Ask TFL: The 5th Wheel RV Trailer Overloads My Truck, Is There Anything I Can Do?

ford f150 towing 5th camping trailer
Ford F150 towing a 5th wheel camper trailer (photo: TFLtruck)

Is there anything one can do counteract overloading your truck’s payload capacity? We recently received this question from David who has a Ram 2500 HD and wants to tow a 5th-wheel RV trailer. Here are the details.

I have a 2017 RAM 2500 with the Cummins 6.7L. My maximum payload is 2,318 lbs and maximum towing rating is 17,140 lbs based on the VIN lookup on the Ram website. I’m looking at a 5th wheel from Grand Design (303RLS) that has a hitch weight of 1,725 lbs. That leaves me with 593 lbs to work with. If so, I’m budgeting 400 lbs for people and 200 lbs for the hitch, so, that puts me 7 lbs over? Is this right?


David, most 2500 series trucks struggle to deliver very useful payload capacity. Yes, these truck may be advertised to have about 4,000 lbs of payload, but once you get a crew cab 4×4 with a diesel – the payload rating drops significantly. In your case, you payload rating is 2,318 lbs.

5th-wheel camping trailers tend to have a tongue weight (aka. hitch weight or kingpin weight) closer to 20% of the total trailer weight. The Grand Design 303RLS trailer you are looking at is listed at a maximum GVWR of 11,995 lbs. Grand design lists their hitch weight at about 18.5%. The listed 1,725 lbs hitch weight refers to what they say is an “average” unloaded vehicle weight.

If your 5th-wheel is loaded full with water, your gear, and supplies – you could potentially reach a trailer weight that is close to 10,000 – 11,000 lbs. This pushes the tongue weight to around 2,000 lbs, and you only have about 300 lbs of payload remaining.

There is not a lot you can do with this truck and trailer combination. You can consider a slightly smaller and lighter trailer. You can also look into getting a helper spring or overload spring for your truck. For example, Super Springs makes overload leaf springs that help counteract suspension squat and truck sway.

It’s very important to note that you cannot go over the Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) or the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) for your truck. When you approach these weight limits, it’s a major safety concern. The character of your truck changes. It squats more. The truck may exhibit more side-to-side sway. You may overload your braking system, and more.

3500 series trucks have the extra payload capacity to handle trailers like this, but they also ride a bit stiffer when empty. You do not have to get a 3500 dually to get higher payload ratings. A single rear wheel (SRW) 3500 truck has a lot more usable payload than a 2500 truck.

Here is a comparison between a 2500 and 3500 series trucks.