How Much Towing Capacity Do I Really Need?

Manual with towing information
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Learn the Language of Towing

Trailering has a language of its own. Knowing the terms used in towing will help you find the right combination of trailer and tow vehicle. The trailer you can pull depends on three factors:

  • the weight of the trailer
  • the capability of the vehicle
  • the type of trailer hitch


Trailer hitches are broken down into classes, ranging from lightweight Class I trailer hitches to heavy Class V hitches. Beyond the standard hitch classes are gooseneck and fifth-wheel connections that each have their own weight limits.

You’ll often see the term “dry weight” shown in travel trailer specifications. That’s the weight of the trailer empty, with no water or other liquids in its holding tanks and nothing stored inside. You don’t want to use dry weight in your vehicle planning. Instead, you’ll want to use the weight of the trailer when loaded with all of the gear you typically take on trips. A trailer dealer can usually help you estimate the typical loaded weight of any trailer they sell, though it will just be an estimation.

It is essential to realize that weight limits are maximums. In order to safely tow and prevent premature wear to your towing vehicle, you’ll want to stay below the maximums.

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