Not So Fast Toyota: J2807 Is Not About Safety

2014_Toyota_Tundra_SR5 II

We certainly don't blame Toyota for trying to take advantage of the current towing standards situation, but we're calling foul on this one. After reading a recent Toyota press release that rightly gloats about receiving the Texas Auto Writers Association's Distinguished Service Award for its early adoption of the Society of Automotive Engineering's voluntary J2807 towing standards, there seems to be some confusion about the point of the standards.

In the release, Toyota asks whether pickup truck buyers know "how much they can safely tow?" The implication is that the SAE standards somehow let truck owners know exactly how much they can safely tow, suggesting that without the use of these standards there is no way for drivers to know. That's not exactly true. The point of the J2807 standards is for each pickup manufacturer to stand behind the published numbers their engineers have identified as that chassis' capability rating.

It is no more technically safer for a consumer to know that a manufacturer adheres to the J2807 standards than it is for a consumer to know what the maximum horsepower or torque ratings are for a given engine. Following J2807 standards means that the truck maker followed a certain set of testing procedures, not whether higher or lower numbers are more or less safe.

SAE standards are not about safety, per se, as much as they are designed to get all pickup truck manufacturers on the same page when calculating, certifying and reporting tow rating numbers so consumers can compare and contrast models and configurations, apples to apples.

Granted, being the first truck maker to adopt the SAE standards definitely means that Toyota deserves credit, and we're glad TAWA took the opportunity to recognize it for doing so. But for Toyota to imply that its pickups and SUVs are somehow safer for customers that tow than other pickup or SUV brands is not only illogical, it's flat-out incorrect.

Here's some advice: To make pickups and SUVs safer for towing, make sure they have an integrated trailer brake controller that uses all the available computer data from the antilock braking system, trailer-sway control and engine management algorithms. Then, make sure the trailer has a good set of brakes and tires. Finally, make sure the tongue weight is calculated properly and that there is a good backup camera that provides sufficient all-around visibility. That will make towing safer for those who tow, as well as the drivers who must share the road with them.

The SAE towing standards are about giving consumers a chance to compare apples to apples when choosing between different pickups. Right now that's not possible because several manufacturers are dragging their feet about adopting the standards because they have certain models (most of which are heavy-duty versions) that will show a considerable drop in maximum tow ratings when compared to previous models. Toyota doesn't have any HD models, so it was able to absorb the procedural changes with just a few small drops in the Tundra's maximum towing capacity on select configurations. Ford, GM and Ram potentially have more to lose, and that likely may explain their resistance to fully follow all the J2807 standards.



Toyota sucks and no one is going to buy it for towing anyway, so it won't affect anyone's decision. Nothing to report here. LOL!

I call BS on the J2807. Every single pickup on the market today can do that test. As anyone who tows for a living can attest, most of these pickups can actually do more than the advertised weight and towing limits that the manufacture says they can. The biggest problem is not everyone with a pickup should be towing the maximum weights because they don't have enough experience to do so. With that being said if you get into an accident and you are overloaded from what your truck is rated to tow or the GCWR, then expect to be hearing from some personal injury lawyers...

Not picking sides, but isn't it safer to know what your truck can actually tow without overheating, having the parking brake fail on an incline loaded up, and overheating the brakes? I can go outside and hook up 13,000 pounds of hay bales (which I do occasionally) to the back of my Tundra, or hook up 18,000 pounds of hay bales behind my 2500HD, sure it can still "tow it", but how safe is it to bumper pull that weight (both trucks are overloaded by a considerable margin)?

I actually prefer my Prodigy trailer brake controller to the integrated one in my Silverado 2500HD, I have a trailer where the integrated controller throws a fit when I hook the trailer up, but the Prodigy recognizes the trailer just fine. I've been told it's due to the integrated brake controller not getting enough resistance from the trailer.

So, bloated towing numbers that don't accurately reflect the true towing limits are not considered a safety factor? Hmm... How is an overloaded truck not a safety issue?

Designing tow standards is a relatively simple engineering problem.

I don't understand why the 'government' doesn't just set regulations on towing. It's not hard.

Every manufacturer must adhere to a common formula for tow limits.

This is the type of regulation that governments need to be involved in.

Once a common formula is set you can then make a real decision on what vehicle is best suited for towing, without the manufacturers marketing.

Pretty sure Fords 3.7 truck can't to what they say in this test, that's why Edmunds tested and compared to a Ram, and the Ford overheated it's trans, with a new truck, in the springtime. Imagine how that might go in 20 degrees hotter temps...

If any truck can pass this test, how is it the Tundra had to re-rate a few of theirs after this test? When you look at the torque and gears they have, and their cooling and braking, it might be harder then you think.

