Towing Capacity Ultimate Guide

Are you looking to tow a heavier load? Are you unsure of the limits of your vehicle? Do you want to be sure that you are not exceeding them? Check out our ultimate guide to towing capacity! We will explain what each rating means, as well as give some tips on how to safely exceed your vehicle’s limitations.

What Is Towing Capacity?

‘Towing capacity’ refers to the maximum amount of weight that your vehicle can tow when pulling a trailer. A vehicle manufacturer determines the GVWR, GAWR, GTW, and other factors associated with it by taking into consideration the GVWR, GAWR, and so on.

What does towing capacity mean? Well, it simply refers to how heavy your trailer can be.

In any towing situation, it is absolutely essential to observe the towing capacity maximum. It is extremely dangerous to exceed the vehicle’s towing capacity or to tow a greater load than it is rated for. You should always know what your vehicle is capable of towing.

Types of Towing Capacity

The towing capacity of a vehicle refers to the maximum weight your car will be capable of pulling while it is towing. This is provided by Curt Manufacturing. To understand more about the towing capacity of your vehicle, here are some terms you should know:

  • Braked Towing Capacity – It is helpful to know that when you see brake capacities listed, it indicates the maximum weight that the vehicle can tow when it is towed with a trailer that has its own braking system attached. During this process, a cable will link the trailer’s braking system to the vehicle’s braking system.
  • Unbraked Towing Capacity – The term unbraked towing refers to the ability of your car to tow a trailer that does not have an independent brake system. It is the same as saying that your car is capable of towing a trailer that does not have a brake system. A non-braking trailer generally has a lower towing capacity than a braked trailer.

Vehicle Towing Capacity Chart

A vehicle towing capacity chart can be helpful in estimating the maximum weight a vehicle can tow. The chart includes both regular and heavy duty vehicles, as well as towable trailers. Many factors can influence how much weight a particular vehicle or trailer can safely tow, including the make and model of the vehicle, its wheelbase, and its engine size.

Vehicle Towing Capacity Chart
Vehicle Towing Capacity Chart
LabelWeight Capacity TypeWeight Capacity Description
GVWRGross Vehicle Weight RatingMaximum loaded weight of a vehicle
GCWRGross Combined Weight RatingMaximum towing weight of a vehicle
GAWRGross Axle Weight RatingMaximum weight on each vehicle axle
GTWGross Trailer WeightTotal weight of a trailer
TWTongue WeightTotal weight at the coupling point
Curb WeightCurb WeightTotal weight of an empty vehicle
Dry WeightDry WeightTotal weight of a vehicle without fluids
PayloadPayloadTotal weight of any cargo and passengers

How to Calculate Towing Capacity

The maximum weight capacity of a vehicle can only be determined if you are familiar with its manufacturer’s weight ratings and then comparing them with the gross weight of your trailer. In most cases, the trailer towing capacity of a vehicle is listed in the owner’s manual, on the door jamb of the driver’s door or in the trailer towing capacity guide that the manufacturer posts on its website.

When it comes to determining towing capacity, whether it is SUV towing capacity, pick-up truck towing capacity or vehicle towing capacity, you should consult the manufacturer of the vehicle!
It is possible for the trailer to be towed safely if the rating of the vehicle exceeds the total weight of the trailer.

It is advised not to hitch up a trailer to a vehicle if the weight of the trailer exceeds the vehicle’s maximum rating.

Types of Trailers Used for Towing

As far as the type of trailers used for towing is concerned, there are basically two main types. The first kind is an open trailer, while the second one is an enclosed trailer. Generally speaking, an open trailer, or flatbed trailer, refers to a trailer that consists of no sides and is the ideal solution for transporting objects with unconventional shapes.

Additionally, you have the option of using a trailer that is enclosed on all sides and has a roof covered over it. There are a number of trailers of this kind that are commonly used for delivering goods which require protection, such as livestock or furniture.

Trailer Hitch Classes

If you have already determined the weight and capacities of your towing vehicle and trailer, you are not done yet. Now you must determine the device that will allow you to connect them. Different types of tow hitches operate at different speeds and capacities.

There are five classes in which students get divided – read on to discover more.

Class I

The Class I hitches are usually used on small and midsize cars, as well as crossovers, as they can tow up to 2,000 pounds and can usually handle up to 200 pounds of tongue weight. Normally, you would use a Class I hitch for towing a small vehicle or trailer or pulling a small tent camper or personal watercraft.

