2012 Tow Ratings


Know what you can tow; SAE changes in trailering capacity test procedures reflected in manufacturer’s max tow limits

by Bruce W. Smith

All pickups have a maximum trailering capacity that is set by the vehicle’s manufacturer.

These limits are based on extensive vehicle testing and set the limit to which the manufacturer feels is the safety threshold.

Towing loads heavier than that capacity places the vehicle driver and the company that owns the pickup in a serious liability position.

Those maximum towing limits can not be changed once the vehicle leaves the assembly line as they are determined by cab configuration, engine, hitch, wheelbase and axle ratio.

No changes made to the vehicle after-the-fact changes the original towing capacity.

That’s why it’s important to read both your pickup’s owners manual and the manufacturer’s trailering guide to see what the limits are for your particular truck, and what towing equipment must be in place for it to be “properly equipped” to handle the trailered load.

To help make you be more aware of how heavy a trailer a new pickup can legally and safely tow – and in what manner – we’ve put together this basic comparison chart.

It shows the manufacturer’s limits for “conventional towing” in both weight-carrying and weight-distributing modes.

Our chart doesn’t cover every 2012 pickup configuration.

However, our chart should give you a good idea of where your pickup stands related to its towing capacities, which will help you and your company stay out of a potential liability lawsuit should there be a towing-related accident.


2012 Pickup Tow Ratings

Links to pickup manufacturer’s 2012 towing guides: