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Old 07-09-2015, 01:55 PM   #1
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GVWR vs dry weight plus cargo capacity

I'm sorry if this topic has been flogged to death but I could really use some help.

This is going to be my first time purchasing a travel trailer and all these weights and measures are confusing me to no end. I'll get down to the nitty gritty here and hope that someone can help me.

First off, my vehicle. 2016 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk 4x4, 3.4L V6 Pentastar engine with factory installed tow package. It's rated to tow 4500lbs with a 450lb tongue/hitch rating. It's on order now, supposed delivery end of September.

Now to me, if a trailer has a GVWR of 5,500lbs, that means that is the most that it "can" weigh including passengers, water, propane, tv, food, etc. But, if it only has a dry weight of 3,300lbs it would have a cargo capacity of 2,200lbs (which to me is an insane amount of cargo to put in a travel trailer). Therefore, if I only load it with 1,000lbs of gear, I could safely tow this unit with my vehicle.

Another question is, does the 4,500lb tow rating of my vehicle include the gear inside the truck as well as passenger weight or is it strictly the amount of weight that I am towing behind the truck?

Any help would be appreciate.
Cheers and happy trails!
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Old 07-09-2015, 02:24 PM   #2
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GVWR is the maximum weight for the vehicle, including everything loaded. You are correct, a trailer that weighs 3,300 pounds with 1000 pounds cargo "can" be towed by your vehicle with a max tow rating of 4,500 pounds. Don't forget water weight in trailer.

Tow rating on vehicle from manufactuer is in addition to weight of full, loaded vehicle. It is what is "behind" the vehicle. There is a term GCWR, gross combined weight rating, including vehicle, passengers, full fluids, max cargo, and the fully loaded towed unit (in your case, 4,500 lbs).

Brian
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Old 07-09-2015, 02:38 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArcticLyn View Post
I'm sorry if this topic has been flogged to death but I could really use some help.

This is going to be my first time purchasing a travel trailer and all these weights and measures are confusing me to no end. I'll get down to the nitty gritty here and hope that someone can help me.

First off, my vehicle. 2016 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk 4x4, 3.4L V6 Pentastar engine with factory installed tow package. It's rated to tow 4500lbs with a 450lb tongue/hitch rating. It's on order now, supposed delivery end of September.

Now to me, if a trailer has a GVWR of 5,500lbs, that means that is the most that it "can" weigh including passengers, water, propane, tv, food, etc. But, if it only has a dry weight of 3,300lbs it would have a cargo capacity of 2,200lbs (which to me is an insane amount of cargo to put in a travel trailer). Therefore, if I only load it with 1,000lbs of gear, I could safely tow this unit with my vehicle.

Another question is, does the 4,500lb tow rating of my vehicle include the gear inside the truck as well as passenger weight or is it strictly the amount of weight that I am towing behind the truck?

Any help would be appreciate.
Cheers and happy trails!


The 4,500 lb tow rating is for the trailer only. The important number you need to be mindful of is the Jeep's GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating) This is the maximum weight of loaded tow vehicle and loaded trailer.

In addition, you need to be aware and calculate the axle and tire capacities of the tow vehicle. Remember to add the tongue weight onto the the tow vehicle's weight. Putting that 450 lbs on the hitch on the tail of the Jeep could be helped if you have a load distributing hitch.

All in all, it seems like you'll be pushing the limits of a Jeep, I think you'd do better with a 4 door pick up set up for towing.
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Old 07-09-2015, 02:39 PM   #4
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Thanks so much for clearing that up for me Brian. Cheers!
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Old 07-09-2015, 03:08 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by BFlinn181 View Post


The 4,500 lb tow rating is for the trailer only. The important number you need to be mindful of is the Jeep's GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating) This is the maximum weight of loaded tow vehicle and loaded trailer.

In addition, you need to be aware and calculate the axle and tire capacities of the tow vehicle. Remember to add the tongue weight onto the the tow vehicle's weight. Putting that 450 lbs on the hitch on the tail of the Jeep could be helped if you have a load distributing hitch.

All in all, it seems like you'll be pushing the limits of a Jeep, I think you'd do better with a 4 door pick up set up for towing.
Thanks for the advice, it's much appreciated. I'm going to try to keep the weight down as far as I can so I don't put too much strain on the Jeep. The numbers I gave were just an example, I plan on buying an ultra lite around 18' or so keeping me well under the limit.
Thanks again!
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Old 07-09-2015, 07:43 PM   #6
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A camping rig has numerous weight ratings. But only two you need to be concerned with.

Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the tow vehicle (TV) is the most weight you can haul on the two TV axles without being overloaded. If you exceed the GVWR of the TV, then you'll have overloaded suspension and brakes = not a good.

The gross vehicle weight (GVW) of the TV includes the weight of the TV with a full tank of gas, plus all the people, luggage, tools and other weight you haul in the TV, plus the tongue weight of the wet and loaded trailer. The GVWR of the TV is probably your limiter as to how heavy a trailer you can tow, so understand what it is.

Gross combined weight rating (GCWR) is the maximum combined weight of the wet and loaded TV and trailer. The GCWR basically tells you how heavy a rig you can have without overheating anything in the drivetrain and without being the slowpoke holding up traffic on steep grades of hills and mountain passes. As long as you have good temp gauges for coolant and ATF, and you stay off of hills and mountains, then the GCWR is not an important limit.

So GVWR of the TV limits the people, other cargo, and tongue weight you can HAUL without being overloaded. GCWR of the TV limits the gross weight of TV and trailer you can PULL without overheating anything in the drivetrain and without being the slowpoke holding up traffic on grades. Almost always, you can pull a lot heavier trailer than you can haul the hitch weight of that trailer.

An SUV with 4,500 pounds tow rating can usually haul a cab full of people or tow a 4,000-pound trailer without being overloaded, but not both at the same time.

The certified automated truck (CAT) scale is your friend. Use it often to see where you stand on GVW vs. GVWR.

For a small, young family, your best bet for a camper trailer is probably a pop-up with GVWR less than 4,000 pounds. Not many regular travel trailers are light enough for you to tow without being overloaded. My 19.5' TT with no slide has GVWR of 5,600 pounds and wet and loaded hitch weight of 650 pounds, It will overload your Jeep.
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Old 07-09-2015, 11:54 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the great information SmokeyWren.

I will certainly have to do my homework (math, yuck...lol) before purchasing any kind of trailer at all. At least there are a lot more ultra-light trailers out there now, quite a few with a GVWR of 3,500 lbs, so I may have some choices. There's only hubby, me and the cats now so we pack a lot lighter than when the kids were around.

Thank again!
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