Determining the towing capacity isn’t as hard as one might think.

How is payload determined?

The payload is simply the (GVWR) Gross Vehicle Weight minus the curb weight of the vehicle. There is a placard on the inside driver’s side door. You can go online and Google the towing capacity for the year and make of your vehicle. I will use my 2019 Ford Ranger 4×4 as an example.

What is Curb weight?

First, let us look at the Vehicle Curb Weight. The weight of your vehicle empty. No driver, no passengers, no cargo, no extra features, maybe even an empty gas tank. You can find the sticker inside the driver’s side door frame.

What is GVW?

The gross vehicle weight for my truck is 6050 lbs. This number will be the most your tow vehicle can weigh. The maximum load will include passengers, cargo, hitch weight, and tongue weight. The total payload maximum for the truck is 1560 lbs.

I have 1560 lbs for passengers, cargo, and tongue weight.

2 passengers        = 335 lbs
1 dog                      =   86 lbs
Gas                         = 144 lbs
Class 4 hitch         =  60 lbs
Tongue Weight    = 660 lbs

Total 1285 lbs

Payload – Cargo = 275 lbs

You can see that I have kept my payload under 1560 lbs. I have 275 pounds to spare.

( Note) I had to add the hitch to the payload because it did not come equipped with the truck. Part of this number will fall on the tongue weight.

Don’t forget the tongue weight.

The maximum tongue weight for the 2019 Ford Ranger 4×4 Crewcab is 850 lbs. The maximum number the tongue weight can be. You can find the specification in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.


What is GCVW of the trailer?

Before we shop for a trailer, we need to know the GCVW ( Gross Vehicle Weight Rating ) of your tow vehicle. This number is the maximum amount of weight your vehicle can carry on its axles and tires. The GCVW for my Ford Ranger is 7500 lbs.

Keep your towing capacity under 80%.

The trailer I am using for this example is the 2020 Lance 1995. Before I go any further, allow me to say this. DO NOT max out your tow weight. The maximum tow weight is 7500 lbs. I want to stay at around 80%. The reason I say this is the fact that if you plan on traveling in the mountains, your tow vehicle will thank you.

80% of 7500 = 6000 lbs


Figuring the trailer weight.

Ok, let us get back to the 2022 Lance 1995 Trailer. The Gross Dry Weight 4245 lbs. is what the trailer weights from the factory. The GVWR 5700 Lbs is the maximum weight the trailer can weight. This number is the maximum weight the trailer can weight once I add all my stuff. (clothes, food, laptop, pans, lounge chairs, etc.) As you can see, I kept the maximum tow weight under 6000 lbs.


What is Gross Combine Vehicle Weight?

We have one more number we need to address—the GCVW (Gross Combined Vehicle Weight) This will be the tow vehicle + the trailer. My GCVW for the 2020 Ford Ranger 4×4 is 12500 lbs.


Know the wheelbase of your tow vehicle.

Let’s talk about wheelbase for a moment. Calculating the wheelbase is crucial when determining trailer length. The wheelbase is the distance between the centers of the front and rear wheels. The first 110″ of the wheelbase allows you 20′ of a trailer for each additional 4″ of the wheelbase add 1′ more. My 2019 Ford Ranger 4×4 has a wheelbase that is 126.8″, this gives me 20 ft for the first 110 inches. Each added 4″ gives me an additional foot of trailer length bringing the total to 24 ft. It is vital to figure your wheelbase to reduce sway issues.

I would suggest that you weight your truck to get a real number and do the same for the trailer. Having an understanding of the towing capacity for your vehicle will keep you safe, and your tow vehicle will be around for a long time.

If you rather not deal with weight stations, HaulGauge can figure your tow capacity; it measures pin weight, tongue weight, payload, and gross combined weight in real-time.