Understanding Your Towing Capabilities: An Interview with Bob De Kruyff

Oct 30, 2012

understanding your towing capabilitiesWhen it comes to renting a trailer, it is very important to have a good understanding of your vehicle’s towing capabilities. We sat down with moving and safety expert, Bob De Kruyff from U-Haul to get answers to the most important questions you may have when it comes to understanding your towing capacity. Review our Q & A’s below before you hit the road with your trailer.

MI: How can I understand my vehicle’s towing capability?

De Kruyff: “There are two important factors that affect your vehicle’s total towing capability. They are:

1. Your vehicle’s curb weight: If you are using a single-axle trailer without brakes (most common), then your vehicle must weigh as much, or more than the fully-loaded trailer weight.

2: Your towing equipment: Your towing equipment will have it’s own specified towing capacity which should be listed directly on the hitch system.

You should consider the lowest of the two to be your maximum towing capacity.”

MI: So, the vehicle’s weight is one of the main factors?

De Kruyff: “Correct. The vehicle’s curb weight is the foundation for trailer selection. Your loaded trailer cannot weigh more than that number if it is a single axle trailer. A double axle braked trailer can weigh up to 25% more than your curb weight. Uhaul.com provides a simple online qualification guide to show you what trailers can be paired with your specific vehicle.”

MI: How full can I load the trailer I’m towing?

De Kruyff: “In some cases, you can rent a trailer with a larger capacity than recommended for your vehicle, but cannot load it fully because of hitch restrictions or your vehicle’s weight. For example, your trailer may have a load capacity of 2000 lbs., but your hitch system only has a 1,000 lb. capacity. In this instance, you can only load your trailer to reach the 1,000 lb. capacity of your hitch system (the lesser of the two).  The calculator on Uhaul.com will help you determine your vehicle’s towing capacity. To figure out how heavy your loaded trailer is, you can weigh your fully-loaded trailer at a weigh-station in your state.”

MI: What if I overload the trailer?

De Kruyff: “It is very important not to overload your trailer  If you overload the trailer, then you may have issues with braking, stopping time, vehicle handling, or overloading a component of your vehicle or hitch. While there are many safety features built in to the trailer and hitch systems, it is still never a good idea to overload your trailer.

MI: Do hitches and hitch balls come in standard sizes, or does it depend on my vehicle’s make and model?

De Kruyff: “Hitches and hitch balls may come in different sizes and towing capacities. There are bumper mounted hitches, as well as hitches that can be installed after market. The equipment’s towing capacity will be listed directly on the hitch or ball. If the two parts have different capacities, then assume the lower of the two. You should focus on the rating “weight carrying capacity” if you are looking at the hitch itself. For the ball and ball mount you will see a number that may say “max load” or just a number. Those particular ratings are what you should enter into our on line calculator. There may be some exceptions which our calculator will comprehend for your particular combination.”

Here is an example of what to look for:

Towing Capability

MI: Does it make a difference if my vehicle is front or rear-wheel drive? 

De Kruyff: “If you stay within the ratings provided by your trailer manufacturer when towing a cargo trailer, then it won’t make any difference. With car haulers, however, there are two types of trailers and they have a different qualification process. It will make a difference if your vehicle is front or rear wheel drive. Visit the manufacturer’s website for more information”

A big thank you to Bob De Kruyff for sharing your trailer-towing knowledge with our moving community.

Do you have any tips for understanding your towing capacity? How about tips for safe trailering? If so, let us know below in the comments section!

Related Posts:

How to Disconnect a Trailer

How to Connect a Trailer

Trailer Safety Basics

Towing a Trailer: Safe Towing Checklist

How Can I Determine What My Vehicle Can Tow?

How to Load a Vehicle Onto a Car Carrier

How do I Know my Trailer Hitch Rating?


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