Matching Truck and Trailer, Truck Classes Explained

Truck Nuts Book notes: Chapter 4

How to Match Your Truck to Your Trailer and vice versa. or

Proper copulating a truck and trailer with truck classes explained 

Number one cause of trailer accidents is the wrong size of ball.  I know you guys reading this know how big your balls are. Pickup truck and trailer compatibility is in your control. What guidelines make the union between your truck and trailer safe and long lasting and safe for your family?

Rules for towing and trailers in general are less regulated in the US. In Canada, you have to have your trailer inspected each year and your brake-away system uses a full size battery. In Europe, trailers have to be tested on a track before they can be sold. In Australia, trailers over 10,000 lbs. are required to have air brakes on the trailer and all goosenecks use 3 inch balls. 3 in balls have just been implemented in the US on 30,001 lb. trailers and larger in the last 5 years.

SAE (society of automotive engineers), make up the requirements for trailers but have no enforcement authority. DOT, (department of transportation) has a few trailer requirements but mostly governs semi-trailers. For instance, over-the-road semi-trailers have been required to have ABS (anti-lock-brakes) and a side light to tell you if the trailer ABS is working since 1991. On your horse trailer, RV or car trailer, you still aren’t required to have ABS brakes on your trailer. DOT, EPA and SAE have a whole different strict roll in your trucks manufacturing requirements.

Gather all the information you can on your trucks capacity. Most trailer towing, payload, tongue weight and axle weight ratings will be on the truck manufactures website but you have to dig into their websites. First you have to know your truck configuration. The more options on your truck, the lower the payload and trailer capacity. So a striped down 4×2 single cab truck with a gas engine may have a higher payload than a 4×4 crew cab long bed diesel.  Even though we know a typical diesel engine has more power and torque to tow trailers than a gas engine. Don’t forget braking, including diesel exhaust brake and the extra weight of a loaded diesel truck can be better at controlling a trailer. So what do you do, buy a less powerful gas truck that fits the requirements including insurance and warranty or buy a diesel that will make it to the top of the mountain? We’re going to give you the rules and let you decide.

If you’re buying a new truck, get the trailer tow package including, integrated trailer brake controller, receiver hitch, larger radiator and transmission cooler. If you bought a used truck, take the VIN number to that brands service center to see what options the truck came with it. Some of the codes are on the door of the glove box and the Truck Safety Compliance Certification on inside driver’s side door and codes for axle ratio, limited slip as well as the tire pressure recommended by the truck manufacture. Confused yet? Don’t worry that’s why we’re “truck nuts” we will help you with the “truth about trucks and trailers.”

GCWR (gross combine weight rating) this is a truck plus loaded trailer for a maximum rating. Truck manufactures subtract truck curb weight from GCWR for max truck towing capacity. Real world formula is GCWR minus what your truck really weighs with the cargo it carries, passengers and fuel for the real allowable maximum trailer weight. The weight will work for static loads in your trailer like hay or cars or gold. For animals like horses, my rule of thumb is 15% less trailer load. Big animals move around and with a higher center of gravity, and can cause the trailer to sway.

Now that you now your maximum trailer weight, next is your payload. Payload isn’t just what goes in your truck bed, it’s also the trailer tongue weight, passengers, the 45 cal. under your seat and tools in your box. Payload is important and many trucks have too low of a max payload weight to use its maximum trailer weight. Payload is important for towing trailers. Bumper pull trailers over 5000 lbs. at 10 % tongue weight need Weight Distributing Hitches with built in sway control. Newer duallys have more payload which allows heavier trailers. Too many trucks don’t have enough payload capacity.  Which means that a big trailer weight rating of a truck may not mean much if you don’t have enough payload rating to tow it. The simple formula for payload is GVWR minus CW (curb weight) equals PL (payload.)

