Vehicle Classification

Table of Contents

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Knowledge of truck classes and categories is not required for RV 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 camper 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 usually based on the truck’s GVWR.

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 medium-duty 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 6,000Light-dutyLight Duty
Class 26,00110,000Light-dutyLight Duty
Class 310,00114,000Medium-dutyLight Duty
Class 414,00116,000Medium-dutyMedium Duty
Class 516,00119,500Medium-dutyMedium Duty
Class 619,50126,000Light-heavyMedium Duty
Class 726,00133,000Heavy-heavyHeavy Duty
Class 833,001 Heavy-heavyHeavy 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 »12345678
Common Category »LightMediumHeavy
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 2      
Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD 2      
Chevrolet Silverado 3500 23     
Dodge Ram 1500 2      
Dodge Ram 2500 2      
Dodge Ram 3500 23     
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     67 
Ford F-750      7 
GMC Sierra 1500 2      
GMC Sierra 2500HD 2      
GMC Sierra 3500 23     
GM C4500   45   
GM C5500    56  
GM C6500     67 
GM C7500     678
GM C8500      78
Semi trucks       8


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Andy Herrick is a blogging nerd, #8 Enneagram, wannabe bread baker, INTJ, RV industry professional, and small business entrepreneur. He can be found hanging out with his lovely wife and family, skiing, cycling, climbing, hiking, and convincing anyone who will listen why dogs aren’t really that great of pets. Also, he runs this website.

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