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Old 09-05-2014, 10:08 PM   #1
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Help me understand towing weight

When there are separate references to GVWR and tongue weight, does the GVWR number include the tongue weight, or does one need to add the tongue weight to see the total weight of the trailer when considering how much towing capacity the TV must have.

I've got TV with 5000 without WD, or 6500 with WD. Given that I'd like to be 20% under capacity when loaded, understanding what is and what is not included can have an impact on the used trailers I'm looking at.

Thanks for the help.
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Old 09-05-2014, 10:15 PM   #2
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Your tow vehicle's total capacity for towing is usually given in two figures- towing capacity (what it can pull) and payload (weight it can bear). The Airstream weights are GVWR that is fully loaded trailer and gear maximum weight. Think of it as related only to towing capacity of the TV. Payload capacity is the weight your tow vehicle can take as a load bearing weight on its axles and systems- its GVWR minus truck and gas weight, etc. What is left for people, stuff and uh, tongue weight. That is where the tongue weight rating comes into play. My truck's OEM hitch can handle 1050 lbs. (the trucks payload rating is 1458lbs) but I can tow 8100 lbs. My tongue weight cannot exceed 1050 (WD figure) or the max tow 8100 lbs. The GVWR is directly related to only the tow rating. Payload is another thing AND where most tow vehicles come closest to barely meeting requirement. Does this help?

Questions:

What is your hitch rating? ii, III IV?
What is the hitch max load?
What is the TV tow rating?
What is the TV payload rating?

It is because of the payload requirement that you see most people pulling trailers with trucks- I believe the only full framed vehicles left on the market. Any vehicle can pull more weight but that payload is what separates the men from the boys per se. Most passenger vehicles only list load rating which is for cargo and people only.
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Old 09-05-2014, 11:33 PM   #3
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To answer your question, GVWR of the trailer includes the tongue weight.

That said, you will need to do some research to find out what your towing capacity means. On my truck, towing capacity means an empty truck except for a full tank of gas and a 150# driver. Anything else carried in the truck subtracts from towing capacity.

My towing capacity is 8600#. My TV allowable passengers and cargo is 1240#. If I put 860# of tongue weight on, that leaves me 380# for stuff to put in the truck. Subtracting off the difference between my actual weight and 150# and the weight of a passenger and three dogs there isn't much left for anything else in the truck.

If the truck is fully loaded I can tow 8600-1240 or 7360#. But remember the tongue weight is already accounted for in the 1240, so the weight on the trailer axles could be as much as 7360+860 or 8220#. My trailer GVWR is 6300#. I have more than enough towing capacity but I'm feeling limited by TV payload.
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Old 09-06-2014, 06:09 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RhinoWW View Post
When there are separate references to GVWR and tongue weight, does the GVWR number include the tongue weight, or does one need to add the tongue weight to see the total weight of the trailer when considering how much towing capacity the TV must have.

I've got TV with 5000 without WD, or 6500 with WD. Given that I'd like to be 20% under capacity when loaded, understanding what is and what is not included can have an impact on the used trailers I'm looking at.
Going for 20% under the tow vehicle's GVWR is overkill and not too meaningful because GVWR includes the weight of the tow vehicle. 20% under the tow vehicle's maximum payload is prudent and sounds like what you are looking to shoot for.

GVWR is a very confusing spec to use IMO because it is basically the sum of the weight of the vehicle plus its maximum payload. I wish the trailer and vehicle makers would just tell us the unloaded vehicle weight, and its maximum payload.

Anyway.......for the TV, subtract the actual weight of the TV from its GVWR and that will roughly give you the maximum payload - the weight of the stuff you can put in it. Basically that is the people, luggage and the tongue weight of your trailer.

So for an over-simplified example ... lets say you are have a 5000lb GVWR truck that weighs 4000lbs empty. Its maximum payload is 1000lbs.

