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Towing Capacity Clarification

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine


We bought a 2008 Damon Daybreak 3276 motorhome last fall and would like to tow a vehicle behind it. I’ve talked to several people and dealers, and have received conflicting information. We have an 18-foot flat deck auto hauler trailer, which we had planned to use for this purpose. I have a 10,000-pound equalizer bar system on the hitch receiver. The gross vehicle weight rating (gvwr) of the coach is 20,500 pounds and the gross combination weight rating (gcwr) is 26,000 pounds. The gvwr of the trailer is 7,000 pounds, and the carrying capacity is 4,940 pounds. The trailer weight is 2,050 pounds.
Some say I should be able to tow a vehicle that weighs approximately 5,000 pounds. Others say I should be able to tow a vehicle of only approximately 3,000 pounds. These figures take into account that the trailer weight will be added, and thus will increase the total amounts to 7,000 and 5,000 pounds respectively. The trailer is a double axle with brakes on the rear axle and the coach has a brake controller installed. I know I will have to weigh the coach to get an accurate dry weight. Any information would be appreciated as we hope to travel to the U.S. this spring and I want to be within legal and safe limits.
Donald A. Graydon | Vars, Ontario, Canada

The hitch receivers used on most motor­homes are rated for 5,000 pounds, and the information I found shows the maximum tow weight rating for your coach to be 5,000 pounds. If you subtract the gvwr from the gcwr, you get 5,500 pounds, which is close to the specification I found. That’s nowhere near the 7,000 pounds you mentioned, and you should not exceed any ratings for safety reasons. Front-engine coaches have a long rear overhang, which is not designed to handle a lot of hitch weight, usually around 500 pounds. Hitch weight should be about 10 to 12 percent of total loaded trailer weight.You should weigh the motorhome fully loaded with full LP-gas, fuel and freshwater tanks and passengers to get a wet weight, not dry, and subtract that from the gcwr to determine what’s left for a trailer. Whether it’s 5,000 pounds or 5,500 (which must include the trailer and any vehicle on it) that only leaves about 2,950 pounds or so for a car.

— Ken Freund

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