Truck Classification

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:

  • Light Duty Truck
  • Medium Duty Truck
  • Heavy Duty Truck

Weight Classes & Categories

Weight classes are defined by the US government and are used consistently throughout the industry. They are based on the truck's GVWR, or in the trucking industry on GVW plus average cargo weight.

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.

GVWR (lbs)
GVWR (lbs)
Class 1 6,000 Light-duty Light Duty
Class 2 6,001 10,000 Light-duty Light Duty
Class 3 10,001 14,000 Medium-duty Light Duty
Class 4 14,001 16,000 Medium-duty Medium Duty
Class 5 16,001 19,500 Medium-duty Medium Duty
Class 6 19,501 26,000 Light-heavy Medium Duty
Class 7 26,001 33,000 Heavy-heavy Heavy Duty
Class 8 33,001 Heavy-heavy Heavy Duty

* 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.

Weight Class » 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Common Category » Light Medium Heavy
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 2
Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD 2
Chevrolet Silverado 3500 2 3
Dodge Ram 1500 2
Dodge Ram 2500 2
Dodge Ram 3500 2 3
Dodge Ram 3500 Chassis Cab 3
Dodge Ram 4500 Chassis Cab 4
Dodge Ram 5500 Chassis Cab 5
Ford F-150 2
Ford F-250 2
Ford F-350 3
Ford F-450 4
Ford F-550 5
Ford F-650 6 7
Ford F-750 7
GMC Sierra 1500 2
GMC Sierra 2500HD 2
GMC Sierra 3500 2 3
GM C4500 4 5
GM C5500 5 6
GM C6500 6 7
GM C7500 6 7 8
GM C8500 7 8
Semi trucks 8

Classification based on published manufacturer data available on 3/28/2009.