Tow Ratings Adjust for 2013 GM Pickups

GM HD Towing II

By Mike Magda

We just got our first look at the tow ratings for 2013 GM pickups, and for most full-size trucks, their factory numbers will be 200 to 300 pounds lower than comparable 2012 models. And some models will drop as much as 4,800 pounds. Ouch.

As all the pickup manufacturers adhere to the new SAE J2807 towing standards this year (Toyota started early with its 2011 truck models), it’s likely that many tow ratings will fall. But for GM, its consumers are just as likely to learn that the new tow rating for select models of the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra will actually go up by 100 pounds for 2013, as well.

Confused? Bear with us as we sort through the numbers and hear from GM’s top truck engineer. We’ve compared the 2012 tow ratings with numbers found on the recently released 2013 GM order guides. Our sampling revealed that towing capacity for all 1500 models and many 2500 models dropped as much as 300 pounds, depending on the vehicle configuration, engine choice and axle ratio.

In the 1500 class, a two-wheel-drive Extended Cab standard bed with a 6.2-liter V-8, 3.73:1 axle ratio and the Max Trailering package was rated to tow 10,700 pounds in 2012. According to the 2013 order guide, the rating will be 10,500 pounds. A four-wheel-wheel-drive regular cab with a standard bed, 5.3-liter V-8, 3.42:1 axle and HD trailering package was rated at 8,900 pounds in the 2012 model and dropped to 8,600 pounds in the 2013.

In the 2500 class, a four-wheel-drive Extended Cab long bed with the 6.0-liter V-8 and 3.73:1 axle went from 9,400 pounds to 9,100 pounds, but the same configuration with the 6.6-liter Duramax diesel remained the same at 13,000 pounds.

“The reduction in trailer weight ratings for 2013 is a result of SAE J2807,” said Dean Perelli, chief engineer for GM trucks. “J2807 applies to all vehicles that are 13,000 pounds GVWR and below, therefore affecting all light-duty and some heavy-duty pickup trucks.”

In the past, each manufacturer set its own criteria for tow ratings. There was no uniform test procedure in the same manner that the Society of Automotive Engineers sets down for promoting engine horsepower numbers or standard procedures the EPA uses to determine estimated fuel economy. Without a common industry standard, it was tricky for truck shoppers to compare tow ratings fairly and accurately against other brands. Inexperienced truck consumers were especially vulnerable because they could be misled into believing the “maximum” tow rating used in advertising applied to every model in a particular truck line.

GMC Towing 1 II
A few years ago, automakers, along with trailer manufacturers and towing dynamics experts from each of the OEMs, worked with SAE to establish industry standards for tow ratings. The group settled on tow-vehicle performance requirements for acceleration, driving up a grade and braking. Automakers did have the option to implement the J2807 standards voluntarily, and most said they would comply by the 2013 model year. Toyota was the first manufacturer to implement J2807 when its tow ratings for the 2011 Tundra and Tacoma were lowered.

Base weight requirements that reflect real-world towing situations are responsible for most of the ratings reductions. Before J2807, automakers referenced only a 150-pound driver as payload.

“In addition to the performance requirements, SAE J2807 applies a standard conservative approach to calculating the trailer mass, which includes two occupants, optional equipment, aftermarket trailer hitch equipment and trailer mass on the vehicle,” Perelli said. 

The largest drop in tow ratings came in selected 2500 models with 5th-wheel and gooseneck hitches. For example, a two-wheel-drive regular-cab long bed with the Duramax diesel and 3.73:1 axle was rated at 17,800 pounds using a 5th-wheel hitch. For 2013, the rating drops to 14,400 pounds. A four-wheel-drive Extended Cab long bed with the diesel and a 3.73:1 axle saw its rating drop from 15,700 pounds to 10,900 pounds.

GMC Towing 4 II
“For 5th-wheel towing, SAE J2807 assumes that 20 percent of the trailer weight is on the kingpin,” Perelli said. “Previous calculations consider 17 percent with the understanding that the GVWR and RGAWR would not be exceeded. This change, in addition to the additional mass considered above for the additional passenger, optional content and aftermarket trailer hitch equipment can have a significant effect on the new calculated trailer weight ratings for 5th-wheel trailers.”

