May 15, 21

Choosing the Right Trailer: Guide to Towing and Hauling Capacity

The process of shopping, choosing, and setting up the right trailer, travel trailer, or fifth wheel can often be a bit more complicated and involved than what most shoppers expect. Matching your needs with the trailer or camper while simultaneously making sure the tow vehicle is built to handle the trailer and tongue weight can easily be fumbled from the start. The limits and specifications set by pickup truck manufacturers are there for a reason. Vehicle manufacturer specifications such as payload capacity, towing capacity, Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) take into account many different factors such as transmission, engine, frame, brakes systems, and suspension. These figures can be a bit confusing, so let’s take a quick look at each.

Guide to Towing and Hauling Capacity Terms

Curb Weight: Weight of the vehicle including standard factory equipment, without passengers or any other added equipment.

Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW): Not to be confused with curb weight, this number includes passengers, fuel, equipment/cargo but excludes trailer weight.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR): This is the maximum amount of weight the vehicle can handle at a given time, excluding trailer weight.

Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR): The maximum amount the fully loaded truck and trailer can weigh, combined.

Payload Capacity: Easily formulated by subtracting Curb Weight from GVWR. Knowing the tongue weight of your trailer is a necessary part of the formula when attempting to understand how your trailer fits in to the payload capacity. Fifth wheel tongue weight typically hovers around 20% and bumper pulls between 10 – 15%. Multiple factors such as how the weight on the trailer is distributed will have significant effects on actual tongue weight as well. It’s also important to consider that 1000lbs of tongue weight behind the bumper will have more noticeable negative effects than 1000lbs over the axle in the bed of the truck.

Setting Up Your New Trailer

After making sure that your trailer of choice is within your truck towing capabilities per the manufacturer, having your tow vehicle set up properly to insure optimal safety and towing experience should be the next course of action. What catches many light, full-size trucks owners (such as the Ford F150 and Silverado 1500) off guard is being within Payload Capacity, GCWR, GVWR numbers but still experiencing rear squat, instability or bounce when towing. The harsh and unfortunate reality is that because light, full-size truck suspensions are designed with passenger comfort in mind, they suffer when towing, leading to squat and significant decrease in drivability. Installing a weight distribution hitch can provide aide and alleviate much of this, by distributing the weight more evenly on the tow vehicle, but this often is still not enough – adding suspension support is key to optimal ride quality.

RAS Solves Common Towing Issues

This where RoadActive Suspension comes into play. It can work with a WDH, fulfiling the needs of truck owners desperately looking to get rid of squat and instability when towing. It does this without further complicating matters by requiring maintenance, adjustments or having a negative affect on ride quality like traditional air bag or helper springs. It’s simple; making adjustments, maintaining or worrying about unloaded ride quality is not something that most pickup owners want to spend their time worrying about if they can help it. This is why more pickup owners are becoming happy RoadActive Suspension customers!

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