F150 GVWR and add-on rear suspension reinforcements

My husband and I have recently purchased a 2009 F150 with the intent of also buying a truck camper. From the beginning we received conflicting information about how much weight the truck could safely handle from the truck salesman, camper salesmen, suspension reinforcement salesmen, and Ford’s published data. The problem is that everyone says we can add suspension reinforcers and safely carry the camper load we had in mind, but all printed data, from Ford to the aftermarket suspension reinforcement companies (Ride-Rite air helper springs and SuperSprngs by SuperSprings International) says (in large and small print,) “do not exceed the GVWR.” We have weighed our truck at 6200 lbs; GVWR is 7200. What’s the real story? Is this just legal cya stuff or should we be looking at a travel trailer rather than a slide-in truck camper?

I’ve run into this too and would be really PO’d at the dealer. You’ve got lots of money invested and it sounds like you wanted a safe option from the beginning. IMO. Unless it’s a small sleeper slide in, you should be looking at the heavy duty or F250 models. You may find it a blessing as a smaller 5th wheel may work with the advantages of both. Your preference. Personally, if you can afford it, I’d go back and talk a “very good” trade to compensate for their blunder on an HD model, if your heart is set on a slide in camper. Ask them to look for one your year used with same mileage. The disadvantage is that, unloaded, a HD model will ride poorly.

I don’t trust what “everyone says” unless it’s also in writing. They won’t testify to an unwilling insurance company or legal proceeding on your behalf should anything go wrong. After market add-ons would help me handle truck manufacturer’s capacities better, but I would not expect them to safety raise them unless backed by manufacturer of both add ons and truck manufacturer in writing. We’ll use add-ons for our delivery trucks, but still stay under manufacturers capacities.
Good luck…they’ll be other good suggestions coming along.

I suspect your truck can safely carry 2000 pounds or so…A friend of mine has a standard 2009 F-150 and he routinely carries 1000 liters of water with it without straining anything…do the math…It’s around 2300 pounds…This is without any helper springs…How much does your intended camper weigh?

A camping trailer offers many benefits over a slide-in camper but I suspect will cost considerably more…

Travel trailer. Not only does the suspension and the drivetrain have to be able to handle the total weight, the brakes do too.

Like Dag, I too would be PO’d.

And the tires should also be rated for a heavier load. I’ve seen a local farmer here on several occassions with a 1/2 ton Ford equipped with a hay spike carrying a ton of round hay bale on the back.

The hay leveraged on the spike pretty much assures the front wheels only touch the ground about half of the time and the rear tires always look like they’re about to blow out. So far he’s apparently been very lucky but then again, one hardly ever sees him moving more than 20 MPH.

I hope your friend opted for the Heavy Duty payload package. Otherwise he’s gone over the rated payload the capcity of the truck. Which could be a huge liability issue in certain situations. I always go with the mantra “Get more truck that you think you need.”

First, good job of doing your due diligence. If only you had done it before you bought the truck.

There should be a placard somewhere on the camper you want that lists its GVWR, not its actual weight. Since this camper will be sitting on the truck, and won’t be towed behind it, the payload of the truck is the main question. Unfortunately, payload capacities for different F150 models vary. Check out this link to see what I mean http://www.fordvehicles.com/trucks/f150/specifications/payload/ .

I suggest you take your truck to the camper dealership, have them load a light weight camper on your truck, and, if you feel safe doing so, carefully drive it to the nearest truck stop with a scale. You can weigh the whole rig to make sure it doesn’t exceed the maximum weight capacity.

Keep in mind GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) isn’t usually a capacity. It is an estimate of what the truck weighs by itself, with fuel in the tank, but not fully loaded.

The payload and towing capacities of your truck aren’t just based on the rear suspension. No matter how you modify your truck, you shouldn’t exceed its payload capacity or its towing capacity.

To all the good advice and why payload capacity is not the ultimate decider. After having driven lots of box and dump trucks, I can say there is a difference in suspension requirements based upon load distribution. A pile of rocks settled in the bottom of the bed is less demanding on the suspension than a similar weight load whose center of gravity is much higher.

A camper body with wind resistance and cornering leverage needs a stiffer suspension than a bed of sand the same weight. A higher rated truck is well worth it, especially in emergency manuevering if that’s your home away from home with all that’s valuable in it.

I’d much prefer the trailer.
– The slide-in camper will give you fits in handling when it’s on the truck ( sway & braking )and the unloaded truck will ride like a brick when empty. A trailer will use the equalizer bars ( even if the truck can handle the tounge weight use equalizers ), the ride will be normal, and the trailer will have brakes.
– The trailer is so much easier to park at any destination to go visiting or exploring.
– The trailer ( even a small one ) will offer more living, bathroom and supply space. And more capacity for sewer, fresh, and gray water.

( My parents dumped their motor home van and returned to trailer for all those reasons and were ecstatic that they did so. )

I have to agree with the others. In my opinion, you should honor the factory GVW, which greatly limits you on a slide-in. A truck/trailer setup is much more versitile, and won’t result in a potentially unsafe situation (within reason).

I casually mentioned a fifth wheel…but it does have options and allows you to keep your truck if you go with a trailer.
“No matter how you look at it, the fifth wheel trailer hitch is the best hitch for hauling heavy loads. It?s unequaled in stability and towing capacity, and while they have a few drawbacks, there are accessories that can bypass these minor irritants.”

Thanks to all of you who replied to our GVWR question. You confirmed what we suspected all along; I guess we just needed to hear it from others. We ended up purchasing a camping trailer rather than the truck camper and are looking forward to picking it up this coming weekend! For all the right reasons, we are convinced that we made the right choice.

Thank you for getting back to use…enjoy yourself and safe traveling.

I know you have already made you decision, but for future reference, the axles are ultimately what govern the GVWR. It?s not uncommon to swap ? ton axles under ? ton trucks to increase load and towing capacity. On newer trucks usually just the rear axle is swapped out. The frame and remaining drive train are also part of the equation but the axles are almost always the limiting hardware. This is why you can usually buy ?-ton trucks from the factory with a ?-ton rear axle. I?m surprised the dealer didn?t mention this. The F150 used to be available with a 10.5? semi-floating rear end in place of the standard 8.8in. Chevy 1/2 tons are also availbable with a 9.5" rear end in place of the 8.5in.

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