Detroit 3 Finally Adopt Common Tow Ratings Standard…Or Do They?

Have you ever wondered if 10,000 pounds of towing capacity means the same for trucks manufactured by GM, Ford, and Dodge?

http://vogeltalksrving.com/2011/08/tow-ratings-standardization-comparing-apples-to-apples (Source: tfltruck.com)
http://vogeltalksrving.com/2011/08/tow-ratings-standardization-comparing-apples-to-apples (Source: tfltruck.com)

You will soon know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

But, will you?

After a two-year delay, the Detroit 3 say they will use a common standard to rate the towing capacities of their light-duty pickups.

The standard will allow shoppers to compare accurately the towing capability of pickups. It also should reduce confusing claims from automakers, reports autonews.com.

The marketing confusion won’t end, though, because the standard applies only to light-duty pickups. For heavy-duty pickups, automakers will still rate their vehicles with their own standards.

Spokesmen for Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group confirmed last week that they will join Toyota in using a towing standard adopted by the industry in 2009 to rate 2015-model full-sized light-duty pickups. A spokesman for General Motors said it, too, will adopt the standard if its competitors do.

The standard establishes various tests for towing.

1033rv-08_+7-vital-steps-for-better-and-safer-towing+truck_scales
To tow safely, do what the pros do: Visit a certified scales to find out what your truck weighs loaded, what your trailer weighs with everything in it, and the two together weigh. With that, you can compare to the manufacturer’s published capacities and plan accordingly. (Credit: rvmagonline.com)

Under the automakers’ 2009 agreement, the standard—which is likely to reduce rated towing capacities by several hundred pounds—was to be in place for the 2013 model year. But Ford decided not to publish lower tow ratings for its 2013 F-150, spurring other automakers to follow suit.

Toyota was the only pickup maker to adopt the standard, called SAE J2807, and it did so two years early for the 2011 model year when it dropped the tow ratings for its full-sized Tundra pickup by 400 pounds.

For an earlier story that details the SAE J2807 standard, SEE Tow Ratings Standardization: Comparing Apples to Apples.

Nissan says it adopts the standard on vehicles when they are redesigned, as it did for the 2013 Pathfinder. A redesigned Titan is due in 2015.

Ford surprised competitors in 2012 when it decided not to adopt the towing standard for the 2013 model year and said it would wait for the 2015 F-150 redesign. This caused GM— which was preparing to roll out its redesigned Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra light-duties— to pull back marketing materials and even reprint owners’ manuals.

Mike Levine, a spokesman for Ford, told autonews.com that the 2015 F-150 will get a new towing rating to go with its new aluminum body.

“As a founding member of the SAE trailer towing committee, we will meet SAE trailer towing standards,” he stated.

Tom Wilkinson, a GM spokesman, said that “when the other two major manufacturers move, we will move at that time.”

Wilkinson said GM already knows how the standard will change the Silverado and Sierra’s stated towing capacities.

54467
The maximum vehicle towing capacity is… (Source: eviews.ebay.ca)

“We already validate the trucks to [the J2807 standard]. It’s just a matter of adjusting the numbers,” Wilkinson said.

A spokesman for Ram also said that it would list towing capabilities for its 2015-model pickups to comply with the standard.

In a written statement, a Toyota spokesman said the company is glad to have company in complying with the standard.

“This will be most beneficial for customers, as previous methodologies created by individual manufacturers made it difficult for customers to compare tow ratings on an apples-to-apples basis,” the statement said.

“Toyota was always a firm believer in an industry-wide standard, as evidenced by our adopting SAE J2807 back in 2011 and being the only manufacturer to adopt it until now.”

What is the bottom line for RVers in the market for a tow vehicle?

Since the adoption of a common standard to rate towing capacities only applies to light-duty (one-half ton) pickups, benefits will be limited. The majority of RVers towing a fifth-wheel trailer require a three-quarter ton or ton truck since the GVCR of a light-duty pickup is not adequate. However, it is a step in the right direction.

Worth Pondering…
The important thing is not to stop questioning.

