TRAILERING AND TOWING BASICS

SELECTING A VEHICLE

GMC trucks, crossovers, SUVs, and vans allow you to confidently tow light or heavy loads over long distances without sacrificing power or handling. From the GMC Sierra 1500 to SUVs like GMC Terrain or Yukon, there are a variety of vehicles designed to meet your trailering needs.

 


WHAT TO LOOK FOR

To find the best GMC vehicle for your trailering needs, there are a few factors to consider.

FREQUENCY AND DURATION

How frequently will you be towing?

Will you tow over short or long distances?


TOWING CONDITIONS

What will the conditions often be like?

  • Steep grades
  • Extreme temperatures
  • High altitude


Will you be towing in places where traction is an issue?

  • Boat ramps
  • Off-road
  • Snow-covered roads
  • Unfinished roads


TOWING WEIGHT

How much does your trailer weigh?

In addition to the trailer, how much weight will you carry?

Will your towing and/or payload needs increase in the future?


TRAILER SPECS

What is the height and width of your trailer?

What type of hitch does your trailer require?

  • Weight-carrying
  • Weight-distributing
  • Fifth-wheel or gooseneck


Is your trailer equipped with trailer brakes?

What type of electrical connection does your trailer require?

  • 4-wire
  • 6-wire
  • 7-wire
  • 8-wire

SELECTING THE RIGHT HITCH

Before selecting a hitch or trailering package, you should be familiar with the weight ratings specific to your GMC vehicle because it affects how your vehicle handles, corners, brakes, and signals.

weight carrying hitch on the GMC Sierra
weight carrying hitch

WEIGHT-CARRYING HITCH

Commonly used for trailering light and medium loads, this hitch is mounted to a step bumper or draw bar. Be sure the hitch diameter fits the trailer coupler and can accommodate the trailer’s weight.

weight distributing hitch

WEIGHT-DISTRIBUTING HITCH

Most often used for heavier trailering, this hitch type more evenly distributes weight between the vehicle’s front axle and the trailer’s axles.

fifth wheel hitch and gooseneck

FIFTH-WHEEL HITCH/GOOSENECK HITCH

Designed for heavy trailering, these hitches are located in the bed of the truck and position the trailer’s kingpin weight over the truck’s rear axle. They’re frequently used with travel trailers, horse trailers, and other large trailers.


TRAILER BRAKES

There are two common types of trailer brakes. Each is used for a different purpose.

 

  • Surge brakes: It is a self-contained hydraulic brake system activated during deceleration as the trailer coupler pushes on the hitch ball. It is used primarily on boat trailers.
  • Electric trailer brakes: Using a brake-control unit, this system activates the trailer brakes whenever the vehicle brakes are applied. It is often found on travel trailers, horse trailers and car haulers.

 

Trailer brakes are required above 2,000-lb trailer weights on Sierra and Yukon and above 1,000-lb trailer weight on all other models.


FLAT/DINGHY TOWING

Flat towing, or “dinghy towing,” allows you to tow your vehicle behind another vehicle, while keeping all four tires on the ground. Towing in this manner is acceptable only on 4 wheel-drive trucks, depending on the transfer case option. The vehicle should be properly equipped and prepared as described in the downloadable service bulletin, available here.