Thursday, June 8, 2023


Avoiding payload problems: How much can I tow?

By Cheri Sicard
If you have ever wondered: How much can I realistically tow?—wonder no more.

The team from Keep Your Daydream (KYD – one of our reader favorite RV YouTube channels) is here to help with the video.

How much you can tow is about far more than the tow capacity. Other factors come into play. Ignoring them can have dire consequences, as we wrote about earlier this year when one RVer managed to break the frame on his new truck!

How much can I tow?

Towing capacity is frequently misunderstood. Even your truck salesman (or woman) may not know the true towing capacity of your truck. There are so many acronyms and various factors based on the truck, it’s easy to get confused.

To make things worse, truck manufacturers usually promote their highest possible tow rating for an entire class of truck and then put an asterisk that it only applies to a dually truck! Buyer beware.

To know how much RV you can actually tow, we must first address the limitations you’ll likely reach long before you even consider the towing capacity number.

The invaluable video below will break down GVWR, GCVWR, GAWR, UVW (dry weight), payload and, finally, towing capacity.

It also discusses the consequences of towing over the GVWR or GCVWR.

Keep Your Daydream says this is not intended to scare anyone. But rather, after extensive research, these are the situations RVers have shared as common problems.

Fair warning, KYD warns this is probably the most boring video they have EVER produced. But it is also one of the most important. It might just save your RV or your life! Give it a view.



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Left Coast Geek
2 months ago

Ford actually has a pretty good Towing Guide with all the numbers for every recent year vehicle… the missing number is the curb weight for a specific vehicle, you need to weight that yourself, and subtract it from the GVWR and GAWR to find payloads. you definitely need to weigh any specific trailer to get its tongue or kingpin weight and axle weight, and weigh it again when loaded for a trip.

2 months ago

I would appreciate assistance in developing the spreadsheet you reference in the video.
Could you assist?

Diane McGovern
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike

Hi, Mike. The folks at Keep Your Daydream did the video, so you might try contacting them. On their About page there is an email address you can access. Good luck. And have a great day! 😀 –Diane at

Steve H
2 months ago

When we were selling our fifth wheel, we were contacted by a retired couple who had previously owned a travel trailer. They wanted a fifth wheel so they could take their three teen-preteen grandsons camping. They had just bought a new crew cab, short bed Toyota Tundra and the salesman told them it could tow a fifth wheel. When I saw the truck, I immediately told them that 5 adults in the cab plus the hitch weight and pin weight were too much for their truck. They talked to 3 hitch installers and none would sell them a hitch. They then went back to the dealer and threatened to sue. But there was nothing in writing except the labels on the door frame, so they were out of luck. Sad because they were really nice people, just uninformed!

2 months ago
Reply to  Steve H

I can only laugh at the attitude that since they did not research tow weight themselves, they’ll just sue someone.
Whatever happened to holding the person they see in the mirror accountable? I guess I am from a different era.

Billie S
2 months ago
Reply to  Leonard

I am probably from your generation, and my husband and I have camped for 40 years. My husband is a retired engineer, and we don’t buy anything without extensive research and multiple spread sheets. Before buying our latest truck and travel trailer, we spent literally months leaving no stone unturned before making a decision. We thought we had built in plenty of payload cushion, but guess what? When we weighed, we found that we are cutting it much closer than we would have liked. Since my husband is so cautious, we hadn’t exceeded the capacities, but if we had planned on cutting it close, we would have been screwed.

Truck manufacturers deliberately over promise on payload and towing capacity while burying the real numbers so deeply that it’s virtually impossible to get a clear picture. The stated numbers are for the lowest end vehicle with absolutely no options including the ones that people take for granted these days like air conditioning and electric windows. The fully decked out trucks that they promote have decreased their payloads by two thousand pounds or more, but that vital information is intentionally obscured. Consumers are being played, and it’s not just foolish people who are falling for it. If my husband can be fooled, anyone can. Since consumer protection laws in this country are abysmally lacking, filing a lawsuit and hoping for a sympathetic jury is the only recourse for someone who is a victim of unscrupulous companies. However, the current situation doesn’t just take advantage of people; it creates seriously unsafe driving conditions for everyone on the highway. There needs to be a class action lawsuit to force transparency in stated payloads and towing capacities.

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