—Albert Einstein

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Lock ‘N’ Roll Articulating Trailer Hitch Available on Sears.com

In an earlier article I reported on the introduction of the Lock ‘N’ Roll articulating trailer hitch.

Lock ‘N’ Roll trailer hitches come in over 20 possible configurations to fit almost any type of vehicle and trailer.
Lock ‘N’ Roll trailer hitches come in over 20 possible configurations to fit almost any type of vehicle and trailer.

The newly redesigned Lock ‘N’ Roll articulating trailer hitch is now available on Sears.com.

The Lock ‘N’ Roll trailer hitch is a safer, easier to use, and more versatile alternative to standard trailer hitches.

With it’s up and down, side to side articulation, and it’s 360 degrees of rotation, the new Lock ‘N’ Roll allows for towing of trailers across uneven terrain, without the hassle and limitations of a standard trailer hitch, according to a Lock ‘N’ Roll news release.

Lock ‘N’ Roll has a patented latching system that has been designed in such a way, that once the latch plates are in place, Lock ‘N’ Roll will never pop off like ball hitches do.

Unlike the ball hitch, everything is in plain view to eliminate any question of whether or not your trailer is hitched correctly. This positively secured connection keeps the driver in control so minor mishaps don’t turn into major accidents.

Lock ‘N’ Roll provides a very tight, close fitting connection that eliminates the “thunk and jerk” action of conventional hitches.

The 360 degrees of rotation, combined with the side to side, up and down articulation, eliminates twisting forces that could damage the vehicle or trailer frames.

Lock ‘N’ Roll Articulating Trailer Hitch Available on Sears.com
Lock ‘N’ Roll Articulating Trailer Hitch Available on Sears.com

With Lock ‘N’ Roll, nearly any terrain can be negotiated safely, making it easy to tow anywhere, and making it especially easy back your trailer into place.

This is a heavy duty product made of alloy steel parts and built by military contractors who trace their skills back five generations.

Lock ‘N’ Roll hitches come in over 20 different configurations to fit almost any type of vehicle and trailer.

All units conform to the requirements of SAE standard J684 and are tested by independent labs.

Details

Lock ‘N’ Roll

Lock-N-Roll-logo-290x67Lock ‘N’ Roll is a heavy duty product made of alloy steel parts.

These articulating on road, off road hitches and couplers are designed and manufactured at Greats Lake Forge in Chicago, by a family of blacksmiths who trace their skills back five generations.

Lock ‘N’ Roll trailer hitches come in over 20 possible configurations to fit almost any type of vehicle and trailer. All units conform to the requirements of SAE standard J684 and are tested by independent labs.

Lock ‘N’ Roll is a Great Lakes Forge Co., Inc. company.

Address: 2141 S. Spaulding Avenue, Chicago, IL 60623

Phone: (773) 277-2800 or (800) 399-5182 (toll free)

Website: locknroll.com

Sears, Roebuck and Co. 

sears-logoSears, Roebuck and Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of Sears Holdings Corporation, is a leading broadline retailer providing merchandise and related services and is part of Shop Your Way, a social shopping experience where members have the ability to earn Points and receive benefits across a wide variety of physical and digital formats through shopyourway.com.

Sears, Roebuck offers its wide range of home merchandise, apparel and automotive products and services through its Sears-branded and affiliated stores in the United States and Canada.

Sears, Roebuck also offers a variety of merchandise and services through sears.com, landsend.com, and specialty catalogs. Sears, Roebuck offers consumers leading proprietary brands including Kenmore, Craftsman, DieHard and Lands’ End — among the most trusted and preferred brands in the U.S.

The company is the nation’s largest provider of home services, with more than 15 million service and installation calls made annually.

Website: sears.com

Worth Pondering…

The World is but a Canvas to the Imagination.

—Henry David Thoreau

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Lock ‘N’ Roll Articulating Hitch Increases Towing Safety

According the National Highway Traffic Safety statistics there are 418 injuries, eight deaths, and more than 700 incidents of property damage caused by vehicles towing trailers, every week.

