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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First time posting - hoping to get advice from those who tow travel trailers and have changed from the OEM SL load tires up to an LT tire (Load range C, D, or E?) and what tire you went with? Did the LT tires make a BIG difference in your towing experience? my specs and all the details on my towing troubles I’ve gathered below. thank you for sharing your experience.


My situation is towing a 5,000 lb (fully loaded down) camper (24 ft coupler to rear bumper, dual axle, tires fully aired up – it is not aerodynamic at all, basically a square box, no rounded corners) with the 2018 Duramax crew cab short bed with max towing pkg (purchased May ’21), using Blue Ox WDH with 750lb trunnion bars. The towing experience is poor - the truck wants to move and buck around a lot on the road, gets very bouncy at times, and is white knuckle in 15-25 mph head or crosswinds at highway speeds. Roads are mostly flat to gently rolling. I feel like I'm trying to tame a wild horse at times (actually did that in my younger years). It's not really so much trailer sway, as just feel like the truck erratically wanders and bucks all over the place. Semis passing do pull me over pretty easily too.

I weighed at a CAT scale after first camping trip to get fully loaded truck and fully loaded camper weights:

Truck without camper (Hitch and sway bars placed in rear of truck bed):
Steer Axle: 2940
Drive Axle: 2340
Trailer Axle: 00
Gross Total: 5280

Truck with fully loaded camper and WDH hooked up:
Steer Axle: 2880
Drive Axle: 2860
Trailer Axle: 4360
GrossTotal: 10,100

Based on those weights estimating tongue weight at 460lbs. (scale was busy, so I couldn’t just unhitch while on the scale).

Since the initial weighing, I've attempted to increase the tongue weight to get closer to 12% (added additional +65lb battery to hitch area, added water to the tank that is close to front of trailer 10 gal, so +85lbs). CAT scale is far away from me, but estimate I now have tongue wt closer to a 11-12% range now, but has not made any difference in the towing experience. With the Blue Ox WDH the truck and camper ride level, and trailer nose may even be very slightly down.

Have aired up the OEM Goodyear Wrangler Kevlar SL tires (255/65 R17) to 46 psi for towing for the most recent trip, but that did not do anything to help with the moving around on the road during towing, especially with winds over 10 mph. I have to keep both hands firmly on the steering wheel to keep it from wandering/wiggling all over the place.

I've tried tweaking the WDH setup (lowering, raising, more or less chain links) but it doesn't make much difference. Wondering now if tires swapped to an LT will make enough difference?
 

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From your weights, it looks to me your WDH is not properly adjusted. All of the tongue weight is thrown onto the drive axle and none is being transferred to the steer axle.

The spring bars need to be pulled up more so the tongue weight can be shared by the steer and trailer axles. On an ideal setup, about two thirds of the tongue weight would be split between the two.
 
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@BTL I’m sorry to hear about all of your frustrations trying to tow your camper and get the weight distribution correct. I can relate as I had something similar going on with a roughly equivalent weight 24’ boat that I had purchased in 2017. When hauling it down the road completely level it would kick and buck on bumps and generally feel out of control; it was awful. In my case I think the hitch weight was a little heavy (and our rear ends are a little too soft) so I beefed up my rear end with an Add-A-Leaf Spring from SD Springs, which add 750lbs of payload capacity from stock before the overload spring. This also raised my rear 1-1.5” above stock, so I had to lift the front 2” to keep the rake normal. To do so I used Bilstein 5100 shocks which are adjustable in height. That dramatically changed the way my truck handled the load, it eliminated all of the bucking. The stiffer suspension tightened up body roll as well which was an added benefit but you maintain the stiff ride unloaded which is a negative. I say all of this to get to your original question: No, I do not believe you need LT tires and I do not think LTs would give you the result your looking for without tuning the suspension first. E rated Hwy tires would be beneficial for larger trucks and heavier loads over long distances but I can’t imagine our trucks, even with a camper, getting the tires hot enough to make a significant difference based on your symptoms.
In my opinion, I would try the following:
1: Stiffen your rear end with either air bags (preferred), Add-A-Leaf, or at minimum an aftermarket overload spring.
2: Have you tried towing your camper without the weight distributing hitch? WDH’s are great but they also add weight and change your towing characteristics. With my boat, I estimated I was around 5500-6000 lbs when fully fueled and loaded. At first I used a standard 2” drop hitch to keep the trailer level but swapped to a solid shank straight hitch that was longer, in addition to the AAL, and it made the whole problem go away. Technically, I was towing nose high but it kept me firmly planted on the Highway and that was all that mattered.
3: If all else fails, find a trailer shop nearby. They should be able to weight out each wheel and the tongue and make recommendations based on that result.

