Ford F-150 towing a boat


  • Towing capability is the weight a vehicle can tow. Engine power, transmission type, number of drive wheels, axle ratio, and wheelbase length all can affect this rating. If you are planning to buy a tow vehicle, review the manufacturer’s towing guides for good towing combinations.

  • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is the maximum that the tow vehicle can weigh when fully loaded.

  • Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) is the maximum combined weight of the tow vehicle including passengers, equipment, fuel, etc., as well as the trailer.

  • Gross Axle Weight Rating is the maximum weight that a single axle can carry.

  • Gross Trailer Weight, the maximum weight of the trailer and its cargo combined.

  • Gross Tongue Weight, the maximum weight exerted on the hitch ball by the coupler (usually around 10% of the Gross Trailer Weight).

  • Hitch type, which includes weight-carrying and weight-distributing hitches.




Before you tow

  • Drive your new vehicle at least 1,000 miles before you tow a trailer

  • Know your GCWR, and stay at or under it while towing

Distribute the weight

  • The trailer must be properly loaded and balanced for optimum handling

  • Keep the center of gravity as low as possible for the best handling

  • Approximately 60% of the cargo weight should be in the front half of the trailer, with 40% in the rear

  • The load should also be balanced from side to side for good handling and even tire wear

  • The load must be firmly secured to prevent shifting during cornering or braking, which could result in a sudden loss of control

  • Trailer tongue load should be 10-15% of the total loaded trailer weight (15-25% for fifth-wheel or gooseneck hitches)


  • Allow considerably more distance for stopping with a trailer attached

  • If you have a manual brake controller, “lead” with trailer brakes, if possible

  • If your trailer starts to sway, gradually apply the brake pedal. If your vehicle features a trailer brake controller, the sliding lever should be used only for manual activation of the trailer brakes when adjusting the gain. Misuse such as application during trailer sway could cause instability of the trailer and tow vehicle

Towing on hills

●    Downshifting the transmission to a lower gear can help when braking on downgrades, and it also provides added power for climbing hills

  1. Apply the brake pedal and hold.

  2. Have another person place the wheel chocks under the trailer wheels on the downgrade side.

  3. Once the wheel chocks are in place, release the brake pedal, making sure that the chocks will hold the vehicle and trailer.

  4. Apply the vehicle’s parking brake.

  1. Apply the brake pedal and hold.

  2. Start the engine in P (Park), or if your vehicle has a manual transmission, start it in N (Neutral).

  3. Shift the transmission into gear and release the parking brake.

  4. Release the brake pedal and move the vehicle uphill to free the wheel chocks.

  5. Apply the brake pedal and hold while another person retrieves the chocks.

  6. Drive away.

  • Be cautious about trying to merge into traffic or pass another vehicle

  • When passing, be sure to allow extra distance for your trailer to clear the other vehicle safely before pulling in front of it

  • Signal and pass on level terrain with plenty of clearance

  • If necessary, downshift for improved acceleration

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