In the 3500 class, ratings with a traditional trailer hitch were mostly unaffected; however, with a 5th-wheel hitch, most models saw a 100-pound increase. The “maximum” tow rating for the Silverado and Sierra is now 23,100 pounds. The lone model with that rating is a four-wheel-drive regular-cab long bed with the Duramax and 3.73:1 axle. A more popular model, the four-wheel-drive crew-cab long bed with the diesel, is now rated at 22,500 pounds.

“Year-to-year revisions in mass allowed the 3500 series trucks to increase the trailer weight ratings by 100 pounds,” Perelli added.

For commercial owners interested in the new 2500 bifuel models that operate on gas or compressed natural gas, those trucks will have the same towing rating as a comparable gas-only configuration when equipped with 4.10:1 axle. When opting for the 3.73:1 gears, the bifuel trucks’ tow rating will be 600 pounds lower.

“Considering the GCWR and SAE J2807, the bifuel trucks built with the 3.73 axle have a reduced trailer weight rating as a result of the shift in CNG system mass from the trailer to the vehicle,” Perelli said. “The mass of the CNG system on the bifuel truck with the 4.10 axle has no effect on the 13,000-pound trailer weight rating when compared to a similar L96 gas-only truck considering the higher GCWR. All the SAE J2807 maximum trailer weight calculations and performance requirements have been achieved to meet the maximum trailer weight ratings.”

Finally, not much else is changing on the 2013 model. A quick scan of the order guide revealed that two new colors will be introduced: Deep Ruby Metallic and Blue Topaz Metallic. Also, there’s a blackwall all-terrain tire option for the Z71 package.

GMC Towing 3 II

GM Towing 1-ton II



One thing I never noticed before in additions to the big 3 offering a ITBC and mechanical or locking diff in their biggest tow packages are GM's Max trailering package has 6 lug wheels, Ford's HD package has 7 lug wheels and Ram Tradesman 8 lug wheels and your not getting more than 5 lug wheels with Tundra. On the next gen Tundra I want a Max or HD tow package with a ITBC, mechanical limited slip and atleast 6 lug wheels in addition to the current tow package options. The current tow package can stay as is but we do need a bigger package option.

5.3l lol,
if u think number of lug nuts determines strength, u need to dig a little deeper. I dont think u suppose a tacoma with 6 lugs is better than the tundra our rams 5 lug.

All GM half-tons have six lug wheels. The only real exclusive thing the max towing package gives is the 3.73 gears and I think different leaf springs (not at all sure about that). It also forces 17" wheels.

It does have the 9.5" rearend and rear disc brakes but any truck that has the 6.2 gets that.

@uh huh
I did not say 8 lug wheels would increase tow rating to 12,000lbs but it will aid the durability of the wheels and help make a better max tow package. I also left off heavy duty shock absorbers from the package. I am not sure if everyone wants air bags like Ram added and I am adding Air Lift Load Lifter 5000 w/ wireless air to my truck along with the upgraded shocks I just bought. I already added an aftermarket TBC that works very well but an ITBC would be another great option for a max tow package. As for the mechanical limited slip I think it would be great for the max tow package and the Auto LSD for the standard tow package. I think Tundra's Auto LSD is at best alright but it can wear out brake pads and disk prematurely as explained here The Auto LSD also does not supply the torque of a mechanical limited slip explained here In my post only I only suggested things I wanted or things I am doing with my truck. That reminds me also add E rated light truck tires to the list. I do think Tundra’s standard brakes are great but I would like to see an 8 lug wheel with the standard brakes.

Max Tundra Tow Package
1. 17” wheels with an 8 lug pattern
2. E-Rated Light Truck Tires
4. Mechanical Limited Slip (that supplies better torque and less wear and tear on the brakes)
5. Heavy Duty Shock Absorbers
6. Tow Mirrors
7. Front Tow Hooks
8. Possible Air Bags
9. Standard Tundra Tow Package (#2. Delete)
Standard Tundra Tow Package
1. Includes towing hitch receiver
2. Trailer brake controller prewire
3. 4.300 rear axle ratio
4. TOW/HAUL mode switch
5. Transmission fluid temperature gauge
6. Supplemental engine oil cooler
7. Supplemental transmission cooler
8. Heavy-duty battery
9. 170-amp alternator
10. 7-pin connector

5.3l lol,
more lugs just looks better bcuz we're all used to the more lug on heavier duty vehilce.

i think the brake actuated lsd that the tundra has is plenty sufficient except for those few individuals who do moderate to atreme offroaing and those who flat out gas it too much that the brakes r unable to hold it back. but then those few individuals will likely swap to aftermarket lsd or lockers anyways. after all, it alot less complicated to replace worn brakes than it is to replace the clutch packs in a standard lsd. offroaders and heavy footer will wear the clutch packs of the lsd just as fast as the brake lsd the tundra uses.

