Chevrolet Silverado: What is the Maximum Towing Capacity?

The most important thing you need to know before towing with your Chevrolet Silverado concerns its towing capabilities.

By Joshua Leimkuehler - June 23, 2015

This article applies to the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (1999-present).

Although you feel like you can probably do just about anything you want in your Chevrolet Silverado, it’s important to know your truck’s real-world limitations; in particular, your truck’s maximum towing capacity (the maximum weight you can pull with your truck). Exceeding your truck’s towing capacity can put a lot of strain on the powertrain, drivetrain, and can also affect braking and handling. This brief guide will help you determine your truck’s maximum towing capacity so you can stay safe while towing for work or fun.

Determining Max Towing Capacity

Step 1 – Check the owner's manual

One way of determining your truck’s towing capacity is to read your vehicle’s manual. The manual should provide detailed towing instructions and limitations, along with tips for safe towing. The owner’s manual is also a great resource to learn about your truck’s towing features, like Chevy’s Trailer Sway Control.

Figure 1. The owner's manual is a reliable source for important information about your Silverado.

Step 2 – Check your truck's compliance certification label

You can also determine your Silverado’s maximum towing capacity by referring to the compliance certification label, a sticker placed somewhere in the driver’s door sill. This sticker will have several fields of information, including Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW), Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), Gross Combination Weight (GCW), Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR), Gross Axle Weight (GAW), and Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR). The GCWR is the maximum safe weight of your combined vehicle and trailer.

Figure 2. Check the sticker on the inside of the door jamb for towing specs.

Step 3 – Check online

Another way of determining your truck’s maximum towing capacity is by looking online. You can find tons of information on forums and other websites relating to your specific year and model. So whether you have a first generation Silverado 1500 with a limited slip differential or a brand-new Silverado 1500 Z71 with an Eaton G80 automatic locking rear diff, you can find your truck’s exact towing capacity with a little digging online.

Figure 3. Check online for any info on what your truck can handle.

Common Questions

Is "maximum payload" capacity different from "maximum towing" capacity?

Your truck’s payload rating tells you how much cargo you can place in the truck bed before the back end starts to sag dangerously close to the rear tires. If towing and hauling at the same time, make sure the combined weight of the cargo and trailer doesn’t exceed your Silverado’s GCWR.

What happens if I exceed my truck's maximum towing capacity?

For starters, exceeding your truck’s max towing capacity can cause major damage to the engine, transmission, and drivetrain. If that’s not enough of a reason to stay within your truck’s listed capacity, exceeding capacity can also hinder your truck’s braking and handling. This can create dangerous driving situations that put you, your passengers, fellow drivers, and nearby pedestrians at risk of injury or death.

Are there extra service requirements for trucks that do a lot of towing?

Although there are no specific service requirements for trucks that see a lot of towing action, it’s recommended that you follow the “heavy use” guidelines for maintenance and service in your owner’s manual. Typically, this means getting fluids changed sooner than normal and inspecting the powertrain and drivetrain for excessive wear and tear.

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