Lock n roll banner01Each year more than 20,000 people have needed medical attention for accidents involving trailers towed by passenger vehicles.

“It even costs the American economy almost $2 billion every year,” said Gregory Russell, the developer of the new Lock ‘N’ Roll latching system, in a news release.

“And it’s no surprise; the standard ball hitch that is most commonly used is difficult to attach, can pop off in than ideal conditions and can even appear secure when it’s not. It isn’t uncommon for a standard ball hitch to disconnect, en route, sending a loose trailer into traffic.”

Russell, a fifth generation blacksmith from Chicago, has been developing a solution to this deadly problem for years.

When designing the Lock ‘N’ Roll articulating trailer hitch, he utilized 360 degrees of rotation and three axis of movement, eliminating the danger caused by bumps and potholes. This allows trailers to be safely towed on uneven terrain, also making it ideal for off road adventuring, he explained.

“Lock ‘N’ Roll is made with a patented latching system that is far safer than a traditional ball hitch connection,” said Russell.

Lock ‘N’ Roll trailer hitches come in over 20 possible configurations to fit almost any type of vehicle and trailer.
Lock ‘N’ Roll trailer hitches come in over 20 possible configurations to fit almost any type of vehicle and trailer.

Once the latch plates are locked in place, Lock ‘N’ Roll will never pop off like ball hitches do. Everything is in plain view to eliminate any question of whether or not the trailer is hitched correctly.

Lock ‘N’ Roll hitches provides a very tight, close fitting connection that eliminates the “thunk and jerk” action of conventional hitches.

Nearly any terrain can be negotiated safely making this articulating hitch the ideal off road hitch, horse trailer hitch, boat hitch, RV hitch, and more.

The 360 degree rotation along with the left to right and up and down articulation allows fantastic maneuverability, especially when backing a trailer into position, making Lock ‘N’ Roll the best off road hitch, on road hitch, or wherever-you-wanna-go hitch.

The positively secured connection keeps you in control so minor mishaps on the road don’t turn into major accidents.

Not only is the Lock ‘N’ Roll a better and safer design, these trailer hitches are made using old world craftsmanship that imparts optimum strength into each, carefully manufactured hitch, according to the news release.

These are heavy duty products made of alloy steel parts and are built to withstand the uncertainties of travel, making the roads safer for everyone, he added.

Lock-N-Roll-AnimationThis is a heavy duty product made of alloy steel parts. These articulating on road, off road hitches and couplers are designed and manufactured by a family of blacksmiths who trace their skills back five generations.

Lock ‘N’ Roll trailer hitches come in over 20 possible configurations to fit almost any type of vehicle and trailer.

All units conform to the requirements of SAE standard J684 and are tested by independent labs.

Details

Lock ‘N’ Roll

Address: 2141 S. Spaulding Avenue, Chicago, IL 60623
Phone: (773) 277-2800 or (800) 399-5182 (toll free)

Website: locknroll.com

Worth Pondering…

Try a thing you haven’t done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time to figure out whether you like it or not.

—Virgil Thomson

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9 Safe Towing Tips

Whether you’re towing a fifth wheel or travel trailer, car, boat, or transporting trash to the dump, special attention to details is required.

A fifth wheel trailer camped at Alamo Lake State Park, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
A fifth wheel trailer camped at Alamo Lake State Park, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Adherence to the following nine key points will assist RVers in extending the life of the vehicle and towing safely.

The following towing tips have been adapted from those first appearing on an AMSOIL Website.

1. Weight

Ensure your net load is within the tow capacity of your vehicle. Check the owner’s manual to determine the trailer types that your vehicle can haul and the maximum load weight it is rated pull. Use the appropriate trailer hitch and ensure that it’s hitched correctly.

2. Weight Distribution

Ensure your trailer weight is evenly distributed. If you experience fishtailing or your trailer sways while accelerating, back off the fuel. If it continues when you accelerate again, stop the vehicle and recheck your load weight distribution.

