What Size RV Can My Truck Tow | RV towing guidelines

Drawing of Ford F350 Hauling Fifth Wheel Camper RV

Upgrade Your Truck Suspension So Towing At Its GVWR is Easier and Safer

If you’re planning to buy a recreational vehicle (RV) for your family’s enjoyment, it’s important to consider how you’ll safety tow this vehicle to the exciting places you’ll visit. To determine if your truck or SUV can handle the RV you’re considering, you’ll need to know two key pieces of information:

  • weight of the RV you’re considering
  • your vehicle’s towing capacity

To help, this post will guide you through the process, answering commonly asked questions about vehicle weights, plus RV towing guidelines and more.

RV Weights

Fifth Wheel Heavy Camper RV

RV manufacturers weigh their new vehicles before any people, cargo, or liquids are added—and that’s the vehicle’s “dry weight.” Next up is the RV’s GVW. This stands for “gross vehicle weight” and is the combination of the vehicle’s weight plus the weight of the driver/passengers, cargo, and liquids. In other words, the GVW is the weight of what you plan to have in your RV.

So, can your RV handle that much weight? To find that answer, check the RV’s GVWR. This is short for its “gross vehicle weight rating” and lets you know the maximum allowable GVW. You can typically find the GVWR on a sticker that’s located inside the driver’s side door frame of the RV.

If your estimated GVW fits within the RV’s GVWR, then you’ve got an RV that dovetails with your plans. That said, is your truck able to safely tow this weight? To figure that out, you’ll also need to know your RV’s tongue weight. This is the weight that your hitch will carry when the RV is hooked up to your truck. Typically, this is about 10 to 15% of the RV’s GVW.

Truck Weights and Towing Capacities


First, consider the curb weight of your towing vehicle. This is its weight without any people, cargo, or liquids—comparable to the dry weight for RVs. This vehicle’s GVW is the curb weight plus people, cargo, and liquids, along with the RV’s tongue weight. When you calculate the GVW, does it fit within the GVWR for your truck?

You’ll probably hear another term, too: gross combination weight rating (GCWR). This is the manufacturer’s rating for the maximum weight limit recommended for the loaded tow vehicle and the RV.

Truck Tow Ratings and Payload Capacity

Heavy-Duty Ford Capable of Towing Massive RV and Camper Loads

Each manufacturer will provide relevant towing guidelines in the form of a tow rating. This is their calculation of the maximum weight limit that a vehicle can carry. You might also hear this called the max towing capacity. In either case, this is the GVWR figure. Another term is “payload capacity,” which includes the weight of people, cargo, and liquids, plus the RV’s tongue weight. What it doesn’t include: the weight of your vehicle.

All of these definitions can sound confusing. To help you find more information about the towing capacity of your truck, you can check your vehicle manual and use the information encoded within its vehicle information number (VIN).

RV Towing Safet

GMC Towing Fifth Wheel Camper RV

RV towing guidelines are crucial—and here are other kinds of tips to maximize your family’s safety when you tow your RV:

  • Make sure you have the right hitch for the job. Hitch types include weight-carrying ones, as well as weight-distributing, gooseneck, and fifth wheel hitches. Talk to your salesperson for guidance.
  • Find a place to practice towing your RV, perhaps in a large empty parking lot. The more comfortable you feel when you begin highway driving while towing your RV, the better.
  • Plan your route ahead of time. Thanks to today’s technologies, you can create the least stressful way to get to your destination and, when you buy a GPS with RV settings, you can travel with confidence.
  • Avoid overpacking. Even when you’re beneath the maximum weight limits, it’s often best to travel lighter.

Even when staying within maximum weight guidelines to ensure RV towing safety, you may have problems if you’re close to the max. Issues reported by people include how the “RV makes my truck squat” and/or “truck sways when towing RV.” In this case, suspension upgrades can make good sense.

Suspension Enhancements

When your truck or SUV meets the GVWR requirements, but the weight of the RV is causing your truck to squat or sway, then a suspension enhancement system (SES) can be ideal. Suspension enhancements through an SES kit can increase RV towing safety within the predetermined weight limits of the vehicles involved. They’re designed to keep your towing vehicle level by preventing suspension sag and getting rid of body rolling.

Timbren Suspension Upgrades

Timbren SES Ford F350 Rear Suspension Upgrades Assembled F350 Timbren SES Rear Suspension Upgrade Kit with Installation Hardware

Besides all the benefits of an SES described above, the Timbren SES kit features Aeon® rubber springs with a progressive spring rate that guarantees soft, comfortable rides. You can find what you need by entering the year, make, model, and sub-model of your truck or SUV on our site.

When looking for the ultimate in suspension enhancements, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. That’s why Timbren offers more than four hundred kits for optimal suspension upgrades, with each one containing the best components for particular situations.

Questions about suspension upgrades for pickups or SUVs? Contact us online or call 800-263-3113.

Small Lightweight Retro Camper/RV for Light Duty Trucks