I hope this post helps, you did a great job describing the problem and provided relevant info in your post. The last thing I wanted to mention is that our crew cab short beds put us at a disadvantage when towing. The short wheel base is something we cannot change but probably affects our tow quality the most. Keep that in mind as you search for solutions and let us know when you get her fixed. Be safe out there and enjoy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
From your weights, it looks to me your WDH is not properly adjusted. All of the tongue weight is thrown onto the drive axle and none is being transferred to the steer axle.

The spring bars need to be pulled up more so the tongue weight can be shared by the steer and trailer axles. On an ideal setup, about two thirds of the tongue weight would be split between the two.
Thanks - excellent point, and I wasn't even seeing that - I'll try going even tighter on the WDH chains this weekend outing and see if that stabilizes the ride. I did get an accurate tongue weight a few days ago: without water is at 554 lbs, with 10 gal. water is at 593 lbs. Going to try tighter WDH w/o water first.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
@BTL I’m sorry to hear about all of your frustrations trying to tow your camper and get the weight distribution correct. I can relate as I had something similar going on with a roughly equivalent weight 24’ boat that I had purchased in 2017. When hauling it down the road completely level it would kick and buck on bumps and generally feel out of control; it was awful. In my case I think the hitch weight was a little heavy (and our rear ends are a little too soft) so I beefed up my rear end with an Add-A-Leaf Spring from SD Springs, which add 750lbs of payload capacity from stock before the overload spring. This also raised my rear 1-1.5” above stock, so I had to lift the front 2” to keep the rake normal. To do so I used Bilstein 5100 shocks which are adjustable in height. That dramatically changed the way my truck handled the load, it eliminated all of the bucking. The stiffer suspension tightened up body roll as well which was an added benefit but you maintain the stiff ride unloaded which is a negative. I say all of this to get to your original question: No, I do not believe you need LT tires and I do not think LTs would give you the result your looking for without tuning the suspension first. E rated Hwy tires would be beneficial for larger trucks and heavier loads over long distances but I can’t imagine our trucks, even with a camper, getting the tires hot enough to make a significant difference based on your symptoms.
In my opinion, I would try the following:
1: Stiffen your rear end with either air bags (preferred), Add-A-Leaf, or at minimum an aftermarket overload spring.
2: Have you tried towing your camper without the weight distributing hitch? WDH’s are great but they also add weight and change your towing characteristics. With my boat, I estimated I was around 5500-6000 lbs when fully fueled and loaded. At first I used a standard 2” drop hitch to keep the trailer level but swapped to a solid shank straight hitch that was longer, in addition to the AAL, and it made the whole problem go away. Technically, I was towing nose high but it kept me firmly planted on the Highway and that was all that mattered.
3: If all else fails, find a trailer shop nearby. They should be able to weight out each wheel and the tongue and make recommendations based on that result.

I hope this post helps, you did a great job describing the problem and provided relevant info in your post. The last thing I wanted to mention is that our crew cab short beds put us at a disadvantage when towing. The short wheel base is something we cannot change but probably affects our tow quality the most. Keep that in mind as you search for solutions and let us know when you get her fixed. Be safe out there and enjoy.
Thanks Dmax Dan - your experience is very helpful to learn from. If really tightening up the WDH doesn't help me at all, I'll be looking into these other options you recommended. I've heard from a few others that LT tires won't likely help, which you confirmed too. So, I'll eliminate that factor.
 

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@BTL I am glad you have a tongue weight to go off of now. I wanted to add that like you, I assumed my tongue weight was too low from the bucking but too much tongue weight can have the same effect. Even if riding level, too much tongue weight will make the overload springs act like a trampoline/ spring board over every bump. Since my trailer was balanced well between the axle, raising the hitch height helped a lot. Maybe something cheap you can look into if the WDH doesn’t fix the problem. Let us know how it turns out!
 

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Put Cooper Discoverer AT3 LT tires on my truck, not for towing, but because I kept getting punctures in the OEM Goodyears and I had a couple near the shoulder that I plugged, as a tire shop won't touch punctures in that area. It pained me to take off the OEM tires with only 25K miles on them as they had plenty of tread, but I did not want to keep tempting fate either, was rolling with probably 7 damn plugs in those tires. There is a lot of construction going on here in Denver, they were all nails and drywall screws.

