SAE Intros Final Test Procedures for J2807


It shouldn't surprise anyone that a good percentage of truck-buying customers consider a pickup's towing capacity as one of the major factors in their purchase. Nor should it surprise anyone that the big truck makers use their advertised tow ratings to lure buyers to their dealerships and away from their competitors. 

The problem, for as long as truck manufacturers have been promoting their tow ratings, comes when a customer wants to compare tow ratings. Without a standardized method of determining a number, with strictly defined terms and conditions, those advertised numbers effectively degenerate into which truck maker is more likely to take on the most risk when promoting the highest towing capacity. Clearly, that didn't necessarily mean any or all of those manufacturers were lying about their tow ratings, but without an apples-to-apples set of procedures for testing, truck engineers could simply make up whatever number their own specific procedures would allow them to comfortably (and sometimes not so comfortably) justify to a legal department. has documented quite a few times how towing and payload ratings have mysteriously increased, sometimes by 1,000 pounds, immediately after a competitor releases a maximum tow number. In fact, sometimes it felt like the truck makers were intentionally under-reporting their true ratings in order to entrap the competition into taking the bait, so they could immediately re-announce their new upgraded ratings. To be honest, for many of us watching this game of one-upsmanship, it was tiresome and offered no real value to those of us looking to make an important purchase. 

Enter the Society of Automotive Engieers. Over the past several years, representatives from each truck maker have met to discuss exactly what procedures and requirements there should be to determine precise maximum towing numbers and the subsequent gross combined weight ratings (GCWR) for small and large pickup trucks. The main goal of the committee, which included both original equipment manufacturers and towing industry suppliers, was to create a standard that allows customers to more accurately compare any similarly sized car or crossover or pickup with a gross vehicle weight under 13,0000 pounds.  
"We have a great committee with representatives from all over the auto and trailer industries who have put a lot of time and effort into developing standards for trailer weight ratings. I think trailering customers will really benefit from this effort," said Robert J. Krouse, GMNA trailering engineer and chairman of the SAE Tow Vehicle Trailer Rating Committee.

SAE announced the finalized procedures May 23 and after calling each of the truck makers, their reactions were oddly varied. As you'll note from our story, GM recently recalculated all of its 2013 Silverado and Sierra towing numbers, and in some cases, it had to signifcantly adjust their ratings. Toyota made the point to adopt as many of the procedures as possible, gaining credibility in the process, by recalculating all of its 2011 Tundra and Tacoma and SUV lineup. 

Interestingly, Ford is taking a more legal approach, telling us they've started applying the new SAE standards to the company's all-new models, such as the completely redesigned 2013 Fusion and Escape, and it will continue to apply the standards as other all-new models are released. What this exactly means to the 2013 F-Series pickups, none of which are "all-new," will be interesting to see. (We'll have more on that front soon, as Ford will be releasing its 2013 F-150 model lineup information very soon.) 

Ram Trucks is also keeping its cards close to the vest, as they have told us they'll have more information on the subject by the end of the month when the company releases material on the 2013 Ram, Jeep, and Dodge models. 

As for Nissan and Honda, we expect to hear from them shortly regarding their 2013 model lineup, but we don't expect much movement in their numbers related to maximum towing or GCWRs. 

As to what type of legal or practical recourse SAE has for any of the manufacturers who do not adhere to the standards and procedures is unclear, but we're trying to find out. 


All the potential buyer wants is how much can I tow with this vehicle. Much like what gas milage will I get? All we ask from the government and manufacturers is honesty. "In a perfect world"....

Oh God pleaseeeee let there be a video somewhere on Youtube of someone with a Ford Explorer towing this boat

I've never heard of the SAE suing a manufacturer. They're a membership organization of experts in various fields and recommend design guidelines.

It's the manufacturers choice whether they follow the guidelines. Of course the government could always mandate a standard but I haven't read anything official other than blogger and enthusiast speculation. It's in the manufacturer's best interest to follow the guidelines since the competition surely will.

On the other hand, the SAE could write critical articles to warn the public about manufacturers not following recommendations. If anything, SAE members get sued for inadequate standards.

Something's wrong with that photo. Looks like a photoshop. Colors and light reflection look wrong. Boat and trailer look enlarged, I'd think there'd need to be more axles/wheels on the trailer.

Typo: Enter the Society of Automotive Engieers

Remember when horsepower numbers were often followed by "SAE" to identify the method of calculating the numbers and to distinguish that number from other HP numbers? If the manufacturers would include "SAE" alongside the published ratings, then we'd know that the ratings from both vehicles we're looking at are both apples.

