Know Your Pickup's Weight-Carrying Limits

Pickups_Trailers_Logan[9] II

By Bruce W. Smith

Pickups are designed to tow, which is why the majority of owners purchase them. That's also why tow ratings are a source of pride and a marketing tool for manufacturers.

But trailering numbers can be misleading to the average pickup owner. The "maximum tow rating" of all pickups is predicated on the truck being "properly equipped," which means using the correct hitch setup for the weight of the trailer it's towing.

That means when a trailered weight reaches a certain point, as set by the pickup manufacturer, a weight-distributing-type hitch or a gooseneck/fifth wheel needs to be used instead of the factory receiver hitch with the typical shank-and-ball or pintle hook.

Towing a trailer on the receiver hitch using just the shank-and-ball is called "conventional" towing — and the capacities for this type of towing are well below a pickup's maximum trailering capacity.

What's the big deal in how heavy a trailer is towed or what hitch is being used? A few things: liability in the event of an accident, vehicle control and occupant safety.

Until recently truckmakers did their own in-house testing to determine tow ratings. Shared testing standards did not exist, so there wasn't a way for consumers to compare like vehicles with one another. Buyers took the manufacturers' word for it.

That all changed when vehicle manufacturers joined with SAE International (formerly known as the Society of Automotive Engineers) to create SAE J2807 — a comprehensive set of parameters and test standards to determine tow ratings. J2807 took almost a decade to craft before it was finally adopted by all of the main pickup players.

Alaska_Towing_Big_Boat[6] II

Towing trailered loads in excess of a pickup's "weight-carrying" hitch limit requires the use of a weight-distributing setup for the truck to be considered properly equipped. This boat trailer combo weighs close to 10,000 pounds, well above the truck's weight-carrying limit.

 

In a nutshell, SAE J2807 requires the vehicle manufacturer to use a vehicle equipped with the popular options found on at least 33 percent of the vehicles sold for that model; they also must run the test procedures with the equivalent of a 150-pound driver and passenger. The truck is hitched in a specific manner to a trailer that meets SAE specs and puts the tow vehicle (the pickup truck) at its maximum gross combined weight rating, meaning the combined weight of the pickup, its maximum payload, full fuel tank and the weight of the trailer.

Then a series of tests are conducted that target handling, trailer sway, braking, acceleration and component durability. The tests also include driving up the Davis Dam, a 7 percent grade that runs eastward out of Laughlin, Nev., for 11 miles to the top of the 3,500-foot summit in daytime temperatures of 100 degrees with the air conditioning going full blast. The vehicle manufacturer looks at all the data and decides what towing limits to place on that particular make/model vehicle.

If a vehicle is described as "J2807 compliant," then its towing capacity and resulting limitations regarding the use of weight-distributing fifth-wheel and gooseneck hitches has been done using the SAE standards.

That's why today's tow ratings should not be taken lightly: They really are the limit the vehicle manufacturers have determined is the maximum that vehicle can safely tow and/or where additional equipment is necessary to tow the load.

Ignoring the vehicle manufacturer's towing requirements can affect the truck's warranty, and from a legal perspective, towing beyond the specified limits may place all the liability on the driver's shoulders in the event of an accident.

With that said, maximum on-the-ball hitch towing capacities aren't always easy to find. So we've done a little legwork for you. The information below shows the conventional towing limits found in the vehicle manufacturer's towing guides or owner's manuals. If your trailer weighs more than the weights listed below, a weight-distributing hitch is required. Generally speaking, the maximum conventional tow rating for midsize and half-ton pickups is about 5,000 pounds, with GM trucks being the exception. In the heavy-duty class (three-quarter ton and one-ton pickups), towing capacity ranges from 5,000 (Ram) to 13,000 pounds (Chevrolet and GMC). Below is a listing of each truckmaker's factory conventional tow ratings, and the respective 10 percent tongue weight recommendations, as well as our source information.

