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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I have just purchased a 2020 Colorado with a Duramax 2W drive and a towing package. The truck is rated to 7,700 lbs for towing. A huge number in my mind. Sure it is rated at that but that would be approaching double the weight of the truck at about 4300 lbs I believe. I was considering a Lance 1985 which comes up to about 6,200 GVW. It seems that this kind of weight (in spite of the rating) would be hard on the transmission and brakes. And very susceptible to stability issues in windy conditions. I want to keep the truck for a long time as I did my beloved 2002 S10. Any input or advice from a Colorado owner that is or has towed upwards of the rated weight (7,700) would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you.
 

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Tow ratings are sales marketing BS. My Duramax gets rather close to some other limits with a travel trailer at about 4,500-5,000. There may be maybe a boat trailer, with a lower tongue weight, where you could pull something close to 7,700 pounds, but for a travel trailer you'd probably be too light on tongue weight and not be able to carry much in your truck due to payload limits. I'll try to post more numbers later.
 

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Welcome to the forums and congrats on your new truck!

The search function on this site isn't great, but Google will give you some good results to read through. Use Coloradofans.com in your search and you'll get direct hits.

TLDR: lots of opinions, but yes you can tow that safely if you properly set everything up.

From others here, I think you'll get a wide set of opinions, but the consensus I've read is:

  • consider that the trailer weights are dry and you're adding hundreds more in water/cargo.
  • check tongue weight which is easy to exceed with heavy loads without balancing hitches, load distribution, etc.
  • Use a trailer brake controller (yours may have the OEM controller) and set it up correctly for your trailer.

If you've done these, the truck can handle its ratings safely. Others will also chime in that generally, you should avoid "max" towing with any vehicle. I think that's just a good rule of thumb to make all the steps above easier and to stay safe.

If you haven't already watched the TFL Truck Ike Gauntlet series, they're pretty informative. Here's one for the diesel twins:



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If you haven't already watched the TFL Truck Ike Gauntlet series, they're pretty informative. Here's one for the diesel twins:
There's a newer one than that, with a 2.8 and a V6 in the same test. I haven't seen that older one, so I'll give it a view. [Edit: Interesting that they pulled 500 fewer pounds the first year, but that didn't impact either time or mileage by much. One of the things I hate about FLT is they keep changing things up, so you cannot compare between tests. With the later video at least the two trucks are pulling the same trailer the same day. You can compare those two engines. But for the Gladiator test they really loaded it up, so you cannot compare.]

 

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Here are the additional numbers I promised. I'd posted them elsewhere recently and had to retrieve them.

First, there's Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 6,200. Since my truck without passengers and stuff weight 4,753, that leaves a payload of about 1450 pounds. That payload has to account for added accessories (e.g. t-covers, side steps, etc.), driver & passengers, cargo inside the truck and the full weight of the tongue. For me I'm really close to that number with a trailer having a 550 pound tongue weight.

Then there is tongue weight. Mine is 770. Since tongue weight should exceed 10% of trailer weight on most trailers (exception some boat trailers), that alone would keep you from towing 7,700 pounds. Also, I think tongue weight includes hitch weight, so that would take another 40-90 pounds off the tongue weight from the trailer.

Then there's Gross Combined Vehicle Weight (GCVW). Mine is 12,700, so if my vehicle was at the maximum 6,200 weight I could tow a 6,500 trailer. But to tow a 7,700 trailer it would pretty much just have to be me inside the truck with nothing in the bed.

Then there are axle ratings. My front is 6,400 and the rear is 6,500. With a trailer with a 550 pound tongue and a Weight Distributing Hitch (WDH) I am under those numbers by over 400 and 500 pounds. So those at least seem good.

You can use this site to calculate some of the limits, but not axle limits.

TowCalculator.com
 

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A couple of things...

First, don't worry about what the trailer weighs relative to the truck. Aside from car-based vehicles with very low tow ratings, all vehicle that are capable of towing anything decent will have tow ratings/the GCWR 3-4x what the truck weighs. The fact that our trucks have tow ratings not even 2x the curb weight is not a big deal.

