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Proper Trailer Weight for GVWR


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well you need to know what your truck weighs, with everything you plan to take with you, full tank of gas, family, dog, all the stuff you want to put in bed, bikes, etc. That will tell you how much weight you have left.

Travel trailers have a tongue weight usually 10-15 % of the trailer.

Also in the weight of truck you need to add the weight of the hitch you will be using.

One other thing to remember is a trailer that sleep 6 or more, may include the dining room table or a fold out couch, make sure everyone will fit, taller  or older kids may not fit on a dinette sleeping area.

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Welcome to the forum!  There are 5th wheel RVs that claim to be 1/2 ton towable, have you looked at those?  Like mentioned above, after adding the weight of your truck fully loaded/ready for camping, that will tell you just how much room you have left.  Keep in mind, how much weight would you feel comfortable towing, or stopping in that small truck?  With *stopping* being a biggie!  Or keeping it under control when a gust of wind hits you?  Not fun having a trailer wrap around and hitting the truck door.  Just sayin.  How about a pop-up with a dome tent/sleeping bags in back of truck for the older kids.  Just an idea.

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Welcome to the forums! You need to start by checking the weight and tow ratings for your truck. Chevrolet says that your truck could possibly have a tow rating as high as 12,500# but you may not have that configuration. It is usually advisable to get a trailer that weighs no more than 80% of the rating. The RV weight to be concerned about is not the dry weight but the GVWR which is the maximum loaded weight. 

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And don't forget the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) of your pickup.  As noted above, weight the truck loaded as you would for a trip (fuel, people, dog, toys, etc.,) and subtract that from the manufacturers GCWR to determine how heave the trailer can be.  I would not want to be over 80% of the GCWR.


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Len our posts crossed as I was composing when you also mentioned GCVWR.

Newbie I just answered yours too on edit.

When the subject is what can you tow with a half ton, you need to pay attention to the GCVWR posted on the truck. The GVWR or Gross Vehicle weight rating is how much weight each vehicle can support on their own axles minus the hitch weight transferred to the truck from  the hitch. So you'll need the weight of your truck with all passengers, gear, full tanks of fuel, propane, and whatever you carry in the bed of the truck. Weigh the loaded truck alone.

Then with however much or little water you're going to carry in the trailer, full propane tanks, batteries, clothes, food in fridge and cabinets, flatware, dishes/bowls, appliances, toiletries, blow dryers . . . Everything the trailer will carry. Weigh the trailer alone.

You do weights at truck scales. Now see if your GVWR maximums are not exceeded on the truck loaded or the trailer loaded. Now hitch up the trailer and drive only the truck still hitched on the scales leaving the trailer tires off the scale. That weight on your truck now includes the hitch weight and must not exceed the truck's GVWR.

Now weigh the trailer alone but hitched and fully loaded. Make sure that weight does not exceed the trailer's GVWR.

Now add them together and check the GCVWR (Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating) on the label on the doorjamb data plate. Usually drivers side. If any of the three are exceeded you need to get a smaller trailer or a bigger truck. 

Newbie, without the year, make, model, engine size, tranny type and rear end gears of your half ton truck, no one can tell how much you can tow. 

With a half ton you'll be limited as to what you can tow. I am selling a fifth wheel Scamp 19 footer that's fine for weekends or a single who likes minimalist living, and can be towed with a half ton. Add 1000 pounds for a couple give or take for clothes gear shoes etc

No one is telling you to get a diesel here, your numbers will tell you once you add up the loaded weights of trailers you're considering.

The GVWR is not you weighing it loaded just the limits for the truck, usually useless as they allow for no load, a full fuel tank, and a 150 pound driver. No gear, no normally sized folks. Weigh your half ton with all people who will be riding in it while towing, and all you will carry in the bed, and must include the weight of whatever hitch you install. Then make sure you are within the GVWR for the truck. Then see how much is left of your GVWR and that is all you can have for hitch weight on the bed or bumper hitch. It's easy math but not necessarily yielding the answers you want.

Then weight trailer loaded alone, add both the loaded truck weight and loaded trailer weight to get your GCVW, or Gross Combined Vehicle Weight. Then see if you are within the GCVWR on the truck's data plate.

