Is Your Vehicle Capable of Pulling Your Trailer?
Safety has to come first when pulling a cargo trailer, utility trailer, fifth wheel, travel trailer, or any other type of trailer. Choosing the right trailer for your vehicles or vehicle for your trailer will make a big difference in how safe you can travel on the roads.
Can My Vehicle Haul my Trailer?
The first step to figuring out whether or not your vehicle is suitable to haul your trailer is to look at the combined weight of the trailer. Make sure this weight doesn’t' exceed the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of your vehicle. The GVWR represents the maximum weight your vehicle is capable of towing safely.
While your trailer may be within the GVWR, it could still be dangerous for you to haul your trailer. It's smart to keep the weight of the trailer you plan to tow at 80% or less of the GVWR or your vehicle's maximum towing capacity.
Figuring Out the GVWR for Your Vehicle
The best place to start your search for the GVWR of your vehicle is within the owner's manual. Usually, it will be found in the glove box. If you don't have an owner's manual, you may be able to find a digital copy of it online for your vehicle.
Many vehicles also have the GVWR found on a sticker, usually inside the driver's side door. When you find this sticker or you find the GVWR in the owner's manual, you will also want to not the Gross Vehicle Weight or GVW. This is the actual weight of your vehicle and it's important when figuring out if your vehicle is capable of pulling your trailer.
Finding the Weight of the Trailer
You will be looking for the GTW or the Gross Trailer Weight. This is often found in the owner's manual for the trailer. If it's a travel trailer, you may find it inside the door to the trailer on a sticker. If not, it may be found on a sticker attached to the frame of the trailer.
Some trailers may have the weight displayed as Base Curb Weight or BCW. This is the weight of the trailer the way it was delivered from the factory with the required lubricants and factory equipment only.
Figuring Out if Your Vehicle can Pull Your Trailer
Once you have the weight of the trailer, the weight of your vehicle, and the GVWR for your vehicle, you can figure out if your vehicle can pull the trailer you plan to purchase or currently own.
When you look at the GVW (make sure to include the tongue weight, which is about 10% of the loaded weight of the trailer) with the GTW or the GVWR, you want to make sure the total doesn't exceed the Gross Combined Weight Rating.
In addition, with some trailer, depending on the length, you may need to look at the wheelbase of your tow vehicle to ensure you can handle the length of the trailer.
If you plan to tow a utility trailer or a cargo trailer with a specific vehicle, make sure the weight of the trailer and the weight of the cargo don't exceed the maximum towing capacity of the vehicle. It's always a good idea to keep the amount you tow at 80% or less of the maximum your vehicle is designed to tow.