recommend a pickup to pull horse trailer

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Aug 12, 2002
have a steel horse trailer that weighs around 2500 lb empty. With two horses figure around 5000 lb gross trailer weight. Looking at buying a used truck that's 2007 or later. I prefer chevy/gmc. Leaning towards a 2500. Would do a 1500 HD if I can find one and price/mileage is right. Anybody up to date on late model chevy trucks and transmissions and what I should look for? Don't want a diesel so please do not recommend one. Might go look at a 2500HD with the 8.1L for $15k. Any thoughts on the 8.1L versus the 6L ? I sorta hear that either truck unloaded gets about the same economy on the highway.
I have an 02 2500 HD 6.0/4L80E. I tow a 7000 lbs loaded 5th wheel, An 07 or up 6.0 truck won't even get sweaty towing 5000lbs. If you can find an 8.1 that would be great. I found a few when I got my 6.0 but couldn't justify the extra cash. My only advice is to stay 3/4 ton and up for stabiltiy while towing. I do believe that the 1500 HD is a 3/4 ton minus the frame. I picked up my 02 6.0 truck with 23,000 miles on it for 12,900 out the door. 4 door truck, no options but cruise and AC. It is 2WD. Unless I hit a pretty big hill I can't even tell the trailer is there.
Pretty much any 1/2 ton will pull 5000 lbs without breaking a sweat. If you think you might want to pull something heavier in the future, a 3/4 ton would be a better choice.
I'm not gonna say that the 6.0L is a bad engine. It really is a fine engine. However, if you're gonna tow with a gasser, you're not going to find anything better than an 8.1L. Plus, stick with an 8.1L and you also get yourself an Allison transmission instead of the 4L80 you get with the 6.0L. Again, not that there's anything wrong with the 4L80. It's just a more robust package all around: More peak torque, broader overall torque curve, and an Allison transmission.
Originally Posted By: OldCowboy
Pretty much any 1/2 ton will pull 5000 lbs without breaking a sweat. If you think you might want to pull something heavier in the future, a 3/4 ton would be a better choice.
Yeah but you get the 4L65E in a half ton. The the other trucks mention get the 4L80E or the Allison if get the 8.1.
I can tell you that my friend bought a 1500HD and the truck blew me away with features. VERY tow friendly, short gears, locker rear, etc. It can easily do what you describe. If you step up to the 2500 the 6.0 will pull your teeth out! No lack of power there at all. The 8.1 is a great motor but you have to feed it. The 6.0 can do surprisingly well on gas, and the 4L80 is a strong trans. Then there's the Dmax.
I pull/pulled my soon to be old boat frown which about 6500k lbs with my 2500hd 6.0(4l80e) gasser. Although IMO the 2500hd series without question has the best brakes ever on light truck, make sure you have good trailer brakes. I would get around 6-8 mpg with the boat and 15.7-14.0(before and after ethanol). If you go with an 8.1 look for one with an axle ratio with 3.73. My 4.11 is a bit of a tweener when towing, I usally run without OD and around 65 I was pulling around 2800rpm-there abouts. But I believe it's(4.11) is the only one available in the 6.0. Make sure you have the external tranny cooler as well. Again make sure you have good trailer brakes!! A Yugo would probably pull that trailer but stopping it is whole different subject. I prefer surge over electric and use full size disk brakes. I put Kodiak stainless surge brakes on my boat and it is a world of difference over the Tie Down garbage that it came with.
Any 2007+ 5.3L will tow your load fine and then some. I have a 2006 GMC Sierra Denali with the 6.0L High Output (345hp vs reg 6.0L 300hp) and AWD and the truck flat out hauls. I tow an RV that is 8000lbs and a horse trailer with horses about the same load as yours and it has no problem at all. The newer 2007+ 5.3L trucks have over 300hp so they will easily tow your 5000lb load with room to spare. You could get the 6.0L in the 2007+ trucks too labeled Vortec Max - those trucks would REALLY do you well!
