Hitting the open road in a Class C motorhome is a dream for many RV enthusiasts. But know your rig’s towing limit before you hitch up. Exceed it, and you risk danger and damage.
Top Class C RVs can tow up to 30,000 pounds. But most tow less:
- Ford E350 Class C RVs can tow 5,000 pounds.
- Ford E450 Class C RVs can tow up to 5,000 pounds.
- Ford F550 Class C RVs can haul 10,000 pounds.
Check your RV’s details. Towing varies. For safe towing, stay under 80% of max.
We’ll look closely at Class C RVs and what they can tow. We’ll give you key info to help you choose well. This will help ensure an exciting and calm trip.
- How Do You Determine the Towing Capacity of a Class C Motorhome?
- How Do You Increase Towing Capacity?
- The Difference Between a Tow Bar and Dolly Towing
- What is the Best Car to Tow Behind a Class C Motorhome?
- Can a Class C Motorhome Pull a Trailer?
- Can You Tow an Automatic Car Behind a Class C Motorhome?
- How Long of a Trailer Can I Tow Behind a Class C Motorhome?
- What Does Max Towing Capacity Mean?
- Can You Tow a Tesla Behind a Motorhome?
- Is Gas or Diesel Better For Towing?
How Do You Determine the Towing Capacity of a Class C Motorhome?
- Occupant and Cargo Carrying Capacity (OCCC) – Maximum allowable weight for all occupants (including the driver) Plus the weight of all food, tools, water tanks, gas tanks, and personal belongings.
- Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)– Maximum operating weight/mass of the vehicle as specified by the manufacturer.
- Max Hitch Weight – the amount of weight the hitch can tow.
- Trailer Tongue Weight – the weight that is placed on the hitch ball of the RV.
- Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) – Total weight of the vehicle, people, and items inside of the vehicle.
How To Calculate the Towing Capacity of Your Class C RV? 5 Steps
Determining the exact towing capacity of your specific Class C motorhome is important for safe, legal towing. Follow this step-by-step guide to accurately calculate your vehicle’s maximum allowable towing weight.
Step 1: Find Your RV’s GVWR
The GVWR is usually found on a sticker inside the driver’s side door jamb or the chassis frame.
The GVWR takes into account the vehicle’s weight plus maximum payload including passengers, fuel, cargo, and liquids like fresh water and propane.
Locate and note your RV’s GVWR.
Step 2: Identify Your GCWR
The GCWR can also be found printed on the door jamb sticker or chassis.
The GCWR is the total weight rating set by the manufacturer for your RV and any towed load together. It’s essential to know this number.
Find and note your GCWR.
Step 3: Weigh Your Fully Loaded Motorhome
Load your Class C RV just as you would for travel, with passengers, gear, fresh water, propane, food, supplies, etc. Then take your fully loaded RV to a public truck scale or weigh station and weigh the entire vehicle.
This provides your accurate real-world loaded vehicle weight rather than using estimated averages. Write down the gross vehicle weight (GVW) of your loaded RV.
Weighed GVW of loaded RV.
Step 4: Subtract Loaded Weight from GCWR
Now take your loaded RV weight from Step 3 and subtract it from your GCWR number identified in Step 2.
GCWR – GVW of Loaded RV = Maximum Towing Capacity
The result of this subtraction is your maximum available towing capacity for this particular load and trip. As long as your towed trailer or vehicle weight remains under this calculated number, you are safely within your RV’s towing limits.
Step 5: Factor in Tongue Weight
The tongue weight of your towed trailer or vehicle also counts toward your combined GCWR. On average, the tongue weight is 10-15% of the total weight of the towed load. Make sure to factor this in so you stay within compliance.
- 3,500 lb towed vehicle
- Tongue weight ~12% = 420 lbs
- So max towing capacity is reduced by 420 lbs
Final real-world towing capacity.
Follow This Each Time You Tow.
Perform these calculations whenever you plan to tow a different trailer or vehicle behind your Class C motorhome. Component weights, passenger loads, and gear can significantly change your RV’s load and towing capacity. Following this process ensures you stay within your motorhome’s safe design limits.
This helps protect you, your passengers, and other motorists as you enjoy your travels.
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How Do You Increase Towing Capacity?
To increase your towing capacity of a Class C RV you can contract a programmer to reconfigure the mechanics for a lighter vehicle. You can also upgrade for a larger radiator to reduce extra heat.
Upgrading the suspension or replacing the axles for stronger ones are solid options for pulling more weight as well. Additionally, adding a stronger hitch can add up to 5,000 more pounds of hauling, while upgrading the brake pads and rotors for a higher quality reduces the pressure of stopping, and increases the towing capacity.
