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towing capacity

1323 Views 2 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  mooresmsr
I'm a neophyte, so be gentle.

I bought a 2003 F-350 dually crew cab with a 7.3 diesel, 32K miles. It has the factory towing package. I plan on using this to deliver RV campers, and added a 5th wheel and a hitch with sway bars. The previous owner installed a gooseneck from B&W, and the 5th wheel is the B&W companion, rated to 18K. I also added a 76 gal fuel tank, in addition to the in-truck tank that holds 39 gal. It is an automatic with overdrive. My transmission control consists of the D-2-1 positions, and a overdrive on/off switch. Everything is pretty much stock.

How do I figure out my towing capacity? I read through the owner's manual, but it's about as clear as mud. Is there a different weight max for the hitch, the gooseneck, and/or the 5th wheel?

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How do I figure out my towing capacity?

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For Dooley pickups, it's simple to figure out Ford's recommended max trailer weight.

Determine the GCWR for your tow vehicle. GCWR = gross combined weight rating, including the weights of both the wet and loaded tow vehicle and the wet and loaded trailer.

Then load the tow vehicle with all the stuff you'll normally have when on the road - 5er hitch, cooler full of cool, toolbox full of tools, extra fluids such as oil and ATF, driver, passenger(s), suitcase(s), etc. Then go to a truckstop that has a CAT scale, fill up with fuel (yes, both your stock and auxiliary tanks), then weigh the wet and loaded tow vehicle. Subtract the weight of the wet and loaded tow vehicle from the GCWR of the tow vehicle, and the result is your real world "tow rating".

In your case, your GCWR is located in the diesel supplement to your Owner's Guide. If that's not handy, it's 20,000 pounds for your truck.

So if your wet and loaded tow vehicle grosses 8,500 pounds without a trailer, then your tow rating is 11,500 pounds.

But your real question is not how much is Ford's recommendation, but how much can you really tow behind that monster pickup. The answer is in two parts. The first part depends on how much your truck license plates and your driver's license says you can gross for GCW. Even though your tow vehicle's GCWR is 20,000 pounds, some states will sell you licence plates that will allow you to gross a lot more than that. 26,000 pounds is common. 30,000 pounds is common in some states for hot-shotters making a living with their trucks. If your trailer grosses more than 10,000 pounds or your GCW is more than 26,000 pounds, you'll probably need a commercial driver's license (CDL), so know and pay attention to the CDL rules.

The second part depends on your rathers. If you'd rather have enough power and torque to tow a load up a mountain pass at a reasonable speed without burning up something expensive, then you might want to use Ford's recommendation as a guide to begin with. Then with experience you'll know how much trailer you'll feel comfortable towing over the Rockies or the Cumberlands. Most folks with a Dooley PSD feel good with a 20k GCW, but some will go for 24,000 or 26,000 and a few rare birds will go for 30k or more.

Is there a different weight max for the hitch, the gooseneck, and/or the 5th wheel?

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Not really, as far as the truck is concerned. The different weight maxes depend on the hitch limits as well as the weight limits of the tow vehicle.

For an F-350 DRW tow vehicle, you figure your tow rating the same way, regardless of trailer type. But another limiter to the tow rating is the max weight capacity of the hitch. For either a gooseneck or 5er hitch, the smallest capacity hitch is around 15,000 pounds, so as long as your tow rating is less than 15,000 pounds, the hitch limits are not a factor. But for a tag trailer, the receiver might be the limiter. On earlier F-350 DRWs, the receiver was rated at 10k max trailer weight with a weight-distributing hitch. So in that case, The tow rating is 10,000 pounds, even though the computed tow rating based only on GCWR is more than 10,000 pounds. Your receiver is probably rated for 12,500 pounds, so that's the max TT weight you'd want to tie onto, even though you "know" your rig can tow more weight than that.

But there is a fix for a too-low weight capacity on your receiver. If your receiver has too low a weight capacity for your needs, then replace it with a beefier receiver. The biggest and baddest is the Reese/Drawtite Tow Beast. And Reese makes A Tow Beast for your tow vehicle.

Same thing with your 5er hitch. If it's rated 16k but you need to tow a 17k trailer, then replace the 5er hitch. They make them for pickups with up to around 24k capacity.

If you decide to gross more than 20,000 pounds, then be certain you don't exceed your axle ratings or your tire ratings. For your F-350 DRW, simply don't exceed the front or rear GAWR and you'll probably be fine for axle, tire, and any other ratings too except maybe hitch ratings. The front and rear GAWR is located on the Federal Certification Label located on the lower doorpost behind the driver's door. The GAWR assumes you have at least the tire capacity of the stock tires that came on the truck. So when you buy replacement tires, be sure they have at least the weight capacity of stock tires.

If you'll be towing new trailers, then that means you'll probably have to stop at the "chicken coop" scales and get weighed by the DOT. Before you get there, know how much your axle weights are. That's why you see CAT scales at most truckstops. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/warmsmile.gif If you're overloaded over the front and/or rear GAWR, fix it before you leave the truckstop.

If you'll be towing new tag trailers (TTs), then understand the difference between "weight carrying" and "weight distributing" receiver capacity. Even though your receiver is probably rated 12,500 pounds max trailer weight with a weight distributing (WD) hitch, it may be only 6,000 pounds without a weight-distributing hitch, IOW, with a weight-carrying (WC) hitch.
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