Understanding Towing Capacity

 

understanding towing capacityKnowing what size RV your vehicle can tow and/or knowing what size truck you need to tow your RV with, is an important bit of information.  In order to be safe and not unnecessarily strain your vehicle you’ll need to do some research about towing capacity and weight.  It’s not only about how much your truck can handle when towing, but also about the ability to be able to stop abruptly without disastrous results.

It is a broad question with so many variables and it’s impossible for others to 100% answer that question for you.  But I see it come up a ton in the multiple Facebook groups I’m in.  So I thought I’d do a bit of research to guide others to the experts (because I’m sure not one).  But being as informed as possible is the most important first step you can take when making the decision of what truck to use or what RV to buy.

AND DO NOT LET AN RV SALESMAN TELL YOU WHAT YOU CAN HAUL.  SOME WILL PUT YOU IN THE BIGGEST AND MOST EXPENSIVE RIG JUST TO GET THE SALE!!! Don’t go shopping until you’ve done the research.

Here is an example of how it shouldn’t look and how it should.

too heavy diagram

UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENT WEIGHT RATINGS

CURT Manufacturing makes and distributes all types of hitches for all types of trailers.  This link on their website goes into detail to help you better understand towing capacity, the difference between GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating), GAWR (gross axle weight rating) and other acronyms that start with G.  It’s the perfect place to start to better understand what your vehicle can and should haul.

SPECIFIC VEHICLE LOOKUP

As we all know, there are multiple versions and models of each type of car.  My 2005 F250 may have a different engine, transmission, rear end gearing, etc., than other 2005 F250s.  So while getting opinions and recommendations is a good jumping off point, it definitely is not where you should stop.  I found a site that offers a search for you to look up your specific vehicle and its towing capability.  Click Here  There is also a sticker somewhere on your vehicle, probably the door panel. It’ll look like this. GVWR vehicle sticker

It should list your GVWR and the weight rating for each axle.  Also, you can always go to a local truck stop and use their scale (especially if you load your truck bed down with other supplies). Here’s a link to find a local CAT scale near you.  We weighed our whole setup, then parked and unhooked to weigh just our truck to get the true weight of our camper once it was full of all of our stuff.  I just believe in the tried and true saying…”better to be safe than sorry” so it’s impossible to be overly informed about what you’re towing and what you should be towing with.  Keep in mind that your weight limit for conventional towing (bumper) and fifth wheel towing can be different.  So just be sure you double check the limit for each. BJ was able to find this link to get more specific information regarding the different weight capacities for each type of towing for the whole 2005 Ford pickup and SUV lineup. Some of the charts will list GCWR (gross combined weight rating) this is the total weight that your vehicle, trailer and contents can weigh.  I’m sure you can Google to find something similar for your vehicle.  Example… I searched 2015 Dodge Ram 2500 conventional towing capacity, and this is what I found.  If you look at this chart, you’ll notice the descriptions listed below and you’ll see that #10 states that if the max trailer weight rating is above 18,000 lbs, a fifth wheel or gooseneck is needed.  Meaning you wouldn’t be able to conventionally tow that trailer.

But I can’t stress enough that “maxing out” your vehicle’s ability is probably not the best idea. And don’t forget the weight sticker on your RV is dry weight.  You have to take into account the amount of items and/or liquids you put in your rig.  Your camper sticker will also list the max amount of weight that it can hold.

PRODUCTS FOR TOWING

When towing a travel trailer, bumper pull, TT, or the other million names they go by…you may want to look into weight distribution kits and sway bars.  Travel trailers can have a lot more movement when being towed, and in our opinion, these add-ons gave us more security.  The weight distribution kit helps to spread the weight over both axles of your vehicle and the sway control bars help with well, swaying.  The original kit comes with one bar, you’ll probably want to get the additional bar for better control depending on how large your TT is.  When turning you’ll notice a lot of noise from the bars and it sounds like something is breaking or wrong, it isn’t.  But we recommend loosening them when you get into the campground to cut down on the racket.

Weight Distribution Kit

Additional Sway Control Bar

Fifth wheel hitches come in different weight sizes and ability.  This one below is what we use, it can haul up to 16,000 lbs.  The lube plate helps with less metal to metal friction, protecting the 5th wheel hitch head and less mess since you don’t have to grease it up.

5th Wheel Hitch

Lube Plate

 

 

Co-Writer – BJ England (aka Batman). He was summoned many of times to make sure I explained the technical stuff accurately.  Thanks Dear! 🙂

*Disclaimer – I am not advising you of what you can haul, simply just trying to help lead you in the right direction to better understand how it all works.