Want to know how much truck you need for towing? I made a handy calculator

Try it out: https://www.tackhunter.com/news/how-much-truck-do-you-need

Recently I’ve been looking into getting a vehicle for towing. So I spent many hours researching configurations, trailers, and tow ratings. It was a pain. So I decided to make a handy calculator based on this research and put it up on my company’s blog. I know this forum is full of some sharp people, so I’d love to get some feedback to make sure my numbers are right.

I made the following assumptions:

  • Average horse weight = 1200lbs.
  • I cross referenced horse trailer weights from various manufacturers, add 200lbs per ft of tack room/living quarters.
  • Add 10-15% for steel instead of aluminum.
  • Add 15-20% more weight for a goosneck hitch.
  • I used average truck weights from ford and chevy.

I’m fairly knowledgable in the truck domain, but I had to call around to a few trailer companies to get average gross weights, material weight (steel vs aluminum), as well as the approximate weight of dressing rooms and living quarters.

Key takeaways

  • the tow capacity rating usually assumes that you don't have any equipment in the truck, and that you're the only passenger in the car.
  • therefore, you need to also consider the payload when calculating your gross combination vehicle weight. Have company? Tack, hay, or water in the truck bed? it can add up.
  • however you cant simply calculate payload + towing capacity and use that as an upper limit. The manufacturer actually specifies a number called the Gross Combination Weight Rating (or Gross Combination Vehicle Weight, take your pick). You must stay under this amount. It is important to note that this is almost always less than the payload + towing capacity rating.

It’s by no means perfect, but i did it for fun and to hopefully help some fellow truck shoppers out. Many people focus on the tow rating of the truck, rather than the combination weight. If you have a bunch of stuff stored in your truck to avoid buying a bigger trailer or bigger truck, you may be decreasing your towing performance quite a bit.

Pretty cool, thanks. I do wish we could specify the weight of our horses and trailer if we know that amount though. A brenderup weighs a lot less than most 2 horse trailers, and my 800lb pony is a lot less weight than 1200lbs.

I just updated it to support that (you can now type in the table fields for horse weight and trailer weight, using the sliders will clear it out), hope it makes things easier!

Love it, it works much better now :slight_smile:

I like this - it is very cool… but I’d disagree with my results. :lol: I was actually recommended what I’ve towed with in before (F-150 V6) for a 2-horse and I can tell you it was a nightmare and NEVER again… I also blew out the tranny in the Chevy version (k1500) of the F-150 V6 when I was hauling a small TB and a PONY through VT… It was not the Chevy’s fault or a lack of a good truck - it was just too much for the truck to handle and I was too young to know any better.

I think if you have 2 horses, you automatically need the next class up (2500, 250) at minimum…

It’s not how much you need to tow, it’s how much you need to STOP.

[QUOTE=beowulf;8869064]I like this - it is very cool… but I’d disagree with my results. :lol: I was actually recommended what I’ve towed with in before (F-150 V6) for a 2-horse and I can tell you it was a nightmare and NEVER again… I also blew out the tranny in the Chevy version (k1500) of the F-150 V6 when I was hauling a small TB and a PONY through VT… It was not the Chevy’s fault or a lack of a good truck - it was just too much for the truck to handle and I was too young to know any better.

I think if you have 2 horses, you automatically need the next class up (2500, 250) at minimum…[/QUOTE]

I’m surprised by this. I have towed all over the mountains and done up and back from Florida towing my 2500 lb horse trailer with two horses and loaded with tack, with a dodge 1500.

[QUOTE=beowulf;8869064]I like this - it is very cool… but I’d disagree with my results. :lol: I was actually recommended what I’ve towed with in before (F-150 V6) for a 2-horse and I can tell you it was a nightmare and NEVER again… I also blew out the tranny in the Chevy version (k1500) of the F-150 V6 when I was hauling a small TB and a PONY through VT… It was not the Chevy’s fault or a lack of a good truck - it was just too much for the truck to handle and I was too young to know any better.

