AskTFL: Single Rear Wheel or Dually HD Truck? The Age Old Question and We Answer it Again

2018 Ram 3500 Heavy Duty Night Edition

We receive all sorts of questions here at TFLTruck, but this same questions seems to pop up all the time. Do I go with a single rear wheel or dually HD pickup truck?

We’re back to answer this one once again, although there are some specific parameters laid out by this week’s inquisitive reader, Alan Jablonski.

I am about to buy a HD truck (after the new HD’s are available) and I will be buying a 5th wheel right afterward.

The 5th wheels I like are all considered luxury and their GVW range from 16,000 to 18,500 lbs.  RAM has a SRW config. that states it can tow 22,000 lbs. in 2018, which I assume will get a little better in next year.  All the numbers seem too allow this weight, GVW, GCVW, etc.

I have a really bad back as far as sitting goes, if the ride isn’t comfortable.  Can I get this single-rear wheel (SRW), or will I be fighting sway, especially in high winds, and other issues that you may see???

I’d just get a dually, but we will be driving around without the 5th wheel a great deal and parking and driving on bad roads just seem to make this a very uncomfortable ride.  What do you think???

Just b/c the numbers say you can, doesn’t always mean it will be safe and easy to handle.  Your input would be invaluable.

First off, it seems the most important point here in terms of pure capability is the payload. A dually will have a higher payload rating, so you have to make sure if you do go with a single-rear wheel, it’s rated to take what you want to carry.

ALSO SEE: Can I Tow Heavy Without a Dually? How Does a Dually Truck Handle Snow, and a Surprise on Ask MrTruck (Video

Alan did provide us with some more more specific info on the trailer he is looking at, so we can work out his exact needs. He says it is a 2018 Cardinal Estate 3950TZE which gives us a hitch pin weight of 2,782 pounds based on an unloaded trailer weight of 15,216 pounds. The GVWR of the trailer is rated at 18,000 lbs.

2018 Forest River Cardinal Estate 3950TZE

When all of Alan’s extra weight is added in (cargo in truck/trailer, passengers, auxiliary fuel tank), we’re looking at a total of 3,779 lbs of payload that the truck needs to handle.

We don’t have information on any of the new HDs yet, so while Alan could be correct that tow ratings will improve, we’re going to just look at 2018 Rams for now.

Based on our research of the 2018 Ram 3500 Tow Charts (click to view the chart) the heaviest trailer weight a single-rear wheel Ram 3500 can handle is 17,900 pounds. That is a regular cab, 4×2 truck with a 6.7-liter Cummins diesel and a 3.42 rear end. Payload on that configuration is rated at 4,180 pounds, leaving some extra capacity considering the 3,779 pounds of payload Alan plans to load on the truck.

ALSO SEE: AskTFLTruck: Do I Need a Dually or Single-Rear Wheel HD Truck to Tow My Camper Trailer?

Though with a GVWR of 18,000 lbs, this truck is at risk of being overloaded, if the trailer is at its maximum weight. That regular cab truck is also not the most comfortable or common configuration.

A more common truck would be a 3500 Crew Cab, long box 4×4 truck with the 6.7-liter Cummins and a 3.42, which is rated to haul 4,420 pounds of payload and tow a trailer that weighs 15,950 pounds, which wouldn’t be enough.

2018 Ram 3500 Limited Crew Cab 4×4 Dually

If you were to bump up to a dually in the same configuration, Crew Cab long box 4×4 model with the 6.7-liter and a 3.42, the Ram 3500 can handle 5,830 pounds of payload and can tow a trailer that weighs 16,660 pounds. Add a 4.10 rear end, and the tow rating goes up to 21,660 pounds.

With all that in mind, I think I have to recommend the dually. It would make the truck feel more at ease pulling the load, as the capacities are quite a bit higher than what you need. Windy conditions and slick roads are also better handled by the dually, which will be less taxed. And having more is always better, as the closer to the limit your weights sit, the more likely it is that the truck won’t feel all that secure.

In terms of comfort, HDs all tend to be stiff, regardless of whether they are dually or SRW in our experience. Going for the air suspension in the Ram HDs helps a little, and if you’re really looking to flatten out the unloaded ride, throw a couple hundred pounds of sandbags in the bed.

Another route would be to consider an aftermarket air ride seat to deal with the stiff suspension.