Trading In Our SRW for a Dually
When we embarked on our RV adventure in August 2021, right in the midst of the pandemic, finding the perfect truck was a challenging task. We had our hearts set on a dually diesel, knowing the risks associated with crosswinds and sways while on the road. However, it seemed impossible to find one, let alone a good deal. After extensive research, we ended up settling for a Ford F350 Superduty single rear wheel (SRW) gasoline V8. Although it wasn't our ideal choice, it was the only option available from the local dealerships.
About a month later, we finally found a camper that met most of our requirements, although not all of them. After a few trips with the F350 and Toy Hauler, we began to adjust to the rhythm and felt somewhat satisfied with our setup. However, everything changed when we decided to venture through the mountain passes of North Carolina.
Not Exactly What We Wanted
Picture this: it's your week-long getaway trip to celebrate your anniversary, and you decide to ring in the new year by venturing into the mountains. As you approach the foothills during the final leg of the journey, you encounter a daunting 10% grade that you must conquer with your fully loaded camper.
As cars, trucks, and even tractor trailers effortlessly pass you by, you find yourself crawling up the mountain at a mere 10 miles per hour. If the struggle to ascend wasn't enough, the descent becomes an even more anxiety-inducing experience as you put your trailer and truck brakes to the test.
This nerve-wracking episode, combined with the constant worry of being sucked into the vortex of passing semis, can easily drain the enthusiasm out of anyone pursuing this lifestyle. Finally, in April 2023, we decided it was time for an upgrade. With the economy on the mend and the automotive industry rebounding, we set out to find a dual rear wheel diesel truck. However, much like our initial search in 2020, we discovered that finding a dually on a lot was no easy task.
Undeterred, we expanded our search while traveling and widened our radius to 500 miles. Eventually, we stumbled upon a GMC Sierra 3500 HD dually that was fifth wheel/gooseneck prepped. It took us nearly four hours to reach the dealership and another four hours to return. Sierra had been in close contact with the salesperson, ensuring that the trip wouldn't be in vain. Fortunately, Bob King GMC had the truck prepared, fueled up, and detailed when we arrived. After test driving it and noting some differences, both positive and negative, compared to the F350, we felt satisfied with the overall performance and made the purchase.
To provide some context, we are Florida residents who were visiting Virginia and drove down to North Carolina to purchase the truck. Although we intended to pay in cash, the logistics of accomplishing that on a weekend proved impossible. Consequently, we decided to finance the truck and make substantial payments to pay off the loan by July. Additionally, we had the dealer mail us the new registration once it arrived from Florida since, by then, we had already made our way to Alabama.
All the chaos and effort turned out to be worthwhile in the end. Towing our toy hauler with the dually diesel made all the challenges we encountered with the SRW gasoline truck a thing of the past. First and foremost, the handling was remarkably smooth, almost as if we were not pulling anything at all. There was no sway or issues when navigating mountains or hills. Sierra, whose arms would typically tire from gripping the steering wheel firmly, now drove effortlessly and without any issues. Controlling the rig during downhill descents was also vastly improved. The diesel exhaust brake significantly reduced reliance on the brakes and effectively maintained our speed, whether we were towing or not.
Another major advantage was the freedom to refuel without excessive planning. With the gasoline truck, we had to rely on satellite imagery to calculate entry and exit points at fueling stations, hoping that there would be enough space to maneuver around other vehicles. Now, we could simply pull into any truck stop and utilize the diesel fueling lanes, allowing for quick and hassle-free stops.
Speaking of fueling, commercial vehicle fuel pumps are significantly faster, even though the diesel tank is several gallons larger. We could refill a 36-gallon diesel tank in under a minute, compared to the F350, which took significantly longer. Moreover, when not towing, the dually could cover approximately 500 miles on a single tank, whereas the F350 fell short at under 300 miles. When towing, the difference was almost 100 miles.
However, it's not all sunshine and roses. There are a few downsides, although they are relatively minor. The dually diesel is substantially larger, requiring careful consideration when it comes to parking, drive-thrus, and even choosing the correct lanes on the road. Diesel fuel prices tend to be higher, but we recently discovered the Mudflap app, which surpasses dedicated rewards programs, offering potential savings. Lastly, while refueling Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) is infrequent, it's essential to handle it with care due to its corrosive and potentially damaging nature. This point serves more as a reminder than a true drawback.
If you find yourself on the fence about choosing a truck for your RV adventures, a dually diesel is undoubtedly the way to go, provided you can find one. The advantages significantly outweigh the disadvantages. Save yourself the headaches and go for the dually—you won't regret it!