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  7. 40v13: The Truck

40v13: The Truck

Table of Contents


Why a New Truck?

We had to trade in the old Ram for something with a higher tow rating.   It was a 3500 (gas) capable of pulling 15,400 pounds.  

The new one is a 2018 Ram 3500 Laramie crew cab diesel dually with an Aisin transmission, 4.10 axle ratio, and a Mopar 30k 5th wheel hitch.  This beast is rated for over 30,000 pounds!  

Not crazy about spending more on fuel, but one advantage I am looking forward to is being able to pull into truck stops to refuel, instead of having to spend so much time planning trips around gas stations that could accommodate the trailer!

Off Topic Note

Speaking of fueling:  I guess in most (all?) trucker lanes you cannot use a personal credit card at the pump – you have to walk inside to pay first. 

To get around this, we picked up an OpenRoads (aka TSD) fleet fuel card for RVers – More info on this page.

Tow Ratings

The new trailer is 20,000 GVWR and I like having a vehicle rated for well over that for pulling up hills, fighting headwinds, being able to pass with ease, putting less stress on the truck (brakes, suspension, transmission, etc). 
There is also the 80/20 rule.  Oh, and the added incentives of warranty and insurance claims being denied (if they discover an overweight situation).  I’ve heard there is also potentially a legal issue, but I have not verified that. 

Although we are not committed to the Ram brand, their website made checking tow capacities unbelievably easy!   

Feb 2024 update:  Ram seems to have taken down their VIN lookup tool again.  This is the 3rd time that I am aware of, and sometimes it disappears for months at a time.  I’ve seen speculation that this is done to update their database but I have no idea.

We ran the VIN of every truck we were interested in through this tool to get the exact tow capacity of each because it’s amazing how much they vary!

An alternative might be to use the B&W hitch site , which seemed to be reasonably accurate for my truck. 

Side note:  I am no tow rating expert and I know this is a hotly debated topic!   It seems (in the forums) that many people simply feel that if the truck can pull it, then you are fine.  Or that you can strictly go by the truck model — like all 2500’s pull X amount of weight.
In the Ram vehicles, the rating depends on multiple factors like chassis (box) length, single or dual rear wheels, engine size and fuel type, transmission, rear differential, etc. 
For example, here are three trucks I found and the tow capacity of each: 
     2019 Ram 3500 diesel dually: 19,600 lbs
     2018 Ram 3500 diesel dually:  24,940 lbs
     2022 Ram 3500 diesel dually:  34,070 lbs
The difference?  The HO engine, transmissions, and axle ratios.  You’d think each being a diesel with dual rear wheels automatically puts it at the highest tow capacity but not necessarily.

I just encourage anyone purchasing to please check it out thoroughly.   I’m not telling anyone what they can and cannot do – It’s your call, your truck, your responsibility, obviously.  Unless God forbid you need to brake suddenly and are unable to stop your trailer in a reasonable/safe distance, then it becomes the problem of whomever you were following too.  
Oh, and I don’t mean to imply that a smaller truck can’t tow a big trailer, I have seen it first hand!  I’m just saying that it does not necessarily make it safe nor a good idea to do so.

I absolutely LOVE having pulling only 2/3 of my trucks capacity – it makes it a breeze!  My last setup worked fine (I was pulling near capacity) but worked hard up mountains.  There was even one hill that I actually didn’t think I would reach the top!  It was down to about 10mph when I finally limped across the peak, and the tow rating of that truck was 2,000 pounds more than the GVWR.  
We camped in New Hampshire with the new rig a month or so ago and our site was up a gravel road with a steep grade.  I had to put it in 4-wheel drive to get up it, mostly to keep the tires from slipping/spinning.  I sincerely doubt our last truck & trailer would have made it! 

The Purchase

We purchased the truck from Toothman and Sowers Ford in West Virginia because it had the right blend of miles, options, tow rating, and price we were looking for. 

Most unfortunately they use RegUSA (aka Dealertrack) to do all their out of state titles, and they forced us into that, claiming their lender requires it.  Had I known the troubles that would cause I absolutely would have secured financing before setting foot inside the dealership!

