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Old 04-13-2012, 10:36 AM
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Varmit Varmit is offline
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Default Real World Towing Capacity



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Probably a dumb question, but I don't have a lot of experience with
towing and trailers, so better to ask...

When a truck has a rated towing capacity of 5,000 lbs (2003 Toyota Tacoma V6 manual),
how close do I want to push that limit?

Does 5,000 lbs mean 5,000 lbs is fine? Do it all day long. Truck is rated for
that, so tow away.

Or does 5,000 lbs mean that's the absolute upper end. Truck is going to be
working at its very limit, and if you do that for too long, you're going to start
wearing stuff out or breaking things in a hurry. Or maybe when I get close
to 5,000 lbs, the little truck just starts to lack sufficient mass and muscle
to properly control the trailer?

I'm working my way towards buying a small tractor. Trying to figure out
what maximum combined weight of tractor and trailer I should be looking at.
Am I good to go up to 4,500 lbs or so, or should I keep it under 4,000, or
maybe even less? I won't be doing a lot of trailering, but occasionally
the tractor may need a shop visit. Don't want to tear up my truck in the
process, or become a dangerous menace on the roads.


Also, any recommendations on trailers? I'm thinking a 10' trailer is about
what I'm looking at (pending settling in on an actual tractor). I'm finding
a lot of lightweight utility trailers in that range, but they don't really look
quite up to the task. I figure I'll need something with surge brakes, and
maybe a two axle set up is better than one. Any recommendations on
trailer manufacturers to look for or avoid?


Thanks for any input.
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Old 04-13-2012, 01:40 PM
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I used to sell Chevys. The tow limit is the maximum safe towing capacity. You can always pull more but stopping and controlling the load and or steering become increasingly difficult when you go over that number.
Also consider payload into your equation. anything in the bed or inside the cabin will subtract from a trailer you are pulling.
If you know your over your load you need to be especially mindful of stopping/turning and hills. Adding a transmission cooler can help boost that number(towing) if you need a bit more

Last edited by STHOMAS; 04-13-2012 at 01:42 PM.. Reason: added to it
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Old 04-13-2012, 01:50 PM
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My Machine Design Professor in my Engineering School had a Saying about stuff like this: He says that any machine is made to accomplish only so many Horsepower-Hours in Oerfect Conditions before a Rebuild or Replacement is required.

So, Horsepower-Hours is Horsepower-Hours. You can make a 440 Cubic Inch Motor make 200 Horsepower for Fifty Years, or Make it Develop 5000 Horsepower for Ten Seconds. You vote with Your Throttle Foot, Primarily. 30 MPH only on Alternate Sundays, for a Half-Hour each time is gonna preserve your Chosen Vehicle more than Full Load, Over the Continental Divide Every Other day.

Maximum Safe Load takes into account many things: average Loading, Brake Wear/Heat Absorption Rates, Oil Temperatures, Oil Life, Gasoline Octane, Average Outside Temps. If You are a Savvy Driver, You will not operate outside those Limits (That were Designated by a Team of Engineers) by much at all. It can be Done, but You are Chosing to stress things You may not have even thought about.

Follow the Manufacturer's Suggestions, if you want things to last. Baby Things when You can.
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Old 04-13-2012, 02:04 PM
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If the rating for your vehicle is 5000 lbs., that is the maximum rating the vehicle can safely tow and STOP. Exceeding the weight is not much of a problem in the tow part; STOPPING is where you will run into difficulties. Generally, you don't want the tongue weight to exceed 10% of the total capacity, though a balanced load will haul easier and provide more control.

Again, STOPPING is the important part of this rating, your vehicles braking system and drivetrain are how they come up with this number. Also, look at the rating on your hitch, if you're towing from a bumper mount, this rating is generally lower, if it's frame mounted, look on the side of the hitch mount. The ball size is also important and has a rating (i.e. 1 7/8" 2000 lbs. 2" 5000 lbs. etc.)

Last thing, the rating for your vehicle is on a label inside the drives door frame or owners manual.
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Old 04-13-2012, 02:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HandLoad View Post
My Machine Design Professor in my Engineering School had a Saying about stuff like this: He says that any machine is made to accomplish only so many Horsepower-Hours in Oerfect Conditions before a Rebuild or Replacement is required.