Important to remember that after you figure what your trailer weighs loaded, generally a bumper pull tongue weight will be 10 to 15 percent on a balanced trailer and 15 to 25 percent for a gooseneck/mini 5th wheel tongue weight. The catch is the tongue weight comes off your trucks payload. Now with that number do you have enough left for passengers? Sometimes not, that seems to be a trend with truck manufactures. New trucks will have a high trailer weight capacity but with a tongue weight that won’t let you ever reach that big trailer number. Unless of course you don’t have passengers and the driver only weighs 100 lbs. My left leg weighs 100 lbs.

Here enters the SAE J2807 (society of automotive engineers) to save us. But like Congress, a good idea doesn’t make it without being diluted to a useless guideline. Not totally a useless SAE standard but watered down in favor of truck manufactures that make up the committee who vote on it. Some trailer manufactures and hitch companies were also on the committee but the most influence came from the truck side. Like the fox put in charge of the hen house. Started in 2008 to help judge real truck capacity instead of marketing with all the extreme ads. I agreed with most of guideline J2807 when it started with 20 percent tongue weight for gooseneck/5th-wheel trailers. Then it was changed to 15 percent tongue weight. But it’s still a guideline not a law. So 15% on a gooseneck can be 20 %. If road conditions are bad, the extra tongue weight on a gooseneck is safer. I followed a dually with a light tongue and watched him roll off the road on snow. Semi-trucks have 40% or more tongue weight and do better on ice. Traction comes from weight and good tires. We try to follow J2807 guideline reviewing trucks but if the weather is bad, I recommend 20% or more for control.

The rest of SAE J2807 is helpful when comparing trucks towing capacity and a whole lot better that watching new truck ads on TV. Summary of the rules:

  • Cooling capability towing a trailer on a 12-mile highway upgrade near Davis Dam in Arizona with temperature near 100 degrees.
  • Launch and acceleration performance on a level road and a 12 percent upgrade with a trailer.
  • Combined handling performance – understeer, oversteer and trailer sway.
  • Combined braking performance, stopping distance and parking brake-hold on grade.
  • Structural performance for the vehicle and hitch or hitch receiver which includes up to 70 pounds of aftermarket hitch equipment.
  • Testing with both a driver and passenger in the vehicle, each weighing 150 pounds on trucks under 8500 lbs. GVWR. An extra 100 pound included on heavier trucks.

All this delivers the GCWR and TW (trailer weight) you can use to compare trucks. Dually’s are given more time in these tests. You can find all the details at http://www.sae.org/ or all over the web. Manufactures didn’t all comply the same year. Toyota was the first to implement it on new trucks, Ford was the last. When you are test driving new trucks, ask for the SAE J2807 guidelines and if the truck you are looking at is compliant. It’s not info that easy to find or the data results. But if the truck is compliant it had to meet the criteria. This will help you judge trucks.

Another important aspect of payload is slide in truck campers. Hard side campers can weigh over 4000 lbs. in other words all of your payload capacity giving you nothing left for trailer tongue weight. One option can be a lighter popup slide in camper. Take the weight of your loaded camper, subtract it from your trucks payload including passengers and see what weight is left to use as trailer tongue weight. Don’t expect this combination of camper and trailer to work well on a ½ ton truck.

(picture of receiver extension) If you do have the capacity to use a slide-in camper and trailer, be aware of receiver hitch extensions. If the camper is long and you have to have the trucks tailgate down for it to fit, it’s tempting to extend the receiver ball out so the trailer doesn’t hit your truck turning corners or to add a step to climb out of the camper. But using an extension on the receiver takes away a 1/3 of your tongue weight capacity. Did you catch that, you just lost more tongue weight? Yes the leverage of the extension means your trailer tongue weight capacity just went down by 1/3. There is a company that makes a Super Hitch from Torklift that is a double tubed receiver hitch with chains on each side back to the truck. They claim to keep your tongue weight with their extension. Still not something I’d use on a ½ ton truck. Do your research.

