Ready to tow? It’s not quite as simple as hooking a trailer up to a tow vehicle. There are many details you must keep in mind, but one of the most fundamental elements surrounds weight. Does your vehicle have the ability to tow your loaded trailer? That’s where tow ratings and towing capacities come into play.


The tow rating or towing capacity refers to the maximum weight you can pull with a given vehicle. This rating, easily found within your vehicle’s owner’s manual, not only represents the weight of the trailer itself, but the weight of any cargo loaded within it.


Your vehicle’s tow rating takes several factors into consideration, including:


  • Vehicle structure
  • Chassis and suspension design
  • Engine type, axle ratios, and other drivetrain variables
  • Hitch design and class
  • Tire ratings and load capacities


These numbers aren’t arbitrary – in fact, they’re the result of extensive real-world testing. When developing new vehicles for production, GMC engineers perform extensive tests that push vehicles to their extreme limits in order to determine the precise physical abilities of every truck, crossover and SUV.


While baseline tow ratings are available in the 2015 GMC trailering guide, detailed tow ratings are listed within your vehicle’s owner’s manual.


Although it’s important not to exceed your vehicle’s tow rating, there are other important weight limits that should never be exceeded while towing, including:


  • Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), which represents the maximum weight your vehicle can carry, including passengers, cargo, fuel and the vehicle itself.
  • Gross combined weight rating (GCWR), which represents the maximum weight of your loaded tow vehicle and your loaded trailer combined.
  • Gross axle weight ratings (GAWR) on both the vehicle and trailer, which represent the maximum amount of weight a particular axle can carry, including the wheel and tire
  • Hitch weight rating, which indicates the maximum weight your hitch is designed to safely carry.
  • Tongue weight, which should be between 10-15 percent of the total loaded trailer weight for conventional trailers and 15-30 percent of the total loaded trailer weight for gooseneck or fifth wheel trailers.


Exceeding even one of those ratings while towing with could not only cause severe damage to your vehicle or trailer, but also put yourself, your passengers and others in danger.