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Trucks 101: 7 Myths About Towing That Just Aren’t True

With so much information online about towing best practices, what’s true and false? We’re here to help with information from reputable sources. Here are seven myths about towing that just aren’t true.

1. You can boost the payload capacity by adding aftermarket suspension products

You can’t boost your truck’s maximum assigned capacity ratings for either hauling or towing. There are extra suspension products out there but they aren’t going to help you.

Is there anything you can do? You can level your truck and ensure proper handling. Before setting out, gain access to the leaf springs. You can also work on eliminating any side-to-side sway.

2. You don’t need to worry about towing terms

It’s actually a very good idea to know towing terms. Here are the basics:

  • GCWR: Gross Combination Weight Rating is the maximum combined weight of the tow vehicle and trailer. It shouldn’t be exceeded.
  • GVWR: Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is the maximum weight limit for everything including your specific vehicle or trailer, and it includes any passengers and payload. The rating is set by the automaker and shouldn’t be exceeded.
  • GAWR: Gross Axle Weight Rating is the total allowable weight that can be placed on an individual axle. The rating’s determined by the automaker and shouldn’t be exceeded.
  • GTW: Gross Trailer Weight is the weight for the trailer once it’s fully loaded. A handy way to determine this number is to subtract your GVW from the GVWR.
  • GVW: Gross Vehicle Weight is the true weight of the fully-loaded vehicle to include all passengers, cargo, and equipment.
  • GAW: Gross Axle Weight is the true weight that each axle is carrying.
  • Tongue Weight: The amount of pressure or weight applied to the hitch of the tow vehicle by the tongue or trailer.

3. You can increase the towing capacity by increasing or upgrading your trailer hitch

Maximum capacities for towing and hauling are carefully calculated and provided for safety reasons. These limits should be strictly observed. If your hitch has a capacity of 25,000, then you shouldn’t exceed this limit even if your vehicle towing capacity is 35,000. Use good judgment at all times.

4. You can estimate the tongue weight

One of the most common towing fails is incorrectly estimating tongue weight. Tongue weight should never be exceeded. A step-by-step guide on measuring the tongue weight of your trailer can be found here.

5. The tongue weight is usually 10% of what’s being carried

While the tongue weight is often 10 to 15%, you shouldn’t make assumptions. There are many things to consider here including the position of the trailer axles and how the load is distributed. Many people load the front end of the trailer closer to the hitch. With that putting more weight on the tongue, that has an impact too. For best results, carefully estimate the true tongue weight for your specific configuration.

6. The trailer bearings never need maintenance

Regular upkeep of your trailer bearings is a necessity. The bearings need to be cleaned, monitored and repacked with new grease at least once a year. Especially when you consider most trailers sit outside in weather conditions, which can cause rust. The failure of trailer wheel bearings can cause trailers to break down and result in expensive repairs.

Located within the trailer’s wheel assembly, the bearings need to be maintained. If you take care of them, you’ll get many years of reliable service out of your trailer. 

7. Any hitch extension will work, right?

Not all trucks are the same so you can’t just use any generic hitch extension. There are many available in eight lengths between 21 and 60 inches each. It’s important to get the proper measurements for your specific tow truck so you can select the best hitch extension for your configuration. The tongue weight requires an adequate extension.