I think I see your point in this Silverado HD commercial the trailer has more axles/wheels I think most people would think the boat in the picture above needs a Super Duty.

I can't see any manufacturer deliberately charting their own path and not following these standards. Any non-compliant company would surely be ridiculed by a competitor's advertising campaign. The only point they could waffle upon is the implimentation date. That in itself can hurt ones credibility.

@Mark Wiliams. These are pretty strange standards. Firstly having manufacturers input, a subjective test on a specific hill(weather and time of day not factored in) and limiting the "Standards" to be 13,000 GVWR?.
It is was probably done to look like it was addressing the real concern by the buying public of the somewhat 'rubbery" figures put out by manufacturers. As they can still have "recommendations" these "standards" cannot be used to sue a manufacturer if a overloaded vehicle crashes or breaks down.

@ Robert Ryan

The 13,000lb GVWR makes sense, at least stateside. That effectively limits the standard to light duty consumer vehicles (like pickups, SUVs, cars, ect), where you get the guys who typically have very little knowledge of safe towing and hauling practices.

Stuff over 13,000lbs (technically 14,000+) is medium duty or heavy duty, usually commercial vehicles. These trucks have little problem safely towing trailers under 10,000lbs and then past 10,000lbs you typically need a Class A CDL anyway. Therefore, the people driving these trucks are typically more knowledgeable and experienced when it comes to safe towing/hauling practices and vehicle limitations.

@Paul810. I think that is the audience these "standards" were designed for. At least give people who have virtually no idea, a benchmark for what they need.
Seems to be a very common question on the RV forums i.e. "What Truck do I need to tow my ........"


Ford and Fiat are too CHICKENSH!T to dare comply with the standards cause the truth would come out that they would fall short of the competition after putting out BS numbers... .

Dav, LOL, GM will tell YOU you can tow a bunch and throw 3.08 gears and tall tires in with a little 5.3 on 4x4 crew, wonder how that crap tows? LOL and for next year the Ram will have one major thing that has held it back on these uphill speed contests

@TRX4 Tom

I don't have a GM pickup, but I respect them for adopting the standards.

Next year? What's with the wait? I'd put my 4-year-old (I guess it will be 5-years-old "next year") Tundra against any non-diesel Fiat when it comes to towing uphill... .

I believe fords boasted tow #'s and payload #'s are how they got to be #1 in sales.With this tow standard i think that is about to change.

Hey Hemi, so you think GM will take the sales crown because of this? It won't be dodge and the coil rear springs they design to ride nice...

Ford's all new models such as the Escape was brought up.

Ford's 2.0 EcoBoost on the 2013 Escape has a 3,500 lb tow rating, which is the same as the V6 on the old Escape.

When you do it right, you don't have to adjust. Ford had all new engines for F-150 in 2011 and adjusted the ratings at that time.

And that's a 2.0 4 cylinder EB that matched the tow rating of the old and big V6.

@Robert Ryan- " As they can still have "recommendations" these "standards" cannot be used to sue a manufacturer if a overloaded vehicle crashes or breaks down"
Duh- no one who sells a vehicle in America would ever publish ANY figures that would subject them to liability- Lawyers hate that kind of thing. If ever a vehicle is "overloaded", liability is wih the user. As for the test procedures, they do not specify time of day, but do require ambeient temperature to be "no less than 100F", and AC on full. Eisenhowe Tunnell is specified, since it is a brutal grade that everyone already tests on, light and medium/heavy duty. Manufacturers are involved, because that's what SAE is.

@Ken: I believe this photo is real.
Shadows look correct to me.
Gadging the height of the driver's butt compared to the railing on the boat, it hits just below the top of his legs. That seems about right.
I have to agree that the trailer is undersized but it wouldn't be the first time some fool used the wrong trailer. Not a stretch considering what he is attempting to pull it with.

I saw an example at Canyon Lake where a sailboat was left in the parking lot after the tires went flat and the springs bottomed out. I thought at the time it was a repo gone horrably wrong!

I've owned Ford and GM trucks for business purposes in the mountains for years, and I've come to find that Ford tow ratings seem a little more conservative than those of GM. Similar to HP ratings of their cars, I would be surprised if the ratings by Ford differ that much from their advertised values when verified by independent testing using these standards. Like many other comments here, my opinions are based on personal experience and without sound, technical basis.

Translation: Ford is afraid of the tests, and they'd much rather lie to your face. It's much more profitable than telling the truth.

The have released their "Towing capacities" on their 2013 Super Duty, and, surprise surprise, they rated their truck at 18,500 lbs max capacity, 500 lbs more than Chevy and Ram HD trucks.

The 2013 Super Duty has not been SAE J2807 tested.


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