How to Determine Your Vehicle's Towing Capacity - AxleAddict - A community of car lovers, enthusiasts, and mechanics sharing our auto advice
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How to Determine Your Vehicle's Towing Capacity

Don has been an avid traveler and motorhome owner for most of his life and he shares his experiences along with valuable tips for RV owners.

The Most Common Tow Hitch Receptacle on Motorhomes for Heavier Loads

This standard tow hitch receptacle can accept a variety of tow connectors, from a standard ball hitch to one of the more popular slide-in hitch adapters used most often for towing heavier loads.

This standard tow hitch receptacle can accept a variety of tow connectors, from a standard ball hitch to one of the more popular slide-in hitch adapters used most often for towing heavier loads.

Vehicles and Their Towing Capability

Almost any vehicle can tow some amount of weight if it is connected to the load and then operated properly. But how much can they actually tow safely?

You would never consider attempting to tow a large heavy camper, of any kind, with a small under-powered vehicle, or over-load a vehicle with an obviously excessive weight.

Not only can these extreme conditions cause serious damage to your towing vehicle and even your towed trailer, but they could put you and anyone else on the road with you in serious danger.

The problem for so many of us RVers, whether a novice or an expert, is that we often do not know how to calculate the true and safe weight limits for what their existing vehicle can tow, or know how to quickly decide whether a vehicle they are about to buy can safely tow their trailer.

The things you'd need to first determine are

  1. Your state's rules for towing.
  2. Your camper's weight (GVWR and its true weight).
  3. Your towing vehicle's weight.
  4. The towing capacity specs of the vehicle you have or are considering buying.
  5. The weight your tow hitch (or tongue) can handle.

Each State Has its Own Towing Laws

First of all, if you are going to tow anything, regardless of whether it is a small trailer, a camper-trailer, or a big fifth wheel, you need to know your individual states' rules for towing.

Most states' requirements are very similar, but some are very different.

It is easy to use this quick reference by Brake Buddy on towing laws by state.

And of course, you can always check at your local DMV for more on your home state's specific rules and regulations for towing.

Understand the difference between Towing Capacity and Payload

GVWR? And Other Confusing Abbreviations?

Somewhere on every vehicle out there, you can find a label that includes specific data on the vehicle itself, including the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), the vehicle's Curb Weight, and its GVWR number.

Every towing vehicle and trailer should have a GVWR, or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, written on it. GVWR is the legal maximum gross weight of this vehicle and its contents, essentially passengers, and all of its cargo (but not of a vehicle it is towing).

You need this number in order to calculate what you can safely and legally carry and tow. Typically it's seen as a maximum, but the vehicle owner who travels in hilly country or mountains should take care to give themselves plenty of margin for a more enjoyable and safe trip.

How Things Work has a more detailed discussion of GVWR.

Gross Vehicle Weight is the weight at any given time of a vehicle and its contents. It changes when people and things go in or out of the vehicle. In contrast, the GVWR (the rating) never changes.

Curb Weight is what a vehicle weighs sitting at a curb, with little or nothing in it: some say only a driver weighing 150 pounds, others say a full tank of gas and other fluids needed to operate the vehicle.

GCWR, a characteristic of the towing vehicle, stands for the Gross Combined Weight Rating: the maximum allowed weight of a vehicle and its cargo including a trailer or camper and its contents.

GTWR, a characteristic of a trailer, is Gross Trailer Weight Rating, the maximum allowed weight of a trailer, by itself, and its various contents. Note that sometimes camper manufacturers will use GVWR or GTWR for a camper to indicate the empty weight of the camper.

GAWR stands for Gross Axle Weight Rating. GAWR is the maximum allowable weight on an individual axle of a vehicle or camper.

See also the National Highway Traffic Safety Association on how to use the towing ratings of a vehicle.

Vehicle Weight and Towing Abbreviations

AbbreviationStands forWhat it Means

GVWR

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating

The maximum legally allowed weight of the vehicle and all its contents, passengers, and cargo (but not of any attached vehicle)

GVW

Gross Vehicle Weight

What a vehicle happens to weigh including whatever is in it.

 

Curb Weight

What a vehicle weighs sitting at a curb empty (may assume a single 150-lb driver and/or a full tank of gas)

GCWR

Gross Combined Weight Rating

The combined weight rating of a vehicle and its cargo including a trailer or camper.

GTWR

Gross Trailer Weight Rating

Weight of a trailer (including its cargo) that a towing vehicle is rated to tow. A motorhome may have a GTWR.

GAWR

Gross Axle Weight Rating

Maximum allowable weight on a single axle of a vehicle or a camper.

What Is Your Camper's or Trailers GVWR?

As I mentioned above, trailers and campers will have either a GVWR or a GTWR number assigned by the manufacturer.

As I said, in the world of campers, the number they give you is often the empty weight of the camper unloaded. This means no water or other fluids in the tanks, and no clothes, no food, no beach chairs, no unattached cargo of any kind.

Be aware that a typical RV couple can easily add 1000 to 2000 pounds of extra cargo before towing a trailer. Think about it;

  1. Your water holding tank might hold 60-100 gallons of fresh water and at 8-pounds a gallon that is 480-800 extra pounds by itself.
  2. Add another 400-500 pounds for canned goods, pantry items and all of the foods you packed into your fridge
  3. Then add another 100-200 pounds for clothes, linens, etc.
  4. And, all of those folding chairs, barbecue grill, tools, folding tables, lights, water and sewage hoses and connectors, and such you stuffed into your storage compartments could easily add another 400-500 pounds.

My little list ended up with over 1500 pounds and I didn't even try to add everything a couple might take on a vacation trip.

