Do You Need A CDL To Drive An F-550 (Best Tips!)

Do You Need A CDL To Drive An F-550

Do you know if you need a CDL to drive an F-550? this is one of the questions our readers ask a lot. Well, we´ve got you covered.

Maybe you have found out the requirements for a CDL, but found them exceptionally confusing or have found contradictory explanations between various websites?

The F-550 model range, and its variations, is one of the workhorses of the company’s lineup and exists in several specialized configurations intended for commercial use as an ambulance, fire/rescue trucks, and so on.

Among the wider, general civilian market, it is very popular for its very high load and towing capacity.

Because of this, in some situations, you might need a CDL to drive it.

So, do you need a CDL to drive an F-550? Yes, you need a CDL to drive an F-550 if the trailer’s GVWR is more than 10,000 pounds because it is not allowed to tow a trailer above this limit without it. However, if you are not towing any trailer, you will never need a CDL to drive it. For a general guestimate, you can tow almost any trailer 38 feet long or shorter, but also many that are 40 or more feet in length.

When Would You Need a CDL To Drive an F-550?

If the trailer has the GVWR which is well under the limit of 26,000 pounds, so there is no reason to worry about it.

Whether you need it or not, depends on the GVWR of the trailer you might be towing with it.

But, for the trailers with lower GVWR, it depends on the GCWR and if it is under 26,000 pounds you don’t need it.

In other words, if the GVWR of the trailer is under 6,500 or 8,500 pounds, depending on the exact configuration of your F-550 and its GVWR.

What are Ford F-550 Towing Capacity and GVWR?

To understand when you may need a CDL to drive F-550 and when not, you should know what are its limits when it comes to carrying or towing loads.

Depending on the exact variant and model year of the F-550, and inclusion of various optional packages, and the selection of engines, towing capacity can be in a wide range.

For the latest generation, the model year 2022, this range is between 18,500 and 31,600 pounds.

This wide range of towing capacity is what misleads many people that they need a CDL to drive F-550 in any situation.

This is a wrong assumption as the GVWR is a more important characteristic as a requirement for a CDL, and for the model year 2022, it is between 17,500 and 19,500 pounds.

Now that you are familiar with all of the important terms and numbers, we can answer the main question.

Read also: How Much Weight Can You Tow Without A Commercial License

What is a CDL?

Before explaining when you may need a CDL to operate a Ford F-550, let’s cover what is CDL.

Commercial Driver’s License, or CDL for short, is a special driver’s license that is needed for operating vehicles intended for commercial purposes.

In simpler terms, for transporting heavy loads, dangerous material, or a high number of passengers.

There are three classes of CDL licenses based on which situations they are required in:

  • Class A is required for operating a combination of vehicles whose GCWR is above 26,000 pounds and towed vehicle’s GVWR is above 10,000 pounds;
  • Class B is for operating single or combinations of vehicles which GVWR or GCWR, respectively, is above 26,000 pounds while the towed vehicle’s GVWR is under 10,000 pounds;
  • Class C allows operating vehicles intended for the transport of hazardous materials or more than 16 passengers, including the driver.

These requirements can be summed up in much simpler terms, a CDL is required when the GVWR of the vehicle or GCWR of the combination of vehicles you are operating is more than 26,000 pounds.

Read also: How to Measure Towing Capacity, GVWR, GCWR, Truck, Trailer

What are a GVWR and GCWR?

GVWR and GCWR are numbers that determine when you may need a CDL or not, and because of that, it is important to understand what they are.

GVWR or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is a specification of every vehicle, whether it is powered or unpowered.

It is specified by the manufacturer and can be found imprinted on the same sticker where you would find the vehicle’s VIN and other information, most often on the inside of the driver’s door B pillar.

It represents the maximum allowed weight of a vehicle including all fluids, passengers, and loads in that vehicle.

On vehicles that are equipped with a towing hitch, this number also includes the maximum hitch weight load.

Read also: Do I Need A CDL For Private Or Personal Use? (Bus, Trailer)

GCWR or Gross Combination Weight Rating is practically all of the above, but for a combination of a towing and a towed vehicle and with a slight difference that the maximum hitch weight load of towing vehicle is not included in it, as it is a component of GVWR of the towed vehicle.

For a quick calculation of GCWR of any combination of vehicles all you need is to sum their individual GVWRs and subtract the maximum hitch load.

With GCWR as a CDL requirement, you need to be careful as many manufacturers state it in their vehicle specifications.

Problem is that they state the maximum allowed for a particular vehicle, but when it comes to CDL requirements what matters is the actual one.

The fact that some trucks can tow a trailer heavier than 10,000 lbs doesn’t mean that you need a CDL, you need it only if you are towing a trailer that is allowed to weigh more than 10,000 pounds when loaded.

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Mike Gilmour

Hi, I'm Mike, co-founder, and editor of RV and Playa. My passion is traveling (with my RV) and enjoying the day at the beach (Playa)! Well, I originally created this blog as a way to share what I've learned by experimenting with the RV lifestyle, and I want to help others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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