Towing Capacity

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Towing Capacity

Post  abivens on Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:19 pm

Due to the mechanical malfunction I experienced the other day when headed to the River Plantation camping trip, I have taken it upon myself to become educated about vehicle towing capacity (the main reason my truck broke). It is definitely not a clear cut science. What I have learned is there are several different variables when dealing with towing capacity. When I was at the dealership purchasing my travel trailer, I asked my salesman if my 2000 dodge ram 1500 was able to tow the camper. He pulled out a laminated chart, quickly ran his finger down the rows and stated that my truck would tow that much weight. Good enough for me, I signed the papers and bought a shiny new Fleetwood (actually the bank did). My salesman, in his zest, had just looked up the towing capacity for my truck, 7950 lbs, a number issued by Dodge themselves. But in reality my truck cannot really tow that much weight. Here is the confusion, my truck has a GCWR gross combined weight rating. This rating is 12,500 lbs. That means when my truck is all hitched up to the trailer and I have all my coolers, bikes, doo-dads, etc.. I should be able to pull on to a truck scale and the number not exceed 12,500 lbs. This is not the case. My truck and camper also have their own GVWR gross vehicle weight ratings. This is the weight you should never exceed in that particular vehicle. My truck GVWR is 6400 lbs, that is the weight of the truck and all things in or on the truck, i.e. coolers, suitcases, passengers, etc..It also should include the weight of the gas in the truck (6.21 lbs per gallon), the reciever and towing hitch, bedliners, car seats for kids, jumper cables, any tools, and me and my family’s combined weight. The trailer is the same way, any dishes, heavy dutch ovens, linens, toys, etc.. My trailer GVWR is 7800lbs. This is what my salesman saw, 7800 lbs loaded trailer behind a truck that has a towing capacity of 7950 lbs, simple math, right? No, like I said earlier, the GCWR is 12500 lbs, my truck fully loaded is going to be 6400 lbs, and a fully loaded trailer is 7800 lbs, the math here says a total of 14,200, or 1700 lbs overweight, even though I stayed under that 7950 towing capacity Dodge said I had.
My truck has a GVW gross vehicle weight of 5500 lbs, stripped bare with no gas (maybe no fluids at all, I have had trouble finding an answer for that), no people, no floor mats, no owners manual in the glovebox, or anything. Ok, fine 5500lbs plus the 7800 lbs of a loaded trailer equals 13300 lbs, still 800 pounds overweight, %#$@. OK, my trailer stripped down ( no bike racks, spare tire, curtains, grills, sporks, dvds,etc..) is 5950 lbs. Add that to my stripped down truck weight of 5500 and I get 11450 lbs, Hooray, 1050 lbs under the GCWR. But that includes no hitch work or frame, nobody sitting in the truck, no groceries. I have calculated that my family weights 550 lbs, that’s with all four of us sitting in the truck buck naked ( I am of course, the greatest portion of that number). My hitch work weights about 60 lbs (chains, sway bar, ball, etc..) My truck holds 26 gallons of gas weighing in at 161.5 lbs. I have slightly larger tires than those that came with the truck ( I need the ground clearance and I went from a 4-ply to a 6-ply), this added about 2 pounds per tire, 8 pounds. We are fans of eating when camping so we brought a couple pounds of hamburger, drinks ect.. at 30 lbs. I am up to 810 lbs, that leaves me with 240.5 lbs for all dishes, clothing, cooking utensils, car seats, pie irons, extended mirrors, televisions, linens, tools, floor mats, books, etc..(forget firewood)
While it can be done, you can see how tight it has to be. Also these ratings were issued to a new truck with no mileage or wear. So how, pray tell, do the Dodge people come up with this 7950 lbs towing capacity? Even my stripped down truck at 5500 lbs will exceed the GCWR if I try to pull 7950 lbs by almost a half a ton. What I have found is that the towing capacity is the amount of weight the truck could tow if it didn’t have to contend with its own weight and drag (wouldn’t that be great, I could be an olympic champion high-jumper). This number in all honesty, is great for selling trucks, but that is about it. Now, if someone had a towing capacity of 7000 lbs and bought a trailer of 4000 lbs, then that number will provide the driver with plenty of assurance. But for tighter tolerances, one has to refer to the gross combined weight rating.
I was able to pull my camper around for a couple of years before any failures (up some pretty good hills in Georgia), I have also twice hauled a scoop of sand weighing in at about 2 tons, when building my pool. This put me over my GVWR gross vehicle weight rating by at least 600 pounds or more. My 4-wheeler weights 660 pounds and I have hauled it to Oak Ridge several times. So I have definitely used my truck. Just remember when upgrading to that next camper, GCWR!!!!
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Re: Towing Capacity

Post  chuck on Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:05 pm

I have also done some looking into towing capabilities.. and you are right .. and the last person who needs to give you advice on what your vehicle will pull is the car dealer.. or the camper dealer. Some may be ok.. but most of them mainly want to sell a vehicle or a camper.

When I bought my pop up.. I had a small car with a tow rating of 1500 lbs. The camper dealer sold me a 1400 pound camper.. and even installed the hitch assemble for me.. and sent me on my way with a smile.

I don't remember all the figures.. but I pretty much have decided a fgood rule of thumb would be to keep your UVW (unloaded veh weight) for the camper.. under the trucks tow rating by about 1500 pounds.. more is better. My truck is rated to tow 6100 pounds.. my camper weighs a little under 3000 lbs empty. I figure I have about 300-500 pounds worth of junk in it. So that gives me more than 1500 lbs to play with. I probably wouldnt pull a camper weighing much more than 3500 lbs with my Nissan.

