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Finally a Towing Standard on the Horizon!

November 2, 2010 by Mark Polk · 19 Comments  
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What is J2807 and why is it important? If you haven’t heard, SAE J2807 is a standard that will be used to determine the trailer weight rating of all tow vehicles.

I don’t always agree with mandated standards,  government or otherwise, but there is one standard looming out there that I am highly in favor of.

That standard is called “Performance Requirements for Determining Tow Vehicle Gross Combination Weight Ratings and Trailer Weight Ratings,” or in shorter terms Society of Engineers (SAE) standard J2807.

I do have to applaud manufacturers for getting behind and supporting a standard for measuring tow ratings for vehicles.

I have always had a problem with vehicle manufacturer published tow ratings, and even more so in the truck wars of recent years. When a ½ truck is rated to tow more than its bigger ¾ ton brothers I start to see red flags popping up everywhere. To bring you up to speed on this topic take a minute to read my first article titled “let’s Talk 1/2 Ton Trucks” that I wrote in 2007, and my follow-up article “2010 Let’s Talk 1/2 ton Trucks” which I wrote a couple of years later.

In my humble opinion the towing truck wars have always been based on bragging rights. My truck can tow more than your truck. And in reality the method for determining those bragging rights was left up to the guy who was doing the bragging.

The reason for some of these unrealistic tow capacities, at least the way I see it, was until now vehicle manufacturers had free reign to test and determine a vehicles tow capacity based on its own criteria. If somebody tells you to perform your own testing and publish the results the tendency is to test in a direction favorable to the design of the said vehicle you are testing. Therefore “my truck can tow more than your truck!”

On the other hand if you test against a specific standard you get results based on that standard, not just on some of the design elements built into the product being tested. In other words you get actual results and there is no bully on the block boasting I can tow more than you can. Now we know the real deal and the consumer wins in the end because you have a standard to compare and measure vehicles against.

This new standard will measure a vehicles towing performance based on several criteria using a standard test trailer. These criteria are:

1)      Maintaining speed on a specified grade

2)      Timed acceleration on level terrain

3)      Timed acceleration up a 12% grade

4)      Response to trailer sway

5)      Braking characteristics at Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCW)

6)      Hitch receiver structure and strength

To give you an example of what occurs when you apply these new standards Toyota put its 2011 Tundra through the paces. The results were towing capacities dropping 400lbs, 500lbs and 1,100lbs for various models of the Tundra, over previously published capacities.

I think it is notable for Toyota to step up to the plate and certify the Tundra against the new standards. It looks as though all of the other manufacturers are going to follow suit for model year 2013, including Chrysler, GM, Ford and Honda, and many trailer and hitch manufacturers as well.

It will be interesting to see what happens to tow capacities when J2807 is implemented across the board. I would venture to say that many other ½ ton tow ratings and Gross Combined Weight Ratings (GCWR) will be lowered, but hey we’ll just have to wait and see.

This J2807standard may not answer all of the questions we have or provide all of the information we want, but it’s long overdue that a standard be established for something as important as determining tow ratings.

Now maybe the consumer will have some reliable information to base a decision on when deciding which vehicle can safely tow the load! It sure beats the “my truck can tow more than your truck” mentality.

Happy Camping,

Mark Polk

RV Education 101

RV University

Be sure to check out our online RV training programs at www.goforthervgold.com and www.rvorientation.com

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Comments

19 Responses to “Finally a Towing Standard on the Horizon!”

  1. Dave Henley on November 2nd, 2010 12:06 pm

    These standards will be a stepping stone into making everyone a little less confused, but don’t think by any means it’s the glorious solution to all things towed. People will still have to drive the rig, and unless factors like suspension style, drive wheel placement, and various weight distribution systems are clearly considered in the ratings you will still have a guessing game.
    My Jeep is rated at 2K, but does a better job towing 10K than a neighbors 12K rated truck (no, I’m not dumb enough to tow it on the highway like that). The difference? My rig has dual cam stabilization. With them installed at the right pressure he has negative clearance due to suspension differences, while I have lots of room to spare. A standard is a guideline that everyone agrees to adhere to, but it’s not a factual baseline to what is right and wrong.

  2. Serge Cossette on November 2nd, 2010 1:38 pm

    Hi! Dave I have a real difficulty whith your argument. Will you be so kind to explain how the dual cam increases the rating of the tow-vehicule.
    Serge.

  3. John Adams on November 2nd, 2010 4:36 pm

    What they appear to leave out is “rear axle rating”.
    Many 3/4 ton truck rear axles are overloaded when towing a large fifth wheel.
    Only if the unit is weighed will this show up. It is hard to find out any type of accurate king pin weight from the trailer manufacturers. I weighed a 29′, single slide, 5′er and was within 150 pounds of the maximum rear axle weight for a Ford F-250. I was within spec’s for total weight. Several long time RV’ers believe that most 5′ers require a 1 ton truck to keep from overloading the rear axle.

