To read a truck towing capacity chart, learn the terms and abbreviations used in the chart, such as max towing and GCVW. Max towing is the maximum trailer weight a vehicle can tow, while GCVW stands for gross combined vehicle weight, the maximum total weight for that vehicle.
Charts vary depending on the vehicle manufacturer. Towing capacity charts are typically found in the owner's manual for the vehicle or on the manufacturer's website.
Towing creates additional strain on several parts of the vehicle, including the engine, transmission, brakes, tires and suspension. Towing weight greater than the vehicle's capacity increases that strain, which leads to possible damage and unsafe driving conditions. To avoid this, use a vehicle with a larger towing capacity than necessary.
GCVW includes the weight of everything in and attached to the vehicle, such as passengers, luggage and the item being towed. GVW, or gross vehicle weight, is the weight of the vehicle itself, excluding anything it's towing. The GVWR, or gross vehicle weight rating, is the maximum amount of gross vehicle weight the vehicle can handle.
The axle ratio indicates the difference between the driveshaft's revolutions per minute and the rear axle's revolutions per minute. Typically, higher numbers indicate higher towing capacities, but lower numbers indicate more efficiency.