So, Horsepower-Hours is Horsepower-Hours. You can make a 440 Cubic Inch Motor make 200 Horsepower for Fifty Years, or Make it Develop 5000 Horsepower for Ten Seconds. You vote with Your Throttle Foot, Primarily. 30 MPH only on Alternate Sundays, for a Half-Hour each time is gonna preserve your Chosen Vehicle more than Full Load, Over the Continental Divide Every Other day.

Maximum Safe Load takes into account many things: average Loading, Brake Wear/Heat Absorption Rates, Oil Temperatures, Oil Life, Gasoline Octane, Average Outside Temps. If You are a Savvy Driver, You will not operate outside those Limits (That were Designated by a Team of Engineers) by much at all. It can be Done, but You are Chosing to stress things You may not have even thought about.

Follow the Manufacturer's Suggestions, if you want things to last. Baby Things when You can.
Agreed, that's why I'm coming at this sort of from the other direction.

Not even considering exceeding the manufacture's maximum rating.

Just wondering if even getting close to that limit is a good idea, or
if practical experience from people who know a lot about towing says
that only getting up to say 75% of that maximum rating is the highest
I should go, from an operational safety and vehicle wear & tear standpoint.

Like I mentioned, I have very limited experience with trailers, so the
last thing that's on my mind is jumping right in there and pushing my
truck -- and my skills -- right up to the edge of the performance envelope.
On the other hand, the conclusions I reach from this solicited advice will
have a direct bearing on exactly how much tractor I can actually buy
(from a weight standpoint). Just trying to figure out what sort of
weight class my tractor should be fighting in.

(Right now something like a Kubota 3030 in the 1,900 lb. weight range,
and maybe an 800 lb flatbed trailer is looking like about the biggest I
would want to be going.)
Old 04-13-2012, 02:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by curebar View Post
If the rating for your vehicle is 5000 lbs., that is the maximum rating the vehicle can safely tow and STOP. Exceeding the weight is not much of a problem in the tow part; STOPPING is where you will run into difficulties. Generally, you don't want the tongue weight to exceed 10% of the total capacity, though a balanced load will haul easier and provide more control.

Again, STOPPING is the important part of this rating, your vehicles braking system and drivetrain are how they come up with this number. Also, look at the rating on your hitch, if you're towing from a bumper mount, this rating is generally lower, if it's frame mounted, look on the side of the hitch mount. The ball size is also important and has a rating (i.e. 1 7/8" 2000 lbs. 2" 5000 lbs. etc.)

Last thing, the rating for your vehicle is on a label inside the drives door frame or owners manual.
OK, good info, thanks.

The truck has a Class III 2" receiver hitch.

Definitely sounds like a trailer with its own brakes is what I want.

Doing a little more digging, I find that (as mentioned) the Tacoma V6 has
a tow rating of 5,000 lbs. But a Maximum Combined Vehicle Weight of 6,700.
Since the truck itself weighes in at 2,700 lbs., That leaves only 4,000 to hit
that Max. Combined Weight. So I'm not sure where they found the extra
1,000 lbs for the towing 5,000 lb. rated towing capacity. Confusing.

And Wow -- I knew there were different trailer ball sizes out there, but I
had no idea that the size jump from 1 7/8" to 2" made such a huge difference
in the rating. I'll definitely pay attention to that ball size.
Old 04-13-2012, 02:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Varmit View Post
Agreed, that's why I'm coming at this sort of from the other direction.

Not even considering exceeding the manufacture's maximum rating.

Just wondering if even getting close to that limit is a good idea, or
if practical experience from people who know a lot about towing says
that only getting up to say 75% of that maximum rating is the highest
I should go, from an operational safety and vehicle wear & tear standpoint.

Like I mentioned, I have very limited experience with trailers, so the
last thing that's on my mind is jumping right in there and pushing my
truck -- and my skills -- right up to the edge of the performance envelope.
On the other hand, the conclusions I reach from this solicited advice will
have a direct bearing on exactly how much tractor I can actually buy
(from a weight standpoint). Just trying to figure out what sort of
weight class my tractor should be fighting in.

(Right now something like a Kubota 3030 in the 1,900 lb. weight range,
and maybe an 800 lb flatbed trailer is looking like about the biggest I
would want to be going.)
As long as your vehicle is in good repair, towing will not damage your vehicle; however, if you are using it regularly to tow the item you've listed above, you will want to service the vehicle more frequently. In your owners manual, there will be a service rating for "heavy use", follow the recommendations and you'll be fine. (youíll need to change the oil and service the transmission more frequently and the braking system and tires will wear at a higher rate).
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Old 04-13-2012, 02:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Varmit View Post
OK, good info, thanks.

The truck has a Class III 2" receiver hitch.

Definitely sounds like a trailer with its own brakes is what I want.

Doing a little more digging, I find that (as mentioned) the Tacoma V6 has
a tow rating of 5,000 lbs. But a Maximum Combined Vehicle Weight of 6,700.
Since the truck itself weighes in at 2,700 lbs., That leaves only 4,000 to hit
that Max. Combined Weight. So I'm not sure where they found the extra
1,000 lbs for the towing 5,000 lb. rated towing capacity. Confusing.

And Wow -- I knew there were different trailer ball sizes out there, but I
had no idea that the size jump from 1 7/8" to 2" made such a huge difference
in the rating. I'll definitely pay attention to that ball size.
The gross vehicle weight rating is generally a very conservative number set by the manufacture and they don't always use a precise calculation to determine (yes, it's confusing).

The large jump in my example takes shank size into account (I was just providing examples), but they will be stamped on the top, below the size.
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Old 04-13-2012, 03:15 PM
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With towing there are several factors.
1) is area you drive mountains flat ect.
2) Load (How it's loaded trailer back ect)
3) Distance of Travel

Now if you load a tractor on a trailer improperly a few things can happen the hitch can come off. It can jack knife and roll over. The tires can burst ect. If you load to much weight to far back it can lift the back end of the truck taking away traction. You also have problems on hills and stuff like that if you have to stop you might not be able to get going agian or have to take a run at them if they are to steep.

For breaking you can always get a tralier with breaks built in it helps to break the load and prevents it from pushing you down the hill so much and becoming a runaway. The hardest part of driving with a heavy load is going up and down hills. The load can push you down and prevent you from going up. The question is this a load you will pull often because if you do you want a bigger more powerful truck. If you don't pull it all the time you can get by with it.

If you only have to move the tractor once to an area and can drive it around to the other spots it might be cheaper to just hire a company to tow it. It really comes down to what you want to use it for.

I've towed boats and driven moving trucks 14-24 ft in size. I've also driven on some of the hardest roads in north america for trucks and the like due to grade distance ect. I've seen what happens when you get a run away and engine breaking can help allot but if you load to heavy it will just push you down the hill.
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Old 04-13-2012, 03:16 PM
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I own a Ford F350. I tow a 14,000 lb trailer with it. That is at it's limit. Total spec for the weight of the truck plus the trailer is 20,000 lb. I have yet to find top speed. I slacked off at 90.

I have no problem controlling it or stopping it. But it is a truck specifically designed for towing and hauling. I once panic stopped on a down hill slope FASTER than a Toyota car in front of me while towing the 14,000 lb trailer.

I have seen people claim to tow 45,000 lbs with similar trucks in the Ford Truck forum.

I used to tow a 9000 pound trailer with a half ton GMC Yukon. The Yukon was speced to handle a 9500 lb trailer. I towed OK, but not really well. It stopped OK but not so great either. It was very easy to get the trailer swaying and that threw the truck all over the road. Top speed about 60 MPH.

The Yukon was designed to be driven by soccer moms. And maybe occasionally tow something.

What I get from that experience is the the truck that was designed to tow heavy loads can be pushed beyond it's limit. The truck not designed specifically for towing shouldn't even be used at it's limit.

Just my opinion.

If you do decide to tow "close to the envelope" with your light duty truck at least get helper springs or air bags on the rear axle. And be sure your trailer has brakes.

Heavy duty shocks all the way around would be another great idea.

And finally a load leveling hitch, especially if the front end of your truck raises up when you hook up the trailer.
http://www.adventurerv.net/1000-lbs-...ch-p-1552.html
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Old 04-13-2012, 03:47 PM
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If you have not pulled any or only a few trailers in your driving time I would suggest the following:
Practice driving with the empty trailer first.

Learn the turning radius, backing, hooking up by yourself, how it handles at different speeds, and how much extra stopping distance is required to make a safe controlled stop.

