How to Calculate Vehicle Tow Ratings

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Towing a trailer with a car or truck can be done by attaching it to the a ball hitch. However, just because a car or truck has a tow hitch does not mean that you can tow anything that is attached to it. There are tow limits for each type of vehicle, especially if you want to tow a heavy trailer such as a fifth-wheel trailer or camper. You can calculate vehicle tow ratings by first determining what you plan to tow with your vehicle.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencil
  • Calculator
  • Owner's manual
  • Find the owners manual for your vehicle or download it from the manufacturer's website.

  • Look in the glossary to find the section for towing.

  • Find the Gross Combination Weight Rating and write this down on a piece of paper with a pencil. The GCWR is the total weight of the vehicle, including passengers, cargo and trailer that is being towed.

  • Determine the gross vehicle weight by weighing your vehicle on a set of scales. The gross vehicle weight is the total weight of all passengers and cargo in the vehicle.

  • Subtract the gross vehicle weight of your vehicle, without the trailer attached, from the GCWR. This will give you the rating for the towing capacity of the vehicle.

Tips & Warnings

  • The owners manual may already list the maximum trailer weight that can be towed with the vehicle.
  • Look online for the GCWR of your vehicle if you cannot find the owners manual.
  • You can find scales to weigh your vehicle at many truck stops or grain elevators.
  • Exceeding the maximum towing capacity of the vehicle may interfere with the vehicle being able to stop correctly when applying the brakes.

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