Class II

There are two separate classes of hitches, Class I and Class II, and they are generally used for large cars, crossovers, and minivans with tongue weights of 350 pounds and 3,500 pounds, respectively. If you were to tow a trailer with a small boat on it, a Class II hitch would be perfect.

Class III

Class III hitches are generally found on full-size pickup trucks, vans, and SUVs. They can support a tongue weight of up to 800 pounds and can pull up to 5,000 pounds. In order to tow a medium size or midsize camper or boat, you may need a Class III hitch.

Class IV

A Class IV hitch can pull a maximum of 10,000 pounds and is capable of retaining a tongue weight of 1,200 pounds. It is most commonly found on full-size vans, trucks, and SUVs. Among the few types of hitches capable of handling loads requiring weight distribution, they are the smallest class of hitch. The use of a Class IV hitch may be necessary if you are towing a large boat, a larger camper, or a utility trailer containing lawn equipment and other items.

Class V

The hitches on these trucks have a capacity of up to 20,000 pounds and can only be used with trucks or SUVs that are specifically designed for towing heavy loads. Depending on the size of the trailer, the tongue weight can be up to 2,000 pounds. It may be possible to tow a horse trailer or multiple-car trailer with a Class V hitch.

How Much Can My Vehicle Tow?

When towing a vehicle, the weight rating is important to remember. The weight rating tells you how much, in pounds, the vehicle can tow. Vehicles are rated according to their gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR).

Some vehicles have a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or more and can tow a heavy load. Other vehicles have a GVWR of 5,000 pounds or less and can only tow small loads.

The GVWR is determined by adding the total of the vehicle’s loaded weight plus the driver and passenger weights. For example, if you are driving a car with a GVWR of 2,500 pounds and your passenger weighs 300 pounds, your car’s GVWR would be 3,000 pounds.

What is GVWR?

GVWR stands for Gross Vehicle Weight Rating

What does the term GVWR mean? There is a maximum load weight that can be placed on your vehicle (or trailer), which is determined by the manufacturer. As well as the weight of passengers and cargo, the GVWR is also the weight of the vehicle itself.


A gross vehicle weight rating has everything to do with safety. In rating a vehicle according to its maximum weight, a vehicle manufacturer takes into account the suspension system, frame, axles, wheels, as well as other components that bear the weight a vehicle carries.

GVWR vs Towing Capacity

The maximum weight capacity of a vehicle without a trailer attached is known as its Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). A vehicle’s towing capacity, on the other hand, is its capacity to tow a specified weight of a trailer, based on the maximum weight that it is capable of towing.

What Is GVWR on a Trailer?

An explanation of gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR): Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) refers to the maximum weight that a vehicle may carry. Typically, this is the weight that the vehicle can tow, backed, or towed.

The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of a trailer depicts the maximum weight that can be carried by the trailer as a whole, as determined by the trailer manufacturer.

What is GCWR?

GCWR stands for Gross Combined Weight Rating

What does GCWR stand for? A vehicle’s maximum towing capacity that is determined by the manufacturer is the weight of the vehicle with the trailer connected. In the case of a combined weight, the weight of both the towing vehicle and the trailer together is considered. In addition, any cargo or load of either vehicle is taken into account.


Gross combination weight or gross combination weight rating is determined for a vehicle based on the strength and durability of its frame, suspension and axles as well as other towing-related components.


GVWR refers to the weight capacity of the vehicle as a whole. The GCWR on the other hand is a weight rating for a vehicle which takes into consideration the weight of a hitched up trailer. It is an upper weight limit for a vehicle when it is towing a trailer.

What is GAWR?

GAWR stands for Gross Axle Weight Rating

The maximum weight that can be carried by the vehicle’s front or rear axle is the gross axle weight rating (GAWR). Vehicle manufacturers assign different ratings to different axles in their vehicles. For instance, the front axle is rated FR, and the rear axle is rated RR.


A vehicle’s gross axle weight rating is based on the combined weight of passengers, cargo, and the possible towing of a trailer. It is important to note that exceeding the GAWR can result in a lot of damage to the axles of the vehicle.

What is GTW?

GTW stands for Gross Trailer Weight

What does GTW stand for? This refers to the total weight of the trailer and its contents. By putting the trailer on a vehicle scale or by using a trailer weight scale, you can determine the weight of the trailer fully loaded.


Gross trailer weight is not a standard rating like GVWR or GCWR, but a descriptive measurement rather than a standardized rating. There is often a weight rating on a trailer and this will dictate what the trailer can tow. GVWR stands for Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. On the other hand, GTW is the actual weight of the trailer, independent of the rating given to it.