Adding dual exhaust will help the engine breathe better, thus increases its towing capacity as well.
Is Increasing My Motorhome’s Towing Capacity Illegal?
Many Class C motorhome owners wonder if boosting their RV’s factory-set towing capacity is allowed. Can you legally increase towing ability above the motorhome manufacturer’s limit?
What the Law Says
In the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sets motor vehicle standards, including towing capacities.
By law, manufacturers cannot advise or allow exceeding a vehicle’s set towing ratings.
Modifying your motorhome to increase towing capacity above the manufacturer’s maximum is considered illegal.
Tow capacity limits exist for important safety reasons. Exceeding them can result in:
- Fines – Police may cite you for an illegal modification and overloaded towing capacity.
- License revocation – In some cases, violating towing laws can cause your driver’s license to be suspended.
- Voided warranty – Altering your RV against manufacturer policies voids the remaining factory warranty coverage.
- Unsafe handling – Towing too much weight can seriously compromise vehicle stability, steering, and stopping ability.
Maintain Your RV Properly
The best way to maximize your motorhome’s factory tow rating is to maintain it in excellent condition.
- Keep tire pressure optimal
- Follow maintenance schedules
- Check and replace worn parts
This allows your Class C RV to safely tow as much as it was designed to.
Increasing towing capacity above your motorhome’s set limits violates federal law and poses serious risks. Stick to the manufacturer’s rating for safe, legal towing.
Is Increasing My Motorhome’s Towing Capacity Dangerous?
Many Class C RV owners wonder – is exceeding my motorhome’s factory tow rating by a little bit really that dangerous?
Loss of Control
Tow ratings exist to prevent dangerous handling issues. Exceeding capacity by even a few hundred pounds can result in:
- Poor acceleration – Increased strain on engine and transmission
- Longer stopping distance – Overwhelms brakes
- Degraded steering – Makes RV hard to control
This loss of power and control becomes exponentially worse in mountainous areas or inclement weather.
The chassis, suspension, tow hitch, and other systems are engineered to handle a maximum load. Towing too much weight stresses components beyond their design limits, leading to:
- Broken suspension – Overloads shocks and springs
- Damaged frame – Can bend or crack chassis
- Detached trailer – Overwhelms hitch causing disconnection
Equipment failures like these while driving can have deadly consequences.
Towing heavy loads greatly increases the strain on tires. Excessive weight leads to:
- Excessive heat buildup
- Sidewall stress
- Rapid tread wear
These factors significantly raise the chances of a blowout or sudden flat. Blowouts are extremely hazardous incidents at highway speeds.
Most insurance policies state vehicles cannot be operated contrary to law or manufacturer specifications. Exceeding your RV’s tow rating may void coverage in the event of an accident.
The additional risk is simply not worth the small potential reward. For safe travel, always stay within your motorhome’s factory towing capacity.
The Difference Between a Tow Bar and Dolly Towing
What is a Tow Bar?
A tow bar is a device used to connect a towed vehicle to a towing vehicle. The tow bar attaches to the chassis of the towed vehicle. This allows pulling it behind the motorhome. Tow bars are commonly used for flat towing smaller vehicles like cars and trucks.
Tow bars provide a solid, secure connection for towing small to midsize vehicles behind a motorhome. Tow bars allow stable, safe flat towing if set up and used right.
What is a Tow Dolly?
A tow dolly is a trailer designed to transport a vehicle behind a motorhome without driving the towed vehicle. The front or rear wheels of the towed vehicle rest on the dolly, while the other set of wheels rolls freely on the road.
Tow dollies provide a more affordable way to tow lighter cars and trucks behind a Class C motorhome. Tow dollies allow certain vehicles to be transported fairly easily. They are not as convenient as full towing.
While both allow towing, there are some key differences between these two methods.
|How They Work
|Attach directly to the chassis of the towed vehicle
Lift all four wheels off the ground
The vehicle is pulled fully behind the motorhome
|Tow dolly attached to motorhome hitch
Front or rear wheels resting on a dolly
Other set of wheels roll freely behind
|Must be 4-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive
Transmission must be manual or have a neutral gear
Towing puts miles on the odometer
|Can tow front- or all-wheel drive vehicles
Transmission type doesn't matter
Odometer remains unaffected
|Ease of Use
|Fully maneuverable just like towing a trailer
Easy to hook up and disconnect
Better forward visibility
|ore difficult to reverse and maneuver
The loading and unloading process takes longer
Block rearward visibility
|Maintenance and Wear
|The entire drivetrain rested, reducing wear
No mileage put on towed vehicle
|Steering and suspension engaged, causing wear
The towed vehicle's wheels and tires still rolling
|More expensive initial cost
Ongoing maintenance costs low
|Cheaper upfront cost
Higher cost over time with wear on the vehicle
Tow bars provide the convenience of fully towing a vehicle, while tow dollies offer a more affordable solution for limited towing. When choosing between tow bars or tow dollies, consider your vehicle, needs, and budget.
