Have you ever seen a very large trailer or 5th wheel and then passed it and been surprised to see THAT truck size towing THAT trailer? We have often been surprised and quite frankly, concerned. When the wrong size truck is towing a trailer / 5th wheel, it is a recipe for disaster in the making. And it happens often. So the question is, “How much trailer can you tow?” One first step is to be aware of the Maximum Loaded Trailer Weight Rating (MLTWR), or put in simpler terms, what is the tow rating for a tow vehicle. Next you want to know the year, make, model, cab and bed configuration, engine size, transmission and if the tow vehicle is 2WD or 4WD. Additionally and perhaps most importantly you need to know the rear axle ratio of the tow vehicle. After you collect all of this information you can do a search on the Internet for towing guides. These guides are designed to provide correct tow ratings and information. Try to use a towing guide published by the vehicle manufacturer for the type of vehicle you are searching for. Our friends from RV 101 have the following two tips to offer:
1) Try to find a trailer with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) that is equal to or less than the tow vehicle’s MLTWR (tow rating). The trailer’s GVWR is the maximum weight the trailer can weigh when it is fully loaded for travel. By doing so, the tow vehicle is capable of towing the trailer even if the trailer is loaded to its maximum capacity. Most trailers have a significant difference between the dry or unloaded weight and the GVWR, and in most cases are not loaded to the GVWR. This gives you a safer margin between the vehicle tow rating and the trailer’s Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) or how much the trailer actually weighs.
2) After you find a trailer that meets the criteria in #1 add the weight of the fully loaded tow vehicle and the fully loaded trailer together and make sure it is less than the tow vehicle’s Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR). The GCWR is the maximum amount of weight the tow vehicle and the trailer can weigh when they are combined. You can take the tow vehicle to a set of scales and have it weighed, and you can look at the trailer’s dry or unloaded weight and then add a safe amount to cover the weight of any cargo and personal belongings you plan to take in the tow vehicle and in the trailer when you go camping.
This is not all that you need to know…considerations must be made such items as proper hitch components, brakes, and trailer tongue weight or pin weight for a 5th wheel trailer, but if the tow vehicle and trailer pass these two requirements you are starting out right and making your towing experience a safe one.