Which truck to buy to haul 2500, 3500 or dually

Hi! I am going to buy a truck to haul a 4 horse trailer that is (loaded) 15-17k lbs. I will be hauling cross country and over mountains. I also have an option to get (fully loaded) a 13k lbs trailer. Does this make a difference in which truck I should get?

I am looking at 2006-2007 Chevy 2500HD or 3500HD models. I need reliablility. Which should I go with, why and should I get a dually and why do I need it.

Any suggestions or comments are welcome!

Thanks so much!

17,000# is a lot of weight! I think most folks towing multiple-horse trailers use duallies. In addition to a higher GAWR, the dual axle tends to track better, or so I’m told. Especially as you seem to want to log some mileage, I’d opt for a diesel. Not a fan of Ram’s 1/2 ton gassers BUT I’d be more inclined to get a Cummins dually if in the market.

What meanjoe said. To get 17k towing, I think you’d need the diesel+dually 3500.

“What meanjoe said. To get 17k towing, I think you’d need the diesel+dually 3500.”


I recommend against an older Diesel truck

That generation of GM trucks used Isuzu duramax diesels, which had their fair share of problems

Buy new

If you buy diesel, you should know they are much more costly to maintain PROPERLY. There are plenty of used diesel dually trucks out there that were poorly maintained. You don’t want those

I agree; that kind of weight needs a serious truck. Every year we have a rodeo here and horse owners form all over participate. The dual rear wheel trucks with a large engine are the most popular.

Serious rodeo cowboys need serious and trouble-free transportation. A Cummins diesel is as good as any!

That would be a whole lot of weight on a couple of rear tires. I wonder at what point it is just better to get into a semi?

A diesel and as heavy duty as you can get. Many of the farmers around here pull heavy stock trailers without duallys but seeing as how mention mountains and cross-country a dually may be the best option.

You also want reliability and mention buying an 8 or 9 year old pickup. Reliability could be a crap shoot due to age, unknown maintenance and driving habits, and how much of the type of hauling you’re referring to was done by the previous owner(s) of the truck you’re considering.

The truck make, badges, and engine doesn’t mean much if it was flogged most of its life.


In our fleet, there are quite a few horse trailers, used by the Police and Park Rangers.

They do NOT use a semi. And the trailers are not 5th wheel

And each of these horse trailers holds several horses

You might be surprised to learn that they don’t even have diesel engines, but they are dually pickups

One has a GM 8.1 big block. the other has a Ford 6.8 V10

I’ve talked to the operators, and they have 0 complaints about the hauling ability.

In my opinion, the GM 8.1 is better suited. It’s a tough cast iron monster, not some finicky aluminum engine, which falls flat on its face, when even 1 single plug goes bad

The 8.1 will tolerate 1 or 2 bad plugs or wires

Not so the 6.8 . . . if everything is not perfect, the thing will not get out of its own way, and is a road hazard

Interesting - but do they drive those cross country? In the mountains? I’d think the torque of a diesel would be helpful there, especially with some altitude thrown in.


They don’t drive them cross country or in the mountains

But they do use them on a regular basis

Here’s something to consider . . . many of our 5yard dump trucks, which are class 7 and 8 trucks, use that GM big block gasoline motor I mentioned

And they often tow. And when I mean they tow, I mean they TOW

Naturally, you’re also talking a massive rear end and a stronger transmission

But my point is this . . . the engine is up to it

A turbocharged engine never knows it’s being driven at higher altitudes. The turbo just increases its boost.

I have a friend who drove Ford diesels for years. His had the better 7.3 liter engine, not the 6.0L. He drove them over 200K miles each. Two years ago he bought a Cummins turbo diesel Dodge and has been asking himself why he ever thought the Fords were better. I guess we’ll know more in another 150,000 miles or so. The Dodge gets better MPG, loaded or empty, and maintenance costs, other than regular periodic items, have been non-existant.