Last capacity number you need to know is, front and rear axle maximum weight set by the manufacture (GAWR) Gross Axle Weight Rating. The rear GAWR if the most important, not exceeding the payload rating will keep you above rear GAWR.

Gear-axle Ratio: This refers to the relationship between the engine RPM and rear axle rotation. If you jack up the rear of your truck off the ground, mark the drive shaft and mark the outside of the tire and put the engine in direct drive the engine (drive shaft) rolls over 4.1 times and the rear wheel rotates once, that’s a 4.10 axle ratio. Which is a low axle for towing up grades, starting from a standstill and holding the engine in higher RPMs. All making it a good towing axle, but limiting top speed. That’s changing too, with new 10 speed transmissions, 1st gear can be lower and gear spacing closer making the traditional low (4.10) axle ratio not necessary. This will change axle ratio final drives to better fuel mileage gears like 3.2 or even into the 2’s. Semi trucks have already done this with 18, 14, 13 and 12 speed transmissions with 3.55 and 3.73 final drive ratio at the axle.

As of this writing, towing gear-axle ratio for ½ ton trucks are: GM 1500- 3.42 Ford F150- 3.73, Ram 1500- 3.92, Toyota Tundra 4.30, in-between truck class Nissan Titan XD has 3.90 ratio on diesel and 3.36 on gas engine. ¾ ton and 1 ton heavy duty trucks generally at 3.42, 3.55, 3.73 and 4.10 axle ratio’s.

Do you wander why manual transmissions have become extinct? Now you can’t find manual transmissions in trucks outside the smallest horse power Cummins diesel in Ram heavy duty and the midsize trucks. I kept this in the book because trucks last forever and you might be looking for a used truck and manual transmission use to sell the best behind a diesel. When I was selling trucks, you couldn’t talk a person from the mountains into an auto tranny. They wanted the control of a stick and ability to down shift and safe the brakes going downhill. This was before exhaust brakes and tow/haul mode.

Back then automatic transmissions were rated to pull 3000#’s or more than a manual transmission. The reason being, the Asbestos is gone from the clutch, which improved the friction qualities, also the auto trannies have a lockup torque converter that locks up mechanically like a clutch and pressure plate behind a manual transmission. And the torque converter stator doubles the torque coming from the flywheel with an auto and the computers now determine when the auto shift’s instead of a human making that decision. Knowing when to shift is important for pulling a trailer, getting better fuel mileage and getting longer life from your engine. When your truck is new, the warranty will cover your auto transmission but it will not replace your clutch after the first year. If I was driving in the mountains pulling a large trailer most of the time, I would use a manual transmission with a diesel. I like having all the gears I can find when coming down the mountain. On the other hand, if you were not experienced at down shifting a manual tranny on the fast side of the mountain, the automatic should be your choice.

If you have the choice and tow often, get the factory tow mirrors. If your trailer is 8.5 ft wide like my toy hauler, you need all the mirror extension you can find. Adjust your outside mirrors with each trailer, if you don’t have spotter or convex smaller mirrors built into your trailer mirrors, ad them. The convex mirror can show you how your trailer tires are doing and help find the end of your trailer when turning corners. I like both outside mirrors to be the same, especially for backing. I don’t understand why they put those mirrors with the warning “objects may appear smaller.” I throw them away and get normal mirrors where “objects are the real size.”

I also use wireless cameras on the back of the trailer for backing and to see the little cars that follow to close. Towing trailers puts your oil change in the severe duty category in the owner’s manual. For me that means every 3000 miles if it’s mostly trailering miles. When towing, your engine runs hotter and needs changed more often as most will all maintenance schedules. Always read your trucks owner’s manual about your maintenance when trailering and weight ratings!