Second, any trailer that will work the truck will have trailer brakes. The trailer brakes stop the trailer (unless they're defective, no properly adjusted, or the brake controller isn't working right/properly adjusted). Towing a trailer, especially when you use the exhaust brake, shouldn't increase brake wear a noticeable amount due to the trailer brakes.

Third, the tow rating is based on GCWR (max weight rating for truck and trailer combined) and the GCWR is largely based on what the chassis, engine, and transmission are capable of handling safely. As long as you're within the weight ratings of the truck (GVWR, GAWRs, GCWR) when towing and have a decent WDH with sway control for the heavier/larger trailers you don't have much to worry about. That is why the engineers and lawyers specified those weight ratings. You don't need to second-guess them. I mean, you can if you want, but I think they know what they're doing. Most of the time, anyway.

That Lance 1985 does have a GVWR of 6,200LB but is also has almost 2,000LB of cargo capacity. I don't think you'll ever load up 2,000LB of stuff into that trailer, I'd say 1,000 would be more realistic and that includes water if you plan on dry camping. No water then 600-700LB. Let's also say there's another 250LB not accounted for in the dry weight that doesn't include everything it has when you leave the dealer with it. 4245 + 250 + 700 = 5,195LB trailer weight. You're good there.

The next thing to consider is the payload capacity of your truck. Open your driver's door and look at the tire placard on the B-pillar, it will tell you "occupants and cargo should never exceed ..." and that is the payload capacity as it left the factory and includes the weight of a full tank of fuel. So, take that number and subtract your weight, the weight of any passengers, the weight of any gear or accessories in or on the truck that didn't come from the factory. The resulting number is approximately how much cargo capacity you have for the trailer's hitch weight. Let's assume 12% of the trailer's weight is on the tongue, so 623LB. Add another 75-100LB for a WDH, so 723LB. As long as that 723LB is less than the estimated remaining payload capacity then you should be fine. If it's more then you need to figure out how to get it under the remaining number somehow.

I've towed a 5,000LB, tall, wide, nearly flat-nosed hybrid travel trailer for roughly 12,000 miles. Here we are sitting at the top of the Beartooth Highway (Beartooth Highway - Wikipedia) a couple of years ago, nearly 11,000FT elevation.

394202


What was is like coming down the north side? It was pretty steep and twisty, but the truck and the exhaust brake did amazing.

394203

So, don't overthink it too much. This combo along with the shell, passengers, gear, and dog put my truck at some of the weight limits but it still towed like a champ and I had no concerns. Truck has 50k miles on it now. Lots of material left on the original brakes, no transmission issues, etc.
 

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Third, the tow rating is based on GCWR (max weight rating for truck and trailer combined) and the GCWR is largely based on what the chassis, engine, and transmission are capable of handling safely.
I'm pretty sure that's incorrect. Mine do not equal up, and my understanding is tow ratings are based not on engineering, but instead on a number of tests. This article explains three of the tests, but there are more, including from memory being able to repeatedly start/stop on a steep grade and also having the emergency brake hold the vehicle on a steep grade. Note the acceleration test gives dual axle trucks an advantage, since they get an extra 5 seconds to accelerate to 60 mph. I have no idea what the thinking was behind that.


I assume these tests require the vehicle to be within the various weight limits of the truck being tested. So in that regard you won't get a result where the tow rating is in excess of the the GCVW of the truck less the base weight of the truck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Tow ratings are sales marketing BS. My Duramax gets rather close to some other limits with a travel trailer at about 4,500-5,000. There may be maybe a boat trailer, with a lower tongue weight, where you could pull something close to 7,700 pounds, but for a travel trailer you'd probably be too light on tongue weight and not be able to carry much in your truck due to payload limits. I'll try to post more numbers later.
Yes, I pretty much assumed that. I will read your later post. Thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Welcome to the forums and congrats on your new truck!

The search function on this site isn't great, but Google will give you some good results to read through. Use Coloradofans.com in your search and you'll get direct hits.

TLDR: lots of opinions, but yes you can tow that safely if you properly set everything up.