So my True Camper Weight will be significantly higher than the manufacturer's empty weight, which they may tell you is its GVWR.

Confirm Your Camper's Weight

After speaking with several sales people and getting several different answers from them, I realized that I needed to educate myself if I wanted to be sure I picked the right vehicle to tow my camper.

So, the first thing I did was crawl around on the inside of my fifth-wheel camper until I had found the right label and confirmed that the campers GVWR was 12,000 pounds. This is not a "dry" or "curb" weight, but the weight of a camper full of the amount of stuff it is rated to carry.

Now this is a big number but my fifth-wheel is a big camper, so I now knew that I had to get what was right for towing a camper of this size and weight.

Dump Your Holding Tanks before a Trip

Always remember that your water holding tank might hold 60-100 gallons of fresh water, and at 8 pounds a gallon, that is 480-800 extra pounds you may be towing around.

Look Up Your Vehicle's Towing Specs?

I had a relatively large fifth-wheel camper, and I was looking into purchasing a new pickup truck which would have the power, accessories, and safety items necessary to tow my camper safely.

I had to spend a while on the web to find the right data to compare the different trucks on the market today and find the right one for me. Since my wife and I were looking at a Ford truck, we found the Ford 2016 Vehicle Towing Guide useful.

Once I found this data sheet I was able to use its data in my own towing decisions and even my camper selection.

5th Wheel Towing and selecting the right Truck

Using Specs to Calculate Your True Towing Capability

My wife and I had already decided for personal reasons that our desired vehicle would be a crew cab truck, with a large diesel engine and a single rear wheel axle (SRW).

These personal preferences, plus cost, limited my choices to a 3/4-ton or a 1-ton truck. As it happened, the data sheet gave me the same towing specs for either truck, the 3/4-ton or the 1-ton, with the same drive train and engine.

I ended up with a Fifth Wheel towing weight limit of 15,900 pounds for either truck.

If I had wanted to take the next step up, I would have to move up to the DRW (dual rear wheel) option, which as I said earlier, I didn't want to be driving around town when I wasn't towing a trailer.

Either truck also had a towed trailer (fully loaded) weight maximum of 14,000 pounds.

As my trailer's GVWR rating was 14,000 pounds, I understood the trailer wasn't supposed to weigh more than 14,000 pounds loaded.

So this "loaded" GVWR of 14,000 pounds was 1,900 pounds under my allowable maximum towing limit for the fifth wheel; I concluded that the combination would work.

What Is Tongue Weight?

But, hold on, there is another spec to consider here and that is the Hitch Maximum Weight Load (or Tongue Weight).

Ford recommends that this number be 10%-15% for the loaded trailer, or 15%-25% for a loaded fifth-wheel camper.

You need to make sure that this number is also met when you make your hitch selection.

For instance, if you are towing a trailer that weighs 12,000 pounds, your hitch and its mounting must be designed to handle a "tongue weight" of at least 15% of 12,000, or 1800 pounds.

And with a fifth wheel hitch, it must be able to handle a "tongue weight" of at least 25% of 12,000, or 3000 pounds.

Tips on Towing in the Mountains

Types of Hitches

Different types of hitches include the ball hitch, tri-point or "tow bar" hitch, the "goose neck" hitch, and the fifth-wheel hitch.

Fifth Wheel Hitch Receptacle

A Fifth Wheel Camper uses a hitch connection similar to that used by commercial tractor-trailers. You will see these mostly on pick-up trucks that are towing heavy campers and even large commercial trailers.

A Fifth Wheel Camper uses a hitch connection similar to that used by commercial tractor-trailers. You will see these mostly on pick-up trucks that are towing heavy campers and even large commercial trailers.

A typical Tow Bar System With the Standard Two Towing Arms

This is a 10,000-lb Blue Ox Aventa tow bar.  This design of towing adapter is used with vehicles that have the standard square slide-in towing hitch designs. This hitch is used almost exclusively with motorhomes due to their high weights.

This is a 10,000-lb Blue Ox Aventa tow bar. This design of towing adapter is used with vehicles that have the standard square slide-in towing hitch designs. This hitch is used almost exclusively with motorhomes due to their high weights.

Tow Bar Hitch With Ball Adapter

This is the most popular type of towing connection used if your towing vehicle has a ball-type hitch connector. Take care when purchasing because they also have towing limits.

This is the most popular type of towing connection used if your towing vehicle has a ball-type hitch connector. Take care when purchasing because they also have towing limits.

Even if Your Weight Is Under the Limits, Towing May Be a Slow Process

So, with my newly calculated towing capability numbers being 1900 pounds under the maximum, am I OK?

I am OK, but maybe not very speedy. My fifth-wheel towing friends say I should be able to tow my fifth-wheel camper easily and efficiently on flatlands, rolling hills, and coastal areas, but if I go into any serious mountains, I am going to be that slow truck and camper you always see trying to pull up and over every steep and long grade.

The truck I had picked would do the job, but it will be a noticeably slow process with each serious hill and somewhat more costly in fuel costs.

I had thought about using a "dualie" or DRW version of the same truck, because this configuration greatly increases the towing load capability. But I decided not to, because even with the dualie option, both of the trucks (SRW or DRW) would have the exact same drive trains and engines. So, from my perspective, all I would gain would be the added load carrying capability. Either truck would be slow on hills.

It is ultimately a personal decision.

Towing Safety Information

How to Tow a Trailer properly

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: Is there an online site where I can enter a year, make, model and engine to find the tow capacity?

Answer: If you're talking about motorhomes, you need to contact the manufacturer's customer service people; look online for the appropriate numbers. If you're looking for towing information about automobiles then you need to go to Campingworld.com and look under towing capability and you can look this information up there.