Ford

  • F-150: 5,000 pounds/500 pounds tongue weight (2016 RV & Trailer Towing Guide, Page 16)
  • F-250/350 single rear wheel (gas): 6,000 pounds/600 pounds tongue weight (2016 RV & Trailer Towing Guide, Page 28)
  • F-250/350 6.7-liter single rear wheel: 8,500 pounds/850 pounds tongue weight (2016 RV & Trailer Towing Guide, Page 28)
  • F-350 dualie/F-450: 8,500 pounds/850 pounds tongue weight (2016 RV & Trailer Towing Guide, Page 28)

For Ford's 2016 RV & Trailer Towing Guide, click here.

GMC

  • Canyon (V-6): 5,000 pounds/500 pounds tongue weight (2016 Trailering Guide, Page 17)
  • Sierra 1500: 7,000 pounds/700 tongue weight (2016 Trailering Guide, Page 13)
  • Sierra 2500HD/3500HD: 13,000 pounds/1,300 pounds tongue weight (2016 Trailering Guide, Page 14)

For GMC's 2016 Trailering Guide, click here.

Chevrolet

  • Colorado (V-6 or four-cylinder diesel): 5,000 pounds/500 pounds tongue weight (2015 Trailering Guide, Page 12, or click here for the 2016 diesel)
  • Silverado 1500: 7,000 pounds/700 pounds tongue weight (2015 Trailering Guide, Page 9)
  • Silverado 2500HD/3500HD: 13,000 pounds/1,300 pounds tongue weight (2015 Trailering Guide, Page 10)

For Chevrolet's 2015 Trailering Guide, click here.

Ram

For Ram's 2016 Towing & Payload Capacity Guide, click here.

Toyota

Nissan

  • Frontier: 5,000 pounds/500 pounds tongue weight (2016 owner's manual, Section 9, Page 32)
  • Titan: 5,000 pounds/500 pounds tongue weight (2015 Towing Guide, Page 5)

For Nissan's 2015 Towing Guide, click here.

Cars.com photos by Bruce W. Smith

 

Conventional_Towing[9] II

Using just the hitch ball is called towing in the "conventional" or "weight-carrying" mode, which offers far less capacity than a pickup's maximum tow rating.

 

 

Colorado_Towing_Corvette[6] II

The 2016 Chevrolet Colorado diesel can tow up to 7,700 pounds (with a 4x2 powertrain) — but only if a weight-distributing hitch is used. The max trailer weight is only 5,000 pounds using just the factory hitch, shank and ball.

 

Comments

You ever considered a carrier in Magic? Cause you know a lot about make believe. lol

Fords tow numbers are on sea level ground for their 1/2 ton H.D. You can kid yourself on towing 10,000 plus in your Ford I do tow heavy and I am getting an H.D. Just like the majority who tows.
Posted by: HEMI V8 | Nov 10, 2015 2:59:52 PM

The F150 is J2807 certified. You know exactly what that means. Your little Ram does not come close to out pulling the F150.

"Cause you know a lot about make believe."

That comes from dealing with Rambots like you on a daily basis.

A "carrier" in magic??????????

Spell check not work or do you actually think that was the correct spelling?

The F150 is J2807 certified. You know exactly what that means. Your little Ram does not come close to out pulling the F150.


Posted by: LMAO | Nov 10, 2015 4:28:26 PM

Is that right? LMAO.

http://special-reports.pickuptrucks.com/2015/01/2015-light-duty-v-8-challenge-davis-dam.html

Ram 1500 seems did better than Fords 150. Shows here it out pulled it.

You Ford boys are a joke. Just like the beer can truck you love.

"Ford F-150: This half-ton doesn't like to move quickly off the line (traction control on or off), almost like the transmission computer wants to control it all before it allows power."

"Ram 1500: There's almost too much launching power with this pickup. I spun the tires deep into 2nd gear once and I was not even trying. Its throttle is touchy off the line, but it responds well to brake torqueing."

Go figure?


What was that about comprehension? DUH! EH!

Posted by: HEMI V8 | Nov 10, 2015 3:06:51 PM

Hey wimpy V8. Maybe you could actually post a link to a more up to date challenge. You know 2015. AKA where Ram scored 4th place to the smaller Ford 5.0L V8 and where this comment was quoted: but where the Ram lost most of its points was in its limited payload, braking numbers and the ride quality of the air suspension when towing or loaded.