Then you pick an Airstream with a 500lb tongue weight. Add that 500lbs, to 400lbs for two people and their luggage and you have 900lbs weight on the truck - 100lbs under the truck's maximum paylod which is also 100lbs under its GVWR (truck weight does not change). Most of this weight is on the rear axle btw. That puts you at 10% under the trucks maximum payload.

If you then add a weight distribution hitch, it transfers a good chuck of the Airstream's tongue weight to the trailer axles and another good chunk of tongue weight to the truck's front axle.

So this is where things get a bit "seat of the pants" because it depends alot on the hitch setup and the type of TV but the principle is simple ...... let's just estimate that this weight distribution setup offloads 400lbs of the Airstream's tongue weight, giving you a effective tongue weight of 100lbs.

Add that 100lbs, to the same 400lbs for two people and their luggage and you have 500lbs effective weight on the truck - 500lbs under the truck's maximum paylod which is also 500lbs under its GVWR. That puts you at 50% under the trucks maximum payload. Most of this weight was now offloaded from the rear axle, giving you a much more balanced setup and and a an even greater margin of safety.
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Old 09-06-2014, 07:37 AM   #5
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I will say it in terms that my brain tends to understand

“towing weight” - this is the weight that your tow vehicle will need to pull horizontally...this is the total weight of the trailer and all of its contents and I suppose as well as all of the weight of passengers and cargo in the tow vehicle...

“tongue weight” - specifically only is the weight under the tongue...so if you put you tongue jack down on a scale and it read say 850 lbs, that would be “tongue weight” - this tends to be a fraction of the total weight of the trailer and usually we care about tongue weight because it contributes to “payload”

“Payload” is the force we put vertically on our tow vehicle...this includes the tongue weight pushing down on the vehicle, passenger weights, any gear you put in the truck, even gasoline in the truck...all that weight adds up and your tow vehicle will have stated limits on each axel or both to not exceed.

if I messed any of this up, others can correct....I may misrepresent a thing or two? Ive been towing now for a year.
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Old 09-06-2014, 10:40 AM   #6
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There is also a rating on the tow vehicle for the combined weight of the tow vehicle and the trailer.

The tow vehicle, the hitch, the ball, the weight distribution, and the trailer each have multiple ratings (weight limits) set by the manufacturer. Each/every rating is important and should not be exceeded by very much (though others will disagree with this last sentence).
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Old 09-06-2014, 11:16 AM   #7
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Thanks. Very helpful.

I need to look at the sticker on both of my possible TVs, both of which have a Class 4 hitch and 7pin wiring in place (one has brake controller installed - and I have the ponytail to install in the other).

One is a 2004 Explorer V6 XLT. I believe the towing capacity is around 5000. Second car is an early model Lexus GX460, essentially a 4Runner V8, with similar stated capacity of 5000, and 6500 with WD.

Clearly I need to take a hard look at the stickers, do some math on what I weigh, my copilot, and then the dry weight and tongue weight of the older trailers I'm looking at with some gear. My ideal trailer is a 1965 Airstream Avion, Silver Streak or Streamline up to 24 feet, but I think once I start doing the math, I'll be looking for a 20 footer or perhaps an Argosy from a few years later.. I'm looking to find something sooner rather than later (may need to compromise on what I'm looking for a bit soon) so I can get a basic rehab done in time for a few trips next summer. I'm trying to figure everything in advance so I don't drive a long distance to get something I can't pull safely. I very much appreciate all of the help here so that I can be an educated (and safe) consumer.
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Old 09-06-2014, 11:41 AM   #8
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Keep in mind - payload is not debated often on this forum - towing capacity is and other factors - but payload is not so it's a nice common denominator to start with as you consider all facets


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Old 09-06-2014, 02:09 PM   #9
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Payload is totally debatable to those who understand axle and tire ratings

Quote:
Originally Posted by RhinoWW View Post
When there are separate references to GVWR and tongue weight, does the GVWR number include the tongue weight, or does one need to add the tongue weight to see the total weight of the trailer when considering how much towing capacity the TV must have.