3. Lights

Connect brakes and signal lights. Double check to make sure the trailer’s brakes, turn signals and tail lights are synchronized with those of the tow vehicle. Check lights daily to ensure proper functioning.

4. Tires

The tires on your vehicle are one of its most important components. (Source: hawkingevehicles.co.uk)
The tires on your vehicle are one of its most important components. (Source: hawkingevehicles.co.uk)

Ensure your tires have the recommended air pressure, sufficient tread depth, and have not aged out (NOTE: RV tires typically should be replaced due to age after six to eight years). Correct tire pressure is vital to your safety on the road. Properly inflated tires can save you up to four percent in fuel mileage, while under and over inflation can lead to premature tire failure. Ensure that you routinely check your tire pressure. Under-inflated tires affect handling and grip, potentially causing irregular or unpredictable vehicle behavior. Under-inflated tires are more likely to suffer from a dangerous blowout, especially on high-speed motorway journeys.

5. Handling

Since you’re operating a vehicle combination that’s longer and heavier than normal, ensure you make some compensating adjustments in your normal driving practices. Avoid sudden turns at highway speeds.

6. Buckle Your Seat Belt

In case your tow vehicle ends up upside down and it’s the law.

7. Stopping

It’s a matter of physics. When towing, you have more momentum than you would without a trailer. Be sure you keep in mind that it takes additional time and distance to stop. Avoid tailgating and pay attention to what’s happening further down the road than you normally would.

8. Pay Attention to Details

Some states are calling for stiffer penalties when there are accidents caused by trailers that break loose. It will be criminal negligence, not a mistake. Pay attention to the details, including hitches, safety chains, signal light hookups, handling, weight, tow vehicle capacity, and tires.

9. Use AMSOIL Synthetic Transmission Fluid and Gear Lube

Towing is one of the most demanding activities on a vehicle’s drive train system. In fact, because of the heat generated, towing is probably the number one killer of transmissions. For this reason many people install an oil cooler. An alternative is to use a high end synthetic lubricant. As a result of the reduced friction, the tranny will run cooler, and transmission life will be lengthened considerably. Tests have shown that AMSOIL synthetic automatic transmission fluid provides useful service up to twice as longer as conventional fluids.

Details

AMSOIL

AMSOIL RV products
AMSOIL RV products

From the initial breakthrough 40 years ago, AMSOIL has gone on to formulate a wide selection of synthetic lubricating oils for all types of engine and gear applications, including those for specialized vehicles and severe operating conditions.

In addition, AMSOIL has developed sophisticated fuel additives, filtration systems and other companion products that supplement and extend lubricant performance.

The history of AMSOIL product introductions defines an entire industry. AMSOIL synthetic motor oil, gear lube, automatic transmission fluid, two-cycle oil and other products helped introduce a new age in equipment and engine design.

Engineers today recognize synthetic lubricants as critical to increasing the power, longevity and energy efficiency of vehicles and equipment, providing concrete testimony to AMSOIL innovation.

Address: 925 Tower Avenue, Superior, WI 54880

Phone: (800) 956-5695 (toll free)

Website: amsoil.com

Worth Pondering…

Remember, Safety First, and Happy RVing!

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God Made a Farmer

While not as dramatic as the stadium blackout that stopped play for half an hour, or as flamboyant as Beyonce’s halftime show.

Today is day 36 of “The Year of the Farmer”
Today is day 36 of “The Year of the Farmer”

However, for this viewer of Super Bowl XLVII, a standout moment was a deceptively simple commercial by Chrysler called “God Made a Farmer.” The ad was well done, classy, refreshing, and unique.

Like most anything else, photography and blogging, is about telling a story. If you like photos, then you like stories.

The two-minute ad features gorgeous still images from 10 noted photographers including William Albert Allard, who in 1982 published his first book, “Vanishing Breed,” a photographic essay that documented “the Old American West” and Kurt Markus,  whose timeless photographs explored the rugged yet romantic spirit of the American West Cowboy.