Ideally, the GTW should not exceed the GVWR at any time.

Trailer Weight vs Towing Capacity

A trailer’s gross weight is the estimated weight of its cargo plus the trailer’s weight. A GTW doesn’t really represent a rating so much as it represents a measurement. A towing capacity, on the other hand, refers to the maximum weight a vehicle is allowed to tow based on the manufacturer’s specification.

What is TW?


TW stands for tongue weight

The torque transmission is the force exerted on the back of a tow vehicle by the weight of a trailer or load being towed. In a trailer, it is greatly affected by how the cargo is stacked and also plays a crucial role in maintaining good vehicle control.

What is Curb Weight?

Curb weight is total vehicle weight

Your vehicle’s curb weight is the weight of the vehicle without any passengers, cargo, or items that are not factory installed. In addition to the weight of the vehicle, the curb weight does include the weight of the gas, oil, and other fluids required for its operation.

Curb Weight
Curb Weight

In terms of curb weight, it is the amount of weight your car carries as it sits at the dealership.

Curb Weight vs GVWR

The curb weight of a vehicle is a measurement of its total weight – that is, without passengers or cargo – while the GVWR is a weight limit that has been prescribed by the manufacturer of the vehicle.

What is Dry Weight?

Dry weight is vehicle weight without fluids

Your vehicle’s dry weight is the weight the vehicle is without passengers, cargo, or fluids in it. As with curb weight, dry weight is similar to it, except that dry weight excludes automotive fluids from the calculation, whereas curb weight includes it.

Dry Weight
Dry Weight

Dry Weight vs GVWR

A vehicle’s dry weight can be measured as the total weight of the vehicle without any of the fluids that are required for its operation. A GVWR, in contrast, signifies the maximum weight that the vehicle can be safely loaded with, as defined by the vehicle’s manufacturer.

What is Payload Capacity?

Payload is the weight of your cargo

The payload capacity of a truck or other vehicle can be expressed in terms of the maximum amount of weight it can haul, whether it is cargo, passengers or cargo on the truck cab, the truck bed, or the cargo compartment.

Payload Capacity
Payload Capacity

There is a payload in the truck bed that is the actual cargo itself. In terms of weight, the payload capacity of the truck is the amount of cargo it can haul.

Payload vs Towing Capacity

Both the towing capacity of a vehicle, as well as the payload, are determined by the manufacturer of the vehicle. The payload however is the maximum weight that can be placed on a truck bed and cab, while the tow capacity is the maximum weight that can be placed on a trailer that is mounted on the truck.

Towing Capacity Chart by Brand

The towing capacity chart by brand is a great resource for car owners who are looking to buy a new or used tow truck. This chart can help you identify the maximum weight and size of vehicle that each brand is able to safely tow. we have a detailed post about this check it

How to Increase Towing Capacity

There are some modifications you can make to your tow vehicle that might increase the load it can tow if you already own your tow vehicle and you need to upgrade to haul more weight. It is true that many of these modifications are costly, change how your towing vehicle performs on a daily basis, and can decrease its appeal on the used market when it comes time to sell it.

Here are some changes that will increase the towing capacity of your vehicle:

1. Upgrade the Hitch

Class III hitches are able to tow more weight than Class II hitches on the same vehicle. If your tow vehicle is capable of accommodating the upgrade, you might be able to get the bump you are looking for by upgrading in hitch class.

2. Installing a Weight-Distribution Hitch

It is not uncommon for lightweight trailer hitches to use spring bars to help level the load placed on your tow vehicle by the trailer and reduce swaying. It is commonly the most cost-effective method of improving the performance of towing that this type of hitch offers. Unlike other types of hitches, it does not require you to replace any moving parts within the vehicle.

3. Upgrade the brakes

The braking power of a vehicle is often regarded as the limiting factor for how much it can carry. Perhaps you can upgrade your brake pads and rotors to larger sizes on a budget.

4. Replacing the Axles

In some RV shops, there are options available to upgrade the axles that come with your tow vehicle to beefier versions which are especially designed to handle the heavy loads involved in towing an RV.

5. Adding a bigger radiator

The towing of a vehicle is a very taxing task on the engine. With a more powerful engine, you’ll be able to pull more weight without having to worry about the powertrain parts being worn out by the added heat generated by the cooling system.

Can I Tow a Trailer with My Car?