Now for a tip to save your life. Bumper pull trailers are more prone to sway even with a good weight distributing. You can get cut off on the highway or hit a patch of ice on a curve. This can happen to a gooseneck also. So the trick that truckers use, is to use the manual lever on the trailer brake and accelerate if there’s room. This will straighten out the snake. If you go into a sway or the trailer is sliding sideways, don’t hit your truck brakes. That can increase the trailer sway especially on ice. But if you push the manual override button or lever on your trailer brake controller and let just the trailer brakes slow you down, the rig should straighten out. I do this to on icy curvy mountain roads. There is also a difference between trailer leaf springs vs torsion springs with trailer sway. Leaf springs can reload trailer sway and keep it swaying until you push the trailer brake.  The key to getting back control of your trailer is to practice. Take you truck and trailer to a large deserted parking lot and practice just using your manual brake controller. Then you’ll to be ready for an emergency maneuver to avoid a wreck.

Trailering Rules of the Road:

Rule 1: Don’t buy a truck that is rated to tow a smaller trailer than you have planned. We get talked into things, a sales person’s job is to sell you the smallest truck for the greatest price. But you don’t want to buy a truck just for it’s MPG. Gas will seam cheap, is you over heat your new truck or burn the brakes off your trailer on the first mountain road on your family vacation.  As we discussed in the last chapter, the wrong truck can last a long time too and it’s easier to make that monthly payment if you enjoy your truck.

Rule 2: Keep trailer and truck level as possible. Level trailer has more effective brakes. With torsion axles if one axle is dramatically higher, it can lock up when braking because not enough weight. Both truck and trailer with squat when loaded. If you can’t be level, have trailer tongue slightly down. A level rig will distribute your load on all the axle bearings.

Rule 3: Driving at night can help MPG, less wind, less traffic. Western states that always have wind, usually have less wind at night except Kansas. This can give you an extra 3 mpg verses driving in a hard, side wind. There is less traffic at night and you’ll use AC less. But if you don’t feel comfortable driving at night or fear being broke down by yourself at night, don’t do it.

Rule 4: Check tire pressure with good truck gauge, I like steel valve stem extensions that you don’t have to take the cap off to read. Tapping with a hammer on trailer tires to check air pressure is a myth, I know truckers do it, but my test with a hammer proved 40 psi off from my trusty commercial air gauge.

Rule 5: Check over-all length, some states only allow 65 ft. or 70 ft. call the DOT in the states you’ll be traveling. Nothing is worse than having to leave your trailer somewhere because you’re over length.

Rule 6: Balance your trailer tires, most aren’t, but balanced tires can last 25- 50 % longer, all tires need balanced.

Rule 7: In the winter be aware of chain laws. Especially if 2-wheel drive. Some mountain passes even require chains on the trailer. In Colorado it’s a $1,000 fine for not carrying chains.

Rule 8: Carry extra trailer axle bearings, seals and serpentine belt for truck. Break downs on the road are expensive.

Rule 9: Learn bypass interstates thru large cities, the main interstate may take you thru all the rush hour traffic.

Rule 10: When you stop for fuel or snacks, feel your trailer wheels, if they are very hot, you may have a brake hanging up or bearing going out.

Rule11: I like using Slime or like product on my trailer tires. The rear trailer tire catches a lot of nails from the front trailer tires.

Rule 12: Drive in the Right lane when you can, not just because it’s the slow lane but because other drivers won’t give you the proper room in front of you so if you have to stop, sometimes you might need to brake on out the right shoulder.

Rule 13: Safety chains are important, if something breaks so you’re unhooked from the trailer, safety chains can give you some control as you use the trailer controller separate to get the trailer stopped. Crossing the safety chains allows the trailer coupler to drop into the chains and not hit the road.  Make sure your jack is fully raised, if the trailer drops, safety chains can catch the trailer tongue and not have the jack dragging in the pavement.

Rule 14: You probably already know Brake away batteries rarely last a year. Check them to see they are charged. If the police pull you over, they may test you trailer brake away cable.  Leave the trailer lights on so you’ll know you have a connection and should have trailer brakes.

