The primary purpose of this calculator is to answer the question: “Can my truck tow my trailer?”
This calculator is designed for all trailers and towable RVs, towed by a ball hitch or fifth-wheel hitch, either weight-carrying or weight-distributing.
In the form below, enter as many pieces of information as are required.
Our calculator updates in real-time! Play around with the sliders and watch how your cargo and tongue weight affect your maximum towing capacity.
If you are unfamiliar with the weights or abbreviations, you may want to start with Understanding RV Weights.
Want to see some examples? Jump below the calculator!
Quick Word of Warning!
Caution: This is an EZ Towing Weight Calculator! Unlike our other calculators, this one does not perform sufficient calculations to accurately predict whether your tow vehicle can tow your camper. We provide this tool for education purposes and back-of-the-envelope calculations, not as a safety or purchasing aid.
For a more accurate and reliable calculator, please use one of the following following recommended calculators.
Not sure where to start? See our Calculators landing page for easy-to-follow instructions!
Unacceptable Methods of Estimating Towing
I know, I know … I wish towing calculations were as easy as the salesman said!
Unfortunately, there are a few back-of-the-envelope methodologies that simply do not work. And some are quite dangerous.
Myth: You can tow whatever Ford/Chevy/Toyota says you can.
Auto manufacturers base their towing capacities in part off SAE J2807 standard. Now, I own this standard. It is a good standard. But it makes certain assumptions that are almost certainly not true for your towing situation.
For instance, the standard assumes you weigh 150 lbs and that you are the only person in the tow vehicle.
It also does not consider how well the tow vehicle can handle the mechanical wear and tear of towing at maximum capacity for several thousand miles or several years of use.
To learn more about the SAE J2807 standard, visit Motor Trend’s article here.
Myth: Just subtract your truck GVW or GVWR from its GCVWR.
The myth goes like this: If you subtract the truck’s actual weight (GVW) from the maximum combined vehicle weight rating (GCVWR), then whatever’s leftover goes towards your trailer.
Some people try to make this more “conservative” by subtracting the truck GVWR rather than the GVW.
Example: 17,500 GCVWR – 5500 GVWR = 12,000
It’s still a rather rubbish equation.
This equation only works under extremely limited conditions which virtually never show up in real life. Again, it’s closely tied to SAE J2807.
Myth: Just use 80% of the advertised towing capacity as your maximum.
This actually isn’t that awful of an estimate. About half the time, it’ll get you close.
Example: 8,000 maximum towing capacity x 0.8 = 6,400 lbs.
The other half the time, though, you’re risking severe damage to your tow vehicle.
The 80% rule does not consider the effects of payload. If you have a larger family or tote along a lot of gear in your truck, then you might be limited to 505, or even 30%, of your stated towing capacity!
The 80% rule also assumes a fairly light tongue weight, which rarely shows up once a camper is fully loaded, especially with full water tanks and/or an upgraded battery setup.
Myth: You can tow 10x your hitch weight.
This popular quick n’ dirty calculation assumes that you can tow whatever 10 times your maximum hitch weight is.
Example: 800 * 10 = 8,000 lbs towing capacity
Or for a 5th wheel camper, the calculations says you can tow your maximum king pin weight times 6.5.
Example: 2000 * 6.5 = 13,500 lbs 5th wheel towing capacity
Of all the myths on this list, this is one of the most dangerous!
For one thing, it assumes that your towable RVs have their minimum required tongue weight: 10% for a travel trailer and 15% for a 5th wheel.
In reality, travel trailer tongue weight is commonly closer to 15%, and up to 20% is not unheard of. For fifth wheels, king pin weight may go as high as 25%!
It also assumes, like most of these other methods, that you’re not carrying any additional passengers, cargo, or aftermarket additions in your tow vehicle.
You can't handle the truth!
Here’s the truth[s]of the matter.
- Generally, a loaded towable RV has a significantly heavier tongue weight percentage, often close to its recommended limit.
- It’s very easy to overload the rear axle of most half-ton trucks, passenger SUVs, and small vehicles. Or in other words, you’ll often max out the payload before you max out anything else!
- You should leave a minimum 10-15% safety margin between your calculated maximum and your loaded trailer weight. This will help protect your tow vehicle’s mechanical systems.