One of the many reasons for a prospective truck owner to purchase a pickup truck is to have the option to pull behind a travel trailer for camping excursions. But does the GMC Sierra have the capability of safely pulling a travel trailer behind it? We've done extensive research on this popular model half-ton pickup and have the answers to many of the questions you might have about it in this post.
The GMC Sierra can definitely pull a travel trailer. A Sierra is a sturdy, half-ton pickup truck, engineered to haul heavy loads behind it. While it's towing capacity remains less than it's three quarter-ton or full-ton counterparts, you'll find that the GMC Sierra is capable of towing most model travel trailers safely behind it.
If you're not familiar with towing a travel trailer, or you've not considered the GMC Sierra for towing one, this post will provide you with helpful and well-researched information. You might be wondering what the maximum tow capacity is for a GMC Sierra and how different powertrain options can impact that capacity. There might be questions about what travel trailers you should be considering or what safety concerns persist when towing a travel trailer. What hitch can be used for the GMC Sierra? Is pulling a trailer bad for your pickup truck? For the answers to these and other questions and concerns, read on.
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What you need to know before you tow
Throughout this post, we'll elaborate on many of the things you should consider before you tow a travel trailer. Think of this post as a supplement to your Sierra's owner's manual. Read on to see what our research has uncovered.
How powertrain options impact maximum towing capacity
Which power train your Sienna comes equipped with will make a difference in your towing capacity. There are three options to choose from, and we've listed the towing capacity ranges associated with them below.
- 4.3L EcoTec3 V6 has a towing capacity of 7,400 pounds to 7,900 pounds
- 2.7L Turbo has a towing capacity of 6,600 pounds to 6,900 pounds
- 5.3L EcoTec3 V8 has a towing capacity of 9,500 pounds to 10,000 pounds
Safety concerns regarding towing a travel trailer
Trailering and towing comes with some risks to you and your passengers, as well as others on the road. We've provided a bullet list of the major safety concerns you should consider before committing to towing.
- Be aware of your truck's towing capacity.
- Inform yourself of the weight of what you are towing
- If your vehicle doesn't come equipped with a tow package, have a professional install one.
- Make sure the weight inside (or on) the trailer is evenly distributed. This will help avoid fishtailing.
- Check to see that all lights are in working order.
- Make sure all tires are properly inflated.
- Be aware that your truck will handle differently with a load attached. It will brake and accelerate slower, and you may have to make wider turns. Practice getting used to how it handles before driving long distances with your travel trailer.
- Check your mirror angles to see that they cover enough of the area behind your truck. Learn how to properly adjust them for trailering.
- Routinely check the accessories to be certain that everything that needs to be fastened is properly tightened.
- Be more aware of other drivers on the road, especially when passing.
Travel trailer options
There is an abundance of options with travel trailers to fit any need or budget. If you're towing with a GMC Sierra, you have more options to choose from since you have a higher towing capacity than a midsized truck or SUV. While we can't list every available travel trailer model out there, we've researched them thoroughly and have provided you with some options to consider here. We've done our best to list options from a variety of weight classes and price ranges.
Coachman Clipper Ultra-Lite 17CFQ
This travel trailer is spacious for passengers and has lots of overhead storage. It comes equipped with a shower and toilet, an equipped kitchen, and a dinette. A queen sized bed will sleep two adults comfortably. There is also a 12' exterior awning that can be pulled out for shade as an added bonus. This weighs 3,833 pounds, equipped.
Flagstaff Micro Lite
The Micro Lite is a heavier but more roomy option than the Clipper Ultra-Lite. Its gross weight is 5,281 pounds, and its extendable dining area allows for more onboard room and storage. A separate bedroom comes with a queen bed and television. A full kitchen is on board and a spacious living room with a television and fireplace.
Forrest River Alpha Wolf 29DQ-L
We researched this two bedroom travel trailer for those that desire to carry more passengers. Both bedrooms are equipped with queen sized beds and adequate closet space. A full bathroom is on board, and a dining room pops out of a side extension. A sofa also extends out, making the living area very roomy and comfortable. This model also has a fully equipped kitchen on board, as well as an outdoor kitchen option. A heavier model, it weighs 7,900 pounds when loaded.
Prime Time RV LaCrosse
This model is much smaller and lighter than the ones listed above. On board, it only has a sitting room, which contains chairs and a television. There is an equipped slide out kitchen and bathroom, as well as a separate slide out bedroom. This very compact model weighs only 770 pounds and might be a great fit for a single traveler or a couple.