After you have a good feel for the pulling the trailer add weight to it and do it again. Proper weight/load distribution will make a huge difference in handling.

Learn to set, adjust, and use the trailer brake if equipped.

The towing capacity and/or weight of the vehicle & trailer is really secondary to being able to tow it safely. If you can't tow it safely and within your comfort level then the capacity doesn't make a difference. I have a F350 Superduty 4x4 Crewcab longbed that I haul trailers with. I can pull my 14k toy hauler at 80mph without an issue. I pull my horse trailer no faster than 72mph because it gets squirly above that and it weighs less than the toy hauler. I find that the best thing for me is 68mph for safety and fuel mileage with any of my trailers.
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Old 04-13-2012, 11:23 PM
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I would choose the tractor based on need. Do not skimp on tractor wt and power just because your current pickup is not a one ton. If you plan to use a large brush hog, backhoe, or heavy digging with the front loader, buy a full size field tractor or backhoe. These have 60-90 hp diesel motors and should weigh 7-9,000 lbs.

Then skip right past bumper pull trailers and buy your self a dual axel gooseneck equipment trailer. I bought mine new for $6,000 and it is rated for 20,000 lbs. Since the trailer weighs 6,000 lbs I still have plenty of margin for a big tractor, or even a small dozer.

Finally, don't tow this with a V6 Toyota. Buy an older, used, one ton Ford, Dodge, or Chevy. Those with large gas motors sell for cheap every time he price of gas jumps up, like right now. You could also buy a true medium duty pickup like a Ford F650 if you plan to tow heavy trailers very often.

Take a gander at my avatar picture. That's a 40 yr old Allis 190 with a 10 ft John Deere brush hog being towed by your truly through the Ozarks.
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Old 04-13-2012, 11:38 PM
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I'm surprised no one has mentioned adding a $50 axillary tranny cooler. And anti-sway to go with those leveling hitches as well. Look around, they're pricey.
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Old 04-13-2012, 11:41 PM
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The tow rating in the manual is just the manufacturer giving you a limit.

Your actual capacity is based on your GVWR and more importantly the tire ratings. The reason you can normally tow more weight than the manufacturer recommends is due to the fact that they have no idea what the GVWR of your trailer is. The key is getting the weight distributed properly as not to overload the rear axle of your tow vehicle.
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Old 04-13-2012, 11:57 PM
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I didn't read all the replies, so maybe what I'm going to say has already been said.

Two very important variables are load distribution and the terrain that you will be towing in.

You can tow a much greater amount of weight if your load is evenly distributed. By this, I mean the trailer will be close to balanced once loaded so that the tongue weight is minimized. You'll want to err on the side of the load being distributing closer to the front of the trailer than the rear (but don't overdue it here). If you have negative tongue weight you will be prone to trailer sway.

You can also tow a greater amount of weight if you are only towing on a relatively flat area as opposed to mountainous terrain.

Generally speaking, a manufacturer's rated towing capacity is going to be quite conservative, as they must take into account the lowest common denominator. They are not going to suggest a tow weight close to the breaking point of any of the equipment installed by the factory. You can actually exceed the recommended towing capacity quite far if you load your trailer evenly, tow on flat ground, and only do so occasionally. I'm not suggesting that you tow beyond the recommended towing capacity, but it should be noted.

In most cases in modern vehicles, your brakes will be the biggest factor in determining how much you can tow, not your engine or transmission.

