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Towing Capacity

How to get the best ride out of your tow vehicle.

June 10, 2010

If your truck isn’t rated to tow your boat, there’s nothing you can do to change that capacity. Maximum towing capacity is both a safety thing and based on legal standards directed by the auto manufacturers and federal and state governments. But, when the OEM tires on my tow vehicle started to show wear, I searched about for tires and other tricks that would increase my confidence in handling the 7,500-pound boat I tow throughout Florida. While truck manufacturers do a remarkable job of choosing tires and shocks to meet the needs of an “average” driver (whoever that is), my rig had what I’d call a “nervous attitude” on the highway. A combination of higher-grade tires and premium, adjustable Rancho shocks tuned the ride for my load and to my taste.

Rancho Shocks
A light truck and full-size SUV’s beefy frames, powerful drive trains and tough suspensions make them the ideal candidates for moving boats over 4,000 pounds. But from the factory, the best suspension systems are designed to work well in a variety of situations. So a “trucker” taking his vehicle off-road might have to settle for the ride of a truck capable of bench-pressing a 500-pound trailer tongue. And the suburbanite commuter’s pickup might ride more like a sumo wrestler.

So, when Rancho wanted us to experience a custom-tuned ride on our Nissan Titan project vehicle, we said, “Yeah, baby!” We were already happy with the guts this truck exhibited and felt confident in its stability on the highway when pulling our 7,500-pound rig. But according to the product literature, these shocks and struts offered a tunable ride off-road, on-road or under heavy tow — all in one set of shocks and struts.

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Nine different settings on the shocks give different “dampening” effects. By dialing them to “one,” our Titan “softened up” for hard-core off-roading. Dialed to “four,” we found a ride akin to a luxury SUV on the neighborhood’s brick streets. With our boat in tow “nine” on each shock, they gave the firmest, most confident-feeling ride under load. At this setting, we ran over railroad tracks and the truck stopped the resulting bucking immediately. On the highway, crosswinds and passing tractor-trailer rigs no longer pushed us around. Control was definitely enhanced — something nervous drivers will really appreciate.

Rancho shocks have a free 90-day money-back trial period in case you don’t like them and a lifetime warranty in case you do. Even at $699 installed, we aren’t giving ours up.

To find a local installer, go to gorancho.com.

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Tow Facts
Towing capacity is calculated by the manufacturer and is the mathematical difference between gross vehicle weight rating less the weight of the truck and cargo and fuel in it.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is the total weight of the truck, cargo, passengers and tow payload. In other words, the truck, cargo, passengers, fuel and tow payload cannot exceed GVWR.

Do you have towing questions? Post a comment below.

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