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Old 01-06-2012, 01:33 PM   #1
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How much weight can I tow?

New guy here hoping to buy an airstream soon. My tv will be an '09 F150 Screw 5.5 bed, Platinum 5.4L 4x4 3.73 rear w/ standard tow package and integrated controller.

The label on the door states GVWR 7200, frt 3900, rr 4000. The manual states max trailer weight 9700 and GCWR 15,500 (without max tow package). Now the rub: There is a second label on the door that says DO NOT EXCEED OCCUPANTS AND CARGO WEIGHT OF 1073 lbs.

OK, I'm adding up my occupants/cargo including myself, my wife, 4 dogs, bedslide, bed cover, tools, safety equipment, bikes, hitch, and other assorted 'stuff' that I like to have on a trip and I'm about at 750 lbs. Add a slightly overweight 3rd person and I've maxed out my truck before backing up to the trailer. If I leave the slightly overweight 3rd person home, my remaining capacity is about 325 lbs giving me a max trailer weight of 2,153 (assuming 15% tongue weight). Heck, I may have trouble finding a pop up I can tow.

Is this right or am I overanalyzing this?

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Old 01-06-2012, 01:38 PM   #2
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Sometimes half ton trucks are not the best for towing. jim

1984 Avion 30p 9.1 meter. 2006 Dodge 3500 cummins srw short bed crew cab.
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Old 01-06-2012, 02:29 PM   #3
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Old 01-06-2012, 03:07 PM   #4
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Hi Skipper. Welcome to the forums.

Trying to assess reasonable towing capacity is difficult due not only to the many variables but by the fact that there is a good deal of misinformation being spread around by RV dealers trying to sell bigger trailers on the one hand, and truck dealers trying to sell powertrain upgrades on the other.

One reliable reference is the Trailer Life towing guide, published annually. Here's the 2009 one:

For your truck they list 8,400 pounds as the towing weight, considering all the things you list -- axle, engine, cab, bed size, etc. That's based on manufacturer ratings. Like many people, I believe that the 1/2 ton truck towing ratings have been inflated in recent years beyond what is reasonable, though.

One thing to check is the rear axle weight by going over a scale while you're loaded with a typical combination of people and cargo. Then see if there's enough axle capacity left to carry the tongue weight of the trailers you're considering.

The axle weight ratings are something you never want to exceed.

I'm not sure that trailer tongue weight is either "cargo" or "occupants" so I wouldn't pay too much attention to the "combined weight of cargo and occupants" sticker for that, I guess.
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Old 01-06-2012, 03:12 PM   #5
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I have found that it is not how much you can tow, it's how much you can stop!
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Old 01-06-2012, 03:49 PM   #6
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Thanks guys. The towing guide jammer linked says 9700 lbs which agrees with my manual. I think towing 9700 lb behind my truck is a disaster waiting to happen. I will try to find someplace to weigh my truck and back axle.
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Old 01-06-2012, 04:07 PM   #7
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My Classic 30 has a GVW of about 7200#. I did tow it briefly with a GMC Sierra 1500, but feel a whole lot happier with the 2500HD diesel I now use!

Didn't get into any serious trouble with the half ton, but it just seems so much more relaxing, effortless and enjoyable with the larger TV..

Brian & Connie Mitchell

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Hensley Arrow / Centramatics
2008 GMC Sierra SLT 2500HD,4x4,Crew Cab, Diesel, Leer cap.
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Old 01-06-2012, 04:23 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by skipperbrown View Post
Thanks guys. The towing guide jammer linked says 9700 lbs which agrees with my manual. I think towing 9700 lb behind my truck is a disaster waiting to happen. I will try to find someplace to weigh my truck and back axle.
Hi, Skipperbrown, and welcome. You are correct in trying to find a CAT Scale or other 3-pad certified scale. The Towing Guide by your vehicle manufacturer will also have some guideline on how to adjust a weight-distributing hitch. Working the numbers -- empty, loaded, and hitched for both vehicles -- will lay out what is reasonable, and what is not. Reason, in these instances being that proper adjustment of hitch rigging is the key to the best experience.

One can tow more with less vehicle, in many instances. But it may not be suitable to some folks as acceleration/power means being slower than others on long grades. On the other hand, an overly powerful tow vehicle may not be suitable for the 95% of the time it spends being driven solo. I'd rather have the best all-around vehicle, not the tow monster (if not otherwise needed).

I will say that the bigger pickup trucks are more popular with those who tow more than 5k annually, especially if they are full-timing (being gone from home for months, or have sold the home altogether).

The single most important rule, IMO, is choose the trailer first. It's much easier to fit a TV to a TT than the other way around.


1990 35' Silver Streak Sterling; 9k GVWR.
2004 DODGE Cummins 305/555; 6-manual; 9k GVWR.
Hensley Arrow. 10-cpm solo, 18-cpm towing
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