A Guide to Towing Capacity

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As you may know already – or may not know – towing capacity extends beyond the reaches of the lb specification such as “7,000lbs”; there are lots of undertones that should be explored because when it comes to trucks and SUVs, this is a factor for most vehicle owners. 

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Cargo to be Towed

For starters, when you think about towing capacity, you should think deeper than the weight of the cargo your vehicle will be towing; your thought process should include the weight of the cargo (obviously), the weight of the towing vehicle i.e. your car, the weight of the passengers/occupants of the vehicle, and everything inside the cargo if the cargo being towed is a trailer or an RV. Now you see, it makes it unreasonable to take just “7,000lbs” as the weight of the cargo to be towed.

Tow Hitches

By now, you must have figured out the actual weight to be towed (by adding up everything we talked about in the previous section). The next step is to determine the device – the hitch – that will connect your towing vehicle and the trailer/RV to be towed. You have to be careful here because there are different classes of hitches to deal with: Class I, Class II, Class III, Class IV, Class V; each class specifies the type of cargo the vehicle can tow.

Towing Terms

Just like we mentioned earlier, there are undertones in towing. Some of these undertones are terms such as:

  • Payload (aka Payload Capacity) – the maximum weight a truck can carry in its interior. This is different from towing capacity.
  • Curb weight – the total weight of a towing vehicle plus all the fluids (oil, full tank of fuel, et al.) it needs to be in motion.
  • Gross trailer weight aka GTW – the total weight of the trailer being towed and the cargo. This is more like the total weight of the trailer plus the payload capacity.
  • Gross vehicle weight rating – the total weight a towing vehicle and the vehicle being towed can hold while they are not in motion.
  • Tongue weight – this helps you figure out how the weight of the cargo being towed weighs down on the hitch that connects your towing vehicle to the trailer/RV being towed.
  • Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating – the total weight of your towing vehicle and vehicle being towed when fully loaded with cargo.

Bringing these three sections together, the best way to calculate the towing capacity of your vehicle is by adding up the GCVWR of the towing vehicle and the vehicle/RV being towed + the cargo both of them will carry + the passengers/occupants of both vehicles + the fluid. When you have added all these bits and pieces together, subtract the towing vehicle’s curb weight and then, stay within a usage capacity of 90% of the total towing capacity.

This seems like a lot but once you do it again and again, you will get used to it. 

However, if you prefer to not DIY, you can call our experts for assistance in calculating and estimating the best fit for your towing vehicle or your towing needs. Visit us in Philadelphia, near Trenton, at 7418 Frankford Ave Philadelphia, PA 19136, or call us at (215) 821-3557.

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