It is true that many cars can tow trailers, provided that they are equipped with the right equipment and are rated to tow. The towing capacities of automobiles are determined by the manufacturer. A full-size sedan or other larger car is often rated to do some amount of towing, whereas a compact or sub-compact car does not have the same rating.

It is very important to read the owner’s manual of your car to find out if it is capable of towing a trailer. Whether you are towing a trailer with your vehicle or not, CURT probably has a custom receiver hitch to match your vehicle’s make and model, even if it will only be used to attach a bike rack or cargo carrier.

How to Increase Towing Capacity?

There are a number of accessories available that can increase your towing capacity, but it’s critical to always keep your towing component to the lowest rating possible.

In order to increase the towing capacity of your vehicle, you should look for towing accessories that match the towing rating of your vehicle. So if you don’t want to limit your potential by using a low-rated hitch or ball mount, get a high-rated hitch or ball mount. Further, a weight distribution hitch may be an option for optimizing capacity if you wish to do so.

Is the GVWR the actual weight of a vehicle?

No, the GVWR of a vehicle is not always a reflection of its actual weight. Vehicle manufacturers prescribe a maximum weight limit for their vehicles called the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) which indicates the maximum weight that a particular vehicle can safely carry.

There should never be a weight allowance for a vehicle that is greater than the GVWR. There should never be a weight allowance for a vehicle greater than the GVWR.

What happens if you exceed GVWR?

Any vehicle that exceeds its gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is at risk for being seriously damaged in the areas of the frame, suspension, axles, wheels, and other parts and systems of the vehicle. To ensure the life of your vehicle, the GVWR serves as a maximum weight limit for your vehicle.
It is extremely dangerous to drive a vehicle which is overloaded. The driver, passengers and other vehicles on the road could suffer serious injuries as a result.

Is curb weight the same as empty weight?

There is another term for empty weight called curb weight, and that is curb weight. Curb weight means the weight of the vehicle when it is in its original factory condition. It includes any cargo, passengers or accessories that have been added after the vehicle was built.
In the lot of a dealership, curb weight is the weight of a vehicle parked there.

Does curb weight include driver?

It is not included in curb weight because the driver is not included in curb weight. A vehicle’s curb weight is its weight when it is in its original condition when it was shipped to you from the factory. That weight does not include the driver, passengers, or any cargo carried inside the vehicle.

How do I calculate curb weight?

In order to determine a vehicle’s curb weight, it has to be weighed in its factory condition. In order to accomplish this, all passengers, cargo, and aftermarket equipment must be removed from the vehicle. Fuels such as gasoline and oil that are necessary for the operation of the vehicle are included in the curb weight.
Once the cargo and passengers have been removed from the vehicle, it should be weighed using a vehicle scale. Using this weight, you can calculate the curb weight.

Where can I find the weight of my vehicle?

If you want to find out how much weight your vehicle has, you can use a vehicle scale to measure it. It is almost impossible to guess how much weight your vehicle is at all times without a vehicle scale.
The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the vehicle is usually provided by the manufacturer, and this information can be found in the owner’s manual of the vehicle, or on the manufacturer’s website.

Why is measuring towing capacity important?

Towing capacity refers to the maximum amount of weight that your car is capable of towing both legally and safely. If you are pulling a trailer that is too heavy, it can swing, and you could lose control of your vehicle. Besides that, too much weight can cause brakes to wear out more quickly, causing your vehicle to lose control. You cannot tow more than the towing capacity of the towing device, the towbar, or the towball that came with your vehicle.

What Other Technology Helps You Tow Safely?

Truck manufacturers have begun to compete against one another in a kind of competition. As a result, they have come up with some advanced and useful technologies that make towing safer in recent years.
You might consider the following features if you’re considering an upgrade to your tow vehicle:
In addition to Ford Pro Trailer Backup Assist and Ram Trailer Reverse Steering Control, these systems will steer your trailer when reversing in reverse. It is similar to having a second steering wheel for the trailer. With the trailer turning in the opposite direction to the tow vehicle, backing is often the most frustrating part of towing, so this will reduce your frustration immensely.
GMC and Chevy Towing Cameras: The two Chevy Silverados and GMC Sierra models have up to 15 different camera views available, which include a top-down view of the towing hitch while towing and a “transparent trailer” setting that allows you to see the rear view without the trailer in the way.
You might be able to trade in your existing vehicle or buy a new or used one if yours does not meet the towing capacity requirements for what you want to haul. 

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