What Is Towing Capacity and How Is it Measured?

When deciding which model will work best for your hauling needs and evaluating what you can haul with your current vehicle, knowing the towing capacity of a vehicle is crucial. It is always a good idea to stick to the towing capacity specified on the vehicle, as exceeding it might be risky.

Towing Capacity Types

Towing capacity, as defined by Curt Manufacturing, is the maximum weight that your vehicle can tow. You should also be familiar with the following terms when it comes to towing capacity:

  • When you see the term “braked towing capacity,” it refers to the maximum weight that a vehicle can tow when the trailer being towed is equipped with its own braking system. In this case, the trailer’s braking system will be connected to your vehicle via a cable.
  • Unbraked Towing Capacity: When you hear the term “unbraked towing,” it refers to your car’s capacity to tow a trailer without its own independent braking system. This capacity is frequently lower than the towing capacity when the brakes are on.

What You Should Know Before Towing Another vehicle

When planning to tow another vehicle, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • A tow bar, tow hitch, and recovery point are all required.
  • When towing another vehicle, you’ll attach the towing device to the chassis of the vehicle being towed.
  • To give needed slack for towing a heavy vehicle or farm equipment, utilize a tow pin and jaw.

Towing Trailer Types

There are two different types of trailers that will be used for towing. Either an open trailer or an enclosed trailer will be towing. An open trailer, also known as a flatbed trailer, is one that has no sides and is great for products with unusual shapes.

You might alternatively utilize an enclosed trailer, which is enclosed on all sides and has a roof. This trailer is frequently used to transport any goods that requires protection, such as cattle or furnishings.

How do you know what your vehicle’s maximum towing capacity is?

According to AutoList, determining your vehicle’s maximum towing capacity is simple. You only need to know the vehicle manufacturer’s weight rating and compare your trailer’s weight to it. The manufacturer’s towing capacity is normally listed in the owner’s handbook, on the driver’s side door jam, or on the business website.

What Is Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and How Does It Differ From Towing Capacity?

Kelly Blue Book defines GVWR, or gross vehicle weight rating, as the maximum loaded weight of your car that the manufacturer has judged to be safe. It will take into account the weight of the passengers, cargo, and the vehicle itself. This weight, unlike towing capacity, refers to how much the vehicle weighs before the trailer is attached.

What Does GCWR Stand For?

The total weight that the vehicle can safely transport, including the weight of the vehicle, the passengers, the cargo, and any attached trailer, is known as the gross combined weight or GCWR. The manufacturer will determine this weight.

What Exactly Is GAWR?

The maximum weight that a vehicle’s front and rear axles can withstand is known as the gross axle weight rating, or GAWR. There will be two ratings in total. The front axles are rated FR, and the rear axles are rated RR.

What Exactly Is GTW?

The term “gross trailer weight” refers to the entire weight of the trailer as well as the cargo being transported in it.

Other Towing Capacity-Related Terms

There are a few more phrases you should be familiar with to ensure that you only tow the weight that is safe to drive.

  • Tongue weight, or TW, is the downward force that can be applied to the back of a towed load or vehicle. This is crucial to understand since it can help you maintain greater vehicle control.
  • Curb Weight: When there are no passengers, baggage, or trailer loads, the curb weight of a vehicle will tell you how much the vehicle weighs. It will take into account the weight of gasoline as well as the weight of other fluids required for the vehicle’s operation.
  • Dry Weight: Dry weight is similar to curb weight in that it refers to the weight of your vehicle before passengers and cargo are added. It differs in that it also reduces the weight of the fluids that must be present in the car in order for it to function effectively.

How Does Payload Capacity Differ From Towing Capacity?

When a manufacturer specifies the payload capacity, it refers to the overall weight that a vehicle can haul, including passengers and freight, as long as it fits in the cab or bed of the truck, as explained by Firestone Complete Auto Care. It does not indicate how much weight may be dragged or towed behind the vehicle, unlike towing capacity.

What Are Some Ways to Boost Your Towing Capacity?

If you plan on towing too much heavier cargo than the model would allow, there are safe techniques to help improve the towing capacity of your vehicle. To boost towing capacity, you’ll need to invest in equipment like a higher-quality hitch and ball mount that will allow your car to tow a heavier weight safely. Always base the higher rate on the lowest-rated towing accessory added when doing this.