30K miles on the new tires and they barely look worn. The ride is "truckier" now, but the heavier tires looks like it is going to last and best of all, no more punctures. I wager the beefier tire would help with the towing experience but can't say. All I know is one of the thicker LT tires, in the same exact size, weighed several pounds more than the decidedly thin OEM tires, and they are simply a much more substantial tire.

I would not replace the OEM tires unless they are getting near done, but if a little stiffer ride does not bother you, consider the LT version when changing time rolls around.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Put Cooper Discoverer AT3 LT tires on my truck, not for towing, but because I kept getting punctures in the OEM Goodyears and I had a couple near the shoulder that I plugged, as a tire shop won't touch punctures in that area. It pained me to take off the OEM tires with only 25K miles on them as they had plenty of tread because I am cheap, but I did not want to keep tempting fate either, was rolling with probably 7 damn plugs in those tires. There is a lot of construction going on here in Denver, they were all nails and drywall screws.

30K miles on the new tires and they barely look worn. The ride is "truckier" now, but the heavier tires looks like it is going to last and best of all, no more punctures. I wager the beefier tire would help with the towing experience but can't say. All I know is one of the LT tires, in the same exact size, weighed several pounds more, and they are simply a much more substantial tire.

I would not replace the OEM tires unless they are getting near done, but if a little stiffer ride does not bother you, consider the LT version when changing time rolls around.
That is what I'm thinking I'll do, put LT's on once the OEM's are done - the tread still looks pretty good, so I should get another six months or more from them.
 

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Put Cooper Discoverer AT3 LT tires on my truck, not for towing, but because I kept getting punctures in the OEM Goodyears and I had a couple near the shoulder that I plugged, as a tire shop won't touch punctures in that area. It pained me to take off the OEM tires with only 25K miles on them as they had plenty of tread, but I did not want to keep tempting fate either, was rolling with probably 7 damn plugs in those tires. There is a lot of construction going on here in Denver, they were all nails and drywall screws.

30K miles on the new tires and they barely look worn. The ride is "truckier" now, but the heavier tires looks like it is going to last and best of all, no more punctures. I wager the beefier tire would help with the towing experience but can't say. All I know is one of the thicker LT tires, in the same exact size, weighed several pounds more than the decidedly thin OEM tires, and they are simply a much more substantial tire.

I would not replace the OEM tires unless they are getting near done, but if a little stiffer ride does not bother you, consider the LT version when changing time rolls around.
I run the Cooper AT3 in SL, they are great tires. I did look for C rated but couldn’t find any so I stuck to SL. I am on my second set but I ditched the OEM tires early (before 30k). My OEM would pick up nails often as well but I haven’t had to plug either set of coopers. My first set of AT3’s ran about 50k before I swapped because of road noise. They handle sand, mud, gravel, heavy rain and snow well plus Cooper still has tires made in USA, you can’t beat that!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
That is good to know about the Cooper AT3 tire - definitely on my shortlist to try. My OEM's are approaching 50K, but still in decent shape. An update: I towed the camper 700 miles round trip for a five day excursion. the only change is that I went much tighter on the WDH. It helped a little but there were 10-20 mph crosswinds coming back home yesterday and still moved the truck around quite a bit. The duramax engine has no problem at all towing the camper, but with the truck weighing just slightly more than the camper and the short wheelbase I'm starting to think that I'm going to need a larger truck if I want to continue towing this particular camper without constant vigilance to keep it in my lane, and also stay at highway speeds. The trans temp coming back with those crosswinds was into the 222 - 226 range, and the truck was smelling hot, but I was traveling the interstate trying to keep it 60-65 mph.
 

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2019 Chevy Colorado CCLB, 2.8L Duramax, Shadow Metalic Grey. 2.5" level/1.5" blocks. Softtopper.
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I swapped tires to Toyo Open Country CT (265/60r18) and they seem to handle loads and off camber a lot better. I can say that It definitely makes chip seal highways howl a whole lot more than the duratracs previously. But... way fewer rocks bouncing off the doby (and my windshield....) always wondered how i got my mystery chips driving alone on a highway.
 

