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2306 Crestline Loop  North Las Vegas, NV 89030  Phone: 702.450.1222 Fax: 1.702.531.1222 Email: admin@quiktowlv.com

How Towing Capacity Is Determined 

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Too Much Information

There is an amazing amount of information to understand and become familiar with regarding towing, and in figuring out the towing capacity for a vehicle. Towing capacity is the maximum amount of weight your vehicle can pull when towing, so if you need to tow another vehicle or are going to be hauling something, it's crucial to know. If you've ever had a reason to ask the question; how is towing capacity determined? We are going to address that issue and answer that question right here. And if you didn't know how to figure it out by yourself, don't feel bad. It's surprisingly complicated! In fact, there is so much to it all that it's almost just easier to cheat, and look at the manual to find out - or the inside of the door jam on the driver's side of your vehicle. (Hint-hint!) However, there may be times where you need to know this information and you don't have the manual, and the vehicle in question does not have it on the door jam where it's supposed to be. So, it's a good idea to have the knowledge. Especially when you need to tow something, because it is dangerous if you exceed the limit. You can quickly damage your engine, tires, transmission or frame, often resulting in extensive damage. Believe it or not, this is critical information that you very well may need to know someday. Are you ready? Here we go.

Different Types 

First of all, there's braked towing capacity and unbraked towing capacity, and it's important to know the difference. Braked towing capacity refers to the maximum weight you can tow when the trailer you're towing has its own braking system that connects to your vehicle by a cable. Unbraked towing capacity refers to the maximum amount of weight you can pull when the trailer you're pulling does not have its own independent brake system. It should be less than the braked towing capacity. There are two types of trailers used to tow things with, either enclosed or flatbed (open). If the cargo you're going to be hauling needs protecting from the elements, you'll want to use an enclosed trailer. If your cargo is oddly shaped and/or doesn't need protection on all sides, you can go with a flatbed trailer. To determine a vehicle's towing capacity, you just need to know the vehicle manufacturer's weight rating and see how the weight of your trailer compares. The only problem is, which weight do you need to know?
Different Weights & Abbreviations 

GVWR - Gross Vehicle Weight Rating - Is the maximum loaded weight of your RV. This weight will include passengers, cargo and the weight of the vehicle itself. 

GVWR - FOR CARS - The maximum allowable weight of your vehicle. The Gross Vehicle Weight, which includes the Tongue Weight of the attached RV, should not exceed your vehicle’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. 

GCWR - Gross Combination Weight Rating, Is the manufacturer’s rating of the maximum gross weight limit of the loaded tow vehicle combined with the attached RV. 

GAWR - Gross Axle Weight Rating - Is the maximum weight that the front and rear axles can withstand on a vehicle. This will include two ratings: FR - for the front axles, and: RR - for the rear axles. 

GTW - Is Gross Trailer Weight, and takes into account the total weight of the trailer and the cargo that is being transported in it. 

TW - Is Tongue Weight, which is the downward force that can be exerted onto the back of a load or vehicle that is being towed. The weight placed on the hitch when the trailer is coupled to your vehicle. The tongue weight should be 10-15% of the RV's gross vehicle weight. 

GVW - Is the combined weight of the automobile (Curb Weight), plus liquids, passengers, cargo, and, when towing an RV, the RV’s tongue weight.

CURB WEIGHT - The curb weight of a vehicle will let you know how much the vehicle weighs when there are no passengers, cargo, or trailer loads. It will account for gasoline weight and the weight of other fluids that are necessary to the operation of the vehicle. (Applies to cars, not RVs.)

DRY WEIGHT - The term dry weight is very similar to curb weight, as it includes the weight of your vehicle without passengers and cargo. How it's different, is it also removes the weight of the fluids that will be in the car for it to operate properly. 
Other Tips 

There are a few tips you will need to know when towing another vehicle. First of all, you will need a tow bar, tow hitch, and recovery point. Secondly, remember to affix the towing device to the chassis of the vehicle being towed, whenever you're moving another vehicle. And last but not least, if you're towing a large vehicle or farm equipment, you should use a tow pin and jaw to provide for slack you're going to need.

Remember, payload capacity refers to the total weight that your vehicle can haul, including passengers and cargo, that will fit in the cab and bed of the truck. It has nothing to do with the towing capacity. 

If you want to increase your towing capacity, you'll need to buy some accessories. that can allow your car to operate safely with a higher towing weight, such as a higher quality hitch and ball mount. When doing this, remember always to base the increased rate on the lowest-rated towing accessory added. 
The Formula

So what is the formula to find your vehicle's towing capacity?
Here it is: RV Dry Weight + Passenger’s Weight + Cargo + Liquids = Total Weight

-OR-

Towing Capacity = Gross Combined Vehicle Weight – Curb Weight 

Total weight must not exceed towing capacity. So pay attention to the automobile’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (normally found on a sticker inside the driver’s side door frame). This number is the maximum weight your vehicle should tow. 

Here are some estimates that also might come in handy if you don't know: 

Car = 2800 lbs.
Car Trailer = 1600-2000 lbs.
Motor Boat = 2500 lbs.
Boat Trailer = 300-1500 lbs.
Camper = 5200 lbs. 

​Now that you know everything there is to know about towing, you should be able to figure it out when necessary. Hope that answers your question! 

Don't forget to call LV Quiktow for all your towing in Las Vegas needs!