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Can You Safely Increase Your Towing Capacity?

Can You Safely Increase Your Towing Capacity?

When you and your family enjoy your time in the great outdoors, you’ll need a comfortable place to crash. If you’re towing a camper or RV behind your vehicle, you want to do it safely. Knowing a little about your vehicle’s towing capacity is key.  

Towing is hard on your vehicle, and pushing it too hard could leave you in quite a rough spot. If you have a vehicle that isn’t pulling your camper quite as well as you had hoped, there are things you can do to remedy the issues that don’t involve buying a whole new one.  

If you’re just an average camper, you might not understand your options when dealing with your tow capacity.

Take a moment now to chew on some quality information, and learn something new about increasing your capacity. 

What Is Towing Capacity? 

It sounds pretty self-explanatory, and your guess is probably right.  

Towing capacity is the total amount of weight your vehicle can safely tow. When you know just how much your vehicle can safely pull behind it, you have the first number in the equation of trying to figure out if you can safely tow a new trailer or camper. 

Look for the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) on your vehicle to see how much weight your engine can pull at its maximum capacity.  

What Affects Towing Capacity? 

Several factors affect a vehicle’s towing capacity. The vehicle’s configuration, the load it’s carrying, the chassis build, the power of the engine, the transmission, and the suspension are just a few elements that stand out when considering the determining factors of towing capacity.  

Can You Increase Your Vehicle’s Towing Capacity? 

You can absolutely increase the towing capacity of any vehicle. The question you really want to ask yourself is, “How much will it cost?” The changes you’ll need to safely upgrade the towing capacity could be pretty simple, or they could be super extensive. 

It really depends on what kind of vehicle you are altering. If you have to basically rebuild it to increase its towing capacity, you’ll have to ask yourself if it’s worth the investment. 

The towing capacity ultimately relies on the power under your hood. Your engine and transmission are the main players in towing capacity, so you’ll have to add upgrades there to really see a true capacity boost. 

Then, there are supporting elements you’ll need to invest in to safely handle the added load on the roads. Upgrading the suspension on your vehicle isn’t that difficult, but it could be pricey if you can’t do the work yourself. 

You’ll also want to consider adding sway bars to your front and rear axle for safer handling of the added weight. A quality weight distribution hitch will complement the other upgrades nicely.  

Does Weight Distribution Hitch Increase Towing?

Technically, a weight-distribution hitch doesn’t actually increase the towing capacity of a vehicle. It’s more of a supporting character in the play. A weight distribution hitch is something used to improve the efficiency of your towing capabilities.

Tongue weight is the weight pushing down on your ball hitch when it’s loaded with your trailer or camper. If you have too much tongue weight, you’ll experience sagging. Your vehicle will be super low in the back, and it will have to work harder to pull and maintain control. It’s not a good situation. 

Adding a weight-distribution hitch to the mix spreads the weight out more evenly, so your vehicle pulls with the whole body instead of just the rear axle. Placing more weight on the vehicle and less weight on the hitch gives you more control and a safer ride. 

Spreading the load distribution will also save you some added wear and tear on your tires and suspension. Uneven weight will cause uneven wear on your tires. A weight distribution hitch helps to solve that issue. 

Does Suspension Upgrade Increase Towing Capacity?

As was stated previously, upgrading the suspension on your vehicle won’t specifically up the towing capacity. It will, however, give you a safer ride. 

If you’re going to tow more weight, your vehicle’s body has to be equipped to carry it. You’ll start breaking things if you overload your suspension system. The added suspension will help your vehicle ride more smoothly, and you’ll get more control as well. 

Can You Increase Tongue Weight Capacity? 

You can’t really make the whole setup carry more than its maximum rating, but you can learn to manage your tongue weight more efficiently.  Too little or too much weight on the tongue of your hitch will cause sagging and swaying as you drive. It’s not safe. 

Instead, learn to adjust the distribution of the weight in your trailer. For instance, say you have too much tongue weight. You could adjust the weight in your trailer to sit behind the front axle so it’s not adding to the push on the hitch.  

What Happens If You Exceed Towing Capacity?

There are so many things that can happen if you exceed the towing capacity of your vehicle. Your transmission could give out, blow up your engine, lose your tow load, or get terrible sway and cause an accident. You will cause undue wear and tear on your vehicle, and you could tear up your axle and suspension system. 

Overall, you should just follow the tow ratings. If your vehicle’s manufacturer sets a red line, don’t cross it. There are other ways to remedy the situation. Now go out there and make some changes, so your next adventure is a little safer along the way.  

Have you ever had to increase your tow capacity?

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Thursday 24th of March 2022

You forgot one of the most important aspects of tow capacity, braking. This is more important than suspension and hitch type. Also, if you are towing over the GVWR you can be ticketed. If you are in an accident while over GVWR you will be found negligent.

James Hart

Thursday 24th of March 2022

You don't mention anything about axles or breaks ?

Randy Locatis

Thursday 24th of March 2022

GVWR is NOT tow capacity. GVWR is the total amount your vehicle can carry including any tongue weight. You'll need to know the actual manufacturers "toing capacity" rating to find out how much your vehicle can tow. Then you need to find the GCWR (gross combination weight rating) to find out the total weight, tow vehicle and trailer you can be going down the road legally with.

This rating is complicated. I would never try to modify it. You forgot to say anything about tire ratings for starters. Wheel bearings, gears, frame tinsel strength, rims, brake size? And then when your insurance company checks it out after an accident, make sure you have your auto engineering license so you can prove how you increased the capacity sufficiently. Towing more than you should tow can be a danger to you and others.

Using scales when you're fully loaded is the only real way to know how much you are carrying and if it's distributed properly. There are front axle and rear axle limits on all tow vehicles too. A Cat scale at a truck stop works well. The best way is to have each wheel on your trailer weighed to determine how the weight is distributed in your camper.


Thursday 24th of March 2022

Auto correct, second GVWR should be GCWR


Thursday 24th of March 2022

GVWR is not the max you can tow, it is the weight of the loaded vehicle. GVWR is the weight of vehicle and trailer.

So, as the other poster said, this article is completely useless and, I'll add, wrong about an important fact which makes me doubt everything they say

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