How to Know Your Vehicle’s Towing Capacity

Knowing your vehicle’s towing capacity is essential before hauling any cargo anywhere at any time. If your vehicle’s cargo outweighs its towing capacity, you’re in some serious trouble. Towing loads that are too heavy often causes your trailer to control your truck. And if your cargo is directing where your vehicle goes on the road, you have zero control over where you’re going and how you’ll impact other vehicles. 

Crossing into the lane of oncoming traffic or hitting a pedestrian, building, or nearby vehicle are all possible when your vehicle is out of control and your towing capacity is maxed out. In other words, exceeding your vehicle’s towing capacity is incredibly dangerous.

To determine your vehicle’s towing capacity, you first need to educate yourself on the following:

  • Know your state’s towing regulations.

Each individual state has different towing laws. You can check Brake Buddy to determine what your state’s specific requirements are. Oftentimes, if your towing load exceeds the weight of your towing vehicle, an auxiliary braking system is required or the tow is prohibited altogether.

  • Determine your towing vehicle’s maximum weight rating. 

On every vehicle, there is a unique VIN number that can be used to look up its GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating). Your GVWR is the gross maximum amount of weight that your vehicle, its passengers, and all of its cargo can legally hold. Using this number in conjunction with the GTWR (gross trailer weight rating) of the trailer attached to your towing vehicle, you can determine the GCWR, or the maximum combined weight of both your towing vehicle, your trailer, and all the cargo in both vehicles.

  • Figure out the weight of your cargo and attached trailer. 

Your trailer and its cargo should not exceed the GVWR of your towing vehicle. And the trailer, the vehicle, and both of their cargos may not exceed their GCWR.

  • Find out how much weight your tongue or hitch can handle.

Towing capacity is also dependent on the gross axle weight rating (GAWR), which is the maximum amount of weight that can be placed on a vehicle’s rear or front axles. It is never recommended to exceed GAWR. Doing so may damage the axles, even if the trailer and cargo weight falls within the vehicle’s GVWR.

For a more detailed breakdown of all of these towing acronyms, we recommend referring to this article on towing capacity. Although all of these gross weight ratings are technically regarded as maximum weights that each vehicle can tow, it’s still not safe to tow loads that are close to a vehicle’s towing capacity. Even if the numbers fall under the GVWR, GCWR, or GAWR. To be extra safe, it’s always a good idea to make sure the loads you’re towing are well below the maximum gross weight ratings of both vehicles involved.

Are you interested in renting special towing equipment or hiring a towing company to help you haul light, medium, or heavy duty cargo? Contact Tow Pro at 615.256.TOWS(8697) today for more assistance. We’d love to help you transport your cargo from point A to point B!

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