My exposure to the Chevy diesels has been the 6.2L used in mini buses. The two fleets I’m familiar with were getting under 200K before expensive work was needed. Maybe that’s not enough to to indict the GM brand, and maybe their newer diesels are better.

If I were in the market for a diesel pickup to do what the OP is asking, it would be a Dodge dually, no question about it.

@db4690 The Ford 6.8L V10 had an iron block. The later (2005+) 3 valve variant was actually more potent than the GM 8.1L. I had an 2005 F-350 6.8L 4WD as my demo when I sold Fords. It struggled to get more than 10 MPG around town, but it was not lacking for power. I’ve driven both the Ford V10 and big block GM V8 (in a Silverado 3500) and unloaded, the Ford was the superior engine. I’ve never driven either with a 15k trailer attached though. I do see more RVs and box trucks/chassis cabs with the V10 though.


I agree that the 3 valve 6.8 has some grunt

However . . . when even 1 single plug goes bad, and they don’t last long on those engines . . . then the truck becomes a road hazard, because it can’t get out of its own way

We have plenty of Ford and GM trucks in our fleet, class 1-8, so as far as reliability goes, I lean in favor of the GM big block

And here’s why I say that . . . those 8.1 motors are NOTORIOUS for eating plug wires. But you can have a few bad plug wires and the truck will still move. More than that, it will still tow. Totally unlike the Ford. It won’t even keep up with traffic anymore

We’ve had several trucks in our fleet that needed plugs after less than 40K . . . that’s pretty pathetic, in my opinion.

By the way, I disagree with you about the 3 valve 6.8 having an iron block. I’ve worked on enough of them, and I see aluminum blocks

I can’t fault the Big Block Chevrolet engine for just pure grunt. I had a 7.4 liter in a 99 2500 Suburban. It would pass anything with a 10,000 trailer attached, uphill, with a headwind… except a gas station! It wasn’t fuel efficient but you don’t buy a Big Block for fuel efficiency, you buy one to pull a house-sized load. I’d consider the diesel anyway.

Buy a 3500, 17K is too much for a 2500. Buy a Dually, you need between 1700 and 2600 lbs of tongue weight just to make the trailer stable. That is far too close to the load capability of just 2 rear tires for safety’s sake.

Just a note on trailer tires. Buy NEW ones if you bought a used trailer, immediately. They don’t last very long before they are too old to carry their rated load and the belts burst. Horses will NOT like this and you won’t either. And their speed rating is 65 mph MAX. Look it up on Goodyear’s RV and Trailer Tire Guide if you don’t believe me.

@db4690 The only modular engines that Ford made that had aluminum blocks were the 4 valve 4.6L ( with the exception of the 03-04 Cobra Mustang), The 3 valve 4.6L (Mustang only, the truck variants got an iron block), The 4 valve 5.4L in the Ford GT and the 2011-2012 Shelby GT 500 (The truck and Cobra R version had iron blocks). And the DOHC 5.8L used in the 2013-2014 Shelby GT 500.

There was never a 2 valve modular engine with an aluminum block and the only aluminum block 3 valve modular engine was the 3 valve 4.6L, and as mentioned earlier only the Mustang GT got that engine.

The 6.8L V10 was always an iron block, it did have aluminum heads though.


I was wrong, and I admit it


If I was driving lots of miles with a diesel pickup I would want a Cummings and I would use Wix fuel filters on it. That is if they still have a petcock on them to drain the water out. Don’t buy any fuel from small or no-name stations. You will do best with large name brand truck stops that sell a lot of fuel. Carry spare filters and a filter wrench especially in the winter and a couple of cans of starting fluid.

The pin weight on a 17,000 lbs cattle trailer will be 3000-4000 lbs. This is more suited for a 3500. A 3500 DRW is the preferred choice of many however your daughter might tare the rear fenders off going through the Starbucks drive through. DRW is far better for hauling but has it’s compromises with daily city life.

The tow rating for a 3500 gas engine is about 12,000 so a diesel is preferred in this case.