From others here, I think you'll get a wide set of opinions, but the consensus I've read is:

  • consider that the trailer weights are dry and you're adding hundreds more in water/cargo.
  • check tongue weight which is easy to exceed with heavy loads without balancing hitches, load distribution, etc.
  • Use a trailer brake controller (yours may have the OEM controller) and set it up correctly for your trailer.
If you've done these, the truck can handle its ratings safely. Others will also chime in that generally, you should avoid "max" towing with any vehicle. I think that's just a good rule of thumb to make all the steps above easier and to stay safe.

If you haven't already watched the TFL Truck Ike Gauntlet series, they're pretty informative. Here's one for the diesel twins:



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Thank you. Seems to be a very responsive forum with people with a lot of good information. I have looked into a lot of what you suggest and will continue to do so. Thank you for all the insight. I will compute the numbers to see how I come out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Here are the additional numbers I promised. I'd posted them elsewhere recently and had to retrieve them.

First, there's Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 6,200. Since my truck without passengers and stuff weight 4,753, that leaves a payload of about 1450 pounds. That payload has to account for added accessories (e.g. t-covers, side steps, etc.), driver & passengers, cargo inside the truck and the full weight of the tongue. For me I'm really close to that number with a trailer having a 550 pound tongue weight.

Then there is tongue weight. Mine is 770. Since tongue weight should exceed 10% of trailer weight on most trailers (exception some boat trailers), that alone would keep you from towing 7,700 pounds. Also, I think tongue weight includes hitch weight, so that would take another 40-90 pounds off the tongue weight from the trailer.

Then there's Gross Combined Vehicle Weight (GCVW). Mine is 12,700, so if my vehicle was at the maximum 6,200 weight I could tow a 6,500 trailer. But to tow a 7,700 trailer it would pretty much just have to be me inside the truck with nothing in the bed.

Then there are axle ratings. My front is 6,400 and the rear is 6,500. With a trailer with a 550 pound tongue and a Weight Distributing Hitch (WDH) I am under those numbers by over 400 and 500 pounds. So those at least seem good.

You can use this site to calculate some of the limits, but not axle limits.

TowCalculator.com
Thank you for sending the tow calculator information. I will put that to good use. 770 tongue weight. That is heavy! Appreciate the information.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
A couple of things...

First, don't worry about what the trailer weighs relative to the truck. Aside from car-based vehicles with very low tow ratings, all vehicle that are capable of towing anything decent will have tow ratings/the GCWR 3-4x what the truck weighs. The fact that our trucks have tow ratings not even 2x the curb weight is not a big deal.

Second, any trailer that will work the truck will have trailer brakes. The trailer brakes stop the trailer (unless they're defective, no properly adjusted, or the brake controller isn't working right/properly adjusted). Towing a trailer, especially when you use the exhaust brake, shouldn't increase brake wear a noticeable amount due to the trailer brakes.

Third, the tow rating is based on GCWR (max weight rating for truck and trailer combined) and the GCWR is largely based on what the chassis, engine, and transmission are capable of handling safely. As long as you're within the weight ratings of the truck (GVWR, GAWRs, GCWR) when towing and have a decent WDH with sway control for the heavier/larger trailers you don't have much to worry about. That is why the engineers and lawyers specified those weight ratings. You don't need to second-guess them. I mean, you can if you want, but I think they know what they're doing. Most of the time, anyway.

That Lance 1985 does have a GVWR of 6,200LB but is also has almost 2,000LB of cargo capacity. I don't think you'll ever load up 2,000LB of stuff into that trailer, I'd say 1,000 would be more realistic and that includes water if you plan on dry camping. No water then 600-700LB. Let's also say there's another 250LB not accounted for in the dry weight that doesn't include everything it has when you leave the dealer with it. 4245 + 250 + 700 = 5,195LB trailer weight. You're good there.

