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Thread: Towing with 1/2 ton PU & Class III Hitch

  1. #1
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    2018 R23

    Towing with 1/2 ton PU & Class III Hitch

    Hey guys (and gals if there's any out there)...

    Quick question...hopefully we don't get rants about the regular towing topics but I figured I would see if anyone else has dealt with the issue of the 1/2 ton trucks coming stock with class III hitches.

    I just bought the R23 and it seems to weigh out around 6,200lbs or so completely empty. So, knowing my 2015 F150 came stock with a class III hitch and I don't want to buy a new truck over this, here in lies the dilemma.

    Now, I should have looked at my hitch capacity but I really never thought it to be an concern until I rolled under the truck and found the hitch is only rated to pull 5,000 w/ 500lbs of weight on it (unless using a WDH). Now who uses a WDH with a wakeboard boat? Answer, no one that I have seen. I'm guessing that all those other guys I see pull up to the ramp with these larger boats are just ignoring their hitch rating capacity and taking the chance that nothing ever gets said.

    Now, before I get a lecture on GVWR vs. hitch vs. all the other ratings we see in our manuals, I'm pretty up on what all of this means. On F150 forum, there's a post from a guy who got blasted with lots of emails (with bad info) on this subject so I guess I'm trying to avoid this type of discussion and arguments if possible. I know the what the "truck" is rated for vs. the hitch. The truck (drive train, frame, wheels, etc) can handle the extra weight and the boat is VERY light on tongue weight if not too light so it's not even that. I'm sure the class III can take this boat but if the lawyers get involved, well that's just not something I feel like dealing with.

    I'm just trying to find out what others have done or IF there is anyone else out there who has dealt with this issue.

    From what I can see, I have three options:

    1. Buy the Curt class IV hitch that sits below the stock hitch to raise my "hitch" rating to a true class IV (1,000 tongue,10,000 pulling). BTW, I called them and confirmed all of the above and the fact that this hitch does NOT put me over my trucks pulling and loading limits but rather increases the tongue and pulling capacity which the weakest link in this case is the stock hitch. IMO, this is the hitch Ford should have installed as it doesn't go past the loading limit of the axles, tires, rims, chassis, etc but give us a little more room for this situation. Pros, easy install and cheap. Cons, looks like crap and decreases my ground clearance in the rear.
    2. Remove the stock bumper/hitch assembly and purchase a new assembly w/o the stock hitch (Ford p/n HL3Z17D826D) , basically taking my stock hitch off then and buy the Curt (or similar) class IV hitch and install them both. Pros being it will look and function on the truck a lot better. Cons, more $$ and more work.
    3. Just run it like it is and take the chance that if in an accident, my insurance company doesn't claim I'm at fault for not having the proper equipment. Pros, nothing to do but loose sleep when going down a steep mountain hill at 65mph. Cons...well I think you get the idea.

    Is there anyone else here that has dealt with this successfully? Personally, I'm leaning towards option 2.

  2. #2
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    first off apologies to the op as I'm not going to be able to answer his question but......
    I do have to say I'm watching all of this with interest. didn't realize that there was differences and why in the world would they even make a 5000lb hitch for a 1/2 ton that can tow more than that when there's a stronger variant available.

    that being said I had a 2000 ford f150 7700(heavy half) with tow package. I never gave it a second look towing my '12 22ve around up and down the 5% grade to the launch ramp in boise. ended moving to wisconsin and towed it from idaho to wi without a second look. have no clue what the receiver hitch was rated at or whether or not it was factory or aftermarket, just assumed it's a receiver hitch so it's good to go.
    sold the truck and bought a '16 silverado with tow package. again never looked at what's under it, just assumed it was all universal. towed the boat from wi to ut again without a second look.
    sold that boat and bought a z3 which I have only taken to the ramp 3 times but again without a second thought or look.

    as this and other threads expand, wondering what's the "real" difference in class 3 and class 4. seems like it would be only in the bolts and flanges that hold it to the truck?

