Get right out of town!
There’s a Spinnaker 5th Wheel at CampingWorld that Audrey and I have been considering. Last night we were looking at other 5th wheels and we found a very nice 5th wheel that tips the scales at a massive GVWR of 16,100 pounds, and (since neither the MINI Cooper or the Toyota Yaris is rated to tow that much) we got to looking to see ‘which truck do we need? Do we need a 350/3500 series, or would a 250/2500 series pull it? What about a Tundra?’, etc.
Poking around on the internet I found a forum post from 2012 in which someone suggested, “If you’re going to pull a big 5er like that, for the amount of money you’d spend on a newer F350/450 in good condition, you can just buy a TRUCK, instead.”
Wait. Did that guy mean what I think he meant?
Yep. It’s exactly what he meant…
How do the economics play out?
The average price of a 2010-2012 F350 is $37,892
The average price of a 2010-2012 RAM 3500 is $42,498
The average price of a 2010-2012 Chevy/GMC Silverado 3500 is $38,223.
So, for the $39,537 you could buy one of these instead.
I was a little shocked.
That can’t possibly be right – you’ve got to have a Commercial Driver’s License for those. RIGHT?
The first place I stopped was the CO DMV website.
No Commercial Driver’s License required – straight from the Colorado.gov website –
Commercial Vehicle includes “Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more.”
Commercial Vehicle exceptions includes “Recreation vehicles used for recreational purposes.”
OK, so Colorado’s just weird, right?
Almost (but not all) states have a similar provision on their books. That’s basically what makes 45′ Class A motorhomes viable.
What about the weird ’16 gear, Hi/Lo’ Truck Transmission thing?
That’s hard, right?
Every example I listed above has an automatic transmission, and only two pedals on the floor – Gas and Brake – and is no more tricky to shift than a giant Class A diesel pusher. Put it in Drive. Step on the long skinny one.
These trucks are designed to haul up to 80,000 pounds. Field reports indicate that when they’re “only” pulling a 16,000 pound 5th wheel, they get better MPG than when they’re loaded to the gills – like any other RV, they seem to get 10 MPG all day long.
We found similar trucks for lower prices – the lowest price truck we could find that still had an automatic was only $12,500.
That’s something we’ll really have to consider.
The Devil’s in the Details…
It looks like you’ll need to register your RV hauler as a non-commercial vehicle. That may or may not be the easiest thing in the world, depending on where you live. Depending on your state’s requirements, you may be able to register them as an RV unto themselves.
It also looks like, while it’s not necessarily required, (again, depending on the jurisdiction) your shiny New-To-You truck should be marked “NOT FOR HIRE” and the paint should be pretty plain – as much as I do like them, I suspect that a State Patrol LEO might start wondering just how “non-commercial” your truck is if you have a giant vinyl logo for your RV blogging website decorating the sides of your sleeper cab…
Finally, it looks like you’ll have to be pretty diligent about ensuring you aren’t using your truck in any way that could be construed as “commercial” – there are apocryphal stories floating around the internet about:
- A couple who got dinged for not having a CDL when their “commercial enterprise” was the occasional sale of quilts at quilt shows,
- A man who towed his race cars to races where prizes were offered for winning.
- A Horse Trailer with living space included being registered as an RV and not a commercial trailer.
There’s clearly a line between Privately Owned Recreational Vehicle (No CDL Required) and Commercial Vehicle (CDL, Logbook, Drug Test, etc. Required), but on the surface this looks like an entirely practical option for someone willing to deal with the occasional hassle of “It looks like a duck, it must be a duck”, “No, officer, it’s actually a goose(neck), and here are the laws that make it a goose, and not a duck.”