• Luxury Trailering: How to Tow Big and Heavy with a Ram HD 3500 Dually (Video)

    2017 ram hd 3500 dually limited cimarron norstar horse trailer big heavy how to
    Ram HD 3500 Limited and Cimarron Norstar trailer

    How to tow big and heavy? We took a 2017 Ram HD 3500 dually 4×4 Limited edition and a 2017 Cimarron Trailers Norstar 33-foot luxury horse trailer for a test run to go over the top five things to think about when towing big, heavy, and expensive equipment.

    What Are We Dealing With?

    The truck is fully loaded Ram 3500 dually 4×4 with a high-output 6.7L Cummins I6 turbo-diesel that is rated at 385 horsepower and 900 lb-ft of torque. A heavy duty Aisin 6-speed automatic transmission send the power down to the rear axle with 4.10 gears. This truck rings the bell at an MSRP of $79,965.

    The trailer is a 33-foot Cimarron Trailers Norstar four-horse trailer with luxurious and customized living quarters in the front. This trailer has everything you could want for your horses and for living on the road in style. The cost of the trailer is $130,267. The trailer’s curb weight is nearly 14,000 lbs, but it can carry nearly 5,000 lbs of payload if you take away the tongue weight that is supported by the truck. The total maximum load rating on the trailer axles is 16,000 lbs.

    Truck & Trailer Setup

    Extra precautions are needed when towing big and heavy. Naturally, we checked the set screws on the gooseneck coupler. We made sure the tire pressures are correct: 125 psi in the case of these 14-ply heavy duty tires. We check all the lights, and finally made sure that the braking system is properly configured. A heavy trailer like this has an electric-over-hydraulic disk braking system. We made sure the Ram truck brake controller is set appropriately.

    Maneuvering with the Trailer

    The Ram dually is over 20 feet in length, the gooseneck trailer is 33 feet long. It’s not that easy to make tight turns with a rig this long. All right, it’s not a 48-foot long car hauler wedge trailer, but it’s challenging nonetheless. Check out the video and watch how Kent “Mr Truck” Sundling negotiates a tight parking situation.

    Trailering Fuel Economy

    There is no question that your truck’s fuel economy will go down when towing a trailer this big and heavy. The trip computer registered 9.1 MPG on our very short and non-scientific run to the truck stop. We did our 100-mile highway MPG test with a 22,800 lbs trailer several months back. Please take a look at that video for more accurate fuel efficiency results. You could improve your efficiency by lowering your cruising speed (we test at 70 MPH). On the other hand, you can increase your range by installing an auxiliary fuel tank on the truck.


    A simple task such as refueling may turn exceedingly difficult when you are dealing with such a big trailer. We got lucky and were able to swing around and pull up to a regular diesel pump. However, you could opt to use pull-through diesel pumps at a truck stop along with all the big rigs. These pumps are higher flow, so additional care should be taken. They have Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) dispensers that take some of the hassle out of refilling the DEF tank.

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

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    29 thoughts on “Luxury Trailering: How to Tow Big and Heavy with a Ram HD 3500 Dually (Video)

    1. The max rating on the trailer is 19,000, but the axles can load 16,000 (two 8,00 axles)? Why does that not match up?

      1. They expect the rest of the weight to be pin weight. So the weight is divided between the wheels//axle and the pin load through the truck.

      1. So about 15 percent tongue weight. Still, I would rather have tougher axles on that big of a trailer. But they probably don’t plan on loading down the front of it much.

        1. I agree. There have been reports on RV forums where the trailers are loaded and they can’t even use the unit because the rear axles are overloaded. They get the cheapest axles and lightest they can get away with. I would much rather have a larger axle for the added security.

          1. So, on this rig as well..
            If a minivan of children were to stop out in front of it at 60 MPH, would the automatic engine brakes help to stop it? Or would it just be the friction brakes and trailer brakes?

          2. You could triple axles for cheaper then 2 10k axles. Also remember its ride comfort as well for the horses. If you do 10k axles and only have 1 or 2 horses in the stalls then the ride would be terrible for the horses and they would be so fatigued from stiffing up that they couldn’t perform well on the shows they do. You just see as cargo but these people have horses see it as their family and bread butter to survive in life. You have open your thinking box then just water totes

            1. Glad someone here pulls horses around and understands that. Ours were 2 weeks recovering after a 750 mile trip back from NBHA youth worlds this summer.

        2. I work for a horse trailer manufacture. The pin weight for that size trailer is more like 30-35% of the trailer. So it’s not uncommon to have 4500-5500 pounds of pin weight.

    2. Best infotainment system and ram is only going to improve it, while leaving the competition even further behind in that department.

    3. The Ram 3500 has to different exhaust brake settings Auto/Manual.If will provide maximum exhaust brake down to 30 mph.When you apply the foot brake it activates automatically. I tow 40 feet of trailer and I must say it is a very good if not the best of the 3.Your trailer brake control not shown in this video will provide a setting of 1-10 10 almost if not locking the trailer brakes up.Should bring you down from 70 quite fast.So in case of emergency you apply the brakes then grab the trailer brake control and gently squeeze the bars together to go pass the original setting you set to stop the trailer.I have had to do this a couple of times.Due to people changing lanes in front of me on down hill grades not realizing the danger they are in getting that close to me.

      1. O.K., thanks, so the engine brakes automatically if you have the tow/haul mode on, when you hit the foot brake. But you say you have to adjust the trailer brake in an emergency to get maximum braking out of the trailer?
        Sounds a bit dangerous to look down in an emergency to squeeze the adjuster.
        TFL should do a video on this.