I would expect most Fords, the new GM 1500s (complete with tow ratings made by high schoolers) and the Ram 1500 6 speed to loose tow rating.

Oddly, the 6 speed and 8 speed Ram are rated the same per axle ratio, most of us know an 8 speed can do alot better.

@Chris: that's why my friend traded in his 5.3 Chevy, and he has no regets towing his travel trailer or bass boat.

@Big Al from Oz - I'd have to agree. We will get legislation saying we need backup camera's but legislation concerning towing and hauling would save more lives and not be a real financial burden to the auto makers.
Restrictions should be put on the drivers of pickups who tow or haul heavy.
In BC if a trailer is heavier than 4,600 kg (10,120 lb) one is required to get a "Recreational House Trailer" Endorsement that requires a road test and written exam. A "Heavy Tow Licence" is similar but one requires a physical on top of the written and practical exam.
A typical knee jerk political response will occur after some numbnut goes out on the road with a 30K trailer and kills himself and a bunch of others.

@Tim, J2807 is for testing reliability, not safety. Just like how EPA mpg figures don't guarantee fuel economy, but its a good way to compare figures "reliably."

@Big Al, what the heck does the government know about towing? I would trust a credible private company to do it, but not the government.

Interesting, the award has struck a nerve at PUTC.
True colors are shining through...

Lets get real if this was Ford following the new standards saying this, Mark Williams would be giving them a thumbs up in support.


Posted by Mark Williams | July 26, 2012

"As we understood the process, the committee, made up of representatives from both auto and trailering industries, agreed to begin using the J2807 test procedures for 2013 model-year vehicles. That way, anyone buying a truck from the 2013 model year or newer would be able to compare identically tested towing numbers against one another to make the smartest (and safest) purchase."

@LJC - neutrality goes out the window when a corporation's PR team controls the keys to the press fleet.

@Alex - the part that bothers me about non-compliance with the SAE standard is how can a corporation ignore standards set by a licenced profession body who's aim is to protect the public?
I don't see pharmaceutical companies ignoring organizations like the AMA.

There needs to be a set capacity limit for each class of trucks, just like commercial medium and heavy dutys. For example, class 5 is set at 19,500 lbs max GVWR. Then you can pick the truck that best suits your needs, within your class, and not have to sort through individual ratings and combinations.

Thanks to Tim, LJC and others to point out just how illogical this article really is. How anyone, with a straight face, can say that accurate tow rating is not safety related is amazing to say the least.

@Lou: True, very true.

We could play a guessing game to see who's pulling strings.

If it was Ford you Never have this article,,,,??

Now think about what Mark said there. *"Right now that's not possible because several manufacturers are dragging their feet about adopting the standards because they have certain models (most of which are heavy-duty versions) that will show a considerable drop in maximum tow ratings when compared to previous models."* As some here have been very adamant about pointing out, those standards are there for a reason and quite bluntly it's more about safety than mere "leveling the playing field". If the GVWR or GCWR of a truck is exceeded BY SAE STANDARDS, highway patrol has the right to issue a ticket to the driver of that vehicle. This new(er) standard would ensure the truck is actually up to the task it's rated for and not just fluffed up by fairy dust. It will also probably ensure that a truck rated for Class 5 operations will be driven by certified drivers and not some hoo-ha that simply says, "I can drive anything."

No, the real issue here is that with the other truck builders using the physical size of their rigs to work around CAFE rules, once they finally adhere to the J2807 they'll lose nearly half their full-size sales. In fact, this may be one reason why GM is bringing the Canyon/Colorado back into their lineup as a lot of full-size owners will likely have to backtrack to smaller, lighter trucks for the parent company to even reach CAFE.

I'll give TFLTruck credit for an article on the J2807 standard:

Which is more than what PUTC has done...

I guess your right people only buy what brand or brands you like for towing.

As far as this article I would say Mark Williams went a little too harsh as this does have some safety involved but not to the level Toyota makes it out to be as SAE Tow numbers are probably the safest but NO automakers has unsafe numbers due to risk of lawsuits. The reason why Toyota takes it to the level they do is just like the other manufacturers they want to sell trucks and what does that: Towing numbers, Payload numbers, FE, Braking, HP, TQ, Safety and Reliability. When the 2nd Gen Tundra came out they were all about trying to be best in class in some of those categories and Now the 3rd Gen Tundra comes out and they made no meaningful mechanical improvements and are no longer best in class in any area and are just solid in most of those areas and below average on FE So now Mike Sweers grasps at straws to do anything to make it seem like the 2014 Tundra is as good as or better than the other pickups. Most of you here have seen my 2010 Supercharged Tundra and know that I damn proud to have given Toyota my business for that pickup but if Toyota wants repeat business from me they will have to earn it rather than trying to trick me into buying one buy reading the brochure and telling me you are better rather than doing a fair unbiased test showing how they were better (What Toyota use to do and what I liked about the 2nd Gen Tundra). I can see both sides of the argument.

