How to Measure Towing Capacity, GVWR, GCWR, Truck, Trailer


Towing-Capacity

Have you ever wondered how to measure the towing capacity of truck or trailer? Look no more. We´ve got you covered.

If you want to tow anything with your vehicle, then you need to know about towing capacity. You may think that understanding the towing capacity of your vehicle will involve nothing more than a glance at the manual for your vehicle, however, it does.

It involves a lot more. When you want to work out what your vehicle’s towing capacity is, there are a few things that you will have to know about.

On this page, we are going to help decipher the idea of towing capacity. We are going to talk about some of the terms that you need to understand, as well as the calculations that you need to use.

What is Towing Capacity?

Towing capacity is the amount of weight that your vehicle can pull. Each vehicle will have its own maximum towing weight.

Not only will it be based upon the vehicle, but it will also be based upon what is inside of the vehicle at the time of towing, the hitch that is used, plus the trailer that is being used.

Truck towing capacity guide

If you plan on towing with your vehicle, you must understand what your towing capacity is. If you get it wrong, then it could result in serious damage to your vehicle.

LabelWeight Capacity TypeWeight Capacity Description
GVWRGross Vehicle Weight RatingMaximum loaded weight of a vehicle
GCWRGross Combined Weight RatingMaximum loaded weight of a vehicle
GAWRGross Axle Weight RatingMaximum weight on each vehicle axle
GTWGross Trailer WeightTotal weight of a trailer
TWTongue WeightTotal weight at the coupling point
Curb WeightCurb WeightTotal weight of an empty vehicle
Dry weightDry WeightTotal weight of a vehicle without fluids
PayloadPayloadTotal weight of any cargo and passengers
Vehicle Towing Capacity Chart

Towing Capacity Examples

Below you can find the most common items you might tow, along with their respective weights:

  • Car (2,800 lbs)
  • Car trailer (1,600 to 2,000 lbs)
  • Motorboat (2,500 lbs)
  • Boat trailer (300 to 1,500 lbs)
  • Camper (5,200 lbs)
  • Pop-up Trailer (600-4,000 lbs)
  • Teardrop Trailer (520-2,000 lbs)
  • Airstream (2,500-4,000 lbs)
  • The Ranger is Rated for 3,500 lbs of Towing capacity
  • The Toyota 4runner is Rated for 5,000 lbs of Towing capacity
  • The Toyota Sienna is Rated for 3,500 lbs of Towing capacity
  • The Ford Escape is Rated for 1,500 lbs of Towing capacity
  • The Chevrolet Colorado is Rated for 3,500 lbs of Towing capacity
  • The Chevrolet Avalanche is Rated for 8,100 lbs of Towing capacity

Vehicle Towing Capacity Chart

To determine what size travel trailer or RV you can tow, it is important to know the towing capacity of your car or vehicle.

The following table shows the towing capacity of some common vehicles:

Vehicle TypeMax. Towing Capacity
F-150 (High Output 3.5-liter EcoBoost)6,000-11,100 lbs
F-150 (3.3-liter Ti-VCT V6)7,700 lbs
F-150 (5.0-liter Ti-VCT V8)11,600 lbs
F-250 (6.2L Flex Fuel V8)15,000 lbs
F-250 (6.7L Power Stroke® V8 Turbo Diesel)20,000 lbs
RAM 1500 (5.7L HEMI® V8 ENGINE WITH ETORQUE)12,750 lbs
RAM 2500 (5.7L HEMI V8 gasoline motor)3,060 lbs
 RAM 2500 (6.4L HEMI V8 gasoline motor)16,320 lbs
RAM 2500 (6.7L Turbodiesel)17,980 lbs
Toyota Tundra 8,800-10,200 lbs
Toyota Tacoma SR3,500 lbs.
Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport6,800 lbs.
2019 Ford Ranger 3,500 lbs
2019 Ford Ranger (With Trailer Tow Package)7,500 lbs
Jeep Grand Cherokee7,200 lbs
Nissan Armada8,500 lbs
Ford Expedition9,300 lbs
Chevrolet Tahoe8,300 lbs
Toyota Sequoia7,400 lbs
Vehicle Towing Capacity Comparison Chart

Read also: How Much Does It Cost to Install a Trailer Hitch? (with 9 examples)

How to Calculate Towing Capacity?

While you could look at the manufacturer’s recommended towing capacity, this isn’t suggested. This is because it won’t really give you a proper reading for the towing capacity for your vehicle.

