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4,536 kilograms of towing capacity means 4,536 kilograms of towing capacity. Doesn’t matter who the truck manufacturer is, right?
Not really. Historically, every truck manufacturer designed their own tests for towing capacity, using their own criteria. But that’s about to change.
In 2009 the Society of Automotive Engineers’ (SAE) tow vehicle trailer rating committee created set standards to determine a vehicle’s towing capacity, with two important ratings: the maximum permissible gross combined weight (GCWR) for a tow vehicle and its trailer, as well as the maximum permissible trailer weight rating (TWR).
One towing standard for all trucks
“We wanted our customers to know that 10,000 pounds [4,536 kg] of towing capacity means the same thing for all trucks,” 1 said Robert Krouse, GM’s lead towing engineer who chaired the SAE committee, in a Detroit Free Press interview with auto critic Mark Phelan.
With all manufacturers adhering to the same standard, every truck tested has to fulfil the same requirements – which makes truck performance easy to compare. And the plan was to have the standards go into effect by the end of the 2013 model year.
The performance criteria
The SAE standard is known as SAE-J-2807. It establishes maximum ratings by measuring tow-vehicle performance requirements against the following criteria:
To minimize test variations, J2807 provides standard test trailer specifications and requirements for use in these tests.
SAE Criteria Source: Pickuptrucks.com, “ 2011 Heavy-Duty Hurt Locker: Davis Dam Grade Climb”
Chevy – SAE Rated
Chevrolet (and GMC) will be among the pickup truck manufacturers to adopt the new standard. Every truck tested to the standard can claim its towing capacity is SAE rated, and you’ll be able to make “apples to apples” towing comparisons across manufacturers.
Check your total trailer weight before you tow.
Include both your total trailer weight and your trailer tongue weight in your calculation. Remember to include the weight of the gear and materials that you’re including in your trailer.
Match your vehicle to the trailer load.
Account for both the maximum trailer weight ratings (TWR) and vehicle weight information based on how your truck is equipped. For vehicle ratings and capabilities, ask your dealer or check your owner’s manual. Ensure that the trailer weight and tow vehicle weight combined do not exceed the gross combination weight rating (GCWR). Consider passenger, fuel and gear weight too, when calculating your vehicle weight.
We can’t stress this enough – never exceed the TWR and GCWR. Overloading can damage your truck and trailer, and put others at risk.
Check your combination setup.
Properly install and adjust your hitch ball, brake controller, sway controls and weight distributing bars (if you’re using them). Refer to your vehicle owner’s manual and to your trailering equipment’s manufacturer’s instructions.
Balance your load over the length of your trailer.
“To make sure you have proper weight distribution,” says GM towing expert Robert Krouse, “measure the height of the front fender, just above the center of one of the front wheels before the trailer is connected to the tow vehicle. After it is connected, the front end of the tow vehicle should rise slightly. It is important to apply only enough tension on the spring bars to restore the initial front end height but avoid bringing the front end to a lower position than where it started.”
1 “Mark Phelan: Truck makers agree to toe the line on new towing standards.” Detroit Free Press, July 10, 2011.
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