An update to the earlier article in "Pickuptrucks" magazine.
Still don't know if the link is working - here it is in it's entirety.
Motoring - Common Standard on Towing
Published: August 28, 2009
FOR decades automakers have promoted the towing capacity of their vehicles, particularly pickup trucks, as a selling point. What many consumers did not know was that the industry had no standard to ensure apples-to-apples comparisons and to prevent companies from making unrealistic claims.
Mark Elias/Bloomberg News
Until now, automakers lacked a shared method to measure a vehicle’s towing capacity.
“I think in many ways consumers just went with what was printed in the brochure and took no real thought as to how it was developed,” said David Champion, the director of auto testing for Consumer Reports magazine.
That will soon change. SAE International, the group formerly known as the Society of Automotive Engineers, has established a voluntary standard that specifies how automakers should measure towing capacity.
“My personal opinion is that some of the numbers were getting a little carried away,” said Robert Krouse, a General Motors engineer specializing in towing who is also chairman of the SAE committee that came up with the standard. The committee included engineers from G.M., Chrysler, Ford, Honda and Toyota, as well as industry experts.
Mr. Krouse declined to say whether any automaker was doing anything unethical, but acknowledged that there had been potential for a company, if so inclined, “to turn the numbers” in its favor.
For example, without an industry standard, Mr. Krouse said, there was no requirement specifying how quickly a vehicle had to tow its load. “You could limp up any hill and say, ‘Well, we got to the top,’ Mr. Krouse said. “If you didn’t think your customers would complain, you could get away with anything.”
If automakers choose to use the SAE standard, consumers should come out ahead. “The good part is that the numbers should be more directly comparable, so a Toyota 10,000 pounds and a G.M. 10,000 pounds and a Ford 10,000 pounds should be pretty similar,” Mr. Krouse said.
The new standard, called J2807, specifies not just how quickly a vehicle must be able to accelerate — including uphill grades — but also how it stops and how it handles. With increases in horsepower and torque it is possible for a vehicle to tow a trailer that outweighs it, creating potential challenges to drivers, Mr. Krouse said.
“Being able to handle the trailer is an even more critical part of the equation,” he said. Consumers can quickly tell how a vehicle accelerates, but poor handling “sneaks up on you,” he said. “You can be in trouble in a hurry.”
So one requirement is that the vehicle’s suspension must be able to resist a trailer’s fishtailing.
One implication of the new standard is that towing numbers are likely to drop by 200 to 500 pounds. That is because the new standard specifies how the towing vehicle must be equipped when the tests are conducted.
Previously, the tested vehicle could be a stripped-down model without options, and only a driver needed to be on board. Now there must be a driver and a 150-pound passenger as well as typical options like air-conditioning.
That could increase the vehicle’s curb weight — and decrease the existing towing capability — by 200 to 500 pounds, Mr. Krouse said.
The standard was introduced at SAE International’s conference last year and is now undergoing some minor changes, Mr. Krouse said. It covers cars, minivans, S.U.V.’s and all but the largest heavy-duty pickups. The SAE committee originally recommended that automakers begin using the new standard for 2011 models, but Mr. Krouse said that given the tumult in the industry that could slip to 2012.
Nothing prevents an automaker from adopting the method earlier. But it could be a competitive disadvantage to be the only company using the system.
For consumers, the thing to look for would be a note on sales or promotional material stating that the tow rating was calculated using SAE standard J2807
It's funny, they make it sound like only the newest vehicles have the power to handle a load greater than their own weight. My 72 F250 weighs 4800lbs, but I have towed 9k with it. It's just a matter of not outdriving it or your skills.
No rating system in the world can make up for a lack of skill and common sense.
Has anybody actually read this "standard"? I ask because I found this:
"The standard can be applied to passenger cars, multi-purpose passenger vehicles and trucks with a GCWR of up to 16,000 pounds."
That means the weight wars for 3/4 and 1 ton pickups will continue to be whatever the manufacturer wants since they are all rated well above 16,000 lbs and no truck maker is going to quote a standard that doesn't apply to their vehicle, especially if it means a lower number.
Thanks for the quick response. So that's 2015 model year then? If things work the way I'm hoping, I'm about one year away from buying a new truck, or new to me anyway. Might be a 2013 model year bought in fall of 2014.
No they don't meet the J2807. Ford has said they will when the new Models come out. Therefore GM is waiting..so too for Ram.
Toyota is using them...they had to back off a bit on their numbers.
Toyota is the only one using them and advertising it. GM release them for a while and all were within 200 lbs or so of the original ( think one went down 1,000 lbs but it was a regular cab 2wd or something???), some of GMs ratings even increased. I believe Dodge has said that they are testing their trucks to the SAE rating, again no facts like GM and Toyota. Ford is the only one who is not jumping up and down to use it. I'm guessing Ford can't get their trucks to get close to their current ratings which is why they are waiting it out. You will also notice Ford has toyed with brakes on the super duty line as well but been very quite about it. I pressed our Ford rep about them (not a lot lizard but an actual ford major accounts person) and he was not pleased that I called him out on the ratings and not being able to get close to what they are advertising now so I'm fairly confident that they are having issues with it.