Your Quick Towing Weights Guide. Know Your Towing Weight Limits.
Before you start pulling anything behind your vehicle, whether it’s a bike rack with a couple mountain bikes or a long boat trailer, you need to be sure your vehicle and hitch can handle the weight.
A lot of drivers wing it because they don’t have access to a quick towing weights guide. Here we are going to teach you about towing weight limits so you don’t have to worry about your trailer separating from the vehicle somewhere along the drive.
If your trailer is heavier than the vehicle can handle, you risk damaging:
- The engine.
- The transmission.
- The rear axle.
- The brakes.
- The wheel bearings.
So let’s make sure you do it right.
Check the owner’s manual for towing weight limits.
The easiest way to search out the towing capacity of your vehicle is to explore the owner’s manual. In the manual, you are going to able to find a trailer towing section with a message along the lines of: “Your vehicle is classified as a light duty towing vehicle. Do not tow a trailer until your vehicle has been driven at least 3,000 km. Towing a trailer places additional stress on the vehicle’s engine, transmission, brakes, tires and suspensions. After towing, inspect these components. Your loaded trailer should weigh no more than 2,000lbs.”
Some owner manuals go into greater detail, showing towing capacity for different types of trailers.
If your vehicle is not classified to tow anything, the manual is going to clearly advise you to avoid any towing.
Check the compliance certification label
This is a sticker you are going to find inside the driver’s door sill area, and it lists a few important items for towing.
- GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight). The standard curb weight of your vehicle, allowing for a standardized amount of luggage, gas and passengers.
- GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating). The maximum safe weight of your vehicle. The engine, transmission, brakes and other components are stressed beyond design limits if your vehicle surpasses this weight.
- GCW (Gross Combination Weight). This is the actual weight of your vehicle plus the actual total weight of your trailer. This number must not exceed the GCWR.
- GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). The maximum safe weight of your combined vehicle and trailer.
- GAW (Gross Axle Weight). The weights expected to be placed on the front and rear wheels.
- GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Rating). The maximum safe weight that can be placed on the front or rear wheels.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to check numbers yourself, you need to learn your trailer’s weight to apply the numbers above.
How do I find my trailer’s weight?
Your trailer has a VIN plate, which lists the trailer’s unloaded GVW and a maximum GVWR for the trailer.
If, for some reason, you don’t have access to a VIN, the best way to find the weight is to load the trailer as you expect to use it and visit a vehicle scale. You can find these at local dumps and sometimes highway weighing stations allow you to weigh in.
Just call ahead to make sure you can actually use the facility.
And that’s that. You can get your boat to the lake or head up north for a week of camping with your large trailer and avoid the constant worry you’re overworking the car or truck.