I think if you have 2 horses, you automatically need the next class up (2500, 250) at minimum…[/QUOTE]

Thanks for checking it out! The tricky part is that these tow ratings can vary wildly within the same class of truck. But have you seen the 2016 f-150s? not only are they pretty huge, but they can tow a lot if you equip them properly. I called around to some trailer companies and they sounded pretty optimistic about pulling a 2 horse bumper pull with a well equipped f150. You bring up a great point though, people should definitely look at the ratings for the specific version of truck they’re getting. People shouldn’t think that any f-150 will pull 10k lbs, there are certainly ones that might have a tough time.

I made a disclaimer at the bottom of the page that points out the recommended truck should be well equipped for towing, but i think it’s kinda hard to see. Maybe i should make it bigger?

this is good news, i was set on getting a well equipped 2016 f150, but their comment had me worried. :no:

this sold me on the f150 as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QR-gMWRzvOg

Pretty cool tool!

Is it possible to add an option under “aluminum vs non-aluminum”? I think some trailers are steel framed with an aluminum skin to give it more strength with less weight. Not sure if the difference in weight is significant enough to bother adding to your calculations, though.

However, like you mention, different F-150s can tow different amounts, based on how they’re equipped. My F-150 has a higher axle ratio than the standard F-150, which increases its towing capacity.

[QUOTE=Rain;8869370]…
However, like you mention, different F-150s can tow different amounts, based on how they’re equipped. My F-150 has a higher axle ratio than the standard F-150, which increases its towing capacity.[/QUOTE]

This. While engine size and chassis weight are things most people focus on, transmission, axle configuration, and wheel sizes are also factors to consider.

star

How new is your Dodge?

I don’t think any of the 1500, 150 V6/3.7l engine lines are a good idea for 2 horses or more. Especially if you don’t have an aluminum trailer. They’re fine for short distances and I’ve done the haul myself to the local fairgrounds many times in a Chevy 1500, but I would not haul long distance again with 2 horses in it.

IMHO, they just aren’t heavy enough to stop, and when you’re going up/down a mountain, it can get pretty hairy. You end up riding the brakes more than you want because the truck isn’t heavy enough to slow the trailer + horse combo down.

Most trailer set ups, the trailer is 3,000-4,000 lb. Then you factor in the horses at 1000-1200lb and before you know it you’re already pushing the 6000lb-7000lb tow rating most of the 150s & 1500s have. Some of the newer (2015+) trucks do have increased tow ratings, but I still think you should go with a 250 or 2500 if you’re looking at towing 2 horses at any frequency long distance.

I would do a thorough search on COTH about this. You will see lots of people agree that the F-150 V6 is not appropriate for 2 horses. Just about any truck (and car) can pull a trailer… my WRX could pull a trailer… but it isn’t heavy enough to stop and you do need the bigger trucks with the higher axle ratio, bigger/stronger transmission, etc.

[QUOTE=TackHunter;8869134]this is good news, i was set on getting a well equipped 2016 f150, but their comment had me worried. :no:

this sold me on the f150 as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QR-gMWRzvOg[/QUOTE]

F-150s are darn good trucks. I have seen them pull several times their towing capacity over short distances and have no problems with it. We had one back in Washington and went over the mountains and such, actually lived on a big hill, and had zero problems. Didn’t even feel like the trailer was there.
We had a dodge now, and I don’t love it quite as much but it definitely does the job. It hauled a fully loaded horse trailer + some furniture in the back from Florida to NC, drove back down with the trailer empty, then hauled my pony up with more furniture, then went back down again and hauled a horse trailer full of more furniture up. I think that’s a darn good test :slight_smile:
Beowulf: 2008 or 10, I believe. my normal trailer is only 2500 lbs, no where near 4000, so with two horses, one 1200 and the other 1000 lbs, I am still only at 4700, plenty under. I have towed a three horse slant too, which weighed close to 3500 empty and it did just fine too.
IMO, using that big of a truck is overkill with this size of trailer. You should see how they tow in Ireland, using their Sudans to pull two horse trailers all over. A crossover is good enough for a three horse trailer! :lol:

