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Old 09-13-2016, 02:34 PM   #1
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Is Tongue Weight subtracted from Towing Capacity?

First, theoretically,...

If my TV has a 5,000 lb towing capacity, and my trailer weighs 5,500 lbs, with a 500 lb tongue weight, hypothetically, am I okay? Since 500 lbs of my trailer weight is being carried in the TV payload, is it subtracted from my tow weight?

In real life, when I went across the scales, I was expecting my trailer to weigh a lot more. Then I realized the tongue weight was not registering on my trailer axles; not that I EVER want to pull anything heavier! But it made me wonder.
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Old 09-13-2016, 02:36 PM   #2
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Well, tongue weight is part of the trailers weight, which is what you consider against towing capacity. But tongue weight is used/deducted from payload capacity.
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Old 09-13-2016, 03:08 PM   #3
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I think the towing rating is for the weight of the trailer when it is not hooked to the TV. So that includes axle weight and tongue weight.
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Old 09-13-2016, 05:23 PM   #4
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While I have never seen a specific explanation of this and this is just my opinion, I have always taken the opposite side. I think it all comes down to Gross Combined Weight (Rating), i.e. the total weight of the truck, its load, and the trailer. If the truck is carrying the tongue weight, it isn't towing it.

Case 1 - TV Curb Weight 6000#, Trailer GVW 5000#, 15% (750#) Tongue weight, 1500# in the bed, GCVW=6000+5000+1500 = 12500#, Towing 4250, Payload 2250#, Total 6500
Case 2 - TV Curb Weight 6000#, Trailer GVW 6000#, 15% (900#) Tongue weight, 500# in the bed, GCVW= 6000+6000+500 = 12500#, Towing 5100, Payload 1400#, Total 6500

If we consider that the truck has a GCVWR of 12500#, then it can tow a 5000# trailer in Case 1, but a 6000# trailer in Case 2.

Obviously I have ignored driver, passengers, fuel, etc. and I have assumed that a WD hitch has restored the front axle load or the cargo is at the very rear of the bed in both cases, but I claim the truck can't tell the difference. The drive train will be pulling the same weight up a hill, the axles all have the same weight on them, brakes trying to stop the same combined load, etc.

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Old 09-13-2016, 06:09 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alluminati View Post
First, theoretically,...

If my TV has a 5,000 lb towing capacity, and my trailer weighs 5,500 lbs, with a 500 lb tongue weight, hypothetically, am I okay? Since 500 lbs of my trailer weight is being carried in the TV payload, is it subtracted from my tow weight?

In real life, when I went across the scales, I was expecting my trailer to weigh a lot more. Then I realized the tongue weight was not registering on my trailer axles; not that I EVER want to pull anything heavier! But it made me wonder.

To answer your question: The weight of the trailer is what it is. There is no deduction, period.

Towing capacity is the "maximum" weight that a vehicle can tow. A vehicle can only tow its maximum only when payload is limited to the driver, with no additional passengers or cargo. As payload is increased towing capacity decreases. (if you add maximum tow vehilce payload, the actual weight of the tow vehicle, and the maximum allowed trailer weight the sum of the three will exceed GCWR of the tow vehilce)

No weight limit should be exceeded. (tires, axles, hitch, ball mount, torsion bars, payload, GVWR trailer, GVWR, tow vehicle, GCRW each have their limits)

It takes weighing and math to know for sure if a rig is safely loaded.
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Old 09-13-2016, 07:42 PM   #6
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Again my opinion, but Trailer Towing Capacity, Max Trailer, etc. are terms used by manufacturers and are not all defined the same.

Gross Axle Weight Ratings, Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, and Gross Combined (Vehicle) Weight Rating are defined in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and are required to be listed on a sticker in the door jamb. In order to ensure you are within the ratings of all components, as suggested by A W Warn, there is no substitute for a weighing.