Edited by RV_
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If he has the truck, is married or otherwise has a partner and/or kids, they can load the truck up and weigh it with all passengers and gear as it will travel. My 64 gallon Transfer Flow tank in my truck bed added ~ 455 pounds of weight. I had two 30 pound propane cylinders on my fifth wheel. They weigh 55 pounds each full. http://www.answers.com/Q/How_much_does_a_full_20-pound_propane_tank_weigh  I carried wood blocks for leveling and for the front Jack's, as well as a 20# cylinder in a milk crate in the bed with my gas grill. Then we have to weigh the fiber hitch etc.

It adds up quick. But doing actual weights on your truck now will keep you from buying more trailer than it can safely handle.

Edited by RV_
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The missing item, as Derek mentioned, is the GCWR, Gross Combined Weight Rating, the most the truck and trailer can weigh as a package.

This makes the truck's true Towing Capacity only slightly related to the truck's published Tow Rating because the TR is designed solely for bragging rights.  It assumes the truck is as light as possible to leave the most weight available for the trailer before the combination hits the GCWR.  This means an empty truck plus a 150 lb. driver, not a truck fully loaded to it's GVWR.

So the first step in figuring out the true Towing Capacity for your truck is to subtract the weight of everything you'll carry in the truck from the Tow Rating.  Go to a truck scale and get the empty weight of the truck, then weigh it again with all of the passengers and cargo aboard.  The loaded weight must be less than the truck's GVWR.

Take the difference between the loaded and unloaded truck weights and subtract it from the published Tow Rating.

Now look at the weights on each axle of the loaded truck and compare them to the GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Rating) numbers.  The difference will tell you how much tongue weight the trailer can put on the truck.

A 5th wheel trailer will put all of it's weight on the truck's rear axle while a conventional trailer with a correctly set up weight distributing hitch will distribute the tongue weight between both axles.  The rear axle weight is is usually the first place where a half ton truck comes up short, especially with a fifth wheel trailer.

Finally, there's wind resistance to consider.  The published Tow Rating assumes you'll be towing something like a horse or utility trailer with a small frontal area.  RV trailers are considerably taller and wider so they have more wind resistance, they have to carve a larger hole through the air.

Unless you want to drive with the throttle floored most of the time, leave some power in reserve to overcome the higher wind resistance by limiting the trailer weight to 80% or less of your calculated true Towing Capacity.

Edited by Lou Schneider
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8 hours ago, Newbiehalfton said:

I have tent trailer, but it’s just too small. If my truck tag on the door says GVWR is 7200, payload is 1663, and truck weighs approx 5500...how much weight do I have for a trailer? 


What you are considering is the amount of weight that you can carry in the truck. There is another weight rating called gross combined weight rating, or CCWR.  The GVWR is the maximum that you can safely carry on the wheels of the truck, but the truck can also safely tow additional weight on a trailer. Just how much the trailer you tow can safely weigh is the designed GCWR, less the actual loaded weight of the truck when ready to tow. For example, if you were to take the truck you have to a scale and weigh it with a full tank of fuel, your family and all of their belongings inside and everything as you will have it when prepared to tow a travel trailer and that weight happens to be 6800#, you then check the Silverado towing guide and it says 16,600# GCWR for your truck's configuration, that means that you can tow up to 16,600  --  6800  = 9800#. That would mean that the travel trailer can weigh up to 9,800# when fully loaded for travel. But there is still a catch to this calculation as it would mean traveling at the very maximum of the rated safe weight. Most experienced RV owners will agree that it is much wiser to limit yourself to about 80% of the maximum towing weight and in this example that would mean no more than 7,840# under normal travel conditions for the maximum GVWR of the chosen travel trailer. In such an example, the dry weight of the trailer is likely to be around 6000# but that is only a guess and you really need to know actual GVWR of the trailer. 

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Thanks guys! Been digging up information. I listed below. Only thing I’m having a difficult time locating is the actual axle weight itself. I’m going to weigh truck tomorrow hopefully. Thinking roughly 5300 with me a fuel.


GCVWR - 15k

GVWR - 7200

Tongue weight - 700lbs

GAWR - 3950 FRT

GAWR - 3950 RR

Maximum Trailer weight - 9200lbs


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