What Are the Benefits of Always Following Your Vehicle’s Towing Capacity?

According to, ignoring your vehicle’s towing capacity can quickly harm your engine, tires, transmission, or structure, leading in costly repairs. Failure to adhere to your towing capacity can potentially put you in danger on the road.


How to tow a car

From checking tyre pressures to fitting spares and topping up oil levels, correctly caring for your car might mean you’re always learning. However, there is one skill that many drivers have yet to master: towing a vehicle.

Whether it’s your car that’s broken down or a family member who requires assistance, understanding how to tow will allow you to get the car where it needs to go quickly and safely, whether that’s back home or to the garage.

This handy guide will teach you all you need to know about towing a vehicle:


Car Towing may appear to be an easy task, but it isn’t; in fact, if you’ve never towed another vehicle before, you’ll find it to be rather difficult. addresses some of the most difficult aspects of towing in this article.

Towing a car has its own set of rules

What is the law regarding car towing?

Towing a car has different rules based on how long you’ve been driving. Restrictions apply if you passed your driving test after January 1, 1997 and haven’t taken a specialized car and trailer test; more information can be found on the GOV.UK website.

While being towed, the broken down car must have a ‘On Tow’ sign at the back, and the person driving must be a qualified driver.

Is it legal to use a rope to tow a car?

If you don’t have a tow bar, you can tow a car using a rope or chain, but the distance between the automobiles must not exceed 4.5 meters, according to the RAC. If the distance between the rope and the road is longer than 1.5 meters, the rope or chain must be plainly visible from both sides – for example, by attaching a colorful piece of fabric across the middle.

Towing a car is easiest when you utilize a tow strap with hooks on both ends that easily attach to both automobiles’ towing hitches. If you’re using chains, the links may expand and break as a result of the tension.

Is it possible to tow a car without insurance?

The car must be insured if its wheels make contact with the road. Even if the car is broken down, there’s still a potential it will be involved in an accident while in transit; car insurance protects you from this. In addition to insurance, the car must be taxed and, if applicable, have a current MOT.

Is it possible to tow a car on the highway?

You can’t tow a car on the highway if it hasn’t broken down there. It would be exceedingly risky for you, the other driver, and all other road users due to the speed of other vehicles traveling on the carriageway.

Is it legal for me to tow a car that is obstructing my driveway?

If a car is blocking your driveway when you wake up, the first thing you should do is ask your neighbors if they know who owns it.

According to the Ask the Police website, most municipal governments have taken on the obligation of enforcing parking regulations under the Civil Parking Enforcement Act (CPE). Check with your local government to see if they use CPEs; if they don’t, contact the police.

What is the best way to tow a car?

Now that you’ve learned the rules, here are some helpful hints for towing a car:

Before you leave

  • Only cars with manual transmissions can be towed, so if your car is automated, you’ll need expert help.
  • Before you leave, inspect the rope, chain, or strap for any flaws or damage.
  • Agree on a route with the other driver ahead of time, preferably one that avoids congested regions and does not involve a lot of stop-starting.
  • The steel hooks should not be connected to the bumpers because they will most likely be pulled off.

While on the way

  • To avoid rapid movements that could break the rope, use the clutch to carefully pull away.
  • Slow and steady wins the race; never go faster than 15 miles per hour.
  • When you’re on the move, avoid abrupt breaks. To warn the opposing driver, lightly tap on the brake before applying full braking force.
  • Let the other motorist know ahead of time so they can prepare.
  • Check your mirrors frequently to be sure nothing is wrong behind you, and pull over if your oil pressure or temperature indicator changes.

If you’re the towed vehicle’s driver

  • To disengage the steering lock, turn on the ignition. When the engine is off and the car is being towed, you’ll have to use a little elbow grease to use the power steering or power-assisted brakes.
  • You must turn on the lights as usual if it is dark.
  • Before you start going, make sure the car is in neutral and the handbrake is off.
  • Always keep an eye on the motorist in front of you; steer and brake in sync with them, and keep an eye out for brake lights and indicators.
  • To avoid jolting, keep the strap, rope, or chain taut at all times – this can be regulated by lightly pressing the brake.