June 24, 2024

Towing a trailer or fifth wheel requires more than just hitching up and hitting the road. Understanding various weight ratings is vital to ensure safety, legal compliance, and the longevity of your towing vehicle. This blog post will delve into the importance of Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR), and other crucial weight considerations when towing.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)

GVWR is the maximum weight that your vehicle can safely handle, including its own weight plus passengers, cargo, and the tongue weight of any towed load. This rating is set by the vehicle manufacturer and is typically found on a placard inside the driver’s door jamb.

Exceeding the GVWR can strain the vehicle’s engine, transmission, brakes, and tires, leading to potential damage or even failure of these components. It can also affect the vehicle’s handling, making it harder to steer or stop, and potentially causing accidents.

Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR)

GAWR is the maximum weight that can be placed on a single axle (front or rear) of your vehicle. Like the GVWR, this rating is set by the manufacturer. It’s important to note that the GAWR includes the weight of the axle itself, the part of the vehicle’s weight that the axle carries, and any load that is placed on the axle, including tongue weight.

Exceeding the GAWR can lead to poor vehicle handling and potential failure of the axle or the tires. It can also affect the balance of your vehicle, as too much weight on one axle can lighten the load on the other, reducing traction.

Tongue Weight and Pin Weight

Tongue weight is the downward force that the tongue of the trailer applies to the hitch of the vehicle. For a fifth wheel, this is often referred to as the pin weight.

Too little tongue or pin weight can cause the trailer to sway, while too much can overload the rear axle of the towing vehicle. As a rule of thumb, tongue or pin weight should typically be about 10-15% of the total weight of the loaded trailer.

Gross Trailer Weight Rating (GTWR)

GTWR is the maximum weight that a trailer can safely carry, including the weight of the trailer itself and its cargo. This rating is set by the trailer manufacturer.

Overloading a trailer beyond its GTWR can lead to structural damage to the trailer, tire blowouts, or failure of the trailer’s brakes or suspension system. It can also negatively impact the handling of the towing vehicle.

Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR)

GCWR is the maximum combined weight of your vehicle, passengers, cargo, and any towed load (including the trailer and its cargo). This rating is set by the manufacturer of the towing vehicle.

Exceeding the GCWR can strain the vehicle’s drivetrain, lead to poor handling or braking, and increase the risk of an accident.

Be Safe!

Understanding and respecting these weight ratings is crucial when towing a trailer or fifth wheel. Not only does it ensure your safety and the safety of others on the road, but it also helps avoid costly damage to your vehicle and trailer, and potential legal issues from overloading.

Before setting off on your next adventure, take the time to understand these weight ratings and how they apply to your setup. Weigh your vehicle and trailer fully loaded at a commercial scale to ensure you’re within all the necessary limits. Safe travels!

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