Question: My truck is a 2018 GMC Sierra 5.3 ,6 speed transmission, double cab Standard box with the Alltrain Z71 package GVWR is 7200 lbs. Can I pull my 5th wheel trailer with a GVWR of 11800 lbs?

Answer: GMC Charts for a 2018 Sierra 1500 Denali -show it can tow up to 9300 lbs if it is set up for towing. For larger engines, this weight limit would be higher, again if it is set up for towing. And remember that the rear suspension must be rated for towing a higher weight also. The smaller 5.3 engine, the standard load rated rear suspension, the standard brakes and the engine/transmission cooling systems would be my major concerns if I was looking at towing such a load regularly and in mountainous terrains. The cooling systems can be upgraded relatively cheaply, but you need to talk to a good mechanic that you trust about the other items I mentioned.

Question: Why is the receiver hitch so high on on a Chevy Tahoe?

Answer: Every truck, Car and other towing vehicle will have their towing hitch receiver at a different height.

That's why you can purchase tow-ball adapters built at different heights.

You should purchase a tow-ball hitch that puts the ball at a height where the towing vehicle is sitting normally when a trailer is being hitched to the towing vehicle; not sitting with the rear being pushed down or lifted up.

Question: I have an SUV with 5000 lbs towing capacity. The hybrid trailer I'm looking at has 4830 gvwr. Would you recommend this for vacationing in the mountains with long and winding climbs and descents?

Answer: Your SUV would be legal to tow this trailer but remember you are going to add several hundred pounds of personal gear in addition to fresh water (8-lbs. per gallon).

So, considering your SUV capability and the places you want to travel to, you might want to look at adding an additional transmission cooling system and even an additional engine cooling system. just to kick up your SUV's protection when it is towing your load.

Question: I have a 2011 Escalade with a rated tow capacity of 8100 lbs. Manual states 1100 lbs max hitch weight with WDH. Can I safely pull a travel trailer that has dry weight of 6600 lbs and a tongue weight of 820 lbs.? My family of 6, we weigh about 475 lbs. Will not carry full tank of fresh water.

Answer: From what you describe, it looks like your Escalade can handle the load of a 6600-lb travel trailer fine.

Pardon me if I mention that I always tell people that they should have a quality hitch system which includes; Sway bars, safety chains etcetera.

And, make sure your Escalade's Cooling system and transmission are operating properly and their cooling system (radiators) are clean and free of bugs. You could go to your service person and ask them to check this for you.

Question: I am thinking of buying a Jeep Wrangler. When I look at the tow capacity, all of these seem to have 3500 lb limit. But the Jeep I am looking at has a 383 stroker engine put in aftermarket. I currently have a Jeep Grand Cherokee with a tow limit of 6500 lbs. It seems to me that the Jeep Wrangler is grossly underrated. What do you say?

Answer: I owned a Wrangler myself for a while, and it had their V6 in it. And mine was automatic.

You need to realize that the transmission, as well as the engine, are the limiting factors of what you can tow.

Of course, the suspension, and towing connections can also come into the equation, but the engine and transmission are your main worries.

Many people will add a larger engine cooling system as well as a transmission fluid cooling system to get a few hundred more pounds of towing capacity and protecting these from overheating damage.

Some people will even have the rear differential gears changed out to give them a little more towing capacity.

To summarize, from my perspective, I see a lot of Jeep Wranglers being towed, but very few towing any medium to large camping trailers.

Question: I have a Jeep Cherokee with the tow package. It says I can tow up to 4500lbs. What is the most my camper should weigh? (GVWR)

Answer: Well, if your Jeep GVWR is 4500 lbs then of course what you should tow must weigh less than that. But to tow safely most expert will tell you to make sure your full towing weight be around 80% of that as a max. When you stay within this limit, you can tow safely in hilly country and even mountain country when necessary.

Remember, your Jeep, its suspension, its engine, and transmission have been designed for this limit.

There are some things you can do to upgrade the engine and transmission cooling systems and other such modifications but overall that limit is it for your Jeep.

Question: I have a 2017 ram big horn 4x4 1500 5.7 Hemi Quad cab and I'm trying to find my towing capacity. Where can I find it?

Answer: You should check your owners manual for the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. This number includes; the chassis, body, engine, engine fluids, fuel, accessories, driver, passengers, and cargo, but not the weight of your trailer you want to tow.

Your manual should also list, somewhere, your maximum Towing Capacity.

If you can't find it there, go to the Ram website and search for "towing capacity" and then look up your specific model. If you still can't find it, go to their Customer Service people and ask them. They will lead you to the right data.

Question: I have a 2016 Chevy Traverse with a Towing Package. My car's max trailer weight is 5,200 lbs with a GCWR of 10,450lbs. My hitch says max trailer weight is 5,200 and max tongue weight is 600lbs. The trailer I am looking at buying is UVW 2,993 and GVWR 4,200lbs. with a base dry hitch weight of 420lbs. I don't want to be at max load. I want to be able to haul a trailer with no issues. Is this trailer too heavy for my Chevy Traverse?

Answer: The GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) says that you should NEVER exceed this Gross trailer weight including what you put in it, including; food, clothing, water and sewage and such.

If you are going to travel in mountains and deserts and pretty much anywhere in the USA, most experts recommend that you never exceed 80% of your maximum ratings. This would mean you should not tow more than 80% of 5200 or around 4200 lbs.

At the same time, you should get your Traverse's; engine, cooling, transmission, braking, and overall drivetrain systems into top condition. Pulling loads up and down mountains and across deserts can really stress these systems over time.

