“I’m sorry sir, that truck can’t tow this trailer.”
From my personal experience and the comments of others I've read on several forums I wonder if you’ll hear those words come from a salesperson—unless you pointed over to a Toyota Tacoma like I did. Of course, I was joking.
Any salesperson’s job is to sell, and no dealer in the U.S.A. is under any legal obligation to ensure your purchase is correctly matched. In fact, some dealers will have you sign a document waving them from any obligation. SEE ACTUAL DEALER'S DOCUMENT HERE.
As a buyer, I believe that it is important to have as much information in-hand as possible before purchasing. In some instances, NOT ALL, a salesperson may say whatever is needed to get you to buy without regard to what tow vehicle you have. After informing the salesman I had a 2008 Dodge Ram 2500 diesel, he perked up and assured me my truck was big enough for the 41 foot toy hauler I had my eyes on. “We tow these trailers all the time with 2500s,” the salesman said. To keep a long story short, I’ll tell you this; his untruthful sales pitch was revealed when I saw the bed of my 2500 nearly drop to the axle after raising the landing gear for the first time. (You can read more of my story here: My Truck Pulls it Just Fine!.)
This was my first purchase of any RV. Although I had done some research on towing RVs, I learned quickly how little I knew. I've learned a lot since then. Now, I hope to pass along some helpful information to you.
Scott and Heather from Florida, who wanted to share their story so that others may benefit from their experience, also thought they had done enough research. They learned the hard way and survived a horrific accident directly contributed to a grossly mismatched tow vehicle and trailer. Those common words heard from many salespeople told them "It will tow it just fine." You can read their story here.
Towing with mismatched vehicles or towing while exceeding the vehicles’ weight safety ratings may not always be the primary factor in an accident. But, I am convinced that the severity of some accidents are exacerbated by overweight conditions and/or mismatched combinations. After studying some of the accidents reported, I can't help to wonder if it couldn't have been avoided, or the severity minimized, if they weren't exceeding the weight safety ratings or if the vehicles were properly matched. It certainly appears that one of the primary concerns of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is ensuring that the braking capacity is not exceeded by overweight conditions.
One of the most common questions for RV buyers is something like this, “How much can I tow?” For some time, I avoided creating a calculator. During my research I continued to hear and read stories of how a buyer learned too late that they had purchased the wrong towing combination. It was either revealed when the truck bed lowered close to the axle, or when the vehicle's powertrain struggled towing uphill.
Not long ago, I completed a survey asking this question:
"Would you benefit from having a handy free calculator that provides peace of mind when purchasing a new tow vehicle or RV that’s readable on all smart devices and answers, 'Can I tow that?'”
A brief app history
An overwhelming 86% of the participants said yes. After reading these results I developed the first-of-its-kind web-based app and called it, Before You Buy RV. This original app was the most used app provided by Fifth Wheel St. The Before You Buy app required two individual steps to complete. The user's goal was to achieve a GO status in each step in order for the purchase to be considered a safe towing combination. Step 1 assisted the user in the calculation of obtaining Maximum Tow Capacity. Step 2 verified that the rear axle of the tow vehicle would not be overloaded. And step 2 was further complicated by having to select either a fifth wheel or conventional tow.
Out with the old - In with the new!
One of my personal lifelong mottoes has been: "There's always room for improvement." With that in mind, I took it as a personal challenge to simplify the process of the two step process required by the Before You Buy RV app, and develop something new into a simple one page app. The research and determination to succeed paid off.
Without further ado, I present to you...
The minimum requirement for RV Tow Check 2.1 requires three inputs by the buyer or dealer. They are: gross combination weight rating (GCWR), gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and the gross vehicle weight (GVW). The user has the option to select a fifth wheel hitch if it's not already installed in the truck. They may include any additional unscaled weight for cargo and additional passenger weight. The app does not assume everyone weighs 150 pounds, like the manufacturers do.
The RV Tow Check 2.1 app may look simple on the outside, but the engine on the inside is strong, and the sophisticated math formulas performs multiple calculations and makes decisions that should make any buyer or dealer grateful. With the three minimally required user inputs and the selection of the highest range of pin and tongue percentages, buyers and dealers can be confident that the RV purchase or sale is unlikely to exceed the vehicle's GCWR, GVWR and GAWR. There are two outputs shown, one for the fifth wheel towing combination and the other for the conventional towing combination. RV Tow Check 2.1 is the first app that displays fifth wheel and conventional RV classifications simultaneously, and provides instant results when selecting various pin or tongue percentages.
And the best news, RV Tow Check is still available to use for free!
RV Tow Check complies with the GCWR and GVWR SAE J2807 TWR Calculation guidelines.
There's only one mobile friendly app that supports manufacturers' safety and warranty warnings and helps keep buyers or owners from exceeding the GVWR and GCWR as long as they input the correct information.
A forum member named 8Muddypaws says that the RV Tow Check App should be called the "RV Sales BS Detector."
The best way to explain it is by answering a real clients question.
Q: "The RV Tow Check states that my 2015 Silverado 2500 with Duramax, CC, LB, 2WD, can only tow 11,250 lbs @20% pin weight with a 5th wheel. The dealer told me I could tow 17,300 pounds. Is the dealer wrong?" Here are my weights: GCWR: 24,500, GVWR: 10,000, GVW: 7,750 (includes two people, cargo and hitch). My scaled axle weights without the trailer attached are; front: 4,750 and rear: 3,000.
