How to Calculate Towing Capacity

by K.K. Lowell

To safely and legally tow a trailer of any type with a vehicle, you must first determine the towing capacity of the vehicle. This calculation can be made with information from the vehicle data tag on the driver's door post.

Locate the vehicle data tag on the driver's door post.

Note the CGWR. This is the combined gross weight rating. It is the maximum allowable weight your vehicle, with cargo and passengers, and a trailer can weigh.

Determine the loaded weight, with passengers and fuel, of your vehicle. This is most accurate by weighing the vehicle on a public scale. These can be found at truck stops and some moving companies. Check also at landscape supply companies and sand and gravel yards. If a scale cannot be found, estimate the weight by adding the curb weight of the vehicle and all passengers and cargo.

Subtract the loaded weight of your vehicle from the CGWR rating of your vehicle. The resulting number is your towing capacity. Keep the weight of your trailer under this number to be safe and legal. Weighing your trailer when fully loaded is most accurate.

About the Author

K.K. Lowell is a freelance writer who has been writing professionally since June 2008, with articles appearing on various websites. A mechanic and truck driver for more than 40 years, Lowell is able to write knowledgeably on many automotive and mechanical subjects. He is currently pursuing a degree in English.