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