Then you have to compare both V6 and V8 challenges to get an equal ground but the under powered Hemi V8 was just a tenth faster than the smaller Ford 5.0L V8 up davis dam with a 6700lbs trailer but the 3.5L was 6 seconds faster towing a 6800lb trailer.

Plus the 3.5 had better FE. 16.4 vs 18.5 Then there is towing Ram 9.7 vs Ford 11.1.

Oh yea, Ram had the lowest gear ratio of 3.92 and an 8 speed transmission vs Ford with a higher ratio 3.55 and 6 speed.


http://special-reports.pickuptrucks.com/2015/01/2015-light-duty-v-8-challenge-davis-dam.html

Ram 1500 seems did better than Fords 150. Shows here it out pulled it.

You Ford boys are a joke. Just like the beer can truck you love.

Posted by: HEMI V8 | Nov 10, 2015 5:07:47 PM

LMAO you are pathetic. read above. The smaller Ford V8 was pretty much able to match that much stronger on paper 5.7L V8 from Ram without the gearing advantage as Ram. Read and weep little boy.

here is more baby Hemi V8

•The 2015 Ford F-150 XLT SuperCab 2.7-liter EcoBoost is faster when loaded with 1,240 pounds than a Ram 1500 crew-cab 5.7-liter Hemi.

•The 2015 Ford F-150 Platinum with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine was the rocket ship of this test. There's no doubt in our mind that if it had been allowed to compete against the premium engines in our 2015 Light-Duty V-8 Challenge, this truck would have definitely scored more track-testing points and given GM's 6.2-liter V-8 a run.

Notice the above where the 3.5L is on par to the wicked GM 6.2L vs the baby ram 5.7L. LMAO

LMAO - it does look like HemiV8 is the one living in a world of make believe


LMAO - it does look like HemiV8 is the one living in a world of make believe

Posted by: Lou_BC | Nov 10, 2015 6:04:32 PM

Exactly. You would think a truck with more HP, more transmissions speeds and lower rear end gear ratio would be an easy winner in towing and acceleration.

Stay thirsty boys.

"From the outset, we knew the Ram would be the one to watch. The Hemi V-8 is rated with the highest horsepower of our group at 395 at 5,600 rpm, and when combined with the deep 1st gear of an eight-speed transmission (4.71:1) and a compliant air suspension, we had a feeling it would be the one to beat. That's exactly what happened."

"The Ram 1500 tore up the 7.2 percent grade, taking only 8.2 seconds to reach 60 mph empty, leaving everyone except for the Ford F-150 (at 8.5 seconds) in the dust. Some of the trucks, like the Titan, struggled to keep themselves from spinning the tires before the nannies broke in (even with the traction control button in the "off" position), while the two GM trucks seemed to have a much smarter traction control setup system at work, but they still seemed a bit sluggish when responding to throttle input.

When trailering, the Ram 1500's rear end did a great job of getting the 20-inch Goodyear Wrangler SR/A tires (the exact same tires on the Ford, Chevy and GMC) to hook up and pull the 8,500-pound trailer to 40 mph in 11.3 seconds."
;-)

RAM KING OF BEASTS!!!!!

Yup, just what we all thought. Baby hemi is trying so hard to not make her precious Ram look bad but, the Ram does that on its own and was beat by both GM and Ford. LMAO

No offence intended to those of you that are blue collar, hard working types that actually use your trucks but this Hemi guy has reminded me why I didn't get a Ram. When i was testing all of the trucks that I cant get a ram because I don't work as a clean up person on a construction site. She said that the contractors and "smart" people drive Ford, Chevy and GM and the non skilled (read: less educated) drive the Rams. Now at the time, I argued with her and said that is an awful stereotype that she was convinced of and that "Ram made a nice truck". However, reading Hemi's posts, I am glad I did't get a Ram because she was probably right.

I wonder, is it true that EVERYONE who drives Rams have just a high school education (at best) and lower than average IQ or is it just a very loud minority that aren't very smart?

I meant to say...when I was testing all the trucks MY WIFE SAID I can't get a ram....

@Ray Ray, You made the right choice. Ram is a mans truck. Not a man with his balls in his wife's purse.


