Can You Increase a Truck’s Towing Capacity?

It’s not uncommon for truck owners to need to tow more. You might’ve gotten an unexpected deal on a luxury travel trailer or found a gig requiring you to pull more than your truck’s towing capacity. And maybe you’re not quite ready for a new truck yet, so you face a dilemma. Can you safely (and affordably) increase your truck’s towing capacity?

Can you safely increase a truck’s towing capacity?

increase truck towing capacity
Ford pickup truck towing a camper trailer | Universal Images Group via Getty Images

You might see products that claim to increase a truck’s towing capacity, or you might have that DIY buddy who claims to have successfully modified their vehicle. But the truth is, you really can’t safely and affordably increase a truck’s towing capacity.

Automakers manufacture each vehicle according to precise technical specifications. Following these specifications allows manufacturers to adhere to budget constraints and maximize profits. Further, doing so allows them to mitigate the risk of costly quality issues. And automakers must be accurate in the information they disclose about their vehicles; otherwise, they could face regulatory action.

In other words, if automakers made vehicles that could be modified for various weights, they might have build quality issues, cost overruns, or compliance risk issues. On top of that, why would an automaker ever market a vehicle as having less towing capacity than it actually does? High towing capacity is a selling point, so there’s no financial incentive to sell a vehicle falsely advertised with a low capacity.

But to really understand why modifying a truck to tow more weight is not in the cards, you have to understand how vehicles are evaluated for towing capacity.

How are vehicles evaluated for towing capacity?

According to How Stuff Works, when automakers design cars, they do so with a specific gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) in mind. The GVWR comprises the total weight a vehicle can haul in its cargo area (including passengers) and tow behind it. The GVWR consists of three parts: the base curb weight, cargo weight, and allowable payload. The base curb weight is how much your vehicle weighs when empty, while the cargo weight is how much you can load into your vehicle and attach to it (think roof racks and kayaks). And the allowable payload is what you can tow. You can find this number by subtracting your vehicle’s cargo weight from its GVWR.

The designers then develop blueprints that include all the components necessary to build the vehicle to meet that specific GVWR. Every component’s weight and material, from the axles to the chassis, are determined and fabricated with this particular figure in mind.

Modifying a truck’s towing capacity would require you to change numerous components of your vehicle. In essence, you’d need to rebuild it from scratch. Per Gen Y Hitch, you can make minor modifications to help you distribute the weight you’re towing more evenly. But if you need to pull another two tons, there’s no magic gadget on QVC or Amazon that will let you do that safely. And if you try to do so and overload your truck, you could cause severe structural damage that could force you to shell out for a new vehicle sooner than you planned.

By adding your cargo weight and allowable payload, you’ll get your gross towing weight (GTW), which you can use to determine your vehicle’s towing class. Classes are categories that tell you how much your vehicle can pull. Class I vehicles can tow up to a ton, while Class II vehicles can trailer up to 3,500. To tow heavier loads, you’ll need a Class III (10,000 pounds) or Class IV vehicle (14,000 pounds).

Don’t believe these towing myths

Plenty of alleged workarounds, like aftermarket suspensions, exist for increasing your vehicle’s payload and towing capacity. But if you buy them, you’re wasting your money. That’s just one of several towing myths you should ignore.

Another involves maintaining your trailer bearings. If you’re concerned about increasing your towing capacity, the quickest way to reduce it is to forgo cleaning, monitoring, and repacking your bearings with new grease yearly. You can also compromise your truck’s towing capacity by using a generic hitch extension rather than one configured for your model.

Finally, many truck owners think they don’t need to understand crucial terms like “GVWR” and “GTW” or take the time to measure their trailers’ tongue weight. No matter how long you’ve been a truck owner, developing an expert’s understanding of the fundamentals is key. Otherwise, it’s easy to make a simple mistake that can result in expensive repairs or injuries.

RELATED: What Can You Tow With a 4,000-Pound Towing Capacity?