But the ad’s true power comes from the accompanying storyline narrated by legendary radio broadcaster Paul Harvey for ABC Radio Networks, who died in 2009.

Many were moved by Harvey’s essay on the virtues of the American farmer, which he delivered to the Future Farmers of America back in 1978.

And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the field, milk cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.” So God made a farmer.

So God Made A Farmer
So God Made A Farmer

God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt and watch it die, then dry his eyes and say,’Maybe next year,’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from an ash tree, shoe a horse with hunk of car tire, who can make a harness out hay wire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. Who, during planting time and harvest season will finish his 40-hour week by Tuesday noon and then, paining from tractor back, put in another 72 hours.” So God made the farmer.

God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bales, yet gentle enough to yean lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-comb pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the leg of a meadowlark.”

It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed, and brake, and disk, and plow, and plant, and tie the fleece and strain the milk. Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft, strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh, and then sigh and then reply with smiling eyes when his son says that he wants to spend his life doing what Dad does.

“So God made a farmer.”

“God Made a Farmer” was created in partnership with The Richards Group of Dallas, Texas.

The broadcast spot can be viewed at the Ram Truck brand’s website at www.ramtrucks.com/keepplowing and on the brand’s YouTube site at www.youtube.com/ramtrucks.

“For the past two years, we have used the largest television viewing audience to highlight the pride, the resilience, and the determination that form an integral part of the American character,” said Sergio Marchionne, Chairman and CEO, Chrysler Group LLC., in a news release.

So God Made A Farmer
So God Made A Farmer

The Ram Truck brand’s “Farmer” initiative shines a spotlight on American farm families and kicks off twelve months of programs dedicated to highlighting and underscoring the importance of farmers.

The Ram Truck brand enhances its long-standing partnership with the National FFA Organization (formerly known as Future Farmers of America) with a year-long, multi-tiered initiative dedicated to highlighting and underscoring the importance of farmers in America. Together with agricultural equipment manufacturer Case IH, Farms.com and other brand partners, Ram aims to raise awareness and generate funds for FFA hunger relief efforts in local communities across America, states the release.

For every view, download or share of the two-minute “So God Made a Farmer” spot located on the brand’s website, Ram will make a donation to the National FFA Organization with the intent of generating $1 million.

Worth Pondering…

And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.

—Paul Harvey

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China Will Drive World Vehicle Production

China will remain the primary driver of global production growth over the next four years, but the U.S. will remain the No. 2 vehicle producer in the world as North America continues to play a unique role in the automotive industry, according to a WardsAuto report and news release.

wards-10-best-engines-2013-logoThe report comes from the newly released joint global light vehicle and powertrain forecast service from two sources of automotive data and analysis, WardsAuto and AutomotiveCompass. The new forecast also calls for auto makers to consolidate the number of platforms underpinning their vehicles while increasing the percentage of cars and trucks that rely on smaller engines.

The WardsAuto /AutomotiveCompass forecast, which is updated monthly for clients, projects growth in all global regions through 2018, with total vehicle output increasing 23 percent over the next six years.

The report highlights the China-led Asia-Pacific region’s increasing dominance, especially through 2016, when production in China alone will climb to a 26 million units. That’s a 7.5 million unit increase from 2012.

By comparison, production in the United States, the No. 2 vehicle producer, is projected to increase by 1.3 million by 2016, while production in the third-highest producing country, Japan, is forecast to decline by 875,000 units over the next four years, as capacity continues to shift to other locations. In that same period, India will surge ahead of South Korea and Germany to rank fourth among vehicle producing countries.

The WardsAuto/AutomotiveCompass outlook also projects that Volkswagen will lay claim to the top-produced platform in the world, by 2015, as its MQB architecture, which will spawn several small and midsize car and cross/utility vehicles, should end a three-year reign by Toyota’s MC platform that began last year, when it usurped Hyundai’s HD architecture, and is expected to continue through 2014.

Wards Auto Interiors Student Design competition
Wards Auto Interiors Student Design competition

The forecast also confirms the gradual trend of production consolidation among global platforms. In 2012, 31 platforms accounted for half of global production. In 2016, that number drops to 27.