@Ray Ray, You made the right choice. Ram is a mans truck. Not a man with his balls in his wife's purse.

Posted by: HEMI V8 | Nov 11, 2015 8:23:19 PM

HMMMMMMMMMM, that odd. I never knew that a mans truck has less payload capacity, slowest towing performance with their largest engine, and came in 4th place in a comparison test.

@LMAO - well, it does take a lot of balls to routinely defend a back of the pack truck. Kinda like sticking up for the weak fat kid in your school locker room ;)

(unless Hemi was that kid and that is why he defends Ram)

"Interestingly, we could not remember reading or hearing about anything like this from any of the other manufacturers before. Clearly, this means that the truck's carrying capacity (found in the gross vehicle weight rating) and maximum towing capacity (found in the gross combined weight rating) would be negatively impacted at higher elevations in significant ways. In fact, this made us wonder why only Ford would offer such advice. Was it responding to some kind of pending litigation or was this just good customer safety awareness?" :-(

http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2015/09/should-your-pickup-tow-less-at-altitude.html

J.D. Power Study Ram Buyers Are Happiest. :-)

It's also worth noting that the highest-ranking brand that makes a pickup is Ram.

http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2014/07/jd-power-study-shows-ford-honda-and-ram-buyers-are-happiest.html

@HemiV8 - do you actually read the stuff you post?
Obviously you just fixate on the snippets of information that float your boat.

Here is the rest of the story:

Point 1:
"The annual J.D. Power Automotive Performance Execution and Layout (APEAL) study attempts to gauge how well new vehicle owners like their car or pickup truck in 77 different areas."

Point 2:
"this is very different than J.D. Power's other studies that attempt to assess 90-day initial quality and three-year vehicle dependability."

Point 3:
"In the pickup categories, the vehicles with the highest rankings were the Honda Ridgeline (Midsize Pickup), the Ford F-150 (Light-Duty Pickup) and the Ford F-250/350 Super Duty (Heavy-Duty Pickup)."


"Interestingly, we could not remember reading or hearing about anything like this from any of the other manufacturers before. Clearly, this means that the truck's carrying capacity (found in the gross vehicle weight rating) and maximum towing capacity (found in the gross combined weight rating) would be negatively impacted at higher elevations in significant ways. In fact, this made us wonder why only Ford would offer such advice. Was it responding to some kind of pending litigation or was this just good customer safety awareness?" :-(

http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2015/09/should-your-pickup-tow-less-at-altitude.html

Posted by: HEMI V8 | Nov 13, 2015 12:37:58 PM

This just shows how ignorant you really are Baby V8 and you do not read or cannot comprehend what you are reading. The F150 is J2807 certified. That means it is capable of towing max load up Davis Dam in very hot weather and maintain speed. So with Ford stating this in their owner manual it is very clear that at lower altitude it is more than capable of towing even more. It is just not rated so. So all those Ford owners are happy with their towing experience because their truck is obviously rated lower than what it is capable of.

So in Rambot terms, the F150 has a higher towing and payload than the Fiat per J2807 standards.

what's funny mark is that you previously wrote that J2807

- isnt about safety (http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2013/10/not-so-fast-toyota-j2807-is-not-about-safety.html)

- but you call out OEMs for not falling the standard they help build (http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2013/02/manufactures-continue-to-ignore-sae-standards.html)

- and even make write a story about the absurdity of some OEM's and their tests (http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2014/07/more-game-playing-now-gm-fesses-up.html)

and now with this story you continue to try and make sure everyone is aware of it even citing "That's why today's tow ratings should not be taken lightly: They really are the limit the vehicle manufacturers have determined is the maximum that vehicle can safely tow and/or where additional equipment is necessary to tow the load."

pick a side...is it about safety or is it not?

lol how does it make sense that chevys have more than Ford, completely Fake, this site sucks, Ford tow rateing it 12,000 This site is biased on Ford, chevy is not truck of the year, chevys are the most deadly vehicle on the market.

I'm looking at this a year later so it will probably never be seen, but here's my question....I have an all aluminum living quarters horse trailer...weighs 6800 pounds (without horse and tack so add another 2000). It's a gooseneck. Does Chev make a 1500 that would safely haul this?



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