RV Towing Regs, Info and other stuff ... By: Les Doll

There always seems to be confusion on the subject of RV towing terms and regulations, whether it be towing a travel trailer, fifth wheel or a towed vehicle behind a motorhome.

This article will touch on a few definitions and end with websites where much more detailed information may be gathered. Remember that the onus is on the OPERATOR (you) to make sure that the combined unit that YOU are driving is safe, legal and under control.

As an RV owner/operator you need to be aware and understand these terms.

GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating)
GCVWR (gross combined vehicle weight rating)

GVRW is a maximum weight that the manufacturer of your vehicle has determined that the said vehicle will safely carry. This is an important figure that has safety, legal and insurance related implications for every RVer.

Sure, we've all seen a few examples of overloaded vehicles on the road ... that half ton pickup dragging its bumper with a cab high load of dirt for the garden in the box ... that mini-van with a load of furniture stuffed inside and more stuff tied to the roof! These people are gamblers ... betting on the odds that they will not be required to make an emergency stop ... betting on the odds that they will make it to their destination without a breakdown. Betting on the odds that their legal counsel will be able to win that negligence lawsuit.

Is that how you want to gamble on you hard-earned vacation time?

Of course not! And that is what we are talking about. GVWR!

It doesn't matter if you are driving a compact car with a tiny pop-up trailer in tow, or a mega-home with all and everything stowed in the ample basement compartments. YOU are responsible for that load and that vehicles safe operation.

The GVWR is the maximum weight that you can legally carry, not the maximum weight that you can tow.

GCVWR (gross combined vehicle weight rating) - The manufacturers maximum load weight, in pounds, allowed for the trailer and tow vehicle. This rating includes the weight of the trailer and tow vehicle plus fuel, water, propane, supplies and passengers.


Internet Resources

Tow Vehicle Ratings at Trailer Life magazine (download PDF)
Tow Vehicle Ratings

RV and Tow Vehicle Weights
an exercise in reality: (Webmasters note: excellent article - a must read!)
Tow Vehicle Weights

US Department of Transportation - National Highway Traffic Safety ...
US Department of Transportation


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