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Re: Towing Capacity

Post  chuck on Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:11 pm

alan.. was your truck a 4X4,.. 5.2 or 5.9 V8?.. reg cab, crew cab?

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Re: Towing Capacity

Post  abivens on Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:25 pm

It is a 2WD 5.9 V8 extended cab. It does have a towing package.
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Re: Towing Capacity

Post  chuck on Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:54 pm

well.. at least they didn't sell you a 1500 with a 5.2 in it.. that truck is rated to tow less than my 6cyl Nissan. I had a 2004 dodge 1500 a few years ago. Nice truck (wish I still had it).. but a weak towing vehicle.

If (when) I upgrade to a newer truck.. I am thinking about getting a 2500.. something that will pull at least 10,000 lbs. Then any trailer (I would want) would be ok.

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Re: Towing Capacity

Post  merrykalia on Wed Jul 28, 2010 4:07 pm

Yeah, I've been reading up, too Alan and have found that my vehicle is not really equipped to pull my camper with the stuff in it that Butch thinks we MIGHT NEED SOMEDAY!! Yeah, right. I've got a house full of that stuff, too!!

Anyway, after researching all the 1500's, F150's, Tundras and Titans, the only vehicle that is rated to pull my trailer at all is the Tundra!!! The crew max Tundras are rated at 10,500!! The regular double cab Tundras 5.7s are rated at 8300. My TT is listed at 5000 lbs., but that doesn't include any of the STUFF we have in it, which I am sure is at least 1000 lbs.

So......I have almost decided to pull the trigger and purchase a new Toyota Tundra Crewmax and would love to have the Limited, but it starts about $42000. Can't quite wrap my brain around that - I only paid $40000 for my house when we purchased it 30 years ago!!!!


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Re: Towing Capacity

Post  coolbreeze1 on Wed Jul 28, 2010 8:31 pm

Alan, all these numbers are confusing me, that doesn't take much to do Shocked Next time we camp, I'll let you figure my tow rating Smile Smile
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Re: Towing Capacity

Post  abivens on Wed Jul 28, 2010 10:13 pm

Cool, you have nothing to worry about. That 3500 will pull a whale up from the bottom of the sea.
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Re: Towing Capacity

Post  Richard on Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:46 am

As Crawford taught me at our last camping trip, don't assume the tires that came with your rig (even the truck tires) can handle the weight of your rig.
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Re: Towing Capacity

Post  Richard on Thu Jul 29, 2010 1:51 pm

OK, my 2002 Suburban 1500 with 5.3 V8 engine and Axle ratio of 3.73 has a GCWR of 13,000. The Max trailer weight is 7,700 with the truck empty weight (as described by Bivens) at 5,113 Lbs. The payload capacity is reportedly 2,072 Lbs. I've tried to get my wife and kids to get "buck naked" and go to the scales with me to see how much capacity we have left when we are in the truck, but they just won't even talk about it. (Alan has a Luv's Truck Stop just down from his home, so they probably didn't have to travel naked quite as far.)

My PUP lists a GVWR of 2,350, including the tounge weight. I suspect I'm there, even though the empty weight of the original PUP was reportedly about 1,600 Lbs. I've added quite a lot, and haul quite a lot. Still, clearly not an issue for the Suburban.

Yet, if I upgrade to a TT, I'm thinking I will either have to get a smaller one, or plan on getting a tougher truck at the same time. Thanks for the imput Alan, I know now not to take a "great deal" on a big TT if one comes along. I'll need to keep the weight limit in mind as I daydream.
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Re: Towing Capacity

Post  merrykalia on Thu Jul 29, 2010 2:36 pm

Richard wrote:OK, my 2002 Suburban 1500 with 5.3 V8 engine and Axle ratio of 3.73 has a GCWR of 13,000. The Max trailer weight is 7,700 with the truck empty weight (as described by Bivens) at 5,113 Lbs.

This is the same stats for my Silverado, Richard. It will pull my TT, which is 5960 empty, but a whole lot more than that when we've got it loaded down. Ours is a Rockwood Signature Ultra Lite and there are plenty of them that are in the 3500 to 4,000 lb range. We just HAD to have a bunkhouse!! I figured I would have to get a new truck in the next few years, anyway. Ours is a 2000.

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Re: Towing Capacity

Post  abivens on Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:09 pm

The Love's truck scale cost me 9 dollars to weigh my truck, that definately made my wallet lighter (if I had been carrying one, I was buck naked)
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Re: Towing Capacity

Post  coolbreeze1 on Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:12 pm

abivens wrote:The Love's truck scale cost me 9 dollars to weigh my truck, that definately made my wallet lighter (if I had been carrying one, I was buck naked)
Hope I never see you or Richard buck naked. Shocked
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Re: Towing Capacity

Post  Richard on Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:41 am

coolbreeze1 wrote:
abivens wrote:The Love's truck scale cost me 9 dollars to weigh my truck, that definately made my wallet lighter (if I had been carrying one, I was buck naked)
Hope I never see you or Richard buck naked. Shocked

Then avert your eyes when Alan pulls into the campsite! He's serious about not having his rig be overweight again.

I'm really thinking I've overloaded my pup with the stuff I shove into it. At the very least, I'm going to put more of the heavy stuff in the Suburban and less in the PUP.
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Re: Towing Capacity

Post  coolbreeze1 on Sat Jul 31, 2010 5:14 pm

Not a bad ideal Richard, the not looking part that is :shock:I don't see how you could get more in the Suburban anyway Very Happy
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