The WardsAuto/AutomotiveCompass global powertrain forecast also shows the shift to smaller engines continuing as production of vehicles with engines of four-cylinders or less rises from 82 percent of the total in 2012 to 85 percent in 2018.

Ironically, as North America remains a bastion for larger engines, it will lead the growth of smaller engines. North American production of vehicles with engines of four cylinders or less increases from 47 percent of the region’s total in 2012 to 55 percent in 2018.

Details

WardsAuto

Wards Auto headerWardsAuto has covered the auto industry for more than 80 years, serving those within automakers, dealerships, suppliers and others serving or observing the industry with a wide range of information products.

WardsAuto Forecasts and AutomotiveCompass bring together decades of automotive expertise and production forecasting experience to create the only automotive Global Forecast informed by an international news gathering organization, covering light vehicle production and powertrain applications.

Website: wardsauto.com

Worth Pondering…

USA Today has come out with a new survey—apparently; three out of every four people make up 75 percent of the population.

—David Letterman

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Fastway Electric Jack Pack Named Best New Product

Provo, Utah-based Fastway Trailer Products, makers of the Fastway Electric Jack Pack, was voted by Truck Trend Magazine as a Top 25 Best New Product in the truck and SUV category at the 2012 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show.

Truck Trend Best New Product PR_Image_WEB (1)Fastway’s electric jack and Flip automatic jack foot make up the Jack Pack, which saves more time hitching and unhitching over other electric jack choices, according to a company news release.

Faster hitching and unhitching comes from the electric jack’s 4,000-pound lift capacity, 50-amp fuse, and a 24-inch stroke.

The electric jack is pre-drilled for convenient install of the Flip automatic jack foot, which folds up out of the way while retracting the jack.

“If you want to find a quicker, easier way to hitch and unhitch your trailer, Fastway’s Electric Jack Pack may help,” states Truck Trend Magazine.

“The Jack Pack comes with the Flip jack foot and a 2¼-inch A-frame jack. It’s available in electric, side-wind, and top-wind varieties. The Fastway Flip jack foot automatically increases the height of the jack by six inches. It drops into place when you extend the jack, and tucks up out of the way when you retract it.”

“This recognition from a major publisher of Truck and SUV Trends is a wonderful surprise,” said Progress Manufacturing CEO Jed Anderson.

“Our goal as a company has always been to make trailering tasks faster and easier and the Electric Jack Pack makes that happen.”

Progress Manufacturing Inc., the company behind the Fastway brand, is no stranger to the spotlight; its products have also been recognized as top choices by high profile entities like the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) and Popular Mechanics Magazine.

Details

Fastway Towing Products – Progress Manufacturing Inc.

Located in Provo, Utah, Progress Manufacturing is the creator of Fastway brand trailer products including the Flip jack foot, ONEstep wheel chock, Zip breakaway cable, and the e2 weight distribution hitch.

Electric Jack Pack
Electric Jack Pack

If you tow a trailer, Fastway trailer products will save you time and trouble.

The Fastway line of products is for trailer owners that want to get on to the fun or work that awaits them, instead of messing around with things on their trailer that are tedious and annoying.

Progress Manufacturing Inc. has been providing quality towing products for more than 50 years.

Address: 533 South 500 West, Provo, UT  84601

Phone: (877) 523-9103

Website: fastwaytrailer.com

Worth Pondering…

I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way.

—Franklin P. Adams

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Tow Ratings Standardization: Comparing Apples to Apples

Have you ever wondered if 10,000 pounds of towing capacity means the same for trucks manufactured by GM, Ford, and Dodge?

Towing Capacity Overkill. What could possibly go wrong here? (Credit: tacomaworld.com)

You will soon know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Automotive manufacturers agreed in 2008 to standardize tow ratings as specified in the SAE’s Surface Vehicle Recommended Practice J2807 to take effect by 2013.

The industry alliance includes Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota, and Honda, along with several leading trailer and hitch makers.