Originally Posted By: rockwell
Sorry fella's,no 1500hd or 8.1s in the'07 or newer (gmt900) trucks.A 1500 w/5.3 would do just fine.
GMT800 and GMT900 were sold side-by-side for a short time as MY07 vehicles. Most of the GMT800s were 2500HD/3500 or 2WD 4.3L trucks. There's actually a surprising number of 2007 GMT800s for sale on eBay right now. Most are Duramax trucks though.
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An extended cab or long bed is best. Having "sway"? hitch is also a good idea. 1/2 ton works fine. The big thing with horses is not so much the weight itself. You are not talking 6000 lbs of static concrete or simple RV trailer. The horses by moving can induce dynamic movement as they shift their weight as you are traveling. Shorter wheelbases you really feel it. My sister(then 22) used a 2000 Tundra 4wd extra cab equipped with a stabilizing aftermarket hitch on a weekly basis towing similar weight. It did absolutely fine and I don't think it had 300HP or whatever like a modern truck. It just had the comfort of a modern truck back in 2000 compared to Big 3 offerings in its vintage. It did fine up even steep hills. However speed is not what you should be doing with a live load, extreme defensive driving. 4wd can be helpful in fields starting out however someone typically has one at a show if you do that.
thanks for the responses. with the way things work for me, I know we will outgrow the tow rating of a 1500 (1/2 ton) truck. First it was just one horse, and we got a horse trailer. Soon after we somehow got a second horse crazy looked at a 2005 2500HD with an 8.1L and allison trans, can anybody decode vins, or know website or instruction sheet how to? Need to find out if it has a 6-speed allison, and want to know the type of differentials it has in the rear.
Outstanding towing motor,thirsty but powerful.8.1 is the only gas mtr that gets the allison.Rear is the 10.5 full float,most likely 4.10 gear,with the Eaton Gov-lock(rpo code G80) Great truck for tow/haul,If you dont mind its mpg.Push the pedal and hang on! Jim
I'm pretty sure horses prefer the smell of diesel exhaust. (just a joke) However, since you are thinking about 1500 series pickups, I suggest that nearly any 1/2 ton pickup will tow 5000 pounds. Without trouble. However, if you want to go fast, climb hills and stop with authority, a heavy duty pickup 250/2500 series will be the correct answer. For example, I was towing a very, very long, but compact trailer (DG505 glider) with my 98 F150 4.6L. It was a 220 HP engine and it had no trouble at all pulling the 5000 pound trailer. But when it came time to stop, the F150's brakes were horribly inadequate. Even with fully functional trailer brakes. I hate to admit that I ran a few red lights, because I simply did not have enough braking power. Our company now has a F150 Ecoboost and that thing will flat out RIP the tongue off the trailer. It's that powerful! Plus it has huge brakes. It's also every bit as capable as last decade's 250 series trucks. If I were to consider a modern truck, I'd look no further than an Ecoboost. They are an absolute blast to drive, with 0-60 times in the low 6 second range (even with the trailer attached (another joke) . Plus daily MPG's are superb with a light foot. I've hit 22MPG driving the speed limit in mixed driving.
We're in a fairly similar situation actually -- my wife has a steel 2 horse slant and 2 horses. I'm not sure about its weight. We've been towing with a '99 Suburban with the 7.4 (precursor to the 8.1). It does OK, but reading some of these posts about the 8.1 and how much power it has makes me wonder if it's down on power because it definitely has to work, even with just one horse in the trailer. Of course it doesn't help that part of the usual towing route has a 3 mile long 7% grade, and the truck has almost 170k miles. And the 4 speed trans is probably not as good as the later 5 or 6 speed ones just in terms of number of ratio options. OP: I'm glad you posted this, reading the thread has been very informative for me too. We'll probably be in the market for a replacement truck in a while. For now the trailer is the first priority since her new horse is "too big" for the current one smile
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