The next thing to consider is the payload capacity of your truck. Open your driver's door and look at the tire placard on the B-pillar, it will tell you "occupants and cargo should never exceed ..." and that is the payload capacity as it left the factory and includes the weight of a full tank of fuel. So, take that number and subtract your weight, the weight of any passengers, the weight of any gear or accessories in or on the truck that didn't come from the factory. The resulting number is approximately how much cargo capacity you have for the trailer's hitch weight. Let's assume 12% of the trailer's weight is on the tongue, so 623LB. Add another 75-100LB for a WDH, so 723LB. As long as that 723LB is less than the estimated remaining payload capacity then you should be fine. If it's more then you need to figure out how to get it under the remaining number somehow.

I've towed a 5,000LB, tall, wide, nearly flat-nosed hybrid travel trailer for roughly 12,000 miles. Here we are sitting at the top of the Beartooth Highway (Beartooth Highway - Wikipedia) a couple of years ago, nearly 11,000FT elevation.

View attachment 394202

What was is like coming down the north side? It was pretty steep and twisty, but the truck and the exhaust brake did amazing.

View attachment 394203
So, don't overthink it too much. This combo along with the shell, passengers, gear, and dog put my truck at some of the weight limits but it still towed like a champ and I had no concerns. Truck has 50k miles on it now. Lots of material left on the original brakes, no transmission issues, etc.
Thank you for all the comprehensive information. And the great images. Much appreciated. You are probably right about the 2,000 lbs. Not likely. When not dry camping I suspect I would be more like 200 lbs of water and the 250 lb you mention for other things (batteries? propane?) But then there is all the living paraphernalia which could add a lot more weight. 500 lbs?? That would put me over 5,000 by several hundred pounds. So is your travel trailer 5,000 lbs when loaded for the road? Doesn't look like you have any trouble pulling steep grades. Thanks again, I will run the numbers as accurately as I can for a better idea.
 

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I'm pretty sure that's incorrect. Mine do not equal up, and my understanding is tow ratings are based not on engineering, but instead on a number of tests. This article explains three of the tests, but there are more, including from memory being able to repeatedly start/stop on a steep grade and also having the emergency brake hold the vehicle on a steep grade. Note the acceleration test gives dual axle trucks an advantage, since they get an extra 5 seconds to accelerate to 60 mph. I have no idea what the thinking was behind that.


I assume these tests require the vehicle to be within the various weight limits of the truck being tested. So in that regard you won't get a result where the tow rating is in excess of the the GCVW of the truck less the base weight of the truck.
I’m not sure what you think isn’t adding up, perhaps you misread or misunderstood what I said. I never said the GCWR was the sum of two different ratings. I said it’s the max rating of both the truck and trailer combined, meaning the weight of the truck plus the weight of the trailer can’t exceed the GCWR and that is factually correct.

And yes, GCWR is largely based on the ability of the mechanical parts being able to handle the load for long periods of time. Did you know that transmissions not only have max input ratings but also recommended GVWR and GCWR limits? The 6L50 behind the 2.8 is generally rated for around 6,600LB GVWR and 12,500LB GCWR. I believe that is for the gas engine version, the diesel 6L50 is rated for a higher input torque rating and likely a higher GVWR and GCWR as well but I don’t know what they might be.

It’s no coincidence that the highest GVWR and GCWR for the twins are within a few hundred pounds of those limits. The engine also has to be capable of safely performing within those limits, including being able to accelerate to a certain speed with a certain load within a certain amount of time. It’s part of the SAE towing spec currently used, IIRC, but I don’t remember the specifics.

I’m not sure how you can say it’s not based on engineering but is based on tests. Who do you think performs the tests? The engineers. What does (did) SAE stand for? ;)


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I’m not sure what you think isn’t adding up, perhaps you misread or misunderstood what I said. I never said the GCWR was the sum of two different ratings.
I guess I did misunderstand, but you said tow rating was based on GCVW, which was at least somewhat ambiguous. I would say GCVW is a limiting factor in that they probably don't run the tests on trailer weights that exceed GCVW.

Returning to the Colorado, there's been a lot of talk here of why the ZR2s have lower tow ratings, with people focusing on the cooling. I wonder if the suspension differences affect the cornering tests? I didn't think those differences were all that extreme, but that would seemingly be a more likely reason for the lower tow ratings. Ditto the Raptor, where the changes are more extreme.
 