When I bought my first truck, I looked at the recommended loads that the manufacturers had at each dealership. I also asked every guy I worked with and everyone who had a truck at all the sheriffs’ departments about tow loads. I had one big warmblood and one 16 hand easy keeper TB mare to add to the equation. So it turned out an F250 would have been fine. But I ended up buying the great 2001 F350 7.3 liter, and it was still going strong when I traded it in at 332,000+ miles, only usual repairs and had been hit twice by smaller vehicles at high speeds with only minor damage to my truck and the other vehicles totaled.
Bought the 2016 F350 after again consulting many truck owners a year ago. It’s doing fine.
Better to have more truck than you need. My farrier bought a chevy 2500 and the tranny went out in the mountains on vacation under warranty. He got rid of that truck.
Consult people who have owned trucks for years and who have hauled hay and cattle and horses. Those guys know trucks.
I looked at the 2016 F150 last year but my truck owning friends said stay with a bigger truck. For the big warmblood and a short but round ATA.

I agree with StormyDay.

I had a Dodge 1500 (gas engine, Hemi) and towed a 3-horse steel BP trailer with 3 large (17h) horses and all equipment/hay needed for about 10 years. We had several shows on the other side of the mountains and so were doing mountain passes regularly as well. Never had problems towing, never had problems stopping.

I think there’s a ton of variance from 1500 to 1500 (or 150 to 150) based on options.

I have an F350 Diesel now, which also hauled the 3 horse for a few years (before upgrading to a 4-horse GN). Honestly didn’t feel that much different than the 1500.

[QUOTE=beowulf;8869064]I like this - it is very cool… but I’d disagree with my results. :lol: I was actually recommended what I’ve towed with in before (F-150 V6) for a 2-horse and I can tell you it was a nightmare and NEVER again… I also blew out the tranny in the Chevy version (k1500) of the F-150 V6 when I was hauling a small TB and a PONY through VT… It was not the Chevy’s fault or a lack of a good truck - it was just too much for the truck to handle and I was too young to know any better.

I think if you have 2 horses, you automatically need the next class up (2500, 250) at minimum…[/QUOTE]

Hmm, everyone here pulls their 16’ stock trailers, BP and GN ones, with up to 4 horses and many cattle in there, with their 1/2 ton 8V pickups, have for decades, without any trouble and with now very old pickups.
We don’t have that many hills, but have deep canyons we travel into and out of at times, so pull plenty hard in those hills.

If driving on a highway all the time and long trips, yes, you can’t ever have enough pickup, so get the most you can manage makes sense.
If using a lighter pickup, just drive more carefully, but you will be fine too.

[QUOTE=Bluey;8869636]Hmm, everyone here pulls their 16’ stock trailers, BP and GN ones, with up to 4 horses and many cattle in there, with their 1/2 ton 8V pickups, have for decades, without any trouble and with now very old pickups.
We don’t have that many hills, but have deep canyons we travel into and out of at times, so pull plenty hard in those hills.

If driving on a highway all the time and long trips, yes, you can’t ever have enough pickup, so get the most you can manage makes sense.
If using a lighter pickup, just drive more carefully, but you will be fine too.[/QUOTE]
V8 is different than a V6… in so many ways.

[QUOTE=Rain;8869370]Pretty cool tool!

Is it possible to add an option under “aluminum vs non-aluminum”? I think some trailers are steel framed with an aluminum skin to give it more strength with less weight. Not sure if the difference in weight is significant enough to bother adding to your calculations, though.

However, like you mention, different F-150s can tow different amounts, based on how they’re equipped. My F-150 has a higher axle ratio than the standard F-150, which increases its towing capacity.[/QUOTE]

I think that’d be a pretty cool toggle. Thanks for the suggestion! Currently you can manually enter the trailer weight, so if you calculate an additional 5-8% weight for the aluminum-hybrid version, you should get a pretty accurate result. I’ll probably add a switch for that in the next day or so to make things easier though

This oughta answer a few questions…
http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?501149-V6-Engine-safe-to-pull-with&p=8866872#post8866872

This is a nice calculator, easy to use.

Unfortunately, there are other considerations than GCWR such as axle load. I’m not suggesting it’s wrong, but for more than a 2 horse bumper pull trailer I think this calculation could be very misleading.