You are looking for a number called the ‘Gross Vehicle Weight Rating’, or GVWR, for short.

This figure is the amount of weight that your vehicle can hold however this is not your towing capacity.

You will also need to know the curb weight of your vehicle. This is the weight of the vehicle without any passengers or cargo.

Despite what some people believe, the curb rating does include the weight of gasoline, oil, etc. You will likely need to weigh the vehicle yourself for this.

You now need to subtract the Curb Weight from the GVWR and you have your ‘towing capacity.

Of course, from this towing capacity, you also need to subtract the weight of any passengers or cargo in the vehicle. Anything left over is the weight of the trailer that you can pull.

Find Your GVWR and towing capacity on the door jamb >> Check out the video below:

How Much Can My Vehicle Tow?

In this section, we want to go through some of the things that must be considered when trying to determine how much your vehicle is capable of towing.

How Much Can I Tow? – Towing & Payload Capacity Explained >> Check out the video below:

What is GVWR?

The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is the amount of weight that the vehicle can be loaded up with.

This doesn’t just mean the trailer that you can pull with your vehicle, but also the weight of the driver, passengers, liquids, the vehicle, cargo, etc.

It is one of the most important numbers that you can have when it comes to working out the towing capacity of your vehicle. 

GVWR vs Towing Capacity

GVWR stands for Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. This is the amount of weight that your vehicle can hold.

Towing capacity is the amount of weight that your vehicle can pull. The GVWR will have an impact on your towing capacity.

After all, you cannot tow more weight than what your vehicle is rated to hold. This will end up causing serious damage to the vehicle.

What is GVWR on a Trailer?

The GVWR on a trailer is the amount of weight that the trailer is rated to hold. If you go over the GVWR, there is a risk that you could cause damage to the trailer’s chassis.

The GVWR of the trailer is not impacted by the vehicle at all.

What is GCWR?

GCWR stands for Gross Combined Weight Rating. This is the amount of weight that your vehicle can hold with a trailer attached.

Essentially, it is the combined weight of all of the cargo/passengers in the vehicle, plus the trailer.

GCWR-Gross_Combined_Weight_Rating-Towing_Capacity_Guide

You must not exceed the GCWR when you are towing a trailer with your vehicle.

Read also: Trailer Hitch Installation How-To-Guide // 9 Easy Steps (Explained)

GVWR vs GCWR

GVWR is the maximum weight rating of a vehicle without a trailer attached. The GCWR is the maximum weight rating of a vehicle with a trailer attached.

The GCWR will always be higher than the GVWR. The manual for your vehicle should list both of these numbers.

Vehicle Weight Ratings Explained (GVWR, GCWR, GAWR, GTWR) >> Check out the video below:

What Is GAWR?

GAWR stands for ‘Gross Axle Weight Rating’. This is the amount of weight that you can put on each axle of the vehicle.

GAWR-Gross_Axle_Weight_Rating-Towing_Capacity_Guide

Both the front and the rear vehicle axles will have a different weight rating. You must understand this figure so you can determine where you should be placing weight inside of the vehicle.

What is GTW?

GTW stands for Gross Trailer Weight. When you add together the weight of the trailer and the items inside of the trailer, you end up with the GTW.

GTW-Gross_Trailer_Weight-Towing_Capacity_Guide

You must know this number as it will tell you whether your vehicle is capable of pulling the weight or not.

Trailer Weight vs Towing Capacity  

The trailer weight is the combined weight of the trailer and all of its cargo. The towing capacity is the amount of weight that the vehicle is rated to tow.

The trailer weight must be under the towing capacity. if it is not, then your vehicle will not be able to pull it.

What is TW?

TW stands for tongue weight. This is a measurement of the amount of force that the trailer is putting down onto the hitch of the vehicle when it is connected up.

TW-Tongue_Weight-Towing_Capacity_Guide

The tongue weight will have an impact on the amount of weight that you can carry in the vehicle. This is because the ‘tongue weight’ counts as cargo as it is, technically, weight placed upon the vehicle.

What is Curb Weight?

The curb weight is the weight of the vehicle without passengers or cargo.

Curb_Weight-Towing_Capacity_Guide

The curb weight will include any gasoline, oils, etc. that are required for the vehicle to run.

You can think of curb weight as the dry weight + gasoline.