What is the Best Car to Tow Behind a Class C Motorhome?
The best cars to tow behind a Class C motorhome are the vehicles that come factory-ready to be driven across the country. Although, one model can be different from the previous year model, so it’s best to read the manufacturer’s label.
Additionally, you’ll want to take a look at the full weight of the vehicle itself to ensure that it doesn’t exceed the total towing capacity.
Some of the best cars to tow include:
- Chevrolet Colorado
- Ram 1500
- Jeep Wrangler
- Ford F-150
- Chevrolet Spark
These cars come with a hitch, which makes them ready for towing. Other vehicles around the same weight with a hitch may also be towed by a Class C motorhome.
Can a Class C Motorhome Pull a Trailer?
A Class C motorhome can typically pull up to as much as a Class A, which can pull heavy-duty trucks and items. A Class C motorhome can pull up upwards to 10,000 pounds in full. The weight capacity of the tongue and hitch is the main focus on hauling a trailer, so it needs to be strong enough to handle the full weight of a trailer.
With the right size hitch and tongue on the Class C motorhome, it should have enough strength and power to haul and tow a small-to-midsize trailer behind it.
Can You Tow an Automatic Car Behind a Class C Motorhome?
Vehicles with automatic transmission can be towed behind a Class C motorhome, either by itself or on a flat-tow. If the vehicle is well equipped with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, or has the ability to be towed in neutral, then it has the ability to be towed by a motorhome.
Also, the weight of an automatic car is typically smaller than the towing capacity -usually between 2,000 and 5,000 pounds-, therefore making it a safe and fairly easy method of hauling an automatic car behind a Class C motorhome.
How Long of a Trailer Can I Tow Behind a Class C Motorhome?
Like other recreational vehicles above a class B, a heavy-duty trailer can be towed by a Class C motorhome, and the weight and length of the motorhome is a major factor of whether it can be towed properly.
Depending on the hitch strength, along with the power of the brake pads and the exhaust system, a Class C motorhome has the ability to tow a trailer with a length of up to 40 feet long.
The width of the trailer can range between 8 and 10 feet, excluding the safety equipment, and the height can be up to 13 feet.
What Does Max Towing Capacity Mean?
Max towing capacity refers to the most weight that the motorhome is capable of pulling while towing another vehicle behind it.
It includes the dimensions of the vehicle including the height, weight, length, and gross vehicle weight. Unbraked towing capacity is part of the max towing, and refers to the capacity of a vehicle that is towing a trailer without its own individual braking system.
With this system, the max towing capacity is usually a little lower since it’s sharing a braking system. If the vehicle has its own braking system, then max towing capacity is increased due to the fact that it’s more secure behind the recreational vehicle.
Can You Tow a Tesla Behind a Motorhome?
The only way to tow a Tesla behind a motorhome is on a trailer; and the Tesla mbut be placed into towing mode while on the trailer. Towing a Tesla behind a motorhome can be a challenge because of the way that the car is built.
A Tesla actually cannot be flat-towed behind a motorhome, nor can it be hauled with a dolley and two wheels on the ground because it could ruin the internal mechanics of the car.
According to the manufacturers of Tesla, towing their vehicle in any way that isn’t on a trailer will automatically void the warranties that are placed on it, even if the car is not damaged.
Considering that Tesla is a brand electric car, the electric propulsion power is a significant factor associated with it being hauled by a larger recreational vehicle.
Is Gas or Diesel Better For Towing?
When it comes to recreational Class C vehicles and their towing capacity, the type of fuel that is used is a major deal because it will determine how far and long you can travel while hauling another vehicle.
Gas has an advantage because it tends to be more affordable and cleaner for the engine in the long run. Additionally, since it’s more affordable, it can be much more accessible than diesel.
However, diesel engines tend to have better gas mileage, typically last longer than the usual RV, and gives the machine more power to tow more weight. Diesel engines also have a lot of low-end torque and have the ability to haul heavy loads of quality grades with more ease and efficiency.
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