    I have to believe that option 3 above is probably the most common and thousands of them running around the country towing boats/trailers/cars/etc. I bet I head to the launch ramp on a busy saturday and find 90% of the halfton's with wake trailers attached are running the factory package.
    2012 22ve.. RIP 4/17
    2014 Z3.. Surf away

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by sandm View Post
    first off apologies to the op as I'm not going to be able to answer his question but......
    I do have to say I'm watching all of this with interest. didn't realize that there was differences and why in the world would they even make a 5000lb hitch for a 1/2 ton that can tow more than that when there's a stronger variant available.

    that being said I had a 2000 ford f150 7700(heavy half) with tow package. I never gave it a second look towing my '12 22ve around up and down the 5% grade to the launch ramp in boise. ended moving to wisconsin and towed it from idaho to wi without a second look. have no clue what the receiver hitch was rated at or whether or not it was factory or aftermarket, just assumed it's a receiver hitch so it's good to go.
    sold the truck and bought a '16 silverado with tow package. again never looked at what's under it, just assumed it was all universal. towed the boat from wi to ut again without a second look.
    sold that boat and bought a z3 which I have only taken to the ramp 3 times but again without a second thought or look.

    as this and other threads expand, wondering what's the "real" difference in class 3 and class 4. seems like it would be only in the bolts and flanges that hold it to the truck?

    I have to believe that option 3 above is probably the most common and thousands of them running around the country towing boats/trailers/cars/etc. I bet I head to the launch ramp on a busy Saturday and find 90% of the halfton's with wake trailers attached are running the factory package.
    Ha!! No apology necessary. I think you're right. I know I'm being a little "by the book" on this one and I too have never given any thought until I realized the hitch's rating is crap. I towed the boat home for 2-1/2 hrs but only thought about how light this boat is on the tongue. A lot lighter than my 20V but I sure could feel the jostle from the bouncing due to the R23's more overall weight and light tongue weight. I'm assuming the rational behind the hitch is that most people that trailer loads over 5k use a weight distribution hitch so Ford doesn't even give it a thought BUT if you look close to their last commercial, they show a F150 towing what must be a least a 22' OB boat that I am certain weighs more than 5K by the looks of it. No WDH to be found. Now the hitch is rated for 11,000lbs with a WDH which is 600lbs (or so) over my towing capacity so they did do that math.

    But...lets do some math. If you are to have 10-15% of your trailer weight on your hitch, then you could possibly pull a 3,334lb trailer having 15% of your weight on your hitch and be out of spec for this hitch. Seems ridiculous. They aren't just giving us boat owners much thought.

  4. #4
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    ...oh and BTW, Ford's hitch in integrated into the bumper mounts. The hitch assembly is basically sandwiched in between the frame and the bumper leaving you with little options, hence option 2 being the best looking and functioning option. I just ordered the "no stock hitch" bumper mount from my dealer so they are going to bring it in and see if it works as I think it does. It's only $155 so worth a try.

    I don't believe Chevy's stock hitch is like this but could be wrong. I read somewhere Dodge and Ford are both guilty of creating this situation but hate to spread bad info out there.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    https://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Hit...leID=201533001

    ^^Id do that. I had the same problem with my 3/4ton and I just ordered a Curt Class 5. Theres one other thing to think about in the half ton realm. Check your payload sticker on the door.

    Go to the scale and calculate your tongue weight(I can talk you thru it if you need help). Then subtract tongue weight from payload. Then add up weight of all vehicle occupants and any gear in the bed and subtract that from your payload as well. Many times half ton owners realize they are over payload. Ford is a little better with aluminum beds. Dodge Mega Cab half tons are about the worst.

