRW has to overcome a 3.13-in flat spot. Mind you you do have frictional forces to account for and rotating weight to overcome and this is where the dually burns more fuel empty as these forces are small, significant but when loaded the flat spot on the tire of the dually helps to save fuel. But never max the pressure out in your tires as heated air from driving will expand in the tire and overinflate your tires and it makes the ride quality a lot stiffer unless you have an awesome suspension that does not exist by todays standards.

        1. I would swing around it in my underwear but that might be too much, I had beans for breakfast too.

      1. Rambro, please. Nice theory. It’s not true. A loaded dually certainly gets worse fuel economy than an empty one, as expected. The more weight the engine moves, the more fuel it burns. Really simple. I drive a dually every day.

        1. That’s not what my implied intent was. Better fuel mileage loaded in a dually vs a loaded single wheel (SRW) due to a flatter tire on the SRW

        1. Canoe, I am not currently seeing a mathematical way to say a flatter tire is easier to push than two tires that are not as flat. Likely would require real world testing. But I have read articles in the past where owners and fleets choose the dually for better fuel mileage because they run loaded all the time. Just my opinion with a little math behind it as to why I believe it.

          1. 👍. To me contact area is contact area. Shops ram 4500 with the 6.7 nets 10.8 mpg, with I’ll guess 3500lbs in it. They did have a srw 3500 once but the leaf spring kept failing. Mileage was near the same 10-11. Jimmy Johns probably has more fleet insight though. I only have a small contractors fleet to go off of.

            1. Likely a balancing point too with speed. The wider fenders will catch more wind and the higher your speed the more addition this wider flare adds to wind resistance, but in my opinion the 4 tires with less of a flat spot will roll easier than the two that are flatter.

            2. if all else fails we require some field testing. I may have heard of some great guys to help. lol

      2. The whole flat spot discussion is flawed, as tires are intended to have near the same flexion loaded or unloaded. Tire pressures should be adjusted to allow for this flex unloaded. Otherwise piss poor ride, handling and tire wear can result. The dually has more E-load sidewalls flexing.

    2. Watching this towing video made me think of a basic towing question: does hitch length (from trailer coupler to pickup receiver) make much difference in determining tongue weight capacity? For instance 750 lb. tongue weight placed 1.5 ft. from the receiver equals 1125 lb. ft. of torque on the receiver. Thanks.

    3. Casey Barry, the way this works is like this and yes it matters. Say your rear tires are force B and your front tires are force A and the front and rear tires are spaced at 16 feet.

      The Formula works like this. 750Lbs x (1.5ft+16ft) – Force B x 16 feet =0. When you re-arrange the formula to find force B, you will find you have an upward force at the rear tires equal to FB = 750×17.5/16 =820Lbs. If you shorten that 1.5 foot length to 1-ft you would have 750×17/16= 797Lbs of downward force on your rear tires, so a 23Lb difference. If you re-arrange the formula to find the forces at the front tires you will find you have a negative force =750×1.5 + FA x 16 = 0 Therefore Fa = (-750×1.5)/16 = -70Lbs and therefore you removed 70 Lbs from your front tires. This will remain true until you exceed the weight on the front tires at which point the front of the truck will be in the air and the remaining forces at the hitch will be in the ground. But you can see how wheel base matters and how far you put the hitch from the rear of the truck matters.

      1. Rambro thanks for reply. I knew there had to be someone on this sight that could easily answer the question.

        1. Just not the formula I used is basing the 1.5 foot distance from the hitch to the center of the rear tires. So if you say 1.5 from the ball to the receiver you have to include the length from the receiver to the center of the wheels. realistically that distance would be more like 2 feet + 1.5. It is the load on the ball times the distance to the rear wheels. 750x(1.5+2+16)/16= 750x 19.5/16 = 914Lbs on the rear tires. You would have to measure from the center of the rear tire to the ball hitch and measure your wheelbase to get the right numbers.

          1. Correction “Load on ball times the distance to the front wheel divided by the wheelbase” Be so much nicer if I could draw LOL

        2. Most folks concerned about tongue weight use a Weigh-Safe hitch or similar which measures tongue weight at the ball. It really has nothing to do with how long the tongue or hitch is, but rather how much weight on the trailer is sitting fore or aft of the trailers axles. Proper weight distribution on a trailer greatly affects tongue weight.

          1. That’s not what he asked Troverman. He wants to know if the distance between the ball position from the receiver matters or not and how much of that load on the ball amplifies the force on the rear axle. I put it in a sketch, just take your trucks measurements and you can verify the numbers for yourself with the given formula’s.

