Knowledge of truck classes and categories is not required for recreational vehicle towing, but it is very helpful when communicating with each other, service shops, and to understand regulations affecting vehicles on public roads.
There are two classifications most applicable to RV tow trucks. First, the weight classes, as defined by the US government, ranging from Class 1 to Class 8. Second, the following broader categories:
Weight Classes & Categories
Categories, on the other hand, are not as well defined. The same truck may be considered a heavy duty truck by one segment of the industry, and a medium duty truck by another.
Our research shows that the most often used official categories are derived from the US DOT Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey (VIUS). We indicate the VIUS truck categories in the fourth table column below. However, service shops, truckers, insurance companies, and seasoned RVers define some category boundaries differently than VIUS; therefore, in the last column we included the commonly used categories.
A good example of category disagreement are the one ton pickup trucks, some of which have a GVWR above 10,000 lbs. Based on the GVWR, these trucks are considered Class 3 and have a VIUS category of Medium-duty. However, few people would consider a one ton pickup anything but a Light Duty Truck.
* VIUS: US DOT Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey
In the table below, we have listed common RV tow truck models and their classification. Please be aware that the table illustrates the full range of each model. Vehicle sub-model and options affect the actual category that a specific truck falls into.
Classification based on published manufacturer data available on 3/28/2009.