How to choose the right RV or Trailer for your existing vehicle is a weighty issue. The decision comes down to weight – with a few other factors thrown in.
Before we start, let’s talk about some of the most common brands of trailers that can be towed by your vehicle. When beginning your search, be sure to watch for these brands, as they are usually popular amongst RVers and towers. Most of these brands make models that can be towed with a car, truck, minivan, or even hatchback.
Can my Car Haul an RV or Trailer?
Yes, but only if the combined weight of the RV/Trailer does not exceed the towing vehicles GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating), which is the total weight your vehicle can tow. A good rule of thumb is to stay under 80% of your max towing capacity. The weight of the RV/Trailer is also named GVWR and can be found on our website under the vehicle specifications. Shop our large inventory using our RV Search feature!
Where can I find my Vehicles Towing Capacity?
Start your quest to find the right trailer for your vehicle in the glove box where most vehicle owner’s manuals are stored. Look for the “Vehicle Towing Capacity” in the manual. This is the manufacturer’s specification of the weight the vehicle is designed to tow. Choosing a trailer that exceeds your vehicle’s towing capacity will stress the vehicle’s engine, transmission, and brakes beyond their design limits.
While you’re cruising the vehicle owner’s manual, take note of the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW). The GVW is the actual weight of your car or truck. Next look for the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating or GVWR. The GVWR is the sum of the vehicle’s weight and the maximum load it can safely carry.
Smaller, lighter cars are not designed to tow at all, and that will be stated in the owner’s manual. If you aren’t able to find this information, talk to one of our experts by filling out our contact form.
Where can I find the weight of an RV/Trailer?
As you continue your search for a trailer you can tow with your vehicle, search by the numbers. First, look for the “Gross Trailer Weight” (GTW). The GTW is what the trailer will weigh under fully-loaded conditions, including your gear, food and filled fresh and grey water tanks. On larger RVs, look for the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, the maximum the camper and its load are allowed to carry.
You may also see a “Base Curb Weight” (BCW) number while trailer shopping. The BCW is the weight of the trailer as it is delivered, with factory equipment and all required lubricants. Some dealers may also advertise an RV’s “Dry Weight” or unloaded, not fully equipped weight. These are nice-to-know numbers, but should not factor into your purchasing decision, as you will never tow a completely empty trailer or RV.
Unless the trailer you’re considering is homemade, it will have a Vehicle Identification Number or VIN, plate installed somewhere. The plate will include the trailer’s serial number as well as the trailer’s loaded and unloaded weights. An RV’s specification sheet will provide its GVWR.
Tongue Weight (TW) is the downward pressure that the tongue of a fully-loaded trailer puts on the hitch ball on your vehicle. In a properly loaded trailer, the TW should be about 10 percent of the loaded weight of the trailer. The Tongue Weight adds to the overall Gross Vehicle Weight of your vehicle.
Adding it up
When you add the weight of your vehicle, GVW — including the tongue weight — together with the GTW of the trailer or GVWR of the RV you’re considering, make sure the result does not exceed your vehicle’s Gross Combination Weight Rating. This is the maximum combined weight that your car or truck can handle for safe operation.
Cars and Trailers That Can Tow a Trailer
Compact and subcompact cars are best towed behind an RV rather than being the tow vehicle, although a handful are up to the task of hauling up to 2,000 pounds with the proper towing package. If your compact car is rated for towing, then look for a trailer with its own electrical braking system to spare the wear and tear on the vehicle. Consider lightweight teardrops, micro-campers, or the smallest, lightest utility trailers.
In general, a mid-size car and some family minivans or smaller SUVs may have the capacity to tow up to 3,500 pounds, or a small, lightweight camper, pop-up trailer, very small boat on a trailer or a utility trailer.
To get you started, here are a few of the most common cars and trucks that can easily tow!
- Ford F-150
- Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD
- Ram 3500 Heavy Duty Pickup
- Nissan Titan
- Jeep Renegade
- Hyundai Santa Fe
- Chrysler Pacifica
- GMC Terrain
- Honda CR-V
Small to mid-sized pick-ups and some sturdier SUVs, depending on the make and model, may have the capacity to tow a bumper-pulled family camper, boat trailer or small toy hauler. All-wheel drive and 4-wheel drive vehicles will have a greater towing capacity than comparable 2-wheel Drive vehicle.
It’s also important to think about horsepower when choosing the right towing vehicle. It’s critical to remember that you also need a good amount of torque to get the load moving. (Horsepower keeps it moving and how fast you can move.)
Do the math
It is important to do the math before shopping for a trailer or RV. Trying to tow more than your vehicle can handle might lead to dangerous and expensive problems including brake failure, blown tires, a broken suspension or overheated transmission.
Rely on the trusted professionals at Crossroads Trailer Sales to assist you in finding a travel trailer that your vehicle can safely tow and enjoy for many seasons.