How Do You Increase Towing Capacity?


Certain aspects are considered during the manufacturing of any vehicle, one of them being the vehicle’s towing capacity. If you’ve reached the limits of your trucks current towing capacity you be wondering if it’s possible for you to save the truck and increase your towing capacity to better meet your needs.

How Do You Increase Towing Capacity?

Increasing your towing capacity means increasing your vehicles all around performance. Simply upgrading your hitch may increase your towing capacity enough, but for a big upgrade, you have a ton of options including reprogramming your vehicle or upgrading your radiator, suspension, braking system, axles, or exhaust.

What Is Towing Capacity?

Towing capacity is defined as the total weight amount a vehicle can tow when it is pulling a trailer. Manufacturers build vehicles based on the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), a rating that gives a value to the total amount of a vehicle’s combined weight and the load the vehicle can tow.

This somewhat makes it difficult to alter the rating since vehicles are made with already set towing capacities. For some vehicles, increasing the towing capacity can only be done by re-engineering the whole vehicle, while for some, it’s a bit more straight-forard.

To obtain the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), the following metrics are obtained:

  • Base Curb Weight, which is the the empty vehicle’s weight without any fuel or cargo, and
  • Cargo Weight , which is the total weight of everything the vehicle carries, i.e., loads inside, passengers, and anything attached outside.

The allowable load is the extra weight a vehicle carries and is obtained from detracting the cargo weight from the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating.

Increasing Towing Capacity

To increase towing capacity, one has to modify a vehicle to allow for more effective weight distribution. The only hiccup is determining the right modifications to make and not exceeding the manufacturer’s suggested weight, as this would damage several different parts of the vehicle.

Determining the current weight your vehicle can tow and the amount you want it to tow is the first thing to do. This difference is important to obtain as it will guide you as you make modifications to your vehicle.

As indicated earlier, exceeding what your manufacturer recommends is dangerous; hence weight differences that exceed one thousand pounds are way too risky.

Modifications come in handy if you’re increasing the towing capacity by a much smaller amount. These upgrades are best purchased to match your existing towing limits.

Enhancing Overall Performance

For your vehicle to pull a larger load, you’ll have to upgrade its overall performance. This will mainly involve adding or replacing existing parts with better ones. For a start, upgrade the exhaust system with new air filters, which will add to the vehicle’s towing power.

You could also add dual exhausts, which make the engine would breathe much better, thus increasing the performance. This boosts the overall engine capacity, thereby helping it to tow more load.

Find A Vehicle Programmer

All modern vehicles are equipped with an Electronic Control Unit (ECU) that monitors and controls all electronic features in a car. It is a built-in computer that the vehicle depends on in the management of its systems.

With the ECU being a computer, it is composed of programmable internal computer chips used to operate the engine using input sensors with the combination of output components to control all the engine functions.

A vehicle programmer can adjust various onboard computer settings to get maximum horsepower and also maximum torque. The programmer may also tweak settings like fuel efficiency, air intake, and gear shifting settings to get the wanted towing capacity.

Increase The Radiator Size

A car’s radiator is a heat exchanger that is the central component in a vehicle’s cooling system. Its main function is to control and regulate the engine temperature and prevent the engine from overheating. This ensures the proper functioning of the engine, thereby preventing a breakdown.

With increased vehicle weight, the components generate more heat; thus, installing a much larger radiator is appropriate to increase the cooling system efficiency. Most tow-capable vehicles feature two radiators, one for the engine and one for the transmission, to provide a faster cooling process.

Upgrading The Suspension

The suspension system is the part of a vehicle that connects the vehicle to the wheels and allows motion to occur between the two. It is basically a system of parts that support the entire vehicle as it moves.

To boost up the towing capacity, a suitable suspension needs to be installed. This might be a costly upgrade but is crucial since an unsuitable suspension may lead to adverse safety matters. An upgraded suspension will help increase the towing ability by improving the weight distribution on all the axles.

Upgrading the suspension will also bring more weight to the vehicle’s front side, which improves the absorption of the road bumps, thus enabling a smoother ride and good steering control.

Replace Braking System

Vehicles have brakes on all of the wheels operated by a hydraulics system. The system allows for a vehicle to slow down or to stop more conveniently and reliably. The braking of a vehicle is a crucial part of safety; hence braking responses from the brake pedal to the actual braking must be very quick.

An upgraded braking system will help with managing the extra strain that is attributed to the added weight. When you haul heavy loads, it generally takes more time to bring the vehicle to a stop. An upgrade to the brake pads and rotors with high performance and quality parts is needed if you are hauling heavier loads.

Replace Axels

The axle is the central shaft for rotating the wheels. This is achieved by transferring power from the vehicle’s transmission to the wheels. The axel also supports the vehicle’s weight. Carrying extra weight may cause damage to the axels.

The existing axles need to be replaced with heavy-duty ones to prevent any further damage to carry a heavier load. Replacing the vehicle’s old differential should also be done to meet the new axels’ specifications.

Upgrade The Hitch

By definition, a tow hitch is a device attached to the chassis of a vehicle to make towing possible. The quality of the hitch greatly influences the ability to tow bolted to your vehicle.

Hitches are rated based on a specific weight amount; thus, increasing your tow weight requires a change in your vehicle’s hitch so that it doesn’t break.

The addition of a high-quality hitch will allow for safer transportation of heavier loads.

Upgrading the intake and exhaust

The intake system is a combination of several components that allow the engine to breathe. The exhaust system, on the other hand, allows it to exhale. Upgrading the intake and exhaust system could improve the engine horsepower and torque. 

One upgrade would be installing dual exhausts, which would allow the engine to breathe better, thereby increasing its performance. Boosting the engine performance allows for heavier loads to be towed.

How To Increase Towing Capacity: The Bottom Line

These are the methods to use to increase the towing capacity of your vehicle. However, it’s important to keep in mind that, yes, upgrades can increase the tow limit on your truck, but it’s best to purchase a vehicle with your desired tow capacity to avoid the hassle.

There are potential risks involved with any major modifications to your truck, so it’s important to plan this process carefully to ensure the proper results. The amount of towing capacity increased will greatly be influenced by the type of vehicle in question and the upgrades’ availability.

Some might want to pull a little extra load, which means they will be fine. Not going past the recommended tow weight is always the safest way. The modifications in this article will help you to push your towing capacity to the max.

Kern Campbell

I've had a passion for four-wheel-drive vehicles since I was a kid riding in the back seat of my Grandfather's Jeep Grand Wagoneer. I have owned a lot of vehicles over the years. They each have their pros and cons and I look forward to sharing my knowledge with you so you can find the vehicle that's just right for your needs.

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