Brakes: stopping is more important than acceleration. That’s why in TFLtruck Ike Gauntlet, we count brake events coming down the mountain. Truck’s have different speeds for tow haul mode to grade shift to slow you down on the fast side of mountain roads. Newer trucks have proportional brakes to balance brake pressure between the front and rear axles. In my day, most of a trucks brake pressure was on the front axle. Which meant when you added a trailer it pushed down on the rear of the truck lifting the front of the truck and lowering the trucks braking ability.

Short beds and short, short beds. The #1 selling truck in America is the short bed crew cab and has been for over 10 years. Some ½ ton trucks have 5.5 ft beds, now try to hook that up to a gooseneck. The problem with short beds is the 90-degree jack-knife turning corners, but more so with backing up. Trailer manufactures haven’t heard of short bed trucks. I remember in the old days; some horse trailer dealers wouldn’t sell you a trailer if you had a short bed truck. Now short bed trucks are called “standard beds”. What a difference a couple of decades make. There are gooseneck and 5th-wheel neck extensions to prevent knocking out your truck rear window.

Which style bed hitch, gooseneck or mini 5th wheel? The group using the gooseneck hitches were farmers and ranchers, who didn’t want a hitch to take up much space in the truck bed. They used the bed a lot for other things and they hooked up their trailers often, so finding the “little ball” wasn’t a concern. The second group where the retired snowbirds. Sometimes after retiring it was the first time they owned a truck or pulled a trailer. And being retired, on fixed income and somewhat conservative, this group liked something close to what semi-trucks had, a fifth-wheel hitch. The mini fifth-wheel was higher off the bed, so easier to see, it looked stronger than the “little ball” and with a V-fork it took less experience to back it up to the RV trailer.

I have pulled a lot of different trailers and remember how glad I was when I could afford to go from a bumper pull type trailer to a gooseneck. Fifth wheel or gooseneck trailers pull straight with very little “whip” if loaded correctly compared to bumper types. And talk about backing a trailer. Bumper type trailers seem to react twice as fast as an easy going slow reacting “anybody could back-it,” gooseneck trailer.

Road Trip Necessities.

Lug nuts can loosen on your trailer, if you’re lucky the lug nuts will make a racket bouncing around in the hub cab that you’ll notice. On long trips it’s good to check trailer lug nuts with a star wrench, which tells you to tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern. Aluminum wheels can loosen up with contraction and expansion from temperature. Losing a trailer wheel happens more often than you think. All wheels use to be “stud pilot” meaning the wheel studs held the wheel load. Now trucks are “hub pilot” meaning the wheel load sits on the hub ring inside the bolt circle. But not trailers, we’ll still in the dark ages with weight on the studs which can cause the lug nuts to loosen from driving.  Get a torque wrench, mine cost $10. Your trailer/truck owner’s manual will tell you how much to torque the lug nuts. While you are there, touch the wheel to see if it’s over hot. Which could mean a dragging brake or wheel bearings going out.

Trailer tire pressure is a daily check. Use the max psi it says on the tire when cold. The truck or SUV will have a safety tag on the driver’s door frame. Use these numbers instead of what is written on the tire. The truck manufacture decides what is best, also what it says in your truck/SUV owner’s manual for your receiver hitch rating overrides what it says on the receiver hitch tag. Don’t forget to keep an eye on all those tires for wear. You should not see the top of Lincolns head on penny in the groove on the face of the tires.

Glossary Terminology for Truck and Trailer Capacity

GVWR: Gross Vehicle Weight Rating – the maximum allowable weight of the fully-loaded vehicle with axles (including passengers and cargo).

The GVW (gross vehicle weight) must never exceed the GVWR.

GAW: Gross Axle Weight- the total weight placed on each axle, (front and rear.) The rear being more important.

GAWR: Gross Axle Weight Rating- the maximum weight to be carried by a single axle, (front or rear.)

