Doing their heavy duty: OEMs seek one towing standard to rule them all

A pickup's towing capacity is perhaps its biggest bragging point. With the arrival of the full-size Toyota Tundra on the scene, truck makers began upping their maximum tow rating for half-tons just to beat the Japanese truck's rating of 10,800 lbs. The Ford F-150, for instance, jumped from a maximum two rating of 9,900 lbs. to 11,000 lbs. overnight. Unfortunately, these tow ratings that are held in such high esteem are practically worthless when comparing trucks side by side. That's because there is no standard for rating how much a pickup can tow, so companies are free to determine the maximum towing capacity of their trucks under ideal conditions that will yield the best results. Well, all of that's about to change.

According to, every major pickup manufacturer including Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda and Toyota, as well as a select group of trailer and hitch makers, convened last winter with the Society of Automotive Engineers to develop a single towing standard to rate pickups all the way from half-tons to Class 5 trucks. Dubbed the 'J-2807 - Performance Requirements for Determining Tow Vehicle Gross Combination Weight Ratings and Trailer Weight Ratings', the standard will reportedly include testing trucks with a trailer in tow on a level grade and 7% incline with an ambient temperature of 100 degrees F. Each truck will be timed from 0 to 60 mph, and their braking and cooling performance will also be measured. Other aspects of towing that involve trailers and hitches like tongue weight will also be standardized.

While the standards are about to be voted upon by a group of representatives from each company, they should be in place so that by mid-2008 all advertisements that boast a truck's maximum towing capabilities will hold true to these standards. Finally we'll be able to see which half-ton and heavy duty trucks are truly King of the Hill when it comes to towing.


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