RegUSA has an “F” rating with the Better Business Bureau for a reason, and nearly all the ratings/complaints listed there read the same way:  they sometimes take a ridiculous amount of time to process the registration. 
Today (as I write this) marks 9 weeks and our truck still sits useless in the driveway, unregistered.  My insurance company dropped the vehicle on Monday due to the lack of registration so we are out an awful lot of money if a tree falls on it in the driveway.  

April 24, 2023 update:  I called the Massachusetts RMV and they explained that the title application was over 30 days old so they had to reject it and send it back to RegUSA.  EIGHT days previously.  Eight days with not a peep from RegUSA about having to restart the whole process.  Since RegUSA would not deal with anyone but the dealerships, we called T&S Ford and explained the situation.  They were extremely helpful, apologetic, and prompt in working through the issue!  They got the paperwork back from RegUSA and worked with my local insurance agent to get the truck registered in a matter of a few days!   

April 14, 2024 update:  One year and 6,000 miles of towing into ownership and I love this truck!   I always thought the differences in trim levels was more about features like power windows, extra cameras, stuff like that.  But I feel like the Laramie is a much more comfortable truck than the Tradesman we had before!   Things like heated/cooled seats are of course wonderful, but it’s more that we don’t get uncomfortable and sore over long miles like we used to.


Seat Covers for the puppies

One of the things I like about this truck is the “fold flat floor” in the back.  
I think this will be handy with the dogs!   We bought the 4Knines seat cover  and while I hated spending that much money for just a dumb seat cover, I have to say that I really like it.  Not sure its worth that much, but it is very heavy duty and fits perfectly.  We tried another one that was a fraction of the cost (same basic design) but there was a huge difference in the quality (weight) of the material.  Also, the cheaper one didn’t fit.  Both width and length were short enough that I was unable to make it work. 

Why a seat cover in the first place?  Take a handful of pet hair (in your choice of colors).  Stand next to your vehicle and drop the hair in front of a fan directed into your back seat.  The result you see is what we deal with after each trip.  =)


The tire pressure monitoring system is outlined here, and the rear view camera is discussed on this page.

Auxiliary Fuel Tank

With a 32 gallon tank and an average of 8mpg when towing we typically stop for fuel every 3 hours or so.  This is fine for stretching our legs and getting a coffee/restroom break, but it makes planning fuel stops a pain in the butt!

We added a 60 gallon auxiliary fuel tank in the truck bed to extend our range considerably.  This unit is an RDS model and is designed to fit under our Tonneau cover.   We also bought the installation kit specific to our Ram.  

I filled it for the first time the other day and as everyone else has reported, the 60 gallon capacity rating is actual volume of the tank, not the max you can fill it with.  I guess this is due to a need for air at the top or something?  Anyway, I was able to put 53 gallons into it. 

I also dropped in 3/4 of a bottle of Hot Shots Diesel Extreme.  I thought the whole fuel additive thing was a racket, that a few chemicals wouldn’t make much of a difference in your engine, but I Googled it and was pretty surprised at how many sites I considered reputable were saying that (at least in the diesel world) it was worth it.  I’m planning on using it regularly now, at least according to manufacturers recommendations for both dilution and frequency.  

Initially I went with the default install, which uses the manual valve to control flow.  I was concerned about overflow (it is designed not to, but there are particulars about my truck that caused some concern).  

After it was fully installed, I decided to then add an electric valve we could control from the cab, turning fuel flow on and off as needed.  This particular unit automatically closes with the loss of power to it (like a solenoid would), but is a ball valve.  I also used these adapters, which made the unit so long that it was a real fight to get it to fit in the bed.  This was a much more convenient space for me to install, versus having to rig up a mount for it underneath, having the clearance for the actuator housing, and fabricating a splash guard for it.  I may still create a plastic box for it to protect from rain, but it is not a priority for me since it will be under the cover except when towing.

I mounted a rocker switch for it in the dash, and encased the wires in stiff plastic tubing to protect them under the truck.  I marked the route next to the tubing in yellow in this picture: