What is the 80/20 rule for towing?

The basic different rules are followed in our daily life to achieve proportional balance in all the day-to-day activities we perform for proper functioning. Likewise, if you own a truck and are a frequent traveler or tow trailers more often then you should be aware of this simple rule.

In order to protect the important components of your vehicle, towing at 80% max capacity is a good rule to follow. It’s also just safer to drive under maximum capacity.

You may wonder What is the 80/20 rule for towing? The answer is way easier and less complicated 80/20 towing rule is a safety measure many trailer owners follow to protect the life of their vehicle by not forcing it to the max every time they tow their trailer.

In this article, we will help you understand this fundamental rule in an easy way so that next time you may adopt it while towing RVs.

What is the 80% towing rule?

The basic rule is that you shouldn’t tow above 80% of your max towing capacity. The vehicle manufacturer might have made an advertisement, where the car has max towing capacity with different upgrades and you are following the same without going through your owner’s manual. This simple mistake creates an error in calculations which may result in causing vehicle stress and putting more wear and tear on it.

For safe towing, it is advised that a beginner should keep the fully laden weight of the caravan no heavier than 80% of the curb weight of the tow car. It’s also just secure to drive under maximum capacity.

The “80/20 Rule for Towing” is that you should never exceed 80 percent of your vehicle’s max tow capacity, which is set by the vehicles manufacturer.

What percentage of your towing capacity should you use?

You can find the listed towing capacity of your vehicle as stated in your owner’s manual. Also, remember What is the 80/20 rule for towing? Subtract 20% of the max towing capacity of the vehicle as well as your RV weight for a safety margin. Most vehicle tow ratings were calculated without passengers, fuel, and cargo, in that scenario subtracting 20% from the maximum tow rating is the easy way to calculate the tow ratings as well as minimize the risk factor for exceeding numbers.

Can you go over your towing capacity?

The maximum tow capacity of a vehicle is the maximum amount of weight that a particular vehicle can tow reliably and safely, as set by the vehicle’s manufacturer. The max towing capacity is determined, by calculating the vehicle’s gross weight rating, gross combined weight rating, and gross axle weight rating as well as the vehicle’s suspension, engine type, transmission, and brakes.  

When you are max towing capacity should not be taken lightly. Surpassing what your vehicle is designed to tow can weaken your engine and transmission, accelerate brake wear, damage your tires and even bend your chassis. This could in turn trigger disastrous failure while driving and could lead to serious damage or injury.

How do you know if you’re towing too much?

To find your truck’s towing capacity, subtract your truck’s curb weight from its Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating (GCVWR). The GCVWR is the maximum weight of your loaded truck and the weight of its attached trailer.

First, look at your vehicle’s placard for a statement that reads “The combined weight of occupants and cargo should never exceed XXX lbs.” Then, determine the weight of the driver and any passengers that will be riding while you tow.

The best way to find your vehicle’s max towing capacity is to call a dealership. You can give them your VIN. Or there are manuals released by the manufacturers that detail the towing capacities of their models. These manuals have charts where you can find the maximum towing capacity based on your specific vehicle models.

It’s important to know the specifications of your vehicle to know the bed length, axle ratio, engine, and wheelbase to accurately identify your max towing capacity.

Important things to look at for the 80/20 rule

  • First of all, check the owner’s manual or contact your dealership to find out how much weight your vehicle can pull.
  • Payload capacity is how much weight your vehicle can haul.
  • The GVWR is listed in kilograms and pounds on the passenger side of a trailer. This sticker, usually with a yellow strip at the top, will be towards the front of the trailer.
Explore more: 
Does towing capacity include the weight of the truck?
How to increase the towing capacity of a vehicle?
Does Towing Shorten the Life of a vehicle?


So if the vehicle manufacturer says that you can tow up to a certain maximum amount, which is what the max tow capacity is, why not tow right up to that amount? for safe driving. In some cases vehicle manufacturers set the max towing capacity for their vehicles, they often set those limitations under idle conditions. This doesn’t make it practical in real-world driving conditions that can restrain the vehicle’s towing capacity.  

Towing puts a lot of stress on your truck. Manufacturers will suggest that you should never exceed your car or truck’s towing capacity. We would add that, for safety reasons, it’s best to come within 80% of that total weight.

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Aaron Bennett is an accomplished author and a true aficionado when it comes to pickup trucks. With an unwavering passion for all things automotive, Aaron has dedicated his life to exploring the world of pickups and sharing his expertise with others. As the proud owner of several powerful machines, he has spent countless hours behind the wheel, navigating rugged terrains and conquering highways with unrivaled enthusiasm.

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