Curb Weight vs GVWR

The two of these are completely different concepts. Curb weight is the weight of the vehicle without passengers or cargo inside.

The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, or GVWR for short, is the maximum amount of weight that can be inside of the vehicle.

The Curb weight could, in theory, change based upon the amount of gasoline, etc. that you are using. The GVWR will never change unless you give the vehicle a complete upgrade.

What is Dry Weight?

The dry weight is the weight of the vehicle without any passengers or cargo. It also does not include the weight of any gasoline, oil, etc.

Dry_Weight-Towing_Capacity_Guide

You can think of the dry weight as the weight of all of the vehicle’s components added together. The dry weight will likely be listed in the owner’s manual for your vehicle. 

Dry Weight vs GVWR

Dry weight is the weight of the vehicle. The GVWR is the maximum amount of weight that the vehicle can be. The GVWR will include the dry weight.

So, you will have to subtract the dry weight from the GVWR to determine the maximum amount of additional weight that you can add to the vehicle.

What is Payload Capacity?

The payload capacity is the maximum amount of weight that can be added inside of the vehicle (or in a truck bed).

To determine the payload capacity for your vehicle, you must subtract the curb weight from the GVWR. Anything left over will be your payload capacity.

Payload-Towing_Capacity_Guide

This is the maximum amount of weight for passengers, cargo, etc. inside of the vehicle. 

Payload vs Towing Capacity

Payload is the maximum amount of weight that can be inside of the vehicle. Towing capacity is the maximum amount of weight that the vehicle can pull.

The towing capacity will be impacted by the amount of weight inside of the vehicle. It is not set in stone.

While the manufacturer of the vehicle may give you a towing capacity for the vehicle, you will have to do your own calculations to ensure that your vehicle does not exceed the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR)

Can I Tow a Trailer with My Car?

Almost all cars will be able to tow a trailer. You just have to have a hitch in place and you are ready to roll.

The question isn’t so much whether you can pull a trailer, to be honest. The issue is how much weight you are actually going to be able to pull.

So, while your car may be able to easily pull a trailer, it does not necessarily mean that it is going to be able to pull a heavy trailer.

You must learn to work out what the maximum towing capacity for your vehicle is.

This way, you will be able to determine whether your car can pull the trailer or not.

How to Tow a Trailer >> Check out video below:

How to Increase Towing Capacity

Perhaps the quickest way to increase the towing capacity of your vehicle is to purchase a better hitch. Ideally, you would want to purchase a weight-distribution hitch.

It will help to level out the weight that the trailer places on the vehicle. This means that your vehicle will sag less when you are towing the heavier weights.

You can also look to reduce the weight inside of your vehicle. After all, the more weight inside of your vehicle, the less weight you have to play about with.

So, if you are towing the heavier loads, you may not want to load your vehicle up with passengers and cargo because the vehicle simply will not be able to cope with this.

Other than that, you will have to look into vehicle upgrades., This includes upgrades to the suspension and axles of your vehicle.

An upgrade to the engine can also increase towing capacity. However, at this point, you are best off just getting a new vehicle that can cope with what you want to do.

Read also: Does your Travel Trailer need a Sway Bar? A Simple Guide

Truck Towing Capacity: What to Consider

Firstly, you have to remember that the truck’s towing capacity is only ever going to be as high as the capacity of your hitch.

You could have a towing capacity of 10,000lbs. However, that won’t matter at all if your hitch is only rated to a maximum of 5,000lbs.

That is your towing capacity. Therefore, if you want to improve your towing capacity, you will need a better hitch.

To work out the towing capacity for your truck, you will need to know three numbers:

  • The Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR)
  • The curb weight of the vehicle.
  • The weight of any passengers and cargo inside of the vehicle.

You will need to add the second and third numbers together. This will give you the weight of the vehicle.

You can then subtract this number from the GCWR. The number that you are left with is the maximum towing capacity for your vehicle.

While you may think that you can just hook up a trailer of this capacity to your vehicle and you should be fine, you won’t be.

You also need to know the maximum tongue weight for your truck. This is the amount of force that the trailer pushes down onto the rear of the vehicle.

You mustn’t go over the maximum tongue rating. If you do, your vehicle will end up scraping along the road, particularly when you go over bumps. 

Truck Towing Capacity Comparison Chart

The following shows the truck towing capacity comparison chart s of Ford and GM:

Truck-Towing-Capacity-Comparison-Chart-ford
Truck Towing Capacity Comparison Chart

GMC-vehicle-towing-capacity-comparison-chart

VIN Towing Capacity

Every vehicle should have a VIN sticker. If you do not have a VIN sticker on your vehicle, the information should be included in the manual.

