A Payload Warning about Ram 2500 Pickup Trucks

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I recently received this email about matching the right pickup truck with a 1997 Lance 3000 Squire Truck Camper.

Hi, Mike! I’m just getting started with the truck/camper set up and after reading your informative Truck Camper 101 article I feel more informed. I haven’t bought anything yet. I just looked at a very clean and well-kept Lance 1997, 3000 Squire, one owner, for only $5,000. And it turns out I know the guy! So now I want to make sure I get the best truck to haul it. I’m sold on the Dodge Cummins Turbo Diesel but I’m not sure between the 2500 or 3500, 2015 model. I do not tow at this point, but I want to be able to go off-road. It appears that the 2500 can do the job, but it seems like you lean heavy on the one-ton. Any recommendation? Thanks, Bryan in California.

Bryan, the engineers at Ram made some significant changes to their 2014 and 2015 2500 pickup trucks. The most notable of these being the change to the rear axle suspension from leaf springs to coils springs. This change, they claimed, was made to improve the truck’s ride. In this Ram engineers were successful. The ride is much smoother. But this change, is some cases, also impairs the truck’s ability to haul a heavy load like a truck camper. Why? Because leaf springs, in general, offer more support than coil springs. This change means that new generation Ram 2500 trucks will, in some cases, have significantly smaller payloads. For instance, one crew cab, short-bed, 4×4 version of the Ram 2500 with the 5.7L V8 Hemi offers only 2,370 pounds of payload. Yes, different configurations of the Ram 2500 with certain options offer more payload, but why bother with a 3/4-ton, especially if you want a Cummins diesel. Spend a little more for a much more capable pickup truck like the Ram 3500 (you can get a crewcab, short-bed 3500 with a Cummins turbo diesel and 4×4 power-train and still get a 4,000 pound payload). However, if your heart is set on a 2500 then be cautious, avoid the low payload 2500’s out there (like the Ram Power Wagon that has only a 1,400-pound payload), and buy the right 2500 with the right amount of payload for your truck camper hauling needs.

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About Mello Mike 511 Articles
Mello Mike is an Arizona native, author, and the founder of Truck Camper Adventure. He's been RV'ing since 2002, is a certified RVIA Level 1 RV Technician, and has restored several Airstream travel trailers. He currently rolls in a 2013 Ram 3500 and a 2021 solar powered Bundutec Roadrunner truck camper. He retired from the U.S. Navy in 2004 as a CWO3 after 24 years, worked in project management, and now runs Truck Camper Adventure full-time. He also does some RV consulting, repairs, and inspections on the side.

7 Comments

  1. I have to be honest this is some of the worst advice I’ve come accross and it’s not Mike’s fault. I’m an engineer and used to be exclusively in automotive engineering and even I fell victim to the ‘trust the stated payloads’ mentality. Yes the factory payloads are low because as stated FCA went for a well balanced ride. What this means is the spring rate in the coils is tuned for a set weight and if you have a crew cab, mega cab, etc this will eat into that load rating. The power wagon has softer springs yet because its carrying less without the diesel and because this aids it’s offroad capacity and articulation.
    As stated I fell for the need and desire to overkill it and traded my 2500 mega cab in on a 3500 diesel crew cab and I regretted it on day 2. The 3500 does have a bigger axle but unless you’re loading 35k of combined trailer weight you’d be hard pressed to justify the need for that upgrade vs the 2500’s axle which reliably takes the hit of 1000ftlbs+ of tweaked diesel on and off tracks. The 3500 does use the 1800’s antiquated bucknoard spring pack design, and while people have succeeded in off roading these dumptrucks over the years, it comes with some extreme compromises. Articulation will be nil without a modified spring pack on the 3500, your ride quality will be painful when you have a lighter camper or no camper, and your going to pay more for this torture and a way less advanced and capable rear suspension.
    I made this mistake and then went back to a 2500 with an off road package and I couldn’t be happier. With minimal money spent you can safely upgrade the payload on the 2500 and take it from an engineer, you’re not pushing the suspension or driveline out of it’s operational capacity by doing so. With new springs or just air bag stiffeners you can realize that 4k payload and still have the movement, capacity and ride quality of the 2500.

  2. I just traded in a 2012 Ram 2500 Laramie Bighorn short bed crew cab that had leaf springs but only a 2200 pound payload. I just took delivery of a new 2016 long bed 3500 HD turbo diesel with 4400 pounds on payload. Granted I have one of the lightest hard-sided truck campers on the market at 1700 pounds but I decided not to take the chance.

  3. I stand corrected! Surprised also. I did indeed find this on the Ram website as well as your PDF. I certainly agree, upgrading to a 3500 is a good idea!
    Thanks for the info!

    • I included a link to a PDF file with the numbers. Two readers of this blog who own 2014-2015 Ram 2500s recently showed me their trucks. Both had 1,500 pound payloads. They’re pretty common out there. Yes, there are some new 2500s out there with higher numbers (another reader who I recently met has a 2014 Ram 2500 with a 2,600 pound payload), but why limit yourself when it comes to the future. Spend a little more and get a much more capable pickup truck. Buy a 3500. My 2013 Ram 3500, for example, has a nearly 4,000 pound payload.

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