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Old 09-13-2016, 08:20 PM   #7
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the only adjustment is that you can subtract the tongue weight from the trailer weight when figuring the load that the trailer tires carry (when choosing tires, etc), as the tongue weight is carried by the TV. The weight is still towed, however.
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Old 09-13-2016, 09:40 PM   #8
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Towing capacity, weight distribution as it affects truck payload and gross combined weight rating are all different, but similar enough to confuse people.

To repeat, towing capacity of a tow vehicle is what it is—the trailer's total weight should not exceed the tow vehicle capacity.

For determining payload, you have to calculate how much tongue weight is carried by the tow vehicle and how much by the trailer. About 2/3 of tongue weight (there's a formula for it, too complicated for me) goes to the truck axles and is counted against payload. You do not subtract any of it from trailer weight for purposes of towing capacity or gross combined weight rating (GCWR). The stated tongue weight of any individual trailer may be different than the specs with the trailer—Airstream sometimes has listed two different tongue weights for a specific model and often understates it. You could weigh the tongue or just add a 100 lbs. or more (weight of propane in tanks, spare tire and if you have a lot stored in the front of the trailer, that may add to it too) to the stated tongue weight.

The tow vehicle will have a GCWR. Just add the truck and trailer weight plus cargo to find out whether you exceed the GCWR.

I tried to make it simple even though the question has been answered already.

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Old 09-14-2016, 05:39 AM   #9
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Very complete explaination, thanks
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Old 09-14-2016, 11:06 AM   #10
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I think both.
If you have 1,000# tongue weigh, it is part of the trailer so therefore included or counted against towing capacity.
If you set 1,000# tongue weight on the ball it is counted against payload.
So both...
All of the above...
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Old 09-14-2016, 12:33 PM   #11
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A more relevant aspect to me and indirectly stated above is a gouge I've used (happily and safely) since it was shared with me: Use 80% of your TV towing capacity as your max trailer weight… think MARGIN OF SAFETY. Can you tow at +100%? Sure. It's tough on the equipment, can be tough on the nerves (including family harmony) and generally takes some of the fun out of going in the first place… less really is more .
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Old 09-14-2016, 12:40 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by nwclassic View Post
A more relevant aspect to me and indirectly stated above is a gouge I've used (happily and safely) since it was shared with me: Use 80% of your TV towing capacity as your max trailer weight… think MARGIN OF SAFETY. Can you tow at +100%? Sure. It's tough on the equipment, can be tough on the nerves (including family harmony) and generally takes some of the fun out of going in the first place… less really is more .
I can understand and appreciate this, but on the other hand if the specs say my truck can tow 8300 lbs, I see no reason to derate it any further than the lawyers already have. No, don't tow 8400 lbs, but right up to 8300 lbs is fair game. That 20% seems rather arbitrary, and ratings have already gone through extensive litigation mitigation screens before getting to us.

Ratings exist for a reason.
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Old 09-14-2016, 01:07 PM   #13
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The tow capacity is based on a bunch of factors which until recently were manufacturer's witchcraft....sometimes not much rhyme or reason. Now they actually test the vehicle for braking ability without trailer brakes and hill climbing ability along with stability. The total trailer weight is what is factored into the new rating. Tongue weight still has to be pulled up hill and still has to be stopped by the truck alone in the rating of the vehicle. None of this accounts for the inherent stability of trailers like AS or the inherent instability of park models that stand 28-30 inches off the ground. But at least the new ratings are conformal and not just manufacturer's marketing.
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Old 09-14-2016, 03:30 PM   #14
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Noting that you originate in flat country...

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I can understand and appreciate this, but on the other hand if the specs say my truck can tow 8300 lbs, I see no reason to derate it any further than the lawyers already have. No, don't tow 8400 lbs, but right up to 8300 lbs is fair game. That 20% seems rather arbitrary, and ratings have already gone through extensive litigation mitigation screens before getting to us.

