Determining The Towing Capacity You Need

Determining The Towing Capacity You Need

Whether you're connecting a fifth wheel or a horse trailer, you need to know that your vehicle can handle the added weight. But with so many factors that affect your vehicle's towing capacity, how do you know if your vehicle is up for the job?

We'll break it all down for you here.

Ways to Determine Your Vehicle's Towing Capacity

While tons of people make a fuss about towing capacity, there are usually two surefire ways to figure out what your vehicle can handle. First, you can check the owner's manual.

Just about every SUV and truck on the market has an owner's manual that breaks down exactly how much each it can tow – but you need to be careful if the manufacturer has an optional tow package for that vehicle.

The owner's manual will often highlight the towing capacity for the tow package – even if you have the stock version. If that's the case, check what the towing package includes – if they are components that you can upgrade yourself, you're still in luck.

If you've lost the owner's manual or don't want to spend the time tracking it down, another option you have is to check the door jamb for your vehicle data plate. The same plate that displays your vehicle's VIN will typically display the vehicle's towing capacity too!

Don't Forget the Tires!

Tires are one of the most overlooked parts of the towing process. But selecting the correct tire will have a significant impact on how much your vehicle can tow! Smaller tires give you more torque than larger ones, but the brand and style of tire matter too.

Cheap tires get worse traction, which leads to a decrease in towing efficiency. Furthermore, tires with more tread give you more traction too! 

Elevation Matters – In More Ways Than One

Just because the manufacturer rated your vehicle for a specific weight doesn't mean you should throw that much on the hitch and call it a day. That's because elevation has a significant impact on your vehicle's overall towing capacity.

The most significant and often overlooked factor is elevation. For every thousand feet of elevation, your vehicle loses 2% of its towing capacity. This is especially important if you're traveling to places with extreme altitudes as you can easily lose 20% of your towing capacity.

You should account for at least a 10% buffer zone on your towing capacity for most trips, so you don't accidentally overload your vehicle.

Not only does the elevation that you're driving at matter, but the height of your vehicle plays a significant role in your towing capacity too! Each component in your lift kit has to be able to handle the specific towing capacity, and you'll need a drop hitch to connect to your trailer.

Luckily BulletProof Hitches offers some great drop hitches for you to choose from!

How Important is Your Towing Capacity?

In short, very important. If you overload your vehicle, you're putting extra stress on the engine and transmission that can lead to overheating and long-term damage. More importantly, towing capacity affects how effectively you can handle your vehicle and brake when you need to.

So, while you might be able to get away with overloading your vehicle for a time or two, it only takes one person to cut you off for you to get into an otherwise avoidable accident. Don't take the risk; buy a vehicle that can handle the weight, and ensure that it has the best towing equipment available.


While there are tons of people out there that over-complicate finding your vehicle's towing capacity, you don't need to be an engineer to figure it out.

Instead, trust the engineers that the manufacturer hired for the job and keep it simple on your end! Just remember to have a buffer zone, so you don't accidentally damage your vehicle on your next trip!