Towing basics: knowing your towing capacity

towing capacity

We’ve previously discussed a few common mistakes that will damage utility trailers. One of the most crucial is undoubtedly the mistake of not knowing your towing capacity, which can put in danger not only your equipment but your and others’ safety when out in the road. Learn more about how you can understand and follow towing capacity in this quick guide.

Your vehicle’s manual will tell you its specific towing capacity

Whether you’re going to tow cows or sheep in your livestock trailer or tools and supplies for your farm, the first thing you need before starting is the appropriate vehicle; a car will obviously have less towing capacity than an SUV or a big truck.

The drivers manual is where you’ll find information about the characteristics of your vehicle and its different weights. Additionally, you can usually find more information on a sticker located in the driver’s door.

Understanding weight types to determine towing capacity

There are a few different types of weight that you should be familiarized with when towing a trailer:

  • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) –  This is essentially the weight limit set by the car manufacturer, and takes into account different factors such as:
    • All physical components of the car (chassis, engine, accessories, fuel, etc.)
    • The weight of the driver and any passengers
    • Additional cargo inside the vehicle
    • This does not include the weight of a hitched trailer

  • Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) –  This is what your vehicle actually weights at a specific point in time. For example, your GVW will vary depending on the number of passengers in the vehicle, the amount of gas in the tank, and so on. For safety and legal reasons, your GVW should never surpass the GVWR.

  • Gross Trailer Weight (GTW) –  This is what your trailer weights at an specific point in time. This includes the trailer weight (which you can easily verify with your manufacturer) plus any cargo that’s already loaded on it. The GTW will vary depending on the type and amount of cargo.

  • Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) –  This is the weight limit of your vehicle set by its manufacturer, taking into account factors such as:
    • All physical components of the car (chassis, engine, accessories, fuel, etc.)
    • The weight of the driver and any passengers
    • Additional cargo inside the vehicle
    • This does include the weight of a hitched trailer

Feeling dizzy from all those abbreviations? Don’t worry, the important thing to remember is that if you’re going to be towing trailers on a regular basis you should always have in mind these four things. Depending on the circumstances weight will vary in different situations, but the takeaway here is to never surpass the cargo limits of both your main vehicle and your trailer.

Don’t hesitate to reach us any time at GR Trailers, where we provide a huge variety of trailers for different needs and towing capacities. You can shop confidently with us knowing that our trained sales representatives will recommend the safest and most useful option for your particular needs.