    I installed my Class 5 in about 3 hours at my shop and it was relatively easy. I used to not care and be a little cavalier about it, but as Im getting older I too worried about the liability side of towing weight. Not only from an insurance standpoint, but a civil standpoint as well. IF the WORST were to happen and you end up in court over an accident I wanted to be able to say everything is rated above what Im towing. Odds are super slim, but peace of mind only cost me 175$ and a Saturday afternoon. YMMV

    Good luck, and FYI etrailer is running free shipping on order over 100$ right now

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by freeheel4life View Post
    https://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Hit...leID=201533001

    ^^Id do that. I had the same problem with my 3/4ton and I just ordered a Curt Class 5. Theres one other thing to think about in the half ton realm. Check your payload sticker on the door.

    Go to the scale and calculate your tongue weight(I can talk you thru it if you need help). Then subtract tongue weight from payload. Then add up weight of all vehicle occupants and any gear in the bed and subtract that from your payload as well. Many times half ton owners realize they are over payload. Ford is a little better with aluminum beds. Dodge Mega Cab half tons are about the worst.

    I installed my Class 5 in about 3 hours at my shop and it was relatively easy. I used to not care and be a little cavalier about it, but as Im getting older I too worried about the liability side of towing weight. Not only from an insurance standpoint, but a civil standpoint as well. IF the WORST were to happen and you end up in court over an accident I wanted to be able to say everything is rated above what Im towing. Odds are super slim, but peace of mind only cost me 175$ and a Saturday afternoon. YMMV

    Good luck, and FYI etrailer is running free shipping on order over 100$ right now
    the etrialer option you show appears to the but Curt hitch I speak of. I just lucked out as my dealer, whom is 2 blocks away from the office, just called and they had the stock, no-hitch option bumper mount in stock! I just quickly compared it to what's under there now and I think it will totally work so I can put the Curt no-stock hitch- hitch on my truck. No cutting up the stock hitch and it will look stock but be a class IV if all goes well. I think the PITA may be getting the bumper off but we'll see....stay tuned.

    I know odds are very slim I'll get in trouble with the stock class III but I'm with you, the older I get, the more I feel like I have to loose if something goes wrong. My dad had a "custom" hitch put on his old Toyota Landcruiser years ago and it broke right off while trialering a camper/trailer while headed down the mountain. The most scariest accident he's ever been in and to this day (20 years later) my mom will never be in a rig towing a trailer with a ball again. Only 5th wheels for her.

    ..and thanks for the heads up on the load sticker. I did check and I should have over 1,400lbs of load rating. I'm likely around 300lbs of tongue weight which I think on long trips, I need to get higher. Need to get a scale if I want to be sure.
    Last edited by wired1236; 03-05-2019 at 09:54 PM.

  7. #7
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    looking at the difference in the class3 and class4, why anyone even makes a class3. there can't be more than $5 in material difference and maybe $5 in added nut/bolt costs for an upgraded unit.

    doesn't make sense to me.
    2012 22ve.. RIP 4/17
    2014 Z3.. Surf away

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by wired1236 View Post
    ..and thanks for the heads up on the load sticker. I did check and I should have over 1,400lbs of load rating. I'm likely around 300lbs of tongue weight which I think on long trips, I need to get higher. Need to get a scale if I want to be sure.
    I just go to a local CAT scale(most truck stops have one and they have a locator on their website). Roll onto scale and be sure to have you front axle on pad 1, rear axle on pad 2, and trailer on pad 3. Ring the button and then pull off scale, park and go in. First weigh is like 11 or 12 bucks. Tell them you are going to do a re-weigh, thats another 3 bucks when you come back in. Go outside and unhook the trailer, roll onto scale with axles on pads 1 and 2 as before and ring the button. Go hooke up to your boat and go back in for your slip. Now you just have to subtract rear axle weights and you will know your tongue weight. Should be a bit more than 300#(tongue weight should be about 10% of total trailer weight).

