Where is the Vehicle Tow Rating?

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Minnesota Dan

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May 6, 2018
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Hi All,

I'm just starting out to look to buy my first tow vehicle.  I'm wanting something that can tow 7,000-8,000 lbs.  Will this rating be published somewhere on the vehicle?  Or do I need to do something esoteric like find the GVWR and calculate out what the actual capacity is?

Very honestly, I'm looking at Ram 1500s and Ford F150s.  If I look online, they all seem to have an acceptable tow rating.  But, when I look at the dealer website, I see many of these vehicles only rated at around 4,000 lbs.  I'm wondering if a tow package makes a difference here?  And is this something that can be added at the time of purchase or does the vehicle need to be manufactured with this?

Thanks in advance for any help!
 

Roy M

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There will be a yellow sticker on the driver side door giving the figure for that particyular unit. Adding a tow package, air bags, bigger tires etc does not change it. A properly configured 1500/F-150 should do what you ask.
 

Lou Schneider

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You can find most of the information you need to start with in the manufacturer's Towing Guide brochure, available online.  There are a series of nesting weight ratings, starting with the overall package of truck and trailer together, then working its way downward to each vehicle's gross weight (payload), then each axle's weight capacity.

The overall rating is GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating) the most the truck and trailer together can weigh.  This isn't on the vehicle weight placard, but it can be found in the Towing Guide.

Next is the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating), the most the truck + it's payload can weigh.

Followed by the individual GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Ratings), the most weight each axle can carry.

GCWR is paramount, then you work your way downward ensuring the GVWR and GAWR weights aren't exceeded.

Notice I haven't mentioned the truck's Tow Rating.  Basically, this subtracts the unloaded truck weight from the GCWR.  But it's optimistic because any passengers, cargo or accessories added beyond the stripped down truck used to calculate the Tow Rating will reduce the maximum Tow Rating a like amount.  Otherwise you'll exceed the GCWR.

The Tow Rating also assumes you're towing a trailer with a small frontal area, RV trailers displace more air so you need to keep some power in reserve to pull them down the road.

A 7000-8000 lb bumper pull trailer will have 10-15% of it's weight on the hitch, meaning the tow vehicle will need 700 - 1200 lbs. of payload and sufficient rear axle capacity to cover it.  A 5th wheel trailer can have up to 25% of it's weight on the hitch, or up to 1600 lbs.  The truck's payload capacity and rear axle have to be able to handle this much extra weight, and this is usually where half ton pickups come up short.
 

SpencerPJ

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Others will help you with all the technical numbers, I just want to share with you a great youtube video for you to watch, that explains that there is more than just numbers to consider.  Enjoy, glad you are here before you bought a truck or trailer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M75Sm7XaIdY

 

Gary RV_Wizard

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The short answer is that it is generally NOT on the truck itself. It may be in the owner manual, though. The best source is the Tow Guide that Lou described, but it is still a generic rating for that general truck configuration. The only way to get the true rating for a specific truck is the use the GCWR value for that configuration (found in the tow guides) and subtract the actual loaded weight of the truck from that.

Max tow is not the true actual tow capacity, because the actual tow capacity goes down as weight is added to the truck.  If another 150 lb passenger climbs inside the truck, the actual tow capacity goes down by 150 lbs.  It is wise to plan on a trailer that will be under the max tow rating so as to allow for people and gear that will inevitable be added to the truck loading.
 

scottydl

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spencerpj said:
Others will help you with all the technical numbers, I just want to share with you a great youtube video for you to watch, that explains that there is more than just numbers to consider.  Enjoy, glad you are here before you bought a truck or trailer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M75Sm7XaIdY

Thanks for posting... that's a great video and echoes most of the advice we post here all the time, regarding the dangers of putting too big of a travel trailer behind your truck.
 

grashley

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Lou has given some very good advise and definitions.  You CAN find the GVWR, GCWR, and axle ratings on line.  Note, these are the max load these weights can be, and are NOT affected by the curb wt (with options) of the truck.  Base wt is the weight of a specific configuration with NO OPTIONS.  Configuration means, for example crew cab, reg, bed (6.5 ft), 2.7L V6, 2WD.

The on line charts are all based on the base weight, with a small print footnote stating the weight must be corrected for the weight of all options and aftermarket accessories added to the truck, as Gary said.  Tow ratings assume this base truck with two 150 lb passengers and a full fuel tank. NOTHING ELSE!

I have found the PAYLOAD is often the limiting factor.  DO NOT USE the published payload.  It applies to that base wt.  The yellow placard Roy mentioned that WILL BE the correct Payload for THAT truck as it left the factory.  I suggest starting with that number.

An 8,000# TT will have a tongue wt of 800# - 950# (10% - 12%) which the truck will carry.  Add 80# for a WD hitch.  Add the weight of all passengers, car seats, snacks, toys, tools, firewood and misc cargo to be carried in the truck.  The Payload must exceed this number.

Note MANY things affect Payload.  The more weight you add via bigger cab, longer bed, heavier motor, 4WD will all lower the Payload.  Different drivetrains often have different GVWR.  Since Payload = GVWR minus Curb Wt, higher GVWR often means higher Payload.

For the Ford, they offer a HD Payload package that beefs up the tires and suspension and includes a high rear end ratio.  It really beefs up the Payload as well.

I hope all of this information makes sense and we are not confusing the issue.  As Spencer said, Thank You for asking BEFORE your purchase!!

Ask all the questions you need to figure all of this out!
 
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