I've got TV with 5000 without WD, or 6500 with WD. Given that I'd like to be 20% under capacity when loaded, understanding what is and what is not included can have an impact on the used trailers I'm looking at.

Thanks for the help.
As answered above it does.

So from the sounds of your post your tow vehicle (it would be helpful for you to tell us what it is) is rated for 5000lbs without WD and 6500 with.

I find this odd, as the only place I have ever seen a with and without rating is on the hitch. Where did you get your numbers?

If those are your ratings, then you want a trailer that doesn't weight more than 5200lbs fully loaded by your own figures posted.

So that would exclude a lot of big things.
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Old 09-06-2014, 03:21 PM   #10
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I'm also looking for some answers. I have a 1/2 ton 2013 tundra 4x2 crewmax 5.7L V8. The posted GVWR is 7000lbs and a 4.300 rear diff. It has the towing package with the trailer brake prewire. I need to know what size AS trailer I will be safe with. We were looking at a 27 ft. Would it be better to go smaller? Any help would be greatly appreciated as I am a general newbie.
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Old 09-06-2014, 04:04 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoldAdventure View Post
Payload is totally debatable to those who understand axle and tire ratings



As answered above it does.

So from the sounds of your post your tow vehicle (it would be helpful for you to tell us what it is) is rated for 5000lbs without WD and 6500 with.

I find this odd, as the only place I have ever seen a with and without rating is on the hitch. Where did you get your numbers?

If those are your ratings, then you want a trailer that doesn't weight more than 5200lbs fully loaded by your own figures posted.

So that would exclude a lot of big things.
I've a feeling that here the GVWR is being confused with the manufacturer's tow rating when they are, in fact, two quite different specifications.

The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is the maximum weight of the tow vehicle with everything in it, including some or all of the tongue weight of any trailer attached. "Some" tongue weight because with a properly adjusted weight distribution you can expect a proportion of that tongue weight to be taken up by the trailer's axle(s).

The manufacturer's tow rating is a recommendation as to the maximum weight of any trailer that may be attached.

GVWR is, in theory at least, enforceable but the manufacturer's tow rating isn't.
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Old 09-06-2014, 04:48 PM   #12
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If a given tow vehicle (TV) has two axles and each axle has a GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Rating) of 3,900 pounds, your GVWR for that TV would be 7,800 pounds. Very simple.

So, go to a CAT scale and weigh your TV/TT combo with the WD hitch installed and set for towing with all your camping gear on board. If you're going to travel with fresh water, fill it up for this exercise. If you're not exceeding the GAWR values for each axle and the trailer doesn't weigh more than your truck is rated to pull horizontally, you're probably good to go as long as the weight on the trailer axles doesn't exceed the GVWR for your trailer.

I'm loathe to count any weight twice - so if the trailer is dropping 1,000 pounds on my TV (which it does) and that weight isn't on the trailer's axles, I've been counting that against my TV's GVWR vs. the TT's GVWR. However, as of now even if I did count the weight twice, I have plenty of room vs. the trailer's GVWR.
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Old 09-06-2014, 05:28 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrUKToad View Post
I've a feeling that here the GVWR is being confused with the manufacturer's tow rating when they are, in fact, two quite different specifications.
It certainly sounds like there is some confusion in what is what.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvery Moon View Post
If a given tow vehicle (TV) has two axles and each axle has a GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Rating) of 3,900 pounds, your GVWR for that TV would be 7,800 pounds. Very simple.
Nope. My Dodge Ram 1500 has stamped on the Door 6800lbs GVWR

Check out the axles, 3900lbs per axle.

So is my GVWR 7800lbs or 6800lbs ?

Lets see who can answer that. And now you see why I made my comment about arguing payload ratings.
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Old 09-06-2014, 06:28 PM   #14
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The sticker is of course right. GVWR is what the sticker says it is. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems.
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