Anyway, your trailer looks to be right up there, but actually under the limits of your Traverse.

Question: I have a 2017 Kia Sorento LX all-wheel drive. Can I use a Blue Ox towing bar?

Answer: First of all, you should go to the site https://rv.campingworld.com/towguide) and there you will find the towing capacity of your 2017 Kia Sorento.

As to using a specific Tow bar such as Blue Ox, first, you must know the numbers for your tow hitch setup. and then, as to the specific Blue Ox tow bar you want to use.

Contact Blue Ox Customer Service and they can give you more specific information on the one you wish to use.

Question: I have a 2013 Chevy Tahoe that has a GVWR of 7100 lbs. My 2001 Tahoe transport trailer is 5100lbs dry. How do I find out the tongue weight? My hitch on my car says 1000lbs, how do I find it for my trailer? Will it tow my trailer?

Answer: Your Question is very confusing. Are you looking to tow your Tahoe in your trailer being pulled by your car?

I am going to assume this is wrong, and you actually want to pull your transport trailer with your Tahoe and are looking for the tongue weight?

If this is the case then the experts say that the proper tongue weight for a trailer should be between 9 and 15% of the GTW (Gross Trailer Weight).

You can find different ways to measure your actual Tongue weight on the web.

Question: I have a 2004 Chevy Tahoe, 5.3L, looking to buy a 24ft Fleetwood Prowler, dry weight 4780, GVW 6000. The Tahoe tow weight is listed 7500lbs and GCVW of 11000lbs or 12000lbs, depending on where you look. Will my Tahoe pull this camper safely? I've tried so many sites trying to calculate and I'm unsure.

Answer: Your GVWR of 6000 is what it says the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating or maximum towing weight including the cargo, fluids, and anything else you put in the trailer.

Your Tahoe GCVW (Gross Combined Vehicle Rating) is the combination of the trailers weight and the towing vehicles weight combined when hooked together.

SO, with your example, the Tahoes max TOW WEIGHT of 7500 means it can tow the trailer with a GVW of 6000 lb and the combination of GVWR's (6000 + 6000) barely meets your GCVW of 12000 combines weights. So, the numbers indicate that your combination should be OK.

Question: I have a 2010 Dodge Ram 2500 Diesel and I want to buy a 5th wheel toy hauler. I am not sure what weight I can pull / should be looking for?

Answer: Your RAM has a GVWR rating, and you should find it in the owner's manual or call the Customer Service department and ask them.

Then when you start shopping for a Toy Hauler, you can check each one for its GVWR rating.

Once you have these numbers you can check if your truck is capable of towing this total or Gross weight.

I suspect that if your engine and transmission are not the largest available then you may not be able to tow a very large trailer.

Question: My truck is a 2015 Nissan Titan. Tow capacity 9300, payload 1488, and GVWR 7200. Can I safely pull a travel trailer in Colorado that has a GVWR of 6995? Passenger weight is 600#.

Answer: With your max Tow capacity being 9300 lbs and your travel trailer having a max GVWR of 6995 lb, you will be lowing a max load that is around 75% of your towing capacity, so your truck should have no problem with this.

Of course, you should have the following towing accessories to keep your trip a safe one. You should have a quality tow hitch installed that is rated to handle your trailer weight, You should have anti-sway bars to cut down on trailer sway in windy conditions. You should have a good trailer brake assist system installed in your truck. And a good spare tire for your travel trailer. You will appreciate your thoughtful and good preparation when you get on the road.

Question: I have a 2007 Honda Crv with hitch rating of 2000, hitch ball 5000, ball mount 3500. GVWR of Honda is 4560, how much cargo can I put in 5 x 8 U-Haul trailer?

Answer: The limiting factor for your Honda is that low 2000 lb. hitch rating. This the recommended MAX that it is designed to handle. So, to be safe, you should never tow a load higher than around 80% to maybe 85% of this limit.

Your Hondas GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) is the maximum weight rating for the car itself loaded with people and any items you are carrying in the vehicle, and this is not the Towing Capacity of the car.

Question: I have a 2011 Chevy Silverado 1500 Z71 4x4. It is a 4.8 V8, but recently I added a 4.56 Gear Ratio, 9” lift, a tune for the gears and lift, and it has 37” tires. What kind of weight could I tow?

Answer: Although the changes you made to your Silverado may look nice, none of them changed your trucks Towing capacity.

Check your owners manual and it will list your maximum Towing capacity. Your towing capacity is limited by the power train, which you did not change and the limits of the suspension. In fact, you should make sure that the lifts are as strong as your original suspension.

Otherwise, check your owners manual for your maximum towing capacity.

Question: I have a 17 ram rebel w/395 hp, 3.92 rear axle ratio. My towing capacity is around 10,140 lbs. We are looking to buy a travel trailer. How much weight can my truck carry and tow?

Answer: Actually, that Towing Capacity number is a MAX for you, and it includes whatever you are putting into the trailer as well as what you put in that truck bed.

I know everyone wants to really "load up" their truck, but that 10K is a lot of weight for your rear suspension and transmission, just to mention the top potential weak points in a towing truck.

In fact, if you are planning on towing for any distance in hilly or especially mountain areas, you should probably try to keep your max load at about 80% of your truck's maximum or in your case, keep it down to around a max of 8K.

Question: I have a 2016 Toyota Tacoma, will it be safe to tow a 1986 Kit Companinon?

Answer: Typically a 2016 Toyota Tacoma will have a towing capacity of 3500 lbs. But that is with the standard drive train and suspension. You should check your owners manual for and differences that may raise this limit if you have a special drivetrain or suspension.

