As you drive down the road, you will not likely see a Porsche hauling a boat behind it. If you have ever towed something or needed to, you know that if you do not use the correct vehicle to handle the load, you will have a hard time accomplishing your goals. Having a vehicle that is built for towing will have the appropriate towing capacity. Proper towing capacity in turn, will allow you to brake, accelerate, and maneuver correctly and safely.

Maybe you are new to all this. But you need to know more about towing capacity and why it is in fact an important thing to take into consideration. This article will help shed some light on that subject.

How Does Towing Capacity Work?

Towing capacity, in a nutshell, is the maximum amount of weight your vehicle is able to pull. This calculation from the vehicle manufacturer is based on five specific areas of the vehicle. It includes:

  • Engine;
  • Transmission;
  • Axes;
  • Frame;
  • Brakes.

These make the calculation to reach a measurement of the maximum and towing capacity for the vehicle. With that number you need to factor in the weight of your passengers, the weight of the actual vehicle, and the weight of what you are pulling including the cargo in it to see if you are within the towing capacity max. This will ensure your vehicle can handle all the weight and will not suffer damage in the attempt of make it unsafe for you, your passengers, and others on the road.

When purchasing a truck or other types of vehicles, considering the towing capacity is important if you plan to do any hauling, especially major. Towing capacity can also include braked or un-braked towing capacity. Braked capacity refers to a maximum towing capacity when the item you are pulling has its own separate braking system. Usually, this means that the item in tow will connect directly to your vehicles braking system through a cable attachment. This type of towing usually has a higher maximum than an un-braked type of tow.

Why Exactly Does Towing Capacity Matter?

  1. Going over the recommended maximum towing capacity of your vehicle can cause all sorts of issues when you hit the road. A load that is much too heavy will make it difficult for you to get up to speed and maintain it. However, a very dangerous side effect of overdoing the weight capacity is when you want to stop the vehicle. The brakes make one of the major consideration points used when calculating towing capacity. This is because overloading them can cause them to be unable to safely perform their job or even fail.
  2. Issues with the movement and stopping of a vehicle are not the only problems that can occur. Exceeding the towing capacity can cause the item in tow to sway. Swaying is when the item moves back and forth behind you. If that load is too heavy, you will have a hard time staying on the road. Also, the item may end up swaying in and out of other lanes where other vehicles are driving. This poses a threat not only to you but other drivers as well. You even increase the possibility of flipping your trailer or boat causing dangerous situation and damage to it and your vehicle that will cost you quite a bit of money.
  3. That being said, mechanical issues occur as well. This is because a load that is too heavy causes stress points and strain on your vehicle’s parts. It will reduce the lifespan of your vehicle and may even cause significant damage right away.

What Do You Need in Order to Tow?

Obviously the first thing to look at is your maximum towing capacity. Then you figure out the total load to make sure you are within specifications. Here are some things you will need as well:

  • A tow bar, recovery point or tow hitch to attach to the chassis of your vehicle;
  • If simultaneous movement is necessary, you will also need some slack. This is true when hauling heave equipment or farm equipment. You will need a tow pin and jaw;
  • A trailer: A flatbed is good for large uncommon shaped items or other vehicles, enclosed trailers are good for livestock or hauling smaller boxes and loads especially through poor weather, expensive vehicles, or furniture
  • Smaller trailers are specifically designed for hauling recreational vehicles or boats;
  • Ball hitch: This hitch needs to meet towing capacity as well;
  • Drop hitch: This may be necessary if you are towing with a taller vehicle. The drop hitch will allow it to tow a shorter item safely;
  • A pintle and lunette is for very heavy hauling mainly used in construction and military applications.

yellow tow bar

Laws and Regulations

It is important to know if there are specific regulations you need to follow when towing in your state.

  • If you are towing across borders, you will need to read up on towing regulations in those states as well.
  • For smaller hauls, it is usually not an issue.
  • However, some states have regulations on where you can tow due to limited access highways and roads. So take the time to find a correct route for larger hauls as well.

Wrapping Up

Before you hook that boat up to your vehicle for the family trip or decide to make moving easier by using your vehicle, read up on your vehicle’s maximum towing capacity. Take the time to be aware of this so that you do not damage your vehicle or make an unsafe situation for your family. With proper specifications and appropriate accessories that will allow you to pull something safely, you can get to your destination without any extra headaches.

Have you ever had to haul something heavy? How difficult was it to control even in specifications? Was it hard to get the hang of? Please feel free to post any experiences, positive or negative, below for others who are new to hauling and towing.

The images are from pixabay.com.

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