Do they have a fully boxed FRAMES, NO I don't think so = JUNK. this is 2013 NOT 1913.

Truckguy, Peterbuilts doen't have fully boxed frames either, does that make them worthless for towing?

@Lou, look at Snell approved helmets. The standard is tougher than the DOT standard. Snell is a non-profit private company. My comment wasn't that I disagree with SAE's J2807, it was more that I don't want some guy in Washington DC who doesn't tow to tell me about towing safety. Also, I don't think SAE's mission is to protect people, but rather to use science in engineering standards. I agree with this article that it's not about safety, it's to use a consistent testing standards to ensure data reliability. So the results should be consistent between different raters. I don't object to that. But I still want the govt to stay out of my life. LOL.

@Mark Williams
I could always tell you were not the greatest Toyota Fan. But this article crosses the line. I take it you slept through the class where they taught journalistic integrity in college. You know...unbiased reporting and such. This site is becoming a Fox News for the Domestics Truck Companies.
At least once a week I see some idiot with his truck overloaded. A standardize set of towing numbers would eliminate this at least for the people who read their owners' manual.
Because someone with an overloaded truck is not only endangering themselves but everyone else on the highway. Is the J2807 perfect? Probably not, but it's a step in the right direction. A step that the domestic truck companies refuse to take because it will end the "tow numbers wars". They'll actually have to improve their trucks in order to up the tow numbers.

That first line was @ Chris.

Ford Motor Co. was rated 63 percent below industry average in the survey, with Ford brand No. 26 and Lincoln No. 27, better than only BMW's Mini brand of the 28 rated

The magazine said complaints about Ford's electronic control system, MyFordTouch, were the main reason for the continued low results, although it also said a significant numbers of respondents also reported problems with the Ford EcoBoost engine

Read more:;-ford-again-near-bottom#ixzz2j35lQsYq

Mark Williams is exactly right. The new SAE towing standards need to create a level field to calculate GVW and GCW. Not sure Toyota understands.

Just reently we saw how weak the Tundra was towing up the IKE by the TFL and the Tundra came in last in the 2013 PUTC Light Duty Challenge. Toyota needs to check itself before it wrecks itself.

But for Toyota to imply that its pickups and SUVs are somehow safer for customers that tow than other pickup or SUV brands is not only illogical, it's flat-out incorrect."

Exactly. The proof is in the 2013 Light Duty Shootout. These Tundras take forever to stop.

I honestly think that VVTi and LMAO nailed it--PUTC is not even trying to conceal their bias. It sure is coincidental that they write a scathing review (that makes no sense to one with common sense) of Toyota and Consumer reports releases a report that notes that Toyota snags the top 2 spots for most reliable vehicles... and Ford nearly gets the bottom 2... .

Globally there are engineering standards. This is where the government bodies responsible for vehicle saftey have their engineers or get a university to study this and form standards.

Like your job, there are standards that have to be meet. Input from industry, insurance, government bodies has to be compiled so some form of action is initiated.

We aren't talking tax or trade barriers here. We are talking engineering standards.

Imagine on the West Coast if there are no standards for building construction? How well would home fair in an earthquake if construction companies decided what standards should be met.

Look at developing nation and how standards are managed.

Companies can't be relied upon to set standards, look at the ridiculous tow limits they have set.

I give all credit to the winner for TFL truck but that was not "how the weak 5.7L did" because it did as well as any other NA V8 would due in the mountains. Is it time for some mechincal changes YES as its 07 mechanicals show their age vs the Big 3 11+ mechanicals. Also most people probably don't try and floor it when towing up a mountain as the SAE test doesn't require you to do that either. I believe their is a difference between being garbage and being outdated and some people go to far and thats why the Toyota guys think that everybody is against them. It is a solid truck but no best in class at anything anymore.

Mark as a fan of PUTC for years I must say I have seen the objectivity wane on the site. However, I did like your article lambasting Toyota for making no changes to the power train. Unfortunately I have to call you out on this article, complete baloney.

@Tim Esterdahl
Totally agree bloated and exaggerated towing limits are a concern.

