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Pickup Trucks


Bruce Smith July 4, 2011


Which takes priority: The towing capacity of the hitch – or the tow rating of the pickup? The answer will surprise you

By G. R. Whale

It took less than 60 seconds to find a web forum with an error in omission regarding hitches, the forum part of a commercial website and not a clueless basement blogger.

An owner of a 2001 F-350 had new, heavier equipment and a trailer, and wanted to upgrade his pickup’s receiver hardware to accommodate the 8- to 10-ton load.

The forum specialist replied with a series of 9-ton hitch options for pickups, noting cab and chassis models may differ.

That’s zero to illegal in three sentences or less.

Why? Because the forum specialist’s advice is bad; neither the pickup owners nor the forum’s specialist mentioned the Ford’s maximum tow rating, which our 10-year-old information gives as best-case 14,400 pounds fifth-wheel/gooseneck and 12,500 conventional towing using a weight-distributing hitch.

Using a 9-ton hitch option on that particular pickup exceeds the F-350’s maximum towing capacity by more than 2 tons – and at worst by more than 6,000 pounds.


Such bad towing advice is putting the pickup owner in a liability and negligence situation, not to mention setting the pickup up for serious handling, braking and mechanical issues.

This 2 1/2-inch Class V receiver on a 2010 F-250/350 clearly displays the maximum towing capacities.

There was also no mention of weight-distribution, which was typically required on towed loads greater than 5,000 pounds for most pickups up to 2008 when the 2 ½-inch receiver began showing up as a factory-installed hitch.

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