Until now, each manufacturer was free to test using proprietary conditions ideally suited to a truck’s towing strengths and decide their own maximum trailer rating. They could pretty much advertise whatever ratings they wanted since there was no “apples to apples” comparison between brands or models.

Each company designed its own test, and—surprise, surprise—their trucks always aced the tests. Imagine the EPA didn’t exist, and car companies could just make up fuel-economy figures to boost sales. Kinda like, catch me if you can—on my towing ratings!

Makers would boast about the pounds their pickups and SUVs could tow, and their exhaustive testing used to determine the towing capacity.

But when a new truck claimed a higher number, the other manufacturers would rewrite their spec sheets with increased towing capacity and, as if by magic, match or beat the new kid on the block.

The maximum vehicle towing capacity is... (Credit: eviews.ebay.ca)

And there was nothing a customer could do, short of bringing a 12,000-pound fifth wheel or travel trailer to a test drive.

Towing capacity measures the maximum weight that a vehicle can safely and legally haul. The rating is as important to many pickup and SUV buyers as fuel economy or horsepower are to minivan or sports-car shoppers, reports the Detroit Free Press.

“Before, you couldn’t say who had the best towing capacity, because you didn’t know how it was tested,” says Mike Levine, editor of Pickuptrucks.com. “This is the first time a customer can do an actual apples-to-apples comparison.”

Major makers of pickups and SUVs have agreed to a standard test to rate their vehicle’s towing capacity. By the end of the 2013 model year, most truck buyers should know—for the first time—how a vehicle performs compared to the competition.

This will allow for apples-to-apples comparisons between trucks from different manufacturers and it’s a really big deal for millions of drivers especially for RVers towing a fifth-wheel or travel trailer.

There are five engineering characteristics that strongly influence any tow vehicle’s performance:

  • Engine power and torque characteristics
  • Powertrain cooling capacity
  • Durability of the powertrain and chassis
  • Handling characteristics during cornering and braking maneuvers
  • Structural characteristics of the vehicle hitch attachment area
To tow safely, do what the pros do: Visit a certified scales to find out what your truck weighs loaded, what your trailer weighs with everything in it, and the two together weigh. With that, you can compare to the manufacturer's published capacities and plan accordingly. (Credit: rvmagonline.com)

The standard, known as J2807, spells out test procedures and performance requirements that must be met for a manufacturer to assign a maximum tow rating to a particular vehicle. While various trailer configurations are suitable for these tests, the towed unit must provide a minimum specified frontal area starting with 12 square feet for a TWR (Trailer Weight Rating) below 1500 pounds, ranging to 60 square feet for a TWR exceeding 12,000 pounds. There are also specifications for how the trailer’s load is distributed on its axle(s) and how the attachment tongue is configured.

One major change from past practice is what the SAE committee defines as TVTW (Tow Vehicle Trailering Weight). Unlike the past, a driver, a passenger, optional equipment purchased by at least one third of the customer base, and hitch equipment are now included in this calculation along with the base weight of the tow vehicle. Raising the TVTW figure automatically lowers the maximum permissible GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating) and TWR figures.

With the demanding test, automakers expect their tow ratings to decrease by anything from a few hundred to more than a thousand pounds. They’re willing to take the hit, because it’s in their interest as well as the customers’ to have credible towing figures.

Toyota was the first to use the standard. It already applied it to the Tundra. The Tundra’s claimed towing capacity decreased, but its credibility grew.

Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford and GMC full-size pickups are expected to adopt the test during the 2013 model year, which begins January 1, 2012. Nissan will use the standard someday, but won’t say when or on which vehicles.

Every truck tested to the standard can say its towing capacity is SAE rated. That’s the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval when it comes to vehicle performance. The SAE is the leading independent body for vehicle standards and tests.

The towing standard is not mandatory. No manufacturer has to use it. If they don’t, though, the figures they claim for towing capacity will be less credible and more open to challenge than their competitors.

Worth Pondering…
The important thing is not to stop questioning.

—Albert Einstein

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