How To Know the Towing Capacity of a Trailer

By October 3, 2015Blog Posts

Calculating Cargo Capacity

Whether flatbed or enclosed, every trailer comes from the manufacturer with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).  That number indicates the weight limit of your trailer.  Your rig should never be loaded beyond the manufacturer’s listed GVWR. Note that a trailer’s GVWR is not indicative of how much it actually weighs. That would be Gross Vehicle Weight, or GVW. The two numbers should not be confused — the GVW can change based upon cargo, but the GVWR will always remain constant.

The main reason to be cognizant of this equation is SAFETY.  Major problems can result from an overloaded trailer, like suspension components being overloaded to the point of becoming ineffective, or even breaking, and tires can generate more heat from the load, causing potential blowouts.

The GVW should never surpass the GVWR!

GVWR – Trailer Weight = Cargo Capacity

It’s easy to find your trailer’s GVWR.  It should be on the purchase documents, the VIN tag, or may sometimes be found online.  If you’re unsure about the trailer weight fully loaded, stop by a truck scale and check it out before you get too far down the road.

Something else to consider when towing a trailer is your truck’s GVWR. Note that the entire weight of the trailer is not considered part of your vehicle’s GVW, but the tongue weight is.  Be sure to confirm that your vehicle’s weight rating is capable of towing the trailer behind it.  Your owner’s manual should list vehicle towing capacity.

The Right Tire to Bear Your Load

A tire’s load rating – “Max Load” – is another critical number in determining if it is right for your trailer.

Max Load indicates the individual tire’s safe maximum load-carrying capacity when inflated to its recommended pressure. Never exceed a tire’s maximum load rating, which you’ll find on the tire sidewall.  Doing so can lead to overheating and tire failure.  Under-inflation can be just as dangerous, so be sure to keep pressure at recommended levels.

Given the cargo and equipment variables that can affect Gross Vehicle Weight, it’s wise to select tires that exceed this minimum weight capability.  Not only will this provide you with a “reserve” load capacity, but it will make for better handling when unexpected road situations occur.

Here’s another calculation to keep in mind:

Price + Quality = Value

In this case, Quality is the prevailing component.  Don’t compromise Quality for a low price.
The Value that you are gaining is not only that of your tires, but also in protecting the Value and Integrity of your trailer.


Size Does Matter!

When considering a trailer to haul your toys, bear in mind a couple of critical measurements.

For an enclosed cargo unit, know the height of the interior of the trailer, as well as the door opening measurements.  And for any trailer, you’ll need to know what space you will need for side by side UTV’s.

Simple mistakes are made with big consequences when dimensions vs. cargo are underestimated!


Using this simple guide to capacity and load bearing will assure you more time on the road, and less on the roadside!