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What Is the Towing Capacity for Pickup Trucks?

by Shannon Keen

The towing capacity of a pickup truck is influenced by everything from its engine configuration to towing hitch. Small to mid-sized trucks can tow between 3,500 and 5,000 lbs., while full-sized pickups can pull up to 25,000 lbs.

Manufacturing Factors

Factors that help increase towing capacity include horsepower, brake size, frame design, torque, engine configuration and the axle ratio.


The type of towing hitch a truck is fitted with also influences its towing capacity. With a class III hitch, mid-sized pickups can tow up to 5,000 lbs., while full-sized trucks with a class IV hitch for can tow up to 12,000 lbs. A full-sized pickup with a gooseneck hitch can tow 25,000 pounds.

Expert Insight

According to Autotropolism, a low RPM torque -- not horsepower -- determines the towing capacity of pickups. The ease with which a pickup can climb a 7 percent grade -- the highest grade on most U.S. highways -- determines its towing capacity, according to the website.

About the Author

Based in central Pennsylvania, Shannon Keen has been writing since 2003. She writes for various websites, specializing in film, literature and gaming. Keen started writing for her high school newspaper and went on to win a Gold Key in the Pennsylvania Scholastic Writing Competition. She is pursuing a degree in English literature at Harrisburg Area Community College.

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