Jayco Hummingbird Travel Trailer
The Jayco Hummingbird is a favorite for campers and tailgaters alike. Its outdoor kitchen, large and retractable awning, and water-resistant speaker system make it suitable for football games or camping. On board is a comfortable sofa and bed. The total weight of this model is just under 1,800 pounds.
This smaller Winnebago model has multiple floor plans to choose from. On board are a full bathroom and shower and a fully equipped kitchen. The kitchen carries a stove, refrigerator, microwave and has plenty of cabinet space. The Micro-mini also comes standard with patio lights and exterior speakers so that you can enjoy the outdoors next to the comfort of your camper. This model weighs just under 3,000 pounds and can easily and safely be towed by your GMC Sierra.
What Hitch Can You Use For A GMC Sierra?
Whether you purchase a towing package from your dealership or venture out on your own to select one, you'll want to consider several things. Different grades of hitches exist, based on how much weight you need to tow. So you should be aware of the various weights of what you could potentially haul before you select your hitch and accessories.
The Sierra comes with a tow package option that goes above and beyond what other automakers offer with their same class trucks. Their "Pro Grade Trailering" system doesn't just offer the basic components of a basic tow package (hitch receiver, wiring connectors, etc.). This package integrates new technology that will make trailering safer, easier, and more efficient.
- Auto Electric Parking Brake Assist: After backing up to your trailer, this will automatically shift your parking brake on when you put the truck into "park."
- Hitch Area Lighting: A light placed inside the tailgate panel illuminates the hitch area, making trailering much easier in the dark.
- In Vehicle Trailering App: This technology provides the driver with a step by step pre-departure checklist, trailer lights and tire pressure monitoring, and other features that will help make your journey more safe.
If you want to forego the factory tow package from the dealership, or if you have an older model Sierra, you can find great options for hitches and accessories. For most travel trailer towing, you won't need more than a class four hitch, and we have options for the three and four listed below.
To see this trailer hitch mount and ball on Amazon, click here. Note that this is built for class three and class four hitches.
What Gear Should You Be In When Towing A Trailer?
The GMC Sierra comes equipped with a tow-haul feature, which takes the guesswork out of what gear you should place your truck into when towing. Tow-haul mode changes how your transmission shifts when carrying heavy payloads or trailering. Should you engage the tow-haul button on your shifter, it will stay in this mode until you disengage it or turn the engine off. This feature reduces wear and strain on the transmission.
It's recommended that if you are towing heavier loads at higher elevations that you place your truck into third. This will help avoid the transmission "searching" for the proper gear.
Is Pulling A Trailer Bad For Your Truck?
Trucks are made for hauling more weight than conventional cars and sport utility vehicles, so their structural designs are made to withstand tow weight. However, it's important that you closely follow the manufacturer's maximum towing capacity. Should you disregard this critical recommendation, you may permanently damage your pickup truck or create road hazards for those you share the highway with. The most common dangers are posted below.
Engine and transmission strain
The more weight you tow, the more strain you place on your engine and transmission. The amount of strain put on these systems has been professionally tested and is part of how towing capacity is calculated. But if you ignore the maximum towing capacity, you will place too much strain on them and will certainly decrease their lifespan.
Axles, frame, and suspension damage
Should you be towing too much weight, other parts of your truck will be at risk. Your axles, suspension, and frame can only safely haul so much. Too much weight behind your truck can bend the frame. This damage can be costly and might render your truck undrivable. You also don't want to damage the axles or suspension, as this could lead to your truck becoming disabled while it's pulling its trailer.
Hazards for other drivers
If you are towing too much weight, you also run the risk of having the truck "jack-knife" in traffic. A truck that pulls too much weight can have its trailer sway, leading to this. The swaying might cause the trailer to detach entirely, certainly putting everyone else on the road at risk of an accident.
You should always consult your owner's manual before you attach anything to the trailer hitch. Make yourself familiar with the manufacturer's recommendations for not only your truck but for whatever you are planning to pull behind it. Doing so will ensure a drive that is safe for yourself and your passengers, as well as for the longevity of your truck.
The GMC Sierra remains a popular choice among truck owners for many reasons, including its ability to tow heavier loads. We've learned that the Sierra can pull most travel trailers behind it and is a safe and sturdy option for this task. The research provided also gives you a variety of travel trailer models to choose from. Hopefully, you'll understand the importance of following tow capacity maximums, as well as the safety concerns that persist with towing. The Sierra is engineered to be a safe and reliable truck for towing, but it's only as safe as the person who chooses to operate it.
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