Towing anything with a truck, whether it is a pop-up camper, horse trailer, or fifth wheel, can get confusing very quickly. So what if Ford, Chevrolet, and Ram, all got together and came up with a set of industry-wide guidelines for towing ratings? Wait, they already did? Then what’s the hold up?
As Pickuptrucks.com reports, Ford, along with Chevy and Ram, had deliberated on how to implement uniform towing standards to be used by each automaker. Yet, for some unknown reason, only Ford has gone ahead with the plan. Chevy, instead, recently released new towing ratings for its 2013 Silverado light- and heavy-duty trucks but rescinded it soon after. Ram has been non-committal about using the J2807 towing ratings all together. Other automakers with truck lineups haven’t expressed any plans to commit its truck offerings to the J2807 towing ratings anytime soon.
The J2807 towing ratings are a Society of Automotive Engineers standard for determining a tow vehicle’s gross combination weight rating and a trailer weight rating. Unless you tow things for a living, those two aforementioned terms may look like a foreign language. These terms also hold little water for the marketing and advertising people, who have trouble making their audience grasp these numbers. So, to clarify, a vehicle’s gross combination weight rating is the maximum amount of weight a vehicle can tow. That figures includes cargo, a trailer, passengers, and the vehicle’s actual weight itself. Once a potential buyer finds this figure, the next set of factors to be concerned with is the transmission, axles, and tires capacity to carry the added weight.
A trailer weight rating, on the other hand, includes the total weight of the trailer which has been loaded to capacity (yes, trailers have its own weight rating, too, so be sure to check what it is before loading it up) and also includes fluids and other cargo needed for the trip’s activities. The weight of a trailer is normally measured where it hooks up to the tow vehicle, and it’s recommended to only be 10 to 15 percent of the trailer’s total weight. A trailer’s weight is differentiated into four separate weight classes: Class I (up to 2,000 pounds), Class II (up to 3,500 pounds), Class III (up to 5,000 pounds), and Class IV (up to 10,000 pounds).
Most people think they can back up whatever they’re driving and pull anything, and have trouble wrapping their minds around, for example, the diminutive Smart ForTwo being unable to tow anything whatsoever. (In a former life, while working at an RV dealership, someone called and asked if their ForTwo could be outfitted with a hitch. I just hung up on them.) So why can’t Ford, Chevy, and Ram just agree upon universal towing standards? Yes, we get that every truck claims it can pull a bunch of horse trailers or when outfitted correctly — or even the the Empire State building — but the automakers are forgetting who they serve-the consumer. Toyota has gone ahead and quietly implemented the J2807 towing ratings and while it saw a significant drop in its Tundra’s towing capabilities, it did so knowing the customer would have a better understanding of what their new truck can haul.
So, what’s worse? Saying your brand’s truck can haul sixteen more unicorns (which allegedly weight 2,000 pounds apiece) than the competition? Or reducing the truck’s towing capacity to be in compliance with these new standards? A customer may actually understand their new truck’s towing capacity and then be a loyal consumer of the brand for life.
Automotive.com’s take: While we understand every truck brand wants to be the strongest and toughest and be able to pull the most weight, isn’t the goal to sell the most trucks and give the customer the best experience possible? Why not start by offering a solid truck that clearly states its towing capabilities? That way, people will keep coming back for more.