Personally, I have towed right at (plus or minus) my towing capacity on several occasions. If I am towing a heavy load, I am easy on accelerating, keep speeds fairly low, and avoid heavily graded roads, particularly the down grades. Doing this, I have never felt like I was close to the vehicle's potential, which is quite easy to detect if you're 'in tune with your vehicle.
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Old 04-27-2012, 08:18 PM
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I maintain, rebuild, and overhaul various diesel and turbine engines for the military. Most maximum ratings that are given to us by civilian contractors (i.e. Rolls Royce, General Electric, Allison) are actually rated at half of maximum tested capacity. Equipment stated to be rated at 5,000lbs will actually hold 10k, however 10k will be the failure rate and things such as age and general wear will effect that number. It is the same for shear and rpms as well. When dealing with trucks and tractors you can pretty much tow anything, yet stopping the load will become the issue. You have to deal with other things like your tires blowing out or your load being unstable and possibly overturning. From experience I had a truck rated at 8k towing and took at 12k trailer 1050 miles from Florida to Illinois (oops did i miss that wieght station?) I used all available means to stabilize, level, and properly brake my load and had no issues maintaining highway speeds and feeling safe and secure. You can always push the limits when SHTF, but for everyday use, purchase something that can handle your expected loads.
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Old 04-27-2012, 08:31 PM
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After i retired for the third time (seriously) i bought a Ford F350 turbo diesel crew cab long bed dually, added air bag shocks, a crew cab sleeper, a 115 gallon aux fuel tank and a fifth wheel and gooseneck B&W hitch and bumper pull weight distributing hitch and started delivering travel trailers for the manufacturers based in northern Indiana. I traveled all over the country and western Canada in all kinds of weather. I did 250K miles in just 31 months before I decided enough and i sold my truck. There were about 3000 of us delivering trailers. Most of us drove either the Dodge with the 5.9 Cummings or Fords. There were very few GMC/Chevy drivers.

Here's a couple of things i learned about towing:
The truck manufacturer's all lie through their teeth about towing ability. Your truck might be rated at 5,000 pounds but thruthfulkly, 3500 is about what you can safely tow. Going up I-70 west of Denver in January gets exciting real fast because of the snow and weather and the backside gets freaking scarey. But taking the same road in july with an underpowered tow vehicle gets just as feaking scarey when your load starts pushing you because of gravity. If your tow vehicle can't handle it (controlling the speed going down) then your trailer is going to pass you and this not a good thing. Going up that same grade with too much of a load can make a character builder out of you also as you watch all your temp gauges p[uyshing over the redl;ine if your engine is working too hard.

Do not screw around and think "aw, i an make it" and then when you don't and you have an accident and your insurance tells you, "sorry, you were over your GVWR, no insurance for you" and I have seen that happen.

I would not pull a 5,000 lb. load with a Tacoma V6. The very MOST I would attempt is 3,000 lbs.
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Old 04-27-2012, 09:20 PM
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Don't let your little truck stop you from getting the tractor you want. If you buy one that's too heavy, have it delivered, then save up for a bigger truck.
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Old 04-29-2012, 12:25 PM
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On an F350 I blew the seal between the engine & trans from pulling too much weight.
Truck was 1/2 loaded + the trailer. It was the trailer that broke the camel's back.

My F150 rated at 6,000# max pulled a 5,000# OK but it strugggled with power.

You can always add a transmission cooler too. Stacked plate is the best.
American trucks are better for this usually.
I always install 10,000# hitches just to be safe.
I always use electric brake controllers too.

TRAILER SWAY:
Very misunderstood topic. If the trailer weighs more than the truck, it can begin to sway a little or a lot. I had one get out of control for no reason going 70mph. I thought I was going to roll the truck. F150 towing an old Mercedes probably equal weight.
Youtube: trailer sway
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Old 04-29-2012, 04:56 PM
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I can only speak from personal experiences with towing. My wife's Yukon XL is rated to 7,500 pounds with a weight distribution hitch....5,000 pounds without the distribution hitch. Our Camper weighs in the neighborhood of 5,000 pounds fully loaded. I use a distribution hitch when pulling our camper with the wife's Yukon and it is squirrelly sometimes. The poor little 5.3 does better with it than I expected it to...but stopping can be a little hairy. I can't imagine pulling another 2,500 pounds on top of what I already do.
Now my 1/2 ton Chevy pickup....with the same trailer....a bunch of firewood in the bed it pulls fine with no distribution hitch. Not sure what the difference is but there is a difference.

I have an 86 Chevy 1-ton crew cab, 468 inch big block, 4 speed tranny, dana 60 front, 14 bolt rear. Have a flatbed on it with a rack extending over the cab. I put two kids ATV's on the rack over the cab, a polaris 800 ATV an adult dirt bike and a kids dirt bike on the flatbed, and pull our 24 foot camper with our 16 foot fishing boat behind the camper all at the same time....much over 60mph starts to get hairy but keep it under 60 and it will run rock solid all day long. Don't know how much it weighs....but all together it is 64 feet long. LOL

sorry I went off topic a little bit.
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