        RAM probably now is the best engine brake of the three, after GM having that title for a long time. Ford is still catching up after being terrible for a long time.

        1. Have you towed anything with a 15+ powerstroke? Didn’t think so. Quit making ignorant comments. The exhaust brake on the current Powersrokes is very good.

          1. BeerBrew,
            You might have to wait until the morning beer gets through your system, but so’s you know, you are commenting on a site called TFL, which has tested these engine brakes many times over the years. According to them, Ford has lacked way behind GM and RAM in this are, and is only barely catching. up. The whole HD Ford truck was garbage for 20 years compared with the competition. And TFL is only one of many independent testers that say so, not me.

            1. Annnnd another ignorant statement from Hal. Forss woes in the HD market are mainly from 2003 1/2- 2010 with the 6.0 and 6.4 Navistar diesels. The 7.3l is a damn good engine and the 6.7 has proved itself as a excellent powerplant as well. The 3v 5.4l was a shit motor but the v10 and the 6.2 are very good engines as well. The rest of the truck has been a very good design having lasted 18 years with minor updates compared to a full refresh. The 6.7 has had an engine brake from iyz inception bit got way better starting in 15. You want to talk about problems talk about them all don’t ve a fanboy or a hater. I’ve replaced ridiculous amounts of injectors in Duramax engines and Cummins and god knows how many transmissions in Dodges.

        2. An “engine brake” has maybe 10% of the power of the wheel brakes. In an emergency stop, it would likely result in maybe 1% reduction in stopping distance

          1. True, if setup properly the foundation brakes should be capable of applying considerably more stopping power than the exhaust brake will be able to provide. So while the exhaust brake will aid in stopping (if it is turned on) it will not really stop you any faster in an emergency stop situation. Their value is in long, downgrade slowing of the vehicle-they can provide a good deal of retarding power indefinitely without over heating.

          2. Daniel, you are pretty much spot on. In an emergency stop, the transmission will uncouple from the engine to prevent it from stalling. When you slam on the brakes the transmission cannot downshift fast enough.

          3. Daniel – – –

            I thought my “engine brake” has about the same HP rating as the engine when running, but you’re saying it will only contribute 10% to overall braking. Would you explain a little more, please.
            When I downshift** my Cummins (even without real “engine braking”), I seem to get a comparable slow-down to mild/moderate wheel braking.
            ** Have the Daimler G56 Manual Transmission


        3. I may be wrong but my understanding is that the manual trailer brakes controls are really meant to be used when you want to apply the trailer brakes only-testing and reducing sway, etc. They really should be adjusted such that they provide as much braking as possible without locking up at “full pedal pressure” braking. I other words-when you hit the brake pedal hard the trailer brake should be providing as much braking as it can. No need to manually actuate them.

          1. No, you are correct. You adjust them to a setting that they won’t lockup, and that requires a little trial with hopefully not too much error…

        4. Hal, in the last TFL test the Ford has less brake events than the Ram. In previous years the Ram required even more. Ram was better until 2015 then they were behind.

        5. Hal

          In the last TFL test the Ford has less brake events than the Ram. In previous years the Ram required even more. Ram was better until 2015 then they were behind.

    4. On my work truck which is a ram with cummins the exhaust brake does nothing for decreasing the braking distance. Any wheel slip and the engine braking kicks off…. ABS kicks on under hard braking the engine brake isn’t even activated as your back wheels lose grip and the computer tries to get the back wheels to get grip again by releasing the brakes for you so the wheels can come up to speed to get grip and brake again through the service brakes until you have wheel slip. With abs you can feel it in the brake pedal and here the mechanical clicking as the computer controls the brake. Easy to test the engine braking with any truck if you live in a country with winter. On icy stretch of road start with the engine brake and then go into a panic stop with the service brakes and as wheels start to slide and lose grip the engine brake kicks off and the service brakes start pulsating and clicking as the computer tries to maintain grip.

      Also if your service brakes on dry pavement and good grip don’t lock hard enough in full brake pressure to activate the ABS system your service brakes are in need of some TLC from a mechanic cause they are leaving so much stopping power on the table.

      All ABS events happen at a much quicker rate then possible for a human to do. The computer can apply and release the brakes to maintain grip alot better and faster then a human could ever dream of or stop the same vehicle with out ABS.

    5. Since I towed both for living horse trailers and toy haulers are not the same like Mr Kent says. The axles are more centered or forward then a horse trailer. Mr Kent is right about the tongue weight much greater on a horse trailer. Another thing about the difference between the two is width. Toy hauler is at 8’6″ wide where horse trailer is generally 8′ or less. Also toy hauler is much higher.

      Now difference in towing between the two is different. Turning with toy hauler is little bit better, but you have to remember the tail swing. With horse trailer you need bigger room because the axles set back. If you want something that tows great and that is a horse trailer. There isn’t a toy hauler that will come close to towing pleasure to a horse trailer. Also you will get a lot better fuel mileage than a toy hauler.

      I would get between 9 to 11 mpg at 60 mph with a horse trailer. Where I’d get 7 to 9 mpg with a toy hauler at 60 mph. F-350 v-10 single 6 spd manual 4:30.

      Then down side to the horse trailer 130,000$ is cheap they get much higher than that. It is heavy aluminum extensive use built trl. Where toy hauler is lot more cheaper than that and Lot more space.
      Just some comparisons to each.

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