As to your KIT camper, you should check the owner's manual for the GVWR rating. This number is often on a label mounted on the wall of campers somewhere inside.

The GVWR should be less than the Toyotas Towing capacity. In fact, it is often recommended that this be around 80% or less of the towing capacity.

Question: I have a 2019 Toyota RAV4 Adventure, Looking at a 17 Rpod. Can I tow this?

Answer: The simplest way to quickly check this is to check the owners manual on the towing vehicle for its towing limit. If you can't find it there, call your dealer and they should be able to tell you.

If they can't help you, the search for it on the web.

Once you have this number, remember that this is a MAXIMUM limit and it is usually recommended to only tow a tow vehicle that has a GVWR of 80% of this number. The GVWR is the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating and includes the gear a typical camper will have in it.

I would suspect that unless your RAV4 has been specially equipped, it will have a towing limit of only 3000 lbs, or possibly as low as 2500 lbs. But check to make sure, and make sure you get the appropriate towing accessories such as; tow adapter, ball hitch, safety tow cables, tow electric cable, and possible anti-sway bars.

Question: I own a 2012 Nissan Titan with Crew Cab? Can I haul a 5000-pound trailer with a 1040 pound tongue weight? I have a heavy duty weight distribution hitch.

Answer: Your truck could have one of several size engines and transmission combinations. Each of these combinations will have a different maximum towing capacity.

Search "Nissan Titan crew cab towing capacity 2012" on Google, and you will find several ratings for this truck. I saw the first two mention 9300 lbs maximum towing capacity, which seems high to me, but you should check for yourself.

Question: I have a 1500 Silverado 2001 5.3l V-8. It is the LS model 4 wheel drive extended cab, how much can I tow?

Answer: You should search on the web for "What is the towing capacity for 2001 Silverado, 1500" for more information but what I saw was a limit around 8700 lbs if your truck is outfitted properly.

Question: 2017 BMW m240i does not have towing capacity or a gvwr. Nor does it list a payload. Uhaul put a hitch on for me. But how do I calculate what I can tow? Someone told me 80% of the curbside weight, but that sounds too simple.

Answer: It seems that your BMW braked towing capacity can be as low as 0-kg on up to 1200-kg. depending on the model. You can go to the "Carguide" site on the web and look up your specific model to check this.

Question: I have a 2010 Lincoln Navigator, it says 6000 to 9800 on the data chart. Is it safe to pull my imagine camper with a rating of 6900 to 7500 safely?

Answer: From what little information you have given me, and the age of your Navigator I would say that if your Navigator was in perfect condition it would still be towing at the very maximum limit of what it could tow.

As far as safety is concerned, and considering the unwritten towing rule that you should never tow a load that exceeds 80% of your towing vehicles limit, I would not recommend that you tow this size trailer with what is essentially a 10-year-old vehicle.

Question: Have a 2017 Nissan Frontier Pro 4x with a towing capacity of 9200... looking at 4th wheel with dry weight of 7900lbs, 400lbs passenger and 55 gallons of water. Will my truck handle this?

Answer: I assume you meant 5th wheel? Anyway, Sure, you can tow that camper, but I would not recommend it for your Nissan. You would actually be over your weight limit by the time you added passengers, dishes, linens, clothes, groceries and water.

It is usually not recommended to tow a total weight of over 80% of your towing capacity. And, even at that, your drivetrain would be loaded down dramatically when you go into hilly or mountainous country.

For the size 5th wheel you are considering, you would need to get one of the big 3/4 or 1- ton trucks with towing capacities up to 12,000 pounds. With this combination, your towing vehicle can safely tow your trailer and go pretty much anywhere from flatlands to mountains.

© 2013 Don Bobbitt

Comments

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on October 08, 2019:

Randy - Your GVWR is not your Towing Capacity. You should be able to find that in your owner's manual or just do a simple search on the web. GVWR is the Gross Weight your truck can safely weigh including any load. Once you know your Towing Capacity, then you can know what your camper trailer can weigh (GVWR) including load.

Randy on October 07, 2019:

My 2008 Toyata Highlander has GVWR weight of 5800 pounds I'm looking to buy 20' trailer can I pull it with my 2008 Toyota Highlander sport it has v6 3.5 engine

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on July 25, 2019:

Mary Alvarado - Check the GVWR rating for your trailer. If that is the weight number you are using then you are within the range for your Toyota.

Have a Nice day,

DON

Mary Alvarado on July 23, 2019:

I have a 1986 Ki Companion Trailer, the weight is 3976 lbs, can I pull it safely with my 2016 Toyota Tacoma which can tow 5000 lbs?

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on July 09, 2019:

Spence PeacePaker - The typical recommendation for a safe maximum towing weight is around 80% of your towing vehicles max towing capacity.

The 80% of your towing vehicles max of 3500 is around 2800 which will give you a safe trip without placing a heavy load on the towing vehicles engine, drivetrain, and suspension.

Of course, you could quickly increase this load with your camping gear, food, clothing and other such things loading your camper closer to your towing vehicles limit.

As to your people question, remember all 5 of the ones you mention are even more load on your towing vehicles GVWR.

And to your space question, most smaller to average size camper trailers will typically have 2-bunk beds, and a master bed, and most will even have a sleeper sofa.

My observations in my past are that its a lot more comfortable in good weather than in bad weather to have a full camper.

Have a good Dayt,

DON

Spence PeaceMaker on July 09, 2019:

I have a 2012 Chevy Captiva LTZ V6 3.0 with max tow capacity of 3500. GVWR 5057. Curb weight 4024. Would a trailer with UVW 2995, Hitch 415 and GVW of 3500 be pushing safe levels? What UVW would you recommend saying under with that tow vehicle. Is it realistic to find an used travel trailer (NOT POP UP) that can sleep 3-4 adults and a child comfortably under these weight limits?

