Getting Maximum Towing Capacity from Your Pickup Truck
We see you eyeing that new camping trailer! It’s got all the right equipment and specs, but there’s just one problem: it’s heavier than your truck’s maximum towing capacity. And that’s before you add in the extra camping gear, food, and everything else you need to bring.
Being the responsible driver that you are, you’re probably wondering if there’s anything you can do to tow that trailer without putting yourself or other drivers at risk. If you want to know how to increase the towing capacity of your truck, we have some advice for you!
How to Determine the Towing Capacity of Your Vehicle
Before we talk about how to increase the towing capacity, let’s talk for a second about figuring out what that number is. Your truck’s towing capacity will be determined by the manufacturer, and it takes into account a few different factors including:
- Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) – How much weight you can pull including gasoline, passengers, and cargo.
- Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating (GCVWR) – This is the weight of your trailer and cargo in addition to your GVWR
- And the Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) – How much weight can be placed on each axle.
- Tongue Weight – How much weight the hitch of your truck can handle.
You can find your own truck’s maximum towing capacity by looking in your owner’s manual. Check out this article for an in-depth breakdown.
How to Increase the Towing Capacity of Your Truck
So before we start, let’s get one thing straight: You can’t increase your trucks towing capacity beyond a certain extent. The maximum towing capacity listed in your owner’s manual exists because this is the maximum amount of weight your truck can pull safely.
This being said, what if your new trailer or boat is only a few hundred pounds above your vehicle’s maximum towing capacity? There are a few things we can do to make it a safer pull. Your truck only has a certain amount of horsepower and torque it can exert, but we can still give it some bigger muscles to pull a little more weight.
What Can Happen if I Pull Too Much Weight with My Truck?
Your towing vehicle’s maximum weight capacity is set with certain safety precautions in mind. It keeps your vehicle from working too hard and putting itself in danger. While making a quick trip with a heavy load might not make your F-150 fall apart on the side of the road, it doesn’t do your truck any favors. Here are a few of the potential dangers of towing overcapacity:
- It puts an incredible amount of stress on your suspension system
- It decreases the effectiveness of your brakes and reduces steering control
- Can cause damage to your tires from the excess weight
- It forces your engine to work harder which will cause overheating and shorten your transmission’s life span.
Overall, trying to pull those heavy loads with your heavy-duty is just not worth it. It presents many more dangers than you would get from just making a second trip. We don’t recommend trying to modify your vehicle in an attempt to pull any extreme amounts over your suggested towing capacity for an extended period of time.
However, there are some things we can do to get that extra heavy camper up the lake for the weekend. Let’s talk about how to increase the towing capacity of your truck.
Tips to Upgrade Your Truck’s Towing Capacity
Before we begin, we need to say one more time: there’s no way to safely increase your truck’s towing capacity beyond it’s suggested limits. The only way to truly achieve this is through serious modifications to your truck. So, how can you increase the towing capacity of your truck?
Upgrading Your Braking System
One of the biggest difficulties you’re going to have from pulling this extra heavy load is keeping your truck under control. Adding more weight means more weight for your brakes to keep under control. Getting larger rotors and brake pads for your truck can give your truck that extra strength it needs to keep things under control.
If your truck is not equipped with one, you will absolutely want to invest in a trailer brake control, as well. This is going to be one of the most important pieces of the towing puzzle.
Upgrading Your Suspension System
Your suspension is another crucial aspect of safely towing an excessive amount of weight on your truck. Typically trucks come with leaf springs or coil springs, which can be great for towing a trailer. However, when you’re sometimes pulling that maximum (or over maximum) weight, traditional suspension systems won’t cut it.
The best suspension you can get when you plan on regularly hauling just a bit more than the owner’s manual says you should is an air suspension system. It allows you to adjust the tension in your individual springs. It allows you to give your truck that extra bolster when applying the heaviest payloads.
Upgrade your Trailer Hitch
Your truck can ultimately only tow as much as the trailer hitch can handle. One of the most important things you can do to increase your towing capacity is to upgrade your trailer hitch. The highest-rated trailer hitch is going to give you the highest towing capacity possible, no matter what kind of truck you have.
There are many different kinds of trailer hitches out on the market, so make sure you shop around. There are plenty of specs, styles, and more to peruse. Above all, you want to pay attention to the Gross Tongue Weight Rating given. The higher the GTWR, the more weight you’re going to be able to safely place on it.
Towing the Extra Weight: Increasing Your Truck’s Towing Capacity
When it comes to your truck’s ability to tow, unfortunately, there is only so far we can go without upgrading the truck itself. Trucks have specific designs for size, weight, and more, which all affect how much it can safely pull. There are no cheap and easy ways that you can safely haul more than your truck was designed to haul.
A few hundred pounds won’t leave you broken down immediately, but it will definitely put a lot of wear on your vehicle. If you really need that extra power, these tips can help in the short term. Otherwise, we recommend downsizing on your trailer. That, or making sure your next truck is well-prepared to take on the challenges you need it to.