A: The RV Tow Check 2.1 (RVTC) calculator computes tow capacity based on available payload or the gross vehicle weight (GVW) of the vehicle to avoid exceeding the gross combination weight rating (GCWR) and the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). All vehicle manufacturers use words like "never" or "must not" in reference to exceeding the following ratings: GCWR, GVWR and GAWR. As revealed below, you'll learn that GVW plays a very significant factor in real towing capacity.
The following shows you how RV Tow Check 2.1 calculates for fifth wheel towing only.
Method 1: Available payload formula: GVWR-GVW-cargo and driver/passenger weight=Available payload.
Your truck's available payload is 2,250 pounds. Calculating 5th wheel towing capacity with the national average of 20% pin weight (PW), that comes out to be 11,250 pounds. If the PW was kept down to 15%, the truck could tow, without exceeding ratings, 15,000 pounds.
Method 2: The standard GCWR formula: GCWR-GVW=Towing Capacity
With this standard formula, your truck's tow capacity is 16,750 pounds.
Decision time: RV Tow Check 2.1 throws out the highest tow capacity from the two calculation formulas. In this case, method 2 is discarded because it would cause the GVWR to be exceeded. Method 2 will be used only when the tow capacity is limited by the GCWR or the available payload is very high. High available payload is common with some one-ton dually trucks.
Percentage selections: After the initial max towing capacity appears, you may instantly view different towing capacities by selecting any of the available kingpin or tongue weight percentage buttons for the two trailer classifications.
Typical dealer's formula: When towing capacity is calculated with the standard dealer's formula that has been used for years, most dealers may tell you that your truck could tow 17,300 pounds as you stated (GCWR-curb weight=Towing Capacity). Notice that this dealer's formula does not include optional equipment, passengers, a hitch system or any other cargo you may carry in your truck. The potential PW @20% for a fifth wheel weighing 17,300 pounds would be 3,460 pounds. Add the potential PW to the scaled rear axle weight (3,000), then your rear gross axle weight (GAW) adds up to 6,460 pounds.
Here is the problem with the typical formula: When adding the potential rear axle weight (6,460) to the scaled front axle weight (4,750), the GVW is 11,210 pounds. That exceeds the GVWR by 1,210 pounds. Additionally, the rear gross axle weight rating (6,200) is exceeded by 260 pounds.
This is one small reason towing guides and the standard dealer's formula gets buyers into mismatched RV combinations that exceed the tow vehicle's certification ratings. Additionally, the old dealer's method may partly be the cause of the 60% of overloaded trucks. Towing without exceeding the weight ratings is primarily about SAFETY and vehicle longevity. And for some manufacturers, exceeding the weight ratings may invalidate the vehicle warranty.
We're confident that the RV Tow Check app will aid thousands of RV buyers and dealers in making a better choice for the RV purchase or sale. Additionally, we anticipate that the RV Tow Check app will become the industry standard for consumers and dealers.
Be sure to tell all your RVing friends about RV Tow Check 2.1 today.
Author: David W. Gray
Date Published: December 6, 2015
Categories: Recreational Vehicle, RV Safety, Vehicle Towing Capacity
©2013-2016, David W. Gray, all rights reserved. No portion of this article shall be reprinted without the permission of the author.
Practically all towing guides give RVers just enough information that may cause them to purchase a trailer too heavy for their tow vehicle's capabilities. Towing guides listing Maximum Tow Capacity fail to take into consideration the different towing requirements between 5th wheel and conventional trailers. These common guides do not consider the additional payload weight created by the fifth wheel trailer pin weight. Even the creators of the most well known towing guide published by Trailer Life devotes four pages of instructions, entitled "Choose Wisely," that spells out the details required for selecting the correct towing combination. With the RV Tow Check 2.1 app, you'll never need to read a towing guide again.
The RV Safety and Education Foundation (RVSEF) data indicates that 60% of all tow vehicles on the road exceed one or more weight safety ratings. "Many of these trucks exceed all of their ratings." (Walter Cannon, RVSEF Video, @14 minutes, 50 seconds) Learn more here.
Do you want to get the quick run down on the 2015 half-ton, three-quarter and one ton trucks? Visit the following three pages.
Half-ton Truck Realistic Towing Capacity
Three-quarter Ton Truck Realistic Towing Capacity
One Ton Truck Realistic Towing Capacity
Q: What about axle air springs (bags) like the Firestone Ride-Rite - Want they increase my load capacity?
A: No. Here is a direct quote from Firestone/Ride-Rite: "Please remember that air springs do not increase the load carrying capacity of your vehicle. *DO NOT EXCEED THE VEHICLE'S RECOMMENDED GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR)"
That on any RV forum you'll read statements similar to the following?
"You cannot change the manufactures tow rating or carrying capacity."
"You may be able to change the capabilities of the truck, if you address all weak links in the chain, but you cannot change the manufacturer's rating."
The big question is, is there any part of this assertion true?
After an informative conversation with a representative at NHTSA, we have an answer. Read the following article to learn more.