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on May 11, 2019:

Rodney - First of all, such a heavy trailer would put a strain on your truck's drive train as well as be very dangerous, if for no other reason than you truck would not be able to control such a heavy trailer on the road.

The cheapest resolution for you would be to purchase another much lighter trailer or a more suited truck.

Have a Good Day!

DON

Rodney on May 11, 2019:

I have a 2012 Tundra that has 7200 GVWR . Can I pull trailer that has 8800 GVWR .

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on January 24, 2019:

Sam - As thy say in the Movies;

Happy Trails!

DON

Sam Sanchez on January 24, 2019:

Thanks again Don. I forgot to indicate that the kids will be in the truck. Lol

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on January 24, 2019:

Sam Sanchez - The numbers you are listing look OK.

Again, consider things like; your tow hitch method, your anti-sway bars, chains, braking systems in the trailer and towing vehicle, your engine and transmission cooling systems and such to make sure everything is adequate for the job.

By the Way, it is illegal for kids to ride in a towed travel trailer.

Have safe journeys,

DON

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on January 24, 2019:

Kevin - It's the actual weight that law enforcement will look at.

As you know all states have weight stations and many state troopers have portable scales they can slip under your trailer tires to get the actual weight you are towing.

Typically the are watching the large commercial tractor-trailer rigs, and "box" trucks. But the states vary in regard to what their priorities will be.

There is no reason to push your load over the safe limit for your towing vehicle or the trailer used and cause an accident or even worse an injury to someone.

Have a Great day!

Don

Sam Sanchez on January 23, 2019:

Hi Don,

Thank you for the quick response. So if I'm looking at towing a 4,000 lb trailer and I will have 1,000 lbs of extra weight (kids, gas, and supplies) will that be ok to tow with my truck? That will put me at 5,000 lbs and my truck has a towing capacity of 6,100 lbs.

Kevin on January 23, 2019:

Hi, is the legality of a tow rig determined by the maximum allowable specs or the actual weight? Example- my trucks towing capacity is 8k, can i legally pull a 10k rated trailer with a 4k dry weight if it is unloaded? Or only loaded with say 2k worth of cargo?

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on January 23, 2019:

Sam Sanchez - That number you mentioned, is the maximum for you to tow.

With that said, there are very few things you can do to increase that number very much.

An here's some more bad news for you.

You need to also consider that this number is, I assume, the GCWR, and you need to realize whatever you pull, you will load up with clothing, food, water, kitchen utensils and other personal items which will take away from the GVWR if the trailer or camper you want to tow.

Finally, most people try to keep their total weight down to 80% of their max rating, especially of they are going to tow in hilly or mountainous country.

Don't overload, remember you have a short-block V8, and a standard 1/2-ton truck suspension, anc a standard engine and transmission cooling system that you can harm with too much of a load.

I hope this helps you make your decision of towing.

Have Great Day!

DON

Sam Sanchez on January 22, 2019:

Good Morning Don,

I have a towing question for you and hope that you can assist.

I have a 2017 Chevy 1500 Silverado 4WD with a 5.3L V8 and a gear ratio of 3.08. I looked up my towing capacity at the trailer life towing guide and it indicates 6100 lbs.

How do I go about figuring out what weight of trailer my truck can safely tow?

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on August 26, 2018:

Carl - No, if your camper are within the towing limits of the ACADIA, you should be OK, but I do recommend that you do not push the towing weight limit of the Acadia. Leave yourself room for all of that "stuff" you will be putting into your camper including the water and sewage in your storage tanks.

And, fi you are going to travel on a lot of mountains and in hot desert conditions, I would recommend that you look into the possibility of adding a transmission cooler and additional water cooling systems. These will help you minimize the chances of transmission or engine damage.

Have a great day,

DON

Carla Jobe-Partington on August 26, 2018:

Hello, I own a GMC Acadia and would like to tow a small Travel Trailer. Coachmen makes a number of Ultra Lite models that are within my vehicle's towing capability. Do you see any issues with using the GMC Acadia for towing?

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on August 24, 2018:

Hopefully, I was of some help in resolving your problem.

Have a Great Day,

DON

pierregagnon on August 24, 2018:

Don,

Thank you for your answer. It is appreciated.

Pierre

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on August 23, 2018:

Pierregagnon - Your numbers say that your Q5 can handle towing your trailer. But always remember that you can easily end up storing several hundreds of pound of gear, food, fresh water, etc. Another thing to realize is that you are at the upper limit of your Q5's capability, so if you are going to tow in mountains or really HOT areas you probably should add a transmission cooler as well a transmission fluid temperature gauge. And you should also consider adding a booster radiator so you would have extra cooling for your water cooling system.

Good Luck with your project,

DON

pierregagnon on August 22, 2018:

Don,

I have an Audi Q5 2.0T that can tow 4400 pounds. I would like to buy a trailer with a dry weight of 3140 pounds, a GVWR of 3800 and a tongue weight of 330. The sails person says no problems. I am not entirely convinced. I really like the trailer but I am apprehensive.

Thanks for your help.

Pierre

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on August 05, 2018:

Michelle - First of all, the GCWR is the "combined weight ratio" for the truck load added to what is being towed.

As to what the actual capacity is for that particular truck and considering the different transmission and rear-end, the numbers in the truck's manual is probably the accurate one.

But your idea of calling the manufacturer's customer service department for the right numbers is always a smart move.

Here's a note for you; Most RV owners will tell you to NEVER load the towing truck above 75% of the max. This way, you can cruise comfortably, and safely) on flat land and still have the power and braking needed when you go into the mountains.