    This is less than $20 and you will know FOR SURE what you weigh. I dont know of any scale that you could buy for less than that and get accurate data from. The above method is what I prefer anyways, and it gets you solid data on your boat and trailer weight as well. OH YEAH! Bring a stick along with you. Some of them only have buttons up high for truckers, some have a button down low too for us crazy guys. If the first scenario you wont be able to ring the attendant without something to push the button.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by freeheel4life View Post
    I just go to a local CAT scale(most truck stops have one and they have a locator on their website). Roll onto scale and be sure to have you front axle on pad 1, rear axle on pad 2, and trailer on pad 3. Ring the button and then pull off scale, park and go in. First weigh is like 11 or 12 bucks. Tell them you are going to do a re-weigh, thats another 3 bucks when you come back in. Go outside and unhook the trailer, roll onto scale with axles on pads 1 and 2 as before and ring the button. Go hooke up to your boat and go back in for your slip. Now you just have to subtract rear axle weights and you will know your tongue weight. Should be a bit more than 300#(tongue weight should be about 10% of total trailer weight).

    This is less than $20 and you will know FOR SURE what you weigh. I dont know of any scale that you could buy for less than that and get accurate data from. The above method is what I prefer anyways, and it gets you solid data on your boat and trailer weight as well. OH YEAH! Bring a stick along with you. Some of them only have buttons up high for truckers, some have a button down low too for us crazy guys. If the first scenario you wont be able to ring the attendant without something to push the button.
    Damn I think I have it easier than you! I just roll down a ~10mi or so and there's an ODOT scale that's never open so I just use that. For tongue weight though, I may just buy a cheap scale on Amazon as I see me loading the boat differently for short vs. long trips. I don't think Boatmate set the R23 trailer up very well. As I mentioned, it's tongue weight can't be near 10% not to mention I scrape the crap out of the a$$ end of the trailer every time I go over a small bump or a slight incline of a driveway even though I have the trailer level off my truck. I even went as far as to call them and they told me it may be possible to rotate the swing arm of each tire to the axle to raise the trailer a little bit.

  10. #10
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    Update! Ok. I finally got a chance with all my other mods I'm doing this spring to finish my Class IV hitch install using the non-hitch bumper mounting bracket (Ford p/n HL3Z17D826D). I got it done in 3 hrs by myself. Like every project, if I had to do it again, the time would be cut in half. All went pretty well but there are a few things to note:

    1. There are two small bolts holding on the bumper to the old hitch that you can only get to by pulling off the bumber skins . This sucks. Easy to take off but getting them back on is a PITA because they are only held on by plastic tabs that like to fold over like your interior trim. Damn you Ford!.
    2. You have to cut the 3-bolt mounting bolt backing plate to make it a two-bolt mounting plate. No bid deal, it's easy with a saws-all. Just another step. I try to show these in the pictures.
    3. On the new Curt hitch, you have to take a large hammer and bend the two tabs that hold in the trailer plug assembly. The original hitch tabs were bent by Ford, odd Curtis didn't do this but it's obvious one you look at them side by side.

    Other that that, it's a pretty straight forward install. Just plan to get dirty unless you are doing this on a new truck. I like the look a lot better than the two receiver look and now I know I can tow 10,000lbs w/o a weight distribution hitch. I'll post some pics...next post.
    Last edited by wired1236; 05-13-2019 at 09:36 PM.

  11. #11
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    Towing with 1/2 ton PU & Class III Hitch

    Here’s some pictures




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    Last edited by wired1236; 05-14-2019 at 12:00 AM.

  12. #12
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    I did exactly the same thing with my old Avalanche.... however I didn't have to remove the plastic bumper. It is insane how they rate the truck to >5000lbs and then install a hitch rated for less. I literally crawled under the truck in the showroom to show the sales manager one day and he just looked at me with a dumb look.

    Good on you for doing the right thing.

  13. #13
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    Thanks! I think they assume anyone that's towing 5k+ is using a WDH which is fine if it's a travel or utility trailer. Not so much for a boat right? Duh. Less liability for them.

    I actually think if I had to do it again, I would cut holes in the plastic on top of the two bolts so I could get to them with a socket and then plug them with a plastic plug. Much easier.

  14. #14
    Just for future reference, they make tools specifically for removing the push fasteners that makes it cake to pull those things out. Serious life changer if you have to mess with those things.


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