Skip to main content

When it’s time to buy a new SUV or truck, one of the top questions most people have is how much it can tow. While 1,000 pounds is decent for a subcompact SUV, many buyers want something that can pull more. Though 4,000 pounds isn’t the max towing capacity, you might be surprised about what you can pull.

Do you mean I can tow that?

An SUV towing a box trailer, which could be what you can tow with a 4,000 pound towing capacity limit.
An SUV towing a trailer | Getty Images

RV and Playa report that 4,000 lbs are a respectable amount of power for a truck or SUV. If you want to haul a boat, you’ll need something with some more get up and go, but there are many items you can tow with this capacity rating. For example, if you’re headed out for a day at the lake, you can tow canoes, jet skis, kayaks, and fishing boats. Camping enthusiasts can haul teardrop and A-Frame campers. If you’re more interested in hitting the trails, you can tow snowmobiles, ATVs, and motorcycles. 

Other items include trailers like flatbeds, small enclosed utility trailers, and small travel trailers. If you need to move a car, you can tow small vehicles and a tow dolly.

Vehicles that can tow up to 4,000 lbs include the Audi Q5, Jeep Cherokee, Volvo XC90, and the Honda Passport. You can learn how much your vehicle can tow in the owner’s manual.

What happens if you overload your towing capacity?

The ability to tow 4,000 lbs is a bit misleading. Many believe this means you can haul something that weighs 4,000 lbs, which isn’t the case.

If you’re towing a fishing boat, you need to remember that you’re also towing other items, such as your fishing gear, fuel, and any other items in the vehicle. Towing too much will lead to more trouble than it’s worth.

You could likely cause an accident. This is because the vehicle will take longer to stop. Even worse, the suspension and frame will be put under such stress that it could cause damage.

Even if that doesn’t happen, your beloved vehicle could become damaged beyond repair. This happened to one truck owner who tried to tow a camper that was far too heavy. The bed began to split from the rest of the truck as the weight was too much to bear.

Don’t believe these towing myths

When you begin towing, you’ll doubtless be regaled with advice on how to do it better by well-meaning friends, family, and even strangers. While some of what you hear is sound knowledge you should follow, some things are just myths that will lead to more trouble than they are worth.

First off, after-market items will not improve your suspension and thus increase your towing capacity. The towing capacity is what it is, and you can’t improve it. This also applies to upgrading your trailer hitch.

Some may try to assure you that towing terms don’t matter. However, they do matter. In fact, you should learn all you can about pulling before setting out on your epic adventure.

Never let someone talk you into estimating the tongue weight or that it’s only 10% of what you’re hauling. You need to know the exact weight to avoid creating more problems for yourself.

Another myth is that your trailer bearings never need maintenance. You’ll need to perform basic maintenance, like adding fresh grease and cleaning at least once a year.

Finally, hitch extensions can be glorious if installed properly, but you need to get the proper length for your truck. If you’re unsure, consult a mechanic familiar with towing heavy items.


The Wrong Axle Ratio Could Kill Your Truck’s Towing Capacity