how to increase towing capacity

How to Increase Towing Capacity on a Vehicle

Chris Coleman

Every vehicle has a specific towing capacity. Suppose you have bought an RV that combined with the cargo weight exceeds the towing limit. What shall you do? How to increase towing capacity on a vehicle? Can you even do that?

We are here to discuss what towing capacity means exactly and a few tricks to increase it by some pounds.

What Is Towing Capacity?

What do you understand by the hauling capacity of a vehicle? Well, automakers manufacture the trucks and cars to meet a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). this rating refers to the combined weight of a trailer and loads (cargo and passengers) that the vehicle can haul.

vehicle towing capacity
Every vehicle has a specific towing limit.

We will look into three more terms that will help you better understand the GVWR.

Base Curb Weight — indicates the weight of an empty vehicle (with no cargo or fuel).

Cargo Weight — as plain as it sounds, this term includes the weight of everything the vehicle carries including loads inside, stuff attached to the outside, passengers, and a few other things.

Allowable Payload — refers to the extra weight that a vehicle can carry. You can calculate it by deducting the cargo weight from the GVWR.

How to Increase Towing Capacity

Several components including the braking system, suspension, wheel axles, and others are engineered with a specific GVWR rating. So, increasing tow capacity involves re-engineering all these components. Some vehicles are not fit for such enhancements because they are not rated for towing.

Somewhat difficult, but it’s possible to modify the hauling power. However, you can’t increase the limit by 500 or 1,000 pounds. In fact, pulling anything over or at the manufacturer’s recommended weight is harmful to different vehicle parts.

These following upgrades may help regarding how to increase towing capacity by a smaller margin.

Contact a Programmer

Modern vehicles have an electrical control unit (ECU) that monitors and controls almost all the functions. It maintains all the components in a way to make the engine to provide better fuel efficiency. But you can go to a vehicle programmer to adjust the computer settings to get the maximum horsepower and torque at a given condition at the expense of fuel efficiency. The programmer tweaks a few settings, including the air-to-fuel ratio and gear shifting, to get the desired towing capacity.

Go for a Larger Radiator

A radiator’s function is keeping the transmission and the engine at a normal temperature so they don’t overheat. These components generate more heat when the vehicle is hauling heavier weights.

One way you can add more weights without overheating the engine and transmission is to install a bigger radiator. For better heat diffusion, use new high-quality lubricants in the engine and transmission. Changing the transmission fluid may help too.

increasing tow capacity
A bigger radiator will help.

Tow-capable trucks and SUVs normally feature two radiators, one each for the transmission and engine. Replacing both radiators with larger units will help with a quicker cooling process.

Upgrade the Suspension

When you are hauling a camper, its weight pushes the backside of the vehicle down, which indicates an uneven weight distribution. The suspension carries the major share of this weight. So, it makes sense that a suspension system upgrade will help with improving the hauling capacity by a more even distribution of weight across all axles.

Upgrading the suspension will bring more weight to the front side of the vehicle, helping with better absorption of road bumps. So, you will enjoy superior steering control and a smoother ride on the road.

So, how to increase towing capacity by changing the suspension parts? You can upgrade the air bladders as they play a big part in bearing the weight and absorbing shocks and impact. Another option is to change the suspension springs with stronger, more durable versions.

Replace the Axles

Hauling extra weight can cause irreparable damage to the axles. If you need to carry some extra pounds than the GVWR limit, replace the existing axles with more heavy-duty versions. Don’t forget to replace the old differential with a new one that matches the specifications of the new axles.

Intake and Exhaust

Changing or upgrading the exhaust system could be another way to add a few more numbers to the horsepower and torque. Adding dual exhausts will help the engine breathe better, increasing its performance. This is how you can boost the engine’s capacity to tow more pounds.

Tweak the Frame and Chassis

The chassis and frame form the framework of a vehicle. You can warp or damage them by carrying more than the recommended limit. How to increase towing capacity by upgrading these components?

Well, you can tweak only the body-on-frame vehicles. You better take the vehicle to a mechanic as a professional will know which parts to be replaced and which to be upgraded.

Add a Stronger Hitch

A hitch is rated for a specific weight limit. For example, a Class IV is suitable for up to 10,000 pounds while a Class III cannot handle more than 5,000 pounds. When you are changing other components for carrying extra pounds, upgrade the hitch too so it does not break in the middle of your journey.

increasing tow capacity
You’ll need to upgrade the hitch too.

Upgrade the vehicle’s bed too for proper weight distribution. Don’t forget to check the connection between the chassis and the hitch and fix if it’s loose or there is any damage.

You may also like: Best Fifth Wheel Hitches For Short Bed Trucks

Upgrade the Brakes

You might be wondering what a braking system has to do with increasing the weight limit of a vehicle. Well, it does not have a direct connection but helps with handling the extra friction and strain comes from the added weight.

When you haul heavier loads, it takes more time and effort to stop the vehicle. Changing the brake pads and rotors with higher quality products will make the braking system more efficient.

The Final Words

These are the ways how to increase towing capacity of your SUV or truck. However, always try to purchase an RV that will be within the towing weight limit of your vehicle. Upgrades may increase the limit, but there won’t be any dramatic change. Also, the changes should be done by highly skilled mechanics; otherwise, these added components could shorter the vehicle’s lifespan.

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