The VIN sticker lists a whole heap of information that will be important when it comes to determining the towing capacity of your vehicle. This includes:

  • Curb weight
  • Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR)
  • Tongue Weight

You must know the exact numbers here. A good VIN sticker will list the weight in both lbs and kgs.

While the VIN will not list the towing capacity for your vehicle, you should be able to work it out yourself.

The towing capacity will be the GCWR with the curb weight removed. Anything left over is the maximum amount of weight that you can add to your vehicle and into the trailer.

Although, do bear in mind that you will still need to factor any passengers or cargo in the vehicle into the equation.

The tongue weight will be the maximum amount of weight that the trailer can put onto the hitch of the vehicle. 

Ford Towing Capacity

Ford trucks are well known for the amount of weight that they can carry. 

Most Ford trucks will list the towing capacity of the vehicle. However, you do need to remember that this figure can change.

The Ford Ranger is Rated for 3,500 lbs of Towing capacity.

When Ford quotes a towing capacity for their vehicles, it is on the assumption that there is just a single driver with no cargo inside of the vehicle.

If you do not know the towing capacity for your Ford Truck, you will need to look for the VIN sticker inside of the vehicle. You will need these numbers:

  • Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR)
  • Curb weight

If you subtract the curb weight from the GCWR, this will tell you the maximum amount of weight that you can add to the vehicle.

This includes passengers, cargo, and whatever you are towing. This means that the more you have inside of your vehicle, the lower the towing capacity of the Ford will be.

You also have to remember that the hitch on your vehicle can only hold so much weight. When you are considering the towing capacity for your Ford, you need to think about the amount of weight that your hitch can hold.

If the hitch capacity is lower than the weight that you want to tow, then you will need to replace the hitch.

Finally, you will also need to consider the tongue weight limit of the Ford. This is the amount of weight the trailer can place upon the vehicle.

While Ford will give a maximum tongue weight on the VIN sticker, you will need to subtract the weight in the back of the vehicle from this figure.

Read also: What Is The Average Cost To Install Trailer Brake Controller – (Facts & Numbers)

Towing at Max Capacity

Ideally, you should never really be towing anywhere close to the max capacity for your vehicle. Ideally, you should never be towing more than 80% of the max towing rating for your vehicle.

If you go beyond this, then try not to do it for long periods of time, nor too frequently.

Anybody that is regularly towing heavier loads with their vehicle is advised to carry out regular maintenance to ensure that everything stays in perfect working order.

If you are towing at maximum capacity, then you will also need to ensure that you have as little weight inside of the vehicle as possible.

This means no cargo or passengers that are not needed. All of these will contribute to the vehicle’s weight and will reduce the amount of weight that you can tow. 

Towing Capacity FAQs

Let’s close out this page about trailer towing capacity with answers to some of your most frequently-asked questions about them!

What Happens if You Exceed GVWR?

If you exceed GVWR, heavy trucks can cause damage to the roads as it is. The heavier your truck is, the more damage you will be causing to the roads. Although, we are sure that this isn’t going to be the biggest concern for most people.

For many, the main issue is that exceeding the GVWR can cause damage to the components of the truck. This means that your truck will end up having a far shorter lifespan. 

Is Curb Weight the Same as Empty Weight?

Is Curb Weight the Same as Empty Weight?  Curb weight is the weight of the vehicle as delivered by the manufacturer. However, the curb weight is not the completely empty weight. While it does not include the weight of any passengers, etc. that you add into the vehicle, it does include any gasoline, oil, water, etc.

Basically, everything that is required to operate the vehicle and nothing else!

Does Curb Weight Include Driver?

Does Curb Weight Include Driver? Curb weight does not include any driver in the vehicle. There is a misbelief that it does include the weight of a small driver.

However, we can assure you that it does not. If you want to know the curb weight of your vehicle, then you need to weigh it without the driver inside.

How Do I Calculate Curb Weight?

How Do I Calculate Curb Weight? You could always consult the instruction manual for your vehicle. This will likely list the weight of the vehicle. However, do bear in mind that you need to add the weight of any fluids (e.g. gasoline) to this.

Perhaps the simplest way to know your curb weight is to weigh the vehicle with no passengers or cargo inside. You just want the pure weight of the vehicle.