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@BTL Apologies for not replying sooner to your last post. You are in the same line of thinking as most of us who do a lot of towing, that we should’ve went with a full size truck. Unfortunately, full size trucks are going for a premium at the present and you cannot even order a 3/4 ton or 1 ton for the factory MSRP (not sure about 1/2 ton), every dealer has $4-8k mark up from the factory. That said, your truck is plenty capable of pulling your camper, even without the WDH. Crosswinds are always going to be an issue though. I would ditch your WDH and re-weigh the truck/camper. Try adding weigh back to your front wheels by raising the trailer hitch and see how it affects handling. Your tranny temps are good, for some reason GM likes to keep ours running warm while towing. Don’t forget you can pull the two plastic louvres that cover your tranny cooler if you want to add a little cooling (it’s in a blog on here discussing tranny temps). Lastly, if you are weighing whether to make the jump to a full size, I would recommend it, especially if you are a do it yourself type of person. There are tons of videos for DIY repairs on 1/2 tons (and plenty of cheaper aftermarket parts) vs hardly any for our trucks. That alone has really driven me back to wanting a full-size truck. Even finding a shop (other than a dealer) to do any real repair work on our trucks has been frustrating. Whatever you do, avoid the 3L Duramax for a while, or until you see the kinks worked out. Also know you have to pull the 3L motor out at 150k miles because some engineer decided to put the timing belt on the back of the motor. Anyways, good luck, let us know if you get your tow set up figured out or if you make the jump.
 

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Maybe I am missing something here, but I fail to see how losing the WDH and raising the hitch ball would transfer any tongue weight to the steer axle. With just one pivot point, the drive axle would still hold all the tongue weight.

The whole idea of the WDH is that is acts as a fulcrum with the spring bars to leverage the tow vehicle such that tongue weight transfer is possible.

Please enlighten me.

With my rig, the Husky WDH and 800# spring bars do a great job of moving about 230
Cloud Wheel Sky Tire Plant
# up to the steer axle such that I get a relatively smooth and level ride. My 18' enclosed V-nose weighs in at 6,100#.
 

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It may do nothing, just speaking from my experience. I have towed a heavier trailer for thousands of miles without ever using a WDH. If you look up at my previous posts, you will see what my set up was. Anyway, I am recommending he start from scratch and work his way back. For me, nose up put more weight to the rear trailer axle and drastically improved my handling characteristics (bucking and the other issues above). The WDH may be part of the problem or it may mask the actual issue, just not a fan of throwing money at a problem until I know what is causing it.
Nice trailer btw
 

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Let me clarify one more thing. When I say “nose up” I am really talking about at hookup. Once the leaf springs are compressed under tongue weight, the trailer still rides mostly level (versus the method of measuring hitch height prior to loading). If you can slightly lower your tongue weight (balance the trailer while hooked up) and while using the WDH, it would equate to the same results (unless your WDH is mismatched for the trailer). My solution was raising the hitch height and stiffening the springs (3.5” total while unloaded with 750lbs springs). I believe the issue was created by the tongue weight and it would give me a spring board effect on the factory overload spring, creating the bucking and lack of confidence on the road that was mentioned.

@BTL I know your scales are a decent drive but when you head out camping again, try to measure the weight on each of your trailer axles. I think it is the biggest unknown and could be a culprit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks Dmax Dan and StreaminTrip and everyone for your advice on this. I appreciate the time you have taken to help me think this through. I have one more camping outing, maybe two, before winter and would like to get it back to the scales after trying some further adjustments. My camper comes from the factory a bit light on tongue weight, just barely 10%, so I'm leary of putting more weight to the rear of the camper. Before changing hitch height I'm going to try going the max on tightening the WDH. After I get weights, I'll try adjusting ball height. I think if I could get even a 25% improvement it would be a tolerable towing experience. My dad had driven full size diesels for many years now, towing all kinds of loads with no sweat. I just didn't have it in the budget! Will be looking for deals, hopefully later next year, if things ever settle down with supply chain.
 

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Good luck with setup. I don't know which Blue Ox WDH you have or if it has sway control, but you really don't have too heavy a trailer for a SWB truck. Most of the newer WDHs, like my Husky Centerline, have sway control built into the head with VERY strong springs instead of external add on devices as in the 'old days'.

Also, make sure your ball height, unloaded, is correct. The ball height should be at where your trailer sits level. Then when hitched, the spring bars should be loaded to return your truck to level. Be sure to use your tongue jack to help you load up the spring bars to transfer the weight.

With a 24' trailer and the weights you've posted, I doubt you're anywhere near the trailer GVWR (what is it, anyway?) so I would be less concerned with individual trailer axle weights than Dmax Dan, but that is a personal preference.

The right setup should load the truck and trailer so that both ride level, or very close to it. I hope you find that 'sweet spot'!

As before, GOOD LUCK!
 
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