@WTi You sum it up well.
"Because someone with an overloaded truck is not only endangering themselves but everyone else on the highway. Is the J2807 perfect? Probably not, but it's a step in the right direction. A step that the domestic truck companies refuse to take because it will end the "tow numbers wars". They'll actually have to improve their trucks in order to up the tow numbers. "











So all these people worried about these inflated towing figures, has there been a wave of accidents lately caused by people towing at their vehicles maximum rating? Are people deliberately loading up their trailers just because they can? "No my RV is only 12,000 lbs... I better load it up with some bricks to see what my truck can really do!" I'm just wondering if the concern is justified.

"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."

- Mark Williams June 4, 2012


the 2014 Tundra is not the 3rd generation. It's a mid cycle refresh on the 2nd generation design. I guess you can call it generation 2.5. A new generation would imply a total revamp of the existing design or a significant enough of a change that would also included the cab structure and front windshield/glass sections. Toyota was conservative because they didn't really need to change it all that much to remain competitive. In the next year or two, they will probably add DI to pick an extra 30-40 hp and add one or two gears to the 6sp transmission. When they do that, the Tundra will be at the top of the pack again. Unfortunately, it's the triple tech junk frame I'm worried about. They will definitely have to address that if they want to remain best in class in towing and hauling.

@LMAO post - my post is about these stupid surveys they do and if you follow them to the letter you deserve what you get people need to use some common sense when using the info they provide.
because people cant bother to pick up the operating manual and figure out how to use their Mytouch and that's the main concerns Ford has that means what? Ford is junk don't but them? give your head a shake. I have the mytouch in my car and it works flawlessly, its like anything out there, you need to learn it and nothing is perfect.

to the topic at hand I wish all the manufacturers would adopt this system or some universal system, Toyota went a little overboard for sure this round

Maybe Toyota did take it bit over the top, but at least they've adopted the system which makes it much easier for buyers to compare trucks apples to apples. Maybe we could have an article one why Ford has not done this yet and how there behind the times. I know we would never see that on here since this is a Pro Ford site.

@ the real Mike
No it is the 3rd Gen Tundra as the 2nd Gen Tundra's mid cycle refresh was back in 2010, and It just turned out to be a refresh but it is the "All New Tundra" 2nd Gen Tundra 07-13 and 3rd Gen Tundra 14+

@Mark Williams- To claim that SAE J2807 isn't about safety means you don't understand the standard, or you don't understand safety. Braking performance and stability are paramount for (towing) safety. Meeting the SAE requirements at a given trailer weight means that the truck conforms to certain safety standards. I am not claiming that towing at a max trailer weight other than that specified under J2807 is inherently unsafe. IN fact, trucks from the Detroit 3 typically come very close to meeting the standard. Engineers from all vehicle manufacturers even agreed that the standard was appropriate to adhere to. Tow ratings ARE developed by using (most of) the requirements. In most cases the published capabilities are within all but a few limits. But the consumer doesn't know which ones. Customers of J2807 compliant vehicles know that ALL requirements are met to THAT standard, including those pertain-ant to safety (stopping, stability).
Marketing is to blame for being afraid to have their keystone numbers infringed upon.

The problem with safety standards established by the government is that real world performance is often unrelated to standardized test performance. Shortly after the Explorer rollover problems the govenment started pushing rollover ratings. The actual death rate due to ratings was inversely proportional to the government ratings with the Corvette having the highest death rate and double decker buses having the lowest death rate. Sometime good test results give idiots excessive confidence.

In my experience the driver is always the key factor in safety. A safe driver knows the condition and limitations of his entire braking system, how much tongue weight the trailer needs to be stable, how much it has and if he has the correct hitch to distribute the tongue weight properly on the tow vehicle. He also understands what his stopping distance is, the road conditions, and how his speed affects safety.

The manufacturer's rating should reflect how much the vehicle can pull and haul without self destructing under the anticipated usage.

Keep in mind that aircraft are extremely heavily regulated by the govenment for safety and as a result innovation has been shut down. Private avaition has not advanced much since the 1950's. We don't need that in our trucks.

I'm not a big fan of big government, but I have to say that because of government regulation cars and trucks have gotten much safer and you have a much better chance of serviving a bad wreck then you would have 30 or 40 years ago. Yes the driver is key to not getting into an accident but accidents do happen and you can't control the other people on the road.

hey, how about giving us all the right to know when it comes to towing, that would be helpfull, most of that tow anything heavy have come to experience what it is like to go buy a travel trailer and have the dealer tell you your 10K towing 1/2 ton is not enough cuz of toungue weight.
a good explanation how GVWR and tounge weights and payload all pan out would be good for many





Big Daddy Ram, this article is about Toyota and J2807 Towing standards. Your useless comments have nothing to do with the article.

With all the towing comparisons that putc has done, I'd like to see putc (or any other magazine) do it's own j2807 test.

@john I was thinking this was a FERD sit, I am OUT !!

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