Ratings exist for a reason.
Yep, you can do exactly as you say, and when you come west when it's hot and go high, then throw in some wind, you may acquire a different point of view. Those rated weights are for nominal conditions when EVERYTHING works as it is supposed to (including how you loaded that trailer). It's the difference between asserting that you didn't exceed the limitations when something happens and avoiding the likelihood of the event altogether. Different mindset.
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Old 09-14-2016, 03:39 PM   #15
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Yep, you can do exactly as you say, and when you come west when it's hot and go high, then throw in some wind, you may acquire a different point of view. Those rated weights are for nominal conditions when EVERYTHING works as it is supposed to (including how you loaded that trailer). It's the difference between asserting that you didn't exceed the limitations when something happens and avoiding the likelihood of the event altogether. Different mindset.
If I am not exceeding the published rating, I would expect my vehicle to perform and able to handle any incline. Like I said, the ratings exist for a reason.

Do I expect to do 70mph up the Ike Gauntlet? No. But I wouldn't want to either. Whether I have to do higher RPMs or lower MPG, I can do it safely and competently. And that's all I'm after.

Again, as long as I don't exceed the published ratings.
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Old 09-14-2016, 03:48 PM   #16
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Yep, you can do exactly as you say, and when you come west when it's hot and go high, then throw in some wind, you may acquire a different point of view. Those rated weights are for nominal conditions when EVERYTHING works as it is supposed to (including how you loaded that trailer). It's the difference between asserting that you didn't exceed the limitations when something happens and avoiding the likelihood of the event altogether. Different mindset.
Correct. Some manufacturers specifically down rate the tow ratings if you travel in mountains (e.g. F150, or Porsche Cayenne).

Also, the 20% rule, as arbitrary as it seems, provides a margin as most vehicles would be not performant at their max capacity.

Finally, the published tow rating is the max tow rating. Usually, not achievable unless you have only a 150# driver in the car, and no other passengers/cargo. You usually would run out of GVWR, rear axle rating, or hitch rating before you even get to max tow ratings.
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Old 09-14-2016, 03:51 PM   #17
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Just my opinion, but if you are cutting it so close that considering the tongue weight as not towed weight to get within the towing capacity of your tow vehicle, you are cutting it too close, and you need a tow vehicle with a greater towing capacity.
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Old 09-14-2016, 03:53 PM   #18
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Correct. Some manufacturers specifically down rate the tow ratings if you travel in mountains (e.g. F150, or Porsche Cayenne).

Also, the 20% rule, as arbitrary as it seems, provides a margin as most vehicles would be not performant at their max capacity.

Finally, the published tow rating is the max tow rating. Usually, not achievable unless you have only a 150# driver in the car, and no other passengers/cargo. You usually would run out of GVWR, rear axle rating, or hitch rating before you even get to max tow ratings.
I'm not understanding your GVWR comment. That's more related to payload, not towing capacity or tow rating.
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Old 09-14-2016, 04:10 PM   #19
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I'm not understanding your GVWR comment. That's more related to payload, not towing capacity or tow rating.
Say your vehicle has a 10000# tow rating. You will be within GVWR and axle ratings if you tow a 10,000# trailer and you only have a 150# driver and a 150# passenger (I believe thats the J2807 towing standard specification). If you have extra cargo and/or passengers in your vehicle, then you are likely exceeding the GVWR or axle ratings (even though you are within the 10,000# tow rating).
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Old 09-14-2016, 04:52 PM   #20
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Say your vehicle has a 10000# tow rating. You will be within GVWR and axle ratings if you tow a 10,000# trailer and you only have a 150# driver and a 150# passenger (I believe thats the J2807 towing standard specification). If you have extra cargo and/or passengers in your vehicle, then you are likely exceeding the GVWR or axle ratings (even though you are within the 10,000# tow rating).
Ok, but in this case the 10,000 tow rating is meaningless. What you are needing to watch is your payload rating. Which is why I didn't understand the comment.
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