If you are buying an RV, one of the most important questions you need to ask and know the answer to is how much can I tow. You might be surprised that it’s a lot less than you think it is.
Manufactures often will say how much they can pull and say something like “you can tow up to 20,000lbs”. You’ll look at a 10,000lb trailer and feel that you can safely tow it without an issue. What they fail to tell you is that is what you can PULL. There are other numbers that you need to look at.
The most important number is cargo carrying capacity or CCC. Before you start pulling that trailer, the trailer is going to put weight on your tow vehicle, usually 10-15% of the “tongue” weight. That’s the weight the hitch will put down your tow vehicle. To find your cargo carrying capacity, look for a yellow sticker by the drivers door like this:
A sticker in a motorhome or driveable RV will look like this:
Cargo includes everything from passengers, clothes, food, beverages, toys, etc. You don’t need to factor in the driver and a full tank of fuel but if you have a full tank of water and black/grey tanks, you’ll need to account for them.
Using our example for a tow vehicle, if we have two passengers and all of their gear inside the tow vehicle, that will reduce the cargo carrying capacity by about 400lbs, leaving you will about 1400lbs of cargo capacity.
A 10,000lb trailer will put about 1,000-1,500lbs of weight on the hitch so you either have 400lbs of room left over or your trailer is overweight by 100lbs. The only way to know for sure is to go to a truck stop and weigh your self on a truck scale.
For an drivable RV, you need to pay attention to the maximum allowable tongue weight if you are towing a trailer. Most are about 500-750lbs. That means the heaviest trailer you can safely tow is about 5,000-7,500lbs.
You also need to add that weight to the cargo carrying capacity of the RV itself. If it has a cargo carrying capacity of 1,300lbs and you have a 5,000lb trailer, you can only add about 800lbs into the RV itself. Put in a full tank of water, food and clothes and you are going to maxed out pretty quickly.
Note: If you are flat towing a car, you are not adding downward weight to the hitch.
I hope this helps you plan and buy either the right trailer for your tow vehicle or tow vehicle for your trailer.