Just Saying,

Good Luck,

DON

Michelle on August 04, 2018:

Hi Don! I hope you can help me. I have a 1999 Dodge Ram 2500 4x4 SLT w/ a Cummins and auto transmission, 3.55 axle ratio. My manual shows the GCWR is 16,000 (depending on the axle ratio).

I am looking to get a different truck with up to 20,000# capacity to tow a LQ trailer and have some extra capacity as I live in the mountains. My manual indicates a manual transmission quad cab 4x4 truck in the same trim would have 20,000# capacity.

Here's the rub. I found a 1999 Quad Cab SLT, 4.1 axle ratio, manual tranmission. My manual says it would have 20,000# capacity. Perfect, right? However, the manual that came with that truck, which is also a 1999 manual, says it only has 18,000# capacity.

How can this be? And what in the world is going on?! And how do I determine what the actual capacity for that truck is?

If I call Dodge with a VIN number, will they be able to tell me?

Thanks so much!

Michelle

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on July 28, 2018:

Rather than calculate this for you, I recommend that you use this link to a great calculator for everyone to use. The link is;

http://changingears.com/rv-sec-calc-trailer-weight...

It is set up for pounds or kilos and should help you with your problem.

Good Luck,

DON

Mal on July 27, 2018:

Hello Don i have a 1996 toyota 80 series land cruiser 4x4 diesel it can tow 2500 kilo the tare weight is 2010 kilo the gvm is 2960 kilo, i tow a caravan with a tare weight of 2130 kilo tare weight with a gvm weight of 2500 kilo, could you tell me what the GCWR weight would be?

Thank you Mal.

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on April 19, 2018:

LUKE and Logroller - I really cannot calculate the numbers for everyone, but I do recommend that you read my article closely and you cna do the same thing with your numbers.

I can tell you a few obvious things;

1- Whatever rating your truck has; (1500, 2500, 3500, or 150, 250, 350, etcetera, which stand for 1/2-ton, 3/4-ton, and 1-ton, is a reference to how much load a truck's bed and rear chassis can hau safelyl,

2- Whatever towing capacity you end up calculating, you should allow yourself enough margin so that you can pull those mountains you run into occasionally. Most recommend that you keep yourself at the 75% range if you travel over mountains and hills very often.

3- If you have a fifth-wheel, and a short-bed truck, make sure you have purchased a slide-hithc setup.

4- If you're towing a trailer, make suere you have a good set of stabilizer bars as part of your towing package.

Good Luck,

DON

logrolller on April 18, 2018:

I have a 2017 GMC Sierra 1500,6.2L, V8 Crew Cab SLT, short box, 4X4, w/max trailering package.

Here are my numbers.

Truck curb weight 5547lbs

Payload 1690 - 2030lbs (I believe my model is 2030lbs)

GVWR 7200 - 7600lbs (I believe my model is 7600lbs)

Max trailering 3.42 axle ratio with a 9.76 axle - 11,700lbs

GCWR 17,700lbs

Rear gross axle weight rating - 3950 - 4300lbs (I believe my model is 4300lbs)

Front gross axle weight rating 3950lbs

Hitch 1200/12,000 V-5 GM

I'm still trying to figure out what the truck will tow safely and without destroying the drive train. We are looking at getting a travel trailer to live on the road touring North America for a minimum of a year and probably longer. Can you help narrow the weight down for me.

luke on April 18, 2018:

I have a 2017 GMC Sierra 1500,6.2L, V8 Crew Cab SLT, short box, 4X4, w/max trailering package.

Here are my numbers.

Truck curb weight 5547lbs

Payload 1690 - 2030lbs (I believe my model is 2030lbs)

GVWR 7200 - 7600lbs (I believe my model is 7600lbs)

Max trailering 3.42 axle ratio with a 9.76 axle - 11,700lbs

GCWR 17,700lbs

Rear gross axle weight rating - 3950 - 4300lbs (I believe my model is 4300lbs)

Front gross axle weight rating 3950lbs

Hitch 1200/12,000 V-5 GM

I'm still trying to figure out what the truck will tow safely and without destroying the drive train. We are looking at getting a travel trailer to live on the road touring North America for a minimum of a year and probably longer. Can you help narrow the weight down for me.

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on April 13, 2018:

james - the truck being a dualie kicks up the LOAD it can CARRY, but with your specific engine, go to the Dodge manual and find the page with the table like I used in my Hub. Then using the GVWR and their hitch tow rating, you can calculate your maximum tow capacity, like I demonstrated. But most people will only tow 75% or less than this maximum.

james on April 12, 2018:

i have a 06 dodge dually with a 5.7 leter v8 how much can i tow without putting a strain on my engine

Gypsylooloo on March 28, 2018:

Thanks so much!!

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on March 27, 2018:

Gypsylooloo - To check if your hitch is level, place yur truck and camper on a level surface (like in a shopping center??). Then when hitched up together, put a level on your camper and it should be level. If the front is low then you will have more of the camper weight on your truck, and if the rear is low, you could get instances where on a bumpy road, the camper tries to lift your truck. Also, you should use sway bars, safety chains and of course, have the light wiring connector plugged in.

Good luck,

DON

Gypsylooloo on March 27, 2018:

How do I determine if the hitch is at the right height? Should it be level? I also assume I should buy a heavy duty ball for the hitch? I was going to use the hitch that came with the truck.

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on March 26, 2018:

Gypsylooloo - Well, the answer would be YES, IF!

The IF is if you use the proper hitch, with the ball set at the right height so that your "tongue weight" is right. The Envoy should have enough power with a 5000-pound towing capacity to handle the load.