Where Can I Find the Weight of My Vehicle?

The weight listed inside of the manual for your vehicle is not the weight of your vehicle. Well, it is. However, it is only the factory weight of your vehicle. It does not include passengers, drivers, or any cargo.

So, where can I find the weight of my vehicle? The only way that you are going to be able to work out the weight for those is to physically weigh the vehicle at a weigh station. These shouldn’t be too difficult to find, and we do not doubt that there will be at least one or two in your local area.

Is Towing Bad for Your Truck?

Is Towing Bad for Your Truck? No. Towing is not bad for your truck. However, you have to remember that the additional weight being added to the vehicle is going to put more stress on the components.

Trucks are built for towing. Although, this does not necessarily mean that your vehicle is not going to be impacted by the towing.

This means that a truck that is regularly towing will need to undergo a lot more maintenance than your average vehicle.

Do Bigger Tires Affect Towing?

Bigger tires will reduce your towing capacity. Vehicles that have smaller tires attached will likely be better towers.

This is because those smaller tires transmit a lot more force into the ground. This allows the vehicle to have a greater towing capacity.

Read also: Can You Use Truck Tires on Travel Trailers?

Do I need LT Tires for Towing?

You do not need Light Towing (LT) tires for towing. However, most people recommend that you get them anyway.

If your vehicle is going to be used for a lot of towing, then the LT tires will be far harder wearing for you. They will also do a better job at helping you to pull your cargo.

Read also: LT vs. ST Tires for Travel Trailers: What Works Better?

What Percentage of Towing Capacity is Safe?

What Percentage of Towing Capacity is Safe? Most people suggest that you try to stick to around the 80% mark. Once you start getting above this, the risk of causing damage to your vehicle will increase drastically. In theory, anything up to the towing capacity of your vehicle should be safe.

Ideally, you should always be trying to tow as little weight as you possibly can with your vehicle.

What is the Difference Between a Tow Package and a Trailer Package?

A tow package is for people that want to tow anything e.g. campers, trailers, snowplows, etc. Tow packages will often include some rather substantial upgrades to the vehicle, as a result.

A trailer package is purely for towing trailers with your vehicle. This may mean the addition of a hitch and some wiring, but you don’t really get that much of an upgrade beyond this.

Read also: What Is A Trailer or Tow Package? (Explained

Which Ford F-150 Can Tow the Most?

Which Ford F-150 Can Tow the Most? At the moment, the 2020 Ford F-150 in the 3.5-liter Eco-Boost trim can tow the most. This has a maximum towing capacity of 13,200lbs. Of course, this is information that may change later on.

However, at the time of writing, this is by far the best model to get if you are looking for a Ford F-150 that can tow a huge amount of weight.

Which Ford Engine is Best for Towing?

The Ford EcoBoost 3.5-liter engine is currently the best engine used by Ford for towing. you can find it available on most of the more modern trucks that Ford produces.

Does a Tow Package Increase Towing Capacity?

It does depend on the vehicle that you are purchasing. On many vehicles, the tow package will increase the towing capacity as it will allow the suspension and engine to be upgraded.

These are both important when it comes to the amount of weight that a vehicle can carry.

However, this does not apply to all vehicles. In some cases, the tow package may just change a few things up without really having an impact on the weight limit.

1/2 Ton Towing Upgrades: Improve your towing >> Check out the video below:

Does Lowering a Truck Affect Towing Capacity?

Lowering a truck shouldn’t have an impact on the towing capacity of the vehicle. If it does, it is going to be a small amount.

However, do bear in mind that if you are lowering the truck, there is a greater chance of the underside striking the road.

The chances of this will increase drastically if you are pulling some heavier weights with your vehicle.

Does a Supercharger Increase Towing Capacity?

Supercharger will certainly increase the towing capacity and make it easier for your vehicle to pull heavier weights. However, if the rest of the vehicle is not able to cope with those extra weights, then the addition of a Supercharger isn’t really going to be making that much of a difference.

Conclusion

There you have it, almost everything that you need to know about towing capacity and your vehicle.

As much as we would have loved to have told you everything, you do have to remember that towing capacity can vary from vehicle to vehicle.

This means that you need to look into what your vehicle is capable of. We feel that we have given you the tools to make this simple, though.

References

https://rvshare.com/blog/increasing-towing-capacity/

https://www.curtmfg.com/towing-capacity

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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