GCW: Gross Combination Weight- the weight of the loaded vehicle, (GVW) plus the weight of the fully loaded trailer.

GCWR: Gross Combination Weight Rating- the maximum allowable weight of the towing vehicle and the loaded trailer, including all cargo and passengers.

GTW: Gross Trailer Weight – the actual total  weight of the  loaded trailer.  Trailer- Gross Vehicle Weight not to exceed the GVWR of the trailer.

TW: Tongue Weight – refers to the amount of the trailer’s weight that presses down on the trailer hitch, whether a bed mount hitch, (mini- 5th-wheel or ball) or a receiver hitch attached at the rear of the truck.

WDH: Weight distributing hitch

Trailer and Receiver Hitches Classes and Types

 Mounted to the trucks frame. The following ratings are the best combinations I can find. They seem to change year to year. Even the SAE ratings are hard to follow. Look in your trucks owner’s manual for WD and WC ratings. Generally, tongue weight is 10% of the trailer. WDH rating varies.

Class I-Light Duty: 2000#’s maximum trailer weight. 200# tongue weight, 300 #’s with weight distributing hitch.

Class II- Medium Duty: 3500#’s maximum trailer weight. 300# tongue weight, 500#’s with weight distributing hitch.

Class III- Heavy Duty:  5000#’s maximum trailer weight. 7500#’s trailer weight with a weight distributing hitch. 300 – 500# tongue weight. Up to 750# tongue weight with weight distributing hitch.

Class IV-Extra-Heavy-Duty: 10,000 to 12,000#’s and above maximum trailer weight depending on the manufacture. 1,000# tongue weight with a weight distributing hitch.

Class V receiver hitch can be over 12,000#’s. Class V doesn’t exist yet by SAE standards. Ford started calling their heavy duty receiver hitch Class V for the 2.5 in shank for heavier trailers. The rest of the heavy duty truck manufactures joined in as well as most of the hitch manufactures. As of publication, SAE hasn’t finished their static and dynamic testing for an official Class V.

Caution: Always read the label on the hitch including factory equipped receivers. Some hitches are rated their maximum capacity only if you use a Weight Distribution Hitch. On the side label on most receiver hitches will have a tongue weight and trailer weight rating of WD and WC. WD is the capacity for weight distributing, WC is weight carrying as a drawbar with all the trailer tongue weight on the hitch.

Truck Classifications

Class

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating Range:

Examples

Class 1

GVRW 0 – 6,0000 lbs

Frontier, Tacoma, Colorado, Canyon

Class 2

GVWR 6,001 – 10,000 lbs
(subdivided into 2 classes, Class 2A & 2B, see below)

See class 2A & 2B below

Class 2A

GVWR 6,001 – 8,500 lbs

Ford F-150, Dodge Ram 1500, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Nissan Titan

Class 2B

GVWR 8,501 – 10,000 lbs

Nissan Titan XD, Chevrolet Silverado 2500, Dodge Ram 2500, Ford F-250

Class 3

GVWR 10,001 – 14,000 lbs

Dodge Ram 3500, Chevrolet Silverado 3500, Ford F-350, Ford F-450 pickup

Class 4

GVWR 14,001 – 16,000 lbs

Dodge Ram 4500, Ford F-450 (chassis cab)

Class 5

GVWR 16,001 – 19,500 lbs

Dodge Ram 5500, Ford F-550, F-450 (chassis cab)

Class 6

GVWR 19,501 – 26,000 lbs

Ford F-650

Class 7

GVWR 26,001 – 33,000 lbs

Ford F-750

Class 8

GVWR over 33,000 lbs

Tractor Trailer

Trailer brakes and cab controls are needed on trailers weighing over 3000#’s. Surge brakes used commonly on boats will not have a manual control in the cab, but rely on the movement of the tow vehicle to activate the trailer brakes.