  4. Thomas Becher on November 2nd, 2010 4:59 pm

    Great news. When does it start? Just got a new silverado that gives me 800# more gvwr, but the tow wars say I can pull 100# more than a Ford. When are they going to tell you up front and on print that the truck weighs —–# wet. They don’t tell you that little detail now, just what the front and rear axles can carry. would be nice to have a starting point, and the truck could be weighed as it came off the line and the sticker be applied at the very last step

  5. George on November 2nd, 2010 5:18 pm

    I’ve towed RVs for 20+ years and there was never a hill I couldn’t pass a tractor-trailer unit. Maybe they need to be regulated too to keep everyone moving at a “normal” pace. Right now I have a 37′ Keystone and I would not consider towing it with anything but my 1 ton dually simply from a safety standpoint. My pin weight in 1950 lbs.

  6. Eldon on November 3rd, 2010 11:22 am

    This sounds good but you mention only 1/2 ton trucks. Are these standards to apply to 3/4 and 1 ton trucks also? I feel that this is where most of us pulling RVs would be most affected.

  7. Ian McKee on November 3rd, 2010 3:07 pm

    I wish everyone would get into the habit of referring to the trucks by the current nomenclature across the make lines,i.e., 150, 250, 350 and so on, adding a zero for GM and Dodge vehicles.
    Newer people on the road don’t necessarily relate the so-called tonnage to the current designations.

  8. Fred Brandeberry, SR on November 5th, 2010 8:00 pm

    Hi Guys & Gals:
    Great article – many persons do not do their homework and check with anyone to see if their trailer can be pulled adequately.

    This is a complicated issue, many sales persons do not have good info, or want too.

    Keep up the good work,

    Fred b.

  9. Thomas W. Pittman on November 9th, 2010 12:09 pm

    for many years–i was in the auto & truck business & when i knew a salesman was selling a truck to pull a RV i awlays reviewed the purchase to be sure it would do the job–the problems came not so much from the sale staff but from the buyers who would try to buy cheap & save money in the most stupid manners–it the truck or auto would not do the job i would not approve the purchase–i would send them to another dealer because i didn’t need the troubles–often time there would be a law suit over misuse causing a hazard–now way Jose–not the thing to do–
    i have been a RV’er for over 50 yrs & know a little about the subject–\
    Thomas Pittman
    Lillian, Al

  10. hoppe on November 10th, 2010 9:20 am

    The need for a ’standard’ is blatant. It seems to go hand in hand with the collapse of the economy. ‘Truth in Advertising’ seems to have disappeared and been replaced with greed of mankind. So like it or not, it is just one of the things that requires Regulation whether by private consortium, or government? It does seem unfortunate that we have come to the point. Reference Corporate Exec’s who ‘earn’ employee retention bonuses the same year that the Corp is in bankruptcy??? We used to fire people for ruining a company, I thought?

    If it rides like a car, it probably won’t tow like a truck. Unless of course you add air ride and suspension to a real truck.

  11. Jim Whittaker on November 10th, 2010 3:26 pm

    i will have to agree with Eldon. Most RVers pull with a 3/4 ton or One ton. Having some standards have to be set. All too often I will see a 1/2 or 3/4 pulling a 35 or 36 foot 5th wheel that weighs well over 14K. Living near Talladega I usually see half ton trucks pulling these monsters. I run a 1 ton dually and watch my weight constantly by pulling across the scales whenever I get the chance.
    Of course some will ignore standards and I guess that’s their right.

  12. Steve on November 14th, 2010 12:45 pm

    Standardized tow ratings would be nice for those buyer experienced enough to be towing trailers. Unfortunately, the “my truck can tow more than your truck” mentality will still win out because it will be replaced with the “my truck has been modded to tow more than your truck” mentality.

    Also, manufacturers tow ratings are irrelevant as long as there are some states and provinces that allow you to register your truck to tow whatever weight you want to pay for (as long as you don’t exceed axle and tire weights).

    It would be nice to see these standards expanded to include other vehicle types besides trucks as well. Maybe they can help to overcome the north American phobia of towing a trailer with something other than a full size truck.

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  14. Auth on August 21st, 2012 8:20 am

    If a one-ton, you will need a brake actuator for the traeilr, otherwise it will overpower the trucks’ brakes. I would rather a Ford F-450 or F-550, also with brake actuator. Difference is, the suspension will handle the load WAY better than the one-ton. If you go with a GM brand, then it would be the GMC Kodiak 4500 or 5500 series.

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  19. Dave Gray on September 28th, 2012 11:27 pm

    It certainly appears to me that automotive companies are duping buyers with their so called “improved” vehicle brochures and web sites. They have done nothing more than create situations that could lead the buyer into thinking they can tow any trailer that weighs less than the listed maximum towing capacity. Many are no longer publishing the various certification ratings that are vitally important in choosing the right tow vehicle. In my experience, I have yet to talk to an automotive sales person who knew anything about axle ratings in conjunction with towing capacities. My impression is that automotive companies have no idea their published information may fail to reveal that some vehicles’ rear axle ratings will be exceeded by the pin or tongue weight of some trailers. I really don’t fault the salesperson for this error. The sales people know only what they have been taught.

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