Mr. Truck: Which do YOU need? |

Mr. Truck: Which do YOU need?

by Kent Sundling

Denver, Colo.

Do you need a 1/2-ton, 3/4-ton or 1-ton pickup, with a short or long bed? The size of the truck you need depends, of course, on your needs.

Half-tons and light duty 3/4-tons are for light duty work, loaded part-time. Heavy-duty 3/4-tons, 1-tons and above are designed to be loaded all of the time.

They have twice as many tapered bearings in the rear axle. It’s called a full floating axle, similar to semi-truck 18-wheelers, while 1/2-ton pickups have a semi-floating axle similar to a car, with just two bearings. Half-tons and light duty 3/4-tons will have a flush axle housing matching the wheel. With the heavy duty 3/4-ton, 1-ton trucks and larger, the rear axle housing will actually stick out past the wheel and have an additional eight bolts on the end of the hub holding the axle into the differential. This full floating axle provides a more even weight distribution over the axle than a semi-floating axle.

By removing a rear axle hubcap, you can determine if the truck is a 1/2-ton light duty, 3/4-ton or a heavy-duty 3/4-ton, or 1-ton. On the first two pages of my Web site, I show pictures of the different axles at Heavy-duty 3/4-tons, 1 tons and larger will have heavier springs, shocks and in some cases thicker, stronger frames.

In recent years pickup truck manufacturers have designed a different look between the 1/2-ton and 3/4-ton. The majority of the time, if you compare a 1/2-ton to a 3/4-ton pickup with the same gas engine option, the price is very close. And the 3/4-tons will usually have more rear axle ratio choices and tow package options.

Because of the value of a 3/4-ton versus the price of a 1/2-ton, I usually recommend a heavy-duty 3/4-ton. But keep in mind because of a slight weight difference and the higher axle ratio in a 1/2-ton pickup, that a 1/2-ton can have better gas mileage. The EPA doesn’t test fuel mileage on most 3/4-ton trucks if they are over 8,500 pounds GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating), so you won’t find a mileage rating on 3/4-ton and higher trucks.

Here is the breakdown of manufacturer models.

– 1/2-tons ” Ford (F100, F150); GM (Chevy and GMC) 1/2-tons (C or K10, 15, 1500, HD 1500); Dodge (D100, 150, Ram 1500); and Toyota (T100, Tundra).

– 3/4-tons ” Ford (Light Duty F250, Heavy Duty, Super Duty, F250); GM (Chevy and GMC) (C or K 20, 25, 2500, HD 2500); and Dodge (D200, 250, Ram 2500).

– 1-tons ” Ford (F350), GM (C or K 30, 35, 3500, HD 3500); and Dodge (D300, 350, Ram 3500).

– 1-1/2-tons ” Ford (Super Duty, F450, F550) and GM (Heavy Duty Series and soon HD C4500).

If you are pulling a fifth wheel or gooseneck trailer, I recommend a long bed. Sometimes in RV parks or a corral you will need to “jackknife” your trailer. (Turn your truck and trailer at 90 degrees.) I recommend attaching your trailer to your truck 5 inches in front of your rear axle; this location allows for proper steering weight and a level load. In general, mounting your ball or mini-fifth wheel 2 to 4 inches ahead of your rear axle will work. If you have a short box and you “jack-knife,” your trailer may kiss your cab!

Full sheets of plywood or sheetrock fit into a long box with the tailgate closed. Short boxes are popular today with the mini-garages and those famous drive-up windows. If you end up with a short bed, there are “sliding hitches” you can buy to move you trailer hitch forward or backward to give you more room between the cab and the neck of the trailer for “jackknifing.”

I have pulled a lot of different trailers and remember how glad I was when I could afford to go from a bumper pull type trailer to a gooseneck. Fifth wheel or gooseneck trailers pull so straight with very little “whip” (if loaded correctly) compared to bumper types. And talk about backing a trailer ” bumper type trailers seem to react twice as fast as an easy going slow reacting “anybody could back-it” gooseneck trailer.

Good Truck’n. You can read more of this story at

Kent Sundling (alias “Mr. Truck”) spent 20 years wearing out pickup trucks as only a farmer could. With over 1 million miles pulling trailers, Mr. Truck has a unique collection of truck and farm stories that will educate and entertain. Mr.Truck gave up his bib overalls and John Deeres in his quest to save the farm and moved to the big city to sell trucks. Now, 10 years later, he’s still selling trucks and helping folks find the right one. If you have a question for Mr. Truck, you may contact him at his Web site,


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