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.