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Your trucks seem to weight much less than my '18 CCLB Z71 4X. Mine came in at 5180 lbs on a CAT scale, unloaded and 1/4 tank of fuel (I was standing off to the side off the scale). Only accessory was a Diamond back cover at 80 lbs so that puts my truck weight at roughly 5100. I took my boat up to weigh it because it seemed to be heavier than the spec (it was by almost 300 lbs and the factory couldn't tell me why).

I tow my newer boat which I believe to be approx 4500-4600 lbs total without any problems. It has a full windshield that sticks way above the truck. I did install a set of heavy duty axle bumpers to help with sag and sway. They work pretty well.
 

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A guy asked the towing question 2 weeks ago with about the same trailer, he got back a couple days ago and said the truck towed just fine throught the mountains...it is here with all al the nay sayers and pro guys some where
 

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I guess I did misunderstand, but you said tow rating was based on GCVW, which was at least somewhat ambiguous. I would say GCVW is a limiting factor in that they probably don't run the tests on trailer weights that exceed GCVW.

Returning to the Colorado, there's been a lot of talk here of why the ZR2s have lower tow ratings, with people focusing on the cooling. I wonder if the suspension differences affect the cornering tests? I didn't think those differences were all that extreme, but that would seemingly be a more likely reason for the lower tow ratings. Ditto the Raptor, where the changes are more extreme.
Oh, tow rating/capacity is absolutely related to GCWR. Has been for ages and the manual even states this. You will NEVER have a vehicle with a tow rating that would cause it to exceed the GCWR.

Case in point, the CCLB 4WD trucks have a max tow rating of 7,550LB. My Denali is actually less than that. How’s the math work?

GCWR = 12,700
Curb weight = 4,981 (6200 - 1219 payload capacity)
Reference driver weight = 175lb

Max tow capacity as rated by GM is 12700 - 4981 - 175 = 7,544LB.

While the published tow rating may not always be exactly GCWR - curb weight - 175lb driver, the calculation to ensure you’re not over the tow rating is always GCWR - loaded truck curb weight (people and gear). Always. Every source will tell you this because it’s the standard way to determine tow rating.

The myth that the ZR2 towing reduction was due to cooling has been proven false many times as GM themselves said why it was reduced and it’s all due to suspension.


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You will NEVER have a vehicle with a tow rating that would cause it to exceed the GCWR.
That's why I said it would be a "limiting factor" today and that "I assume these tests require the vehicle to be within the various weight limits of the truck being tested" yesterday.

that the ZR2 towing reduction was due to cooling has been proven false many times as GM themselves said why it was reduced and it’s all due to suspension.
I never bought the cooling argument, but I was pointing specifically to the cornering tests as being the factor that knocks down the tow rating of the two vehicles mentioned. I don't know the ZR2 and Bison weight limits, but unless they are the reason for knocking it down, cornering would seemingly be the issue. I doubt it's the parking brake test. :D
 

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A guy asked the towing question 2 weeks ago with about the same trailer, he got back a couple days ago and said the truck towed just fine throught the mountains...it is here with all al the nay sayers and pro guys some where
What posts exactly are you talking about? And what posts are there that show the weights of the front/rear axles and trailer? Someone saying that it "towed just fine" doesn't really mean anything. People tow over limit all the time and say it tows fine.
 

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Thank you for sending the tow calculator information. I will put that to good use. 770 tongue weight. That is heavy! Appreciate the information.
Unfortunately Towcalculator.com doesn't allow you to put in a tongue weight--it calculates it from the trailer weight. You you may need to manually adjust some of the numbers. Not sure why they do that.
 

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What posts exactly are you talking about? And what posts are there that show the weights of the front/rear axles and trailer? Someone saying that it "towed just fine" doesn't really mean anything. People tow over limit all the time and say it tows fine.
it is the one a few weeks ago you and dieseldrake was putting info on with a new guy,,,

here is it but it is a gasser

 
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