Good luck,

DON

Gypsylooloo on March 26, 2018:

I have an old terry camper the weight is about 3000. Its been gutted and redone with lighter materials. So hopefully it weighs less. Will a GMC Envoy with Tow complicity of 5000 be ok?

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on March 14, 2018:

James O - Glad i could help!

DON

James O on March 13, 2018:

Thanks Don - You are the first person to give me a straight answer I could understand.

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on March 13, 2018:

James O - If your Max Towing Weight is 7000lbs. then there are several things you need to consider. First, you should not tow a camper (tt) that weighs this much. I would recommend that you keep your max towing weight as about 75% of this maximum to keep your towing experiences on the open road safer and easier on your truck.

Second, Your camper's Dry weight must be dded to the estimated total weight of everything you put into your camper to get the actual weight of what you are towing. This would include things like; water in your tank, propane, food in fridge, clothing, dishes, etcetera. These numers added together are the weight you are really going to be towing.

Good Luck,

DON

James O on March 12, 2018:

Don,

I am shopping for a TT to pull with my 2017 Chevy Colorado V6 3.6L max towing 7000lbs. What would be the max TT dry weight i could safely pull.

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on March 08, 2018:

Dajadt - Yeah, Honestly I think you're going to have problems when you get into hilly areas.

DON

Dajadt Azakytu on March 07, 2018:

Hello Don

Hope thing going well.

I have a 2011 6.7 Crew Cab Gvwr 10,000Ibs.

Max 5th wheel towing 15,700.

The RV 393RBLOK we are looking at weigh Dry 13,340 Wet 15,500

Hitch we bought is a 18k Pullrite.

Taking these number into consideration do you feel I'm pushing it?

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on February 18, 2018:

David Barnes - Wen you check, you will se that the Ford, GM, and Ram trucks will carry nearly identical payload specs (within 200-300 pounds). The heartache comes when you use the numbers and calculate how easily you can tow your total load on the open road and in mountains. You never want to be near the upper end of this limit. The final decision for you should be based on where you're gonna go, and how many hills are involved.From your numbers, mountains might really slow you down, but it does a lot of people.

Good Luck,

DON

David Barnes on February 13, 2018:

Hi, Don

Don,I have a 2017 F2 50 Ford XLT crew cab

GVWR on the truck is 10,000 pounds

My curb weight on the trucks gonna be somewhere around 6400 pounds (Less the fifth wheel hitch)

Now our new 2017/5 wheel

GVWR is 10,800 pounds?

That number could be just the GVW not sure

I’ve estimated 700 pounds worth of stuff in the camper

For the truck payload additional things will be 350 pounds

With the above information can you help me find what my total payload will be THE not to exceed number....

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on November 07, 2017:

Typically, your size auto will only tow 1000 pounds; such as a small trailer for hauling small loads locally.

waleed1111 on November 06, 2017:

hi all I have CR-V 2007 with engine 2.4 gasoline how much weight I can tow?

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on March 19, 2015:

gene irvine- Far too many people ignore what the "extras" weigh when they are calculating what hitch system they need. I never recommend that anyone end up wit a load that is "just under" the limits.

It's not just a safety issue, either. If you "over buy" your hitch system you will find that you have more control and your towing experience is a lot nicer, in addition to being safer.

DON

gene irvine on March 18, 2015:

Hello Don, I have a Polaris 850 that i lug around when i go camping along with extra fuel , ramps, ect. I'm installing a new equalizer hitch, do I need to take this extra weight in consideration even though the quad sits in the truck bed?

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on November 16, 2014:

cam8510- Sounds like you have a plan. You have a good sturdy truck and a plan for matching it with the appropriate tow load.

AS to me? Well like you said the research is a bit of work to get the right information, but once you have the right numbers you can tow a lot safer load.

And Arctic Fox makes a top end quality RV.

I hope you enjoy your travels.

DON

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on November 16, 2014:

Don, I had a nice long comment written and evidently switched pages without sending it. I hate it when that happens. I bought a pristine '95 Dodge Ram 2500 last spring. Cummins diesel, no rust. I went through all of these things you have pulled together here. It is quite a process to figure these things out. I discovered that due to an axle ratio of 3.52, I'm limited to a GTWR of 10,000 lbs. That's ok though. I'm looking for an Arctic Fox that fits the tongue weight and towing weight. Thanks for all the hard work on this hub. Very helpful.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on November 16, 2014:

Thanks Don, for all the information in one place. I spent last winter wading through all of this and it was pure torture. I purchased a very clean 1995 Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins that has never towed and needed to know what I could pull with it. I came in at about 10,000 lbs for the trailer fully loaded. I think a 3.54 gear transfer ratio is holding me to a lower weight. But that's ok, I've got an Arctic Fox in mind that should fit the bill. Great information that for me was very difficult to pull together and understand.

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on September 25, 2013:

mr-veg- Actually,I am in the process of shopping for the right Pickup truck to tow my 5th wheel, or "fiver" as they are now called. And, I have had to go through this process in detail for myself. So, I figured that I would share what I have learned.

Thanlks for the Read and comment,

DON

mr-veg from Colorado United States on September 24, 2013:

Nice interesting observation that you have put out here Don !! Really nice and I learnt something new today !! Voted all the way up !!

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on September 10, 2013:

Lizzie- Thank You for your comment, and I hope the article is of some use to you in the future.

DON

Lizzie Edenfield-endenfin on September 09, 2013:

So interesting and educational! I have always wondered how they work. I'm so excited about what I ve learned, I 'm even thinking to buy a boat, just to try it. Thank you Don!