And so what happens when you try to pull significantly more than the real two rating:

Saw a Dodge Ram with a rear axle ripped right off, and transmissions begin to fade and its life fads fast, and classic engine overheating, with acceleration next to nil. Bent frames
and smoking brake failures.

I don't care what anyone buys. Just be sure to purchase one where the first digit of the VIN code starts with the numeral "1".
Oh, and to all of you who are arguing over who is best and all the blah, blah, blah...put the crayons down, it's nap time.

@5.3jealousy, why do you have the wish list of a 2500 truck? The Tundra is a 1/2 ton, it wouldn't benefit from half the things you listed. Be a little more realistic, if you want all that stuff Toyota should build a heavy duty, if they don't then it sounds like you need to upgrade from your half ton Toyota to heavy duty domestic. 8 lug wheels and E-rated tires, really??? Sounds like someone is hitting the ZIP a little early for the holiday weekend...

Ya'll be safe and have fun celebrating this weekend!

I hate to tell you but the big 3 already offer some kind of HD payload package for their 1/2 tons. I guess Toyota would half to be crazy to due something like that (compete). Im guessing you dont know that some tundra owners already put e-rated tires on their truck and im just suggesting the option to get it that way from the factory so they save money (real crazy I know). My God who would put E-rated tires on a half ton with a HD payload package that is just insane? Have mercy who would put more lugs on a half ton with a HD package so you rip the wheels off that sucker?

I want to thank Tyler for educating me to the rules of business because they must have changed. Now if you try and offer something the competition is selling your not doing good business your just being jealous.

The reason for wanting a mechanical LSD is when Tundra looses traction and the auto LSD appies the brakes the engine aslo cuts power as explained here The tow mirrors well you see how much the Ford guys got excited when they got the tow mirrors that have all the same functions as the Super Duty tow mirrors Just in case Tyler doesn't know the F150 w/HD payload package uses 17" wheels with a 7 lug bolt pattern Also since Tyler doesn't know that most people cannot tow Tundra's max when they try to tow their TT without exceeding its GVWR first. That would be the reason for the HD shocks and possible air bags Tyler do you know how to spell ignorance it's spelled y-o-u.

I own a GMC D/A 2500 xtnded cab shortbed, it's a 2008 and I bought the truck and a FW based on the ratings that GM gave the truck. Now with these new rating all my calculations went down the tank! Especially with this 4K drop in trailer weight ratings. Could someone explain this to me, I've read the article but still don't get it. This is unbelievable.

I’m a new reader and have been very impressed with your recent posts and thought to drop a friendly note. It is really a great information indeed. Waiting for more posts thanks for shearing ....

This truck looks amazing! I love the towing power it has. I would buy a truck like this, a different color but love the truck! :)

Wow i did not know there were no standards for these capacities i do know that tires are sold with a no standard for mileage ratings--so you could buy a cheep tire (hankook-falcon)that is advertised as 70 thousand mile rated or the best available(Mitchelin) 1oo mile rated tire.. leaving the consumer misled into thinking they are buying a better tire

I have a 2011 silverado 2500hd 6.0 3.73. Wondering why the tow rating is so low at 9400 compared to several half ton trucks at over 10000 with a 3.73 or higher gearing. I know going to 410 it jumps to 13000. Is it because you will have a lack of power to do the job or cause damage.

So how much can a 2013 Sierra sle,4x4,6.6,6 speed and 3/4ton pull.I have a 5th wheel 34 foot trailer that weights 14,070 lbs.

I just wish a Ford, Chevy, or Dodge would produce a truck that doesn't cost over thirty thousand dollars. I mean all the junk they put into them I dont need anyway. Maybe after the bail out that all but ford took they would give something back to the people that supported their company in hard times. I hope Chevrolet and Dodge stick to one engine and get it right before moving on to something else. Is that to much to ask? really?

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