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Get Your Weight Under Control by Learning These Terms

Get Your Weight Under Control by Learning These Terms

  • HAVE YOU EVER SEEN THOE TRUCK COMMERCIALS ON TV THAT SHOW A TRUCK PULLING SOME RIDICULOUSLY MASSIVE LOAD? IT'S ENOUGH TO MAKE THE INNER TOWER IN AL OF US DROOL WITH EXCITEMENT - AND MAKE SOME REALLY BAD DECISIONS.

     

    First, don’t believe everything you see on TV. Second, before you tow anything, whether it’s a boat or a bunch of stuff for your son or daughter’s college dorm room, you need to learn certain towing terminology to make sure you’re towing the right amount of weight.

     

    Just because the commercial said your truck can tow 15,000 pounds, that doesn’t mean you can load 15,000 pounds of stuff onto your trailer. You have to factor in the weight of the trailer.

     

    If you try to tow more than your truck or trailer can handle, you’ll be in trouble. You can seriously damage your truck, your trailer and your load, and possibly injure yourself, your passengers and other drivers.

     

    Ford Pickup Truck towing with Gooseneck Hitch and front loader

     

    Here are some basic towing terms you need to know. Much of this vehicle-related information can be found in your vehicle’s owner’s manual, on your vehicle’s compliance certification label (a sticker in the driver’s door seal area), and trailer-related information can often be found on your trailer’s VIN plate.

     

    • Gross vehicle weight (GVW).The total weight of the tow vehicle. In addition to the vehicle, this includes the weight of everything in or on the vehicle, including passengers and cargo.
    • Curb weight.The weight of the vehicle only, including fuel and standard equipment.
    • Gross trailer weight (GTW).The total weight of the trailer, including the load and equipment used to secure the load.
    • Payload.The weight of your trailer load only, not including the weight of the trailer.
    • Gross combination weight (GCW).Add your GVW to your GTW to get your GCW. Simple, right?
    • Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR).The manufacturer’s recommended maximum vehicle weight when fully loaded – the vehicle and everything in it, as well as the tongue weight. Keep in mind that manufacturers may recommend that you avoid towing until your vehicle has a certain number of miles on it.
    • Tongue weight.The downward, vertical pressure or weight on the hitch by whatever is being towed. In other words, this is the weight being transferred from the trailer tongue to the tow vehicle. As a general rule of the thumb, the tongue weight should be 10-15 percent of the gross trailer weight. Too much weight on the tongue can make it difficult to steer your vehicle, and not enough weight on the tongue can cause your trailer to sway. We’ll explain how to calculate tongue weight in a future post.
    • Tow rating.The manufacturer’s recommended towing capacity, which is typically based on the GVWR and other factors.
    • Gross trailer weight rating (GTWR).The trailer’s recommended maximum weight capacity, which includes the trailer itself and everything on it.
    • Gross combined vehicle weight rating.This is pretty much the whole enchilada – the total weight of the tow vehicle and everything in it, as well as the total weight of the trailer and everything in it.
    • Gross axle weight rating.The maximum weight that can be supported by a single axle.

    We understand that this may be overwhelming, but it’s better to learn the proper terminology than create a dangerous situation by towing on the fly. Sign up to receive the B&W Trailer Hitches blog to receive useful trailer and towing information whenever we publish a new post.