Bonus: Surviving Saving Fuel. Low prices can’t last forever

2000 rpm is the sweet spot for gas and diesel to improve fuel mileage which should translate to around to 65 mph. In my test between a conventional (bumper pull) 2 horse aluminum trailer compared to a gooseneck 3 horse steel trailer, gave the gooseneck 3 miles per gallon better fuel mileage, both trailers weighing about the same. The gooseneck trailer with coupler in the truck bed, benefited from the air going over the truck cab and reaching to the gooseneck roof where the bumper pull trailer caught the air coming off the back of the trucks tailgate with more force.  Anything that blocks air will increase drag and lower your miles per gallon. I think the difference is less on larger heavier trailers as moving a larger mass will only get so efficient. Larger, trailer wheel bearings and oil bath hubs basically roll easier also. Not enough to pay for a switching, but something to look at before you buy your next trailer. Which is the point, many accessories for your truck such as larger exhaust, air intake and power programmers can increase your fuel mileage 10 percent, but since accessories aren’t free, how long with it take to pay them off with just fuel savings? Adding a second fuel tank can get you past the states with higher fuel prices or allow you to buy more fuel when you do find a deal.

Let’s look at we can do for free. Less trips, trailer pooling, vacations closer to home and just slowing down when towing a trailer is a good start.  Planning trips with MapQuest.com and looking for the cheapest fuel on trip routes at that website and others.

  1. What is the single most important thing a person can do to help maximize
    fuel mileage? Slowing down, the faster you go the more wind resistance you create. Fuel consumption increases dramatically above 60 mph and horrible above 75 mph. As much as we hate to drive 55, that is an ideal speed for better fuel mileage. Air resistance becomes a factor above 50 mph. If your truck has an onboard fuel economy gauge, you can reset it at each speed and see an estimate of what your truck gets. In Colorado where I live, our Interstate speed is 75 mph. My test showed 9 mpg at 70 mph, and about 12.2 mpg at 60 mph.

2.If you use a slide in truck camper towing a bumper pull trailer, the lighter “popup” campers verses the hard sided tall campers, resist wind less. The key is less drag equals better fuel economy for your truck.

3.Using a tonneau cover on your truck with a bumper pull trailer will help it tow easier for better miles per gallon, according to GM improves mileage 6%.

4.Tailgate up, it’s been proven to be better for mpg than down or off with a conventional tow trailer. Whether it helps with a gooseneck trailer is up for debate.

5.Maintenance changes for saving fuel; I’ve been a fan of synthetic oil. It flows easier and handles heat better than conventional oil. Synthetic oil in your trucks engine and axles has less friction allowing engine and axles to take a little less power. Each year more truck manufactures switch to synthetic oil for axles, transmissions and engines, for fuel savings and longer life.

6.Keeping the proper air pressure in your truck and trailer helps your tires roll easier. Correct tire pressure helps tire life as well as improved fuel mileage. There are accessories that monitor your truck and trailer tire pressure from your cab. Some fuel savings come from balanced tires. The majority of trailer tires aren’t balanced. Nitrogen is becoming more popular in tires as it keeps them cooler, doesn’t leak as fast and keeps water out of tires.

7.Good service on your truck like clean air filter, clean fuel filter, all helps your engine work less. Also a clean truck and trailer have less air resistance. Waxing your truck and trailer will keep your truck cleaner longer. Speaking of clean, clean your truck cab and bed out, extra weight cost fuel. I tend to carry too much stuff, just in case.

For automatic transmissions, cooling is a big deal for towing. Most trucks in the last 4 years come with an automatic transmission gauge in the dash, so you can keep an eye on above normal temperature. You don’t want to run over 300 degrees for too long. You can have an aftermarket external transmission cooler added. This looks somewhat like a small radiator and is in front of your radiator along with a small cooler coil for your power steering and another small radiator looking cooling core for the AC. You can tell if one of the smaller cooling cores is for your transmission by tracking the rubber hoses to see if they go to the automatic transmission.

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