      2. It also affects the torque on the hitch receiver as well as that transferred to the frame-as you pointed out Casey. If you extend the hitch out to far you will generate a significantly greater moment in the hitch receiver and consequently to the frame-which could be a limiting factor before hitting your weight limit. Weight distributing hitches tend to counter this torque when setup properly.

    4. Sure look forward to trying out a L5P for myself. Looks like a nice rig. Really looking between SRW and dually due to tongue weights of my 5th wheel.

    5. Have you all notice all the 6.0 gas engines they was using? I’m also disappointed in Roman didn’t point this out asking why didn’t gm bring out there 6.0 dinosaur engine and why gm isn’t giving there Customers something better than what they got? The competition is not resting and DSl’s are getting more expensive to justify in buying it. Sorry to be critical on you Roman I believe it was lost opportunity on this one.

      It makes me wonder why gm doesn’t offer a 4500 with same basic style as what Ford is doing with f-450? Then gm can get a slice of that small market. Then gm can satisfy that small group of Customers.

      Good video of corn country.

    6. Marc, the reason is that the 6.0 has been proven to be bullet proof and with the proper gearing (as proven in the Ike Gauntlet tests on this website) is as or more capable towing than the supposedly more powerful/advanced gas HD engines offered by their competitors. So, with no real disadvantage in towing performance, and with the edge in proven reliability, why WOULD they change? To seem sexier to consumers? Gasser HDs aren’t really purchased by Joe Public anyway, they’re bought by fleet managers, who couldn’t care less about sexy. They like the fact that it’s an invincible motor that has *enough* power to get the job done.

    7. Towing a 5er with a 3/4 ton is generally inadvisable. They simply don’t have the payload capacity unless you buy a stripped out gas engine model. A leather seats crew can 4×4 diesel 2500 is going to have a payload slightly over 2k pounds. 5er pin weights can eat up most of that on a very small trailer and way more than that on a big trailer. A 3500 class is needed at minimum and a dually makes towing so much more stable. Tire expense difference is minimal since dually trucks run 17″ tires instead of the 20’s found on many SRW trucks. These are more affordable to purchase. Yes, the dually is heavier and has more rolling resistance so fuel economy suffers (stick to your Tacoma, Rambro) but you end up with exceptional payload capacity and towing stability.

      1. Troverman, you only own a dually because you have to drive your Mom to and from the grocery store.

    8. WOW! I just watched that and Roman really asks the tuff questions. Ford and Ram have got GM beat in towing in the HD but I got to give the GM guy credit for his answer. A true PM. Somehow it turned from towing to emissions LOL. I think the hood scoop will be maintenance expense but it looks good. And of course the trucks are too low to the ground. Very poor body clearance for work related tasks in construction sites. Where is the electric motors, hydrogen powered or generator powered. Bring it GM, these trucks are old and long in the tooth. VW dropped diesel altogether. Have you seen what the new Hydrogen big rigs does to the diesel semi trucks. Completely destroys them and they have programs in place to make them sell like crazy and they are lighter = more payload. The technology is there, assimilate now and you will have no competition.

      And get your bumpers off the ground, but have to give you credit for the ZR2, you have brought back some of my lost confidence. And I like the part where GM states the turning fatigue for the driver with heavy loads, yet they lost quadsteer, like, hello! Ford is testing ZF right now and if they know how to market it properly then there is another advantage your competition will have.

      But GM did sell the most amount of trucks and SUV’s last month so congratulations to them on that and for offering more choice over the competition.

      1. We’ll see what we have when the actually produce a hydrogen powered semi-not just concepts. It’s all just a lot of talk right now with a whole lot of hurdles to overcome-like where to get the hydrogen at an affordable cost.

    9. @Rambro
      Dropped diesel in the US. Pretty well ramped it up everywhere else.All their Commercial offerings outside NA are diesel.

    10. I own a 2005 2500hd 6.0 she has 195000 miles on her. She gets 12.5 mph normal and 15mph towing a 13400 fifth wheel. Love this truck…

      1. Even if you meant mpg instead of mph this doesn’t make sense. How do you get better fuel economy when towing than when not?

    11. For non commercial use, the SRW 1-ton usually makes sense over a 3/4, since the higher GVWR is more likely to keep you legal (properly insured). You can always soften up the rear springs, but you can’t increase the max weight limits, even if all the major parts between a 3/4 and 1-ton have most of the same major parts.

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