How Much Can I Tow With A Class C License? (California, Texas, PA)

How Much Can I Tow With A Class C License

Do you know how much can you tow with a Class C license in California, Texas, or PA?  this is one of the questions our readers ask a lot. Well, we´ve got you covered.

A class C license is a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) and allows you to drive certain vehicles and tow a specified—certain weight or under—amount. Knowing what you can do with a Class C CDL is largely determined by what state you live in. Every state has its own rules.

So, how much can I tow with a class C license? The default definition of a Class C Driver’s License is a CDL that allows a driver to drive specific vehicles—2-axle with less than 26,000 gross weight—or tow a vehicle less than 10,000lbs. and a trailer coach or fifth-wheel between 10,000 and 15,000lbs.

There’s more to it than that, of course. Each state has its own set of rules and what it considers a Class C Driver’s License. Overall, however, a Class C license enables you to drive and tow heavier than what is considered the normal capabilities granted with a Class D driver’s License.

What Categories Does A Class C Driver’s Licence Cover?

As described by career websites and generic DMV information—remember, every state is different—a Class C Driver’s License covers more than just what you can tow and how much it can weigh.

  • Housecars not longer than 40’
  • 2-axle vehicles that cannot exceed a gross vehicle weight (GVWR) of 26,000lbs.
  • 3-axle vehicles that cannot exceed a GVWR of 6,000lbs.
  • 3-wheel motorcycles, regardless of wheel location
  • Commuter vans that carry between ten and fifteen people

Some states don’t require a Class C License for some of the things on this list, especially commuter vans and 3-wheel motorcycles.

Since covering all 50 states would require a book rather than an article, the most common requirements for a Class C are what we’ll stick with.

Some things are considered exceptional circumstances as well. For instance, Class C covers towing equipment up to 26,000lbs., but only if it is being towed for the purposes of farm work.

If it’s not for farm work, you’d have to move up to a Class B. 

Supposedly, the powers that be decided it is far more unsafe to carry up to 26,000lbs of concrete than it is to carry up to 26,000lbs of farming equipment, hay, or horses.

But we don’t make the rules so it is what it is. 

Read also: Do I Need A CDL For Trucks Under 26,000 Lbs? (DOT Regulations)

What Are The Requirements For Obtaining A Class C Driver’s License?

Once again, these are the generic requirements and the first thing you should do if you’re looking to obtain a Class C License is to check your state’s guidelines.

There may be more steps involved and there may be fewer, however, it’s important to know before diving in headfirst.

  • Obtain a copy of your state’s CDL manual
  • Most states have an age requirement and you’ll have to fill out a CDL application
  • Most states will require a physical and vision exam to one degree or another
  • Written CDL exam
  • You’ll be issued a permit (like a driver’s permit—with certain obligations that still have to be fulfilled
  • Complete state training requirements
  • Some states will require “ride-along” training, where you will ride with a driver who has their CDL
  • Driving test
  • Whatever state fees are required for the process

As stated, this list may not be all of the requirements you will have to undergo. As far as a Class C, CDL is concerned, it may be that there are fewer steps necessary in the state in which you reside.

However, it’s a safe bet that the above criteria will be pretty close.

Read also: What Are CDL Restrictions? (Codes, Endorsements, O, E, M, and L)

How Much Can I Tow With a Class C License In Texas

A class C Texas drivers license is good for 26,000lbs total GVWR

How Much Weight Can T Tow With a Class C License in PA

In PA if towing any trailer, including an RV, with a GVW over 10,000lbs then your weight class sticker must be for the total combined GVW, not just the truck. Also, if towing with a GCVWR over 26001 pounds a class A driver’s license is required.

How Much Can I Tow With A Class C License In California

In California, if your truck and trailer are over 26,000lbs combined total gross vehicle weight, then regardless of the weight of the trailer, you need a Class A non-commercial license.

If a trailer that is in combination with the truck is over 26,000lbs CGVW, then you would have had to obtain a Class A non-commercial license.

What Vehicles Require A Class C Commercial License?

The Department of Transportation classifies anything that doesn’t meet the weight specifications for Class A and Class B Licenses falls into the Class C category.

So, you won’t see drivers holding a Class C license behind the wheel of a semi.

However, limousines, ambulances, fire trucks, certain classes of dump trucks, large capacity passenger vehicles, and small buses are categorized as vehicles that require a Class C License.

A Class C Driver’s License, in most states, also qualifies you to drive hazmat vehicles, tank trucks, and triple trailers.

As with all license types, the state you are residing in may have different stipulations for what you can and can’t drive.

The above lists, however, generally cover the types of vehicles you can drive in each state, according to the Department of Transportation.

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

What Is The Most You Can Tow Without A Class C Commercial License?

It can often be confusing trying to figure out what you can and cannot tow without a CDL License. It mostly boils down to GVWR.

If the total combined GVWR of your vehicle and the vehicle you’re towing weighs more than 26,000lbs., you have to have a CDL.

Also, you can tow anything under 10,000lbs., so long as the 10,000lbs of the vehicle you’re towing and your vehicle do not exceed 26,000lbs.

Even if both vehicles combined do not exceed the limitations, the towed vehicle cannot weigh more than 10,000lbs.

Anyone with a standard, state-issued driver’s license can tow a trailer. Unless the trailer—like the vehicle scenario above—does not exceed 10,000lbs.

It is all about weight. Some heavy-duty civilian trucks can tow around 35,000lbs., which would require a Class A CDL, even though it’s your own, personal vehicle, and the package you’re towing may not be that long or unwieldy.

At the same time, you could tow a 40’ recreational vehicle around town that’s three times the size of much heavier loads.

The reason is that many large campers don’t exceed 10,000lbs. That may seem like a strange way to classify who and who doesn’t need a CDL.

However, the Department of Transportation considers weight as a potentially more dangerous haul than just sheer size. 

Read also: What Truck Can Tow 30,000 lbs (5 Examples of Heavy Duty Pickup Trucks)

How Many Cars Can You Haul Without A Class C CDL?

Most state Departments of Transportation don’t seem to really care what you’re towing—as long as it isn’t something crazy—so long as it doesn’t exceed 26,000lbs. When combined with the towing vehicle. 

If you have a 6,500lb truck, you can haul up to 19,500lbs. Of course, depending on the make and models of the cars you’re towing, that could mean a lot of cars.

This is especially true if you’re hauling a whole bunch of Mini Coopers

Some states even allow trailers that are longer than 40’, which means you could potentially haul an entire fleet of Mini Coopers with nothing more than a state-issued, Class D Driver’s License and be 18 years old. 

So long as the weight requirements are not exceeded, you’re good to go. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean you won’t get the occasional state-level Department of Transportation or State Highway Patrol officers that are more than willing to pull you over.

If it looks like it might exceed 26,000lbs, the chance of getting involved in a traffic stop increases.

Final Thoughts

A Class C CDL allows you to pull more than 26,000lbs, and drive heavier equipment, but it’s not a wide separation between what constitutes a Class C and a Class D.

In fact, there is a good deal of leeway for standard licensed drivers before a CDL is required.

Before applying for a CDL, always check your state’s Department of Transportation regulations so you can better prepare and familiarize yourself with the requirements involved. 

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Jeff is an automotive technician, technical writer, and Managing Editor. He has held a lifelong passion for cars, with a particular interest in cars like the Buick Reatta. Jeff has been creating written and video content about transportation, automotive, electric cars, future vehicles as well as new, used for more than 18 years. Jeff is based in Boulder, Colorado.

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