Understanding Towing Capacity
Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated August 9, 2012)
Trucks, and to a lesser extent cars, all have something called towing capacity. Generally speaking, this is the ability that the vehicle has to properly tow up to a certain weight without damaging the vehicle in any way. Understanding towing capacity, and what it means to your particular vehicle, is not only simple but rather necessary if you don't want to end up with your vehicle in the repair shop. Luckily, it's not all that difficult as long as you follow these simple steps.
- Look in the manual. Start off by looking at the owner's manual to find out some of the basic information that you need. Inside the manual you will find the manufacturers listed towing capacity, as well as what the average base weight of the vehicle. These two pieces of information are extremely important to being able to figure out what you need.
- Figure out the base weight. While the average base weight of the vehicle will be listed in the owners manual, it is a good idea to get as exact of a number as possible. There are scales out there that you can use, for a modest fee, which will allow you to find out the base weight of your vehicle. Get that number and write it down.
- Add the extra weight. Figure out how much the item that you plan on towing will weigh, as well as the vehicle itself. Add this together with all of the weight that will be included by any passengers and other items that will be transported. All of this together is what is known as the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) and can have a huge impact on the performance of the vehicle while it is towing anything.
- Double check the figures. Compare the GVW that you have figured out, with the towing capacity listed in the owner's manual and the rated towing capacity of the trailer hitch that is attached to the vehicle. If the GVW is not under the towing capacity of both the vehicle and the hitch, then you should not attempt towing that particular item.
- Don't forget to practice. Once you have everything figured out, you need to do a bit of practicing to ensure that you know the best way to handle the vehicle with the new weight it will be handling. Believe it or not, vehicles will handle very differently when they are towing something, and if you don't know how to react properly you can end up in a very bad situation very easily.
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