Does Payload affect towing capacity?

While purchasing a pickup truck, or powerful SUV, you might have heard about Payload and towing capacity. Light-duty and heavy-duty pickup trucks are built to offer exceptional performance including towing capacity.

When it comes to towing, payload capacity, and towing capacity are the commonly used terms. So, what is Payload Capacity? Does Payload affect towing capacity? There are various other misconceptions about payload. That’s why we have prepared this detailed article to clarify the difference between payload and towing capacity.

What does Payload Capacity mean?

People get confused about whether the payload is the amount of weight in the vehicle’s bed. Payload is the total amount of weight in the bed and the cabin combined. So, payload capacity means the amount of weight your vehicle can carry.

In other words, a vehicle’s payload capacity defines the maximum amount of weight it can carry safely, and securely. The Payload capacity of pickup trucks includes the total weight in the cabin, and bed whereas the payload capacity of SUVs, and Cars includes all of the weight in the cabin and trunk.

When you are towing a trailer with your vehicle, the payload capacity includes weight in the cabin, and bed as well as the tongue weight (weight of the trailer pushing down on the trailer hitch).

How important is Payload Capacity?

As discussed above, Payload Capacity refers to the total weight your vehicle can carry. If you exceed the maximum capacity, it may be unsafe, and result in a possible accident. Besides, you could also violate the transportation law.

For instance, if you carry more weight than the mentioned payload capacity, your vehicle could struggle to accelerate, braking distance may increase, and can slide in turns. All these harmful events cause accidents and also void the warranty of your vehicle.

Exceeding Payload Capacity, and overloading also degrades the component of your vehicle.

  • Engine and Transmission Systems struggle.
  • More stress is developed on the frame, suspension, and tires.
  • Possible wear on different components.

Does Payload affect towing capacity?

Before knowing whether the Payload affects towing capacity or not, we need to understand the difference between these two terms. People sometimes get confused between Payload Capacity and Towing Capacity.

Payload and Towing Capacity are different from each other. Payload Capacity is the total amount of weight your vehicle can carry whereas Towing Capacity refers to the total weight your vehicle can pull.

Talking about the numbers, the Towing Capacity is always greater than the Payload Capacity because your vehicle can pull more weight in a trailer than carrying on its own. For example, the towing capacity of the 2022 Ford F-150 Pickup truck is 14,000 lbs whereas the payload capacity is 3,325 lbs.

Payload capacity can affect the towing capacity of your vehicle if you exceed the maximum rated capacity. Let’s take an example of the 2022 RAM 1500 Pickup truck.

The 2022 RAM 1500 offers a maximum towing capacity of up to 12,750 lbs when powered by an available 5.7L HEMI V8 engine with eTorque. The maximum rated payload capacity is 2,300 lbs.

If your weight is 130 lbs, and there are other passengers on your RAM 1500 with a total weight of 480 lbs, the total weight in the cabin is 610 lbs. Likewise, if you carry 1,000 lbs of cargo on the bed of your truck, the total amount of weight in the cabin, and bed will be 1,610 lbs. So, you will be left with only 690 lbs of payload capacity.

When you want your RAM 1500 to tow up to 12,750 lbs it will put almost 10% of the towing weight (1,275 lbs) on the trailer hitch which is known as tongue weight. The payload capacity includes all the weight in the cabin, the vehicle’s bed, and the tongue weight. You are only left with 690 lbs but require 1,275 lbs of the tongue weight to tow a trailer.

In this situation, you will overload your RAM 1500 with the exceeded payload capacity which may harm the vehicle. You have to either decrease payload capacity or towing capacity to safely tow your trailer.


Payload Capacity and Towing Capacity are two different terminologies. The key difference between these two is that the Payload Capacity refers to the maximum weight your vehicle can carry whereas Towing Capacity represents the maximum weight your vehicle can pull.

In a nutshell, Payload can affect towing capacity, and performance if the maximum number is exceeded.

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Stellan Carter is an accomplished writer, entrepreneur, and avid Ford Raptor owner. As a co-founder and content contributor for this renowned blog website, Stellan brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the automotive industry. When he's not behind the wheel of his beloved Ford Raptor, Stellan can be found exploring new terrains, capturing the essence of his automotive adventures through his camera lens.

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