“I think I can, I think I can!” Is this what your truck says when you’re towing a boat or camper through the hills?
The little engine that could had the distinct advantage of being an American fairytale; you don’t… know before you go!
Can your vehicle pull its own weight and then some?
Anyone who’s ever towed a fully loaded trailer knows that it can get a little sketchy sometimes. If your underpowered or have too little stability, you could get into a number of bad scenarios. Your vehicle’s engine, transmission, brakes, tires and suspension, are all under pressure when towing an RV, boat trailer or toy hauler. Factor in adverse weather conditions and you may find yourself in a real pickle.
What you need to know about your car, truck or SUV’s towing capacity
All towing vehicles have a maximum weight that they can safely tow. Exceeding that limit and trying to carry more than the recommended value could lead to accidents that cause damage as well as extreme wear and tear on the vehicle. (You can find the recommended weight in the owner’s manual.) Your vehicle’s tow rating takes several factors into consideration, including:
Chassis and suspension design
Engine type, axle ratios, and other drivetrain variables
Hitch design and class
Tire ratings and load capacities
It’s important not to exceed these vehicle tow ratings, however there are other important weight limits that should never be exceeded while towing, including:
Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), which represents the maximum weight your vehicle can carry, including passengers, cargo, fuel and the vehicle itself.
Gross axle weight ratings (GAWR) on both the vehicle and trailer, which represent the maximum amount of weight a particular axle can carry, including the wheel and tire.
Gross combined weight rating (GCWR), which represents the maximum weight of your loaded tow vehicle and your loaded trailer combined.
Tongue weight or hitch weight, which should be between 10-15 percent of the total loaded trailer weight for conventional trailers and 15-30 percent of the total loaded trailer weight for gooseneck or fifth wheel trailers.
The above “Gross” ratings are on your vehicle’s door tag. See image below.
Exceeding even one of these ratings while towing could not only cause severe damage to your vehicle or trailer, but also put yourself, your passengers and others in danger
How heavy is your trailer?
Gross trailer weight is the weight of a fully loaded trailer. It’s not a weight rating determined by the manufacturer or a weight combined with any other weight — it’s the actual weight of the trailer after you’ve loaded all of your bikes, firewood, camping gear, people or any other cargo onto (or into) it. Any weight that you add to the trailer adds to the gross trailer weight. It’s as simple as that. How do you find your (GTW)? Most communities have public scales. For just a few dollars and a few minutes of your time, you can get the answers you’re looking for.
If you’re a first time hauler, practice towing your trailer on some deserted roads before doing any actual towing out on the highway. Backing up, turning and braking should all be part of your training regimen. All that practice will come in handy for the real thing, because if you’ve done everything properly up to this point, including meeting the weight requirements, loading properly and checking equipment, then you can handle almost any challenge up or down the road.
Have questions about your vehicle’s towing capacity, trailer weight or other related specs? Ask Mike, text or call (757) 560-4252 and ask for Mike Love. I’m always happy to help you find the best vehicle and ensure you’re in it for the long haul!