Watch a couple hours of commercial TV and you're bound to see an ad for a pickup truck towing something that’s roughly equivalent to the empire state building. And from that, you assume that any variant of that pickup truck well, it can do the same thing when in reality it cannot. You see, those are very special trucks that are built specifically for towing heavy loads. And the average truck that you might be interested in buying with the leather seats and all the bells and whistles and so on, might only be able to tow a fraction of that.

Now, how do you know what any given tow vehicle can actually haul around? Well, the first thing you have to do is figure out the GCVW. That’s gross combined vehicle weight. Now that number is the total of the weight of the tow vehicle, the weight of any cargo in the tow vehicle, the weight of any passengers in the tow vehicle, plus the weight of the trailer and any cargo on that trailer. So it’s a big number that you have to put all this together.

Now to find out what the vehicle is capable of, you look in the owner’s manual and you’ll find charts in there and everything that’ll explain all of this to you. Very important that you do this. If there’s parts that you don’t understand, ask questions. Beause this can be serious business.

Alright, the next thing is that we have different sized receivers on tow vehicles. The receiver is the part that is attached to the chassis of the tow vehicle. It’s what receives the hitch. The hitch actually slides into the receiver. Then we use a pin to lock it in place.

Alright now, there are different classes of receivers. The most popular is going to be a class 3 using a two inch hitch and a two inch ball. Now above and beyond that you want the trailer to be level with the ground that’s hooked to the vehicle and loaded. So you may have to use a drop hitch such as we see here. They come in different drops- 1 inch, 2 inch, 3 inch, probably up to 5 or 6 inches. Some are adjustable and so on. So you have to get all of that together.

You could also opt in some cases if you have multiple trailers you could use a hitch such as we see down here that has different sizes of balls on it and it has a hook for towing things using a cable or a strap or something like that.

The big thing here is that you get everything matched because if it doesn’t match then you could be in a lot of trouble in serious situations like a panic stop or something like that. The tow vehicle may not be able to handle what you're towing. So before you buy your tow vehicle ask the questions, do the research, make sure that you're buying the equipment that is compatible. And if you have a question or a comment, drop me a line right here at MotorWeek!