How Much Can You Tow With A Class C Motorhome?

Many motorhome owners prefer the practicality of having another vehicle along when they travel. Others might want to tow their boat or a travel trailer even. In fact, towing another vehicle behind the motorhome has become more common in recent years.  So how much can you tow with a Class C motorhome? Some Class C’s have the ability to pull up to 30,000 pounds(Super Class C). However, most class C’s, with a ford E350 or E450 are less, typically around 5,000 lbs and possibly less depending on the type of class C you have and the class of hitch that is installed. 

There are three numbers that you need to know when it comes to towing with a factory installed hitch:

  1. Maximum Hitch Weight
  2. Maximum Available Gross Combined Weight Rating (MAGCWR)
  3. Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)

Here's an example:

  • Max Hitch Weight =  5000 lbs (hitch max dependent) 
  • MAGCWR = 20,000 lbs
  • GVWR = 14,200 lbs

20,000 (MAGCWR) - 14,200 (GVWR) = 5,800 Towable Weight (though total towable weight is 5,000 is so the total is 5,000 and not 5,800 as towable weight) 

So depending on how you are towing 5,000 lbs limiting factor that can impact what you might be towing. Typical class C should be able to tow an average mid-sized car weighing at 3,500 lbs. So depending on the size of your car, car trailer, dolly, boat or combination of each you will be either under or over your maximum town capacity. This does not include the state’s or provinces rules around what is the maximum allowable towing limit. In addition, some cars are not designed to be towed with a tow bar and would require a dolly towing. There’s a number of factors and terms to know how you would tow a car or a boat. I’ll dig a little further here. First the terminology required in towing.

Common Towing Terminology In The RV World

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)

This is the maximum weight that this vehicle is meant to carry and can include the tongue weight of the vehicle or trailer you are towing, but not the actual item being towed. This can be found on a sticker on the driver door or again inside the cabinet door in your camper.

Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR)

This is the total weight of the vehicle, people & stuff inside & the vehicle being towed. This rating can usually be found inside the motorhome or trailer inside a closet.

Trailer Tongue Weight

This is the weight that is placed on the hitch ball and is usually 10% of the weight of the trailer or vehicle being towed.

Max Hitch Weight  

The max hitch capacity is listed on a sticker on the hitch, this is the total that the hitch can tow. The classes are listed below:

Class
Max Hitch Weight Rating in lbs
Class 1
2,000
Class 2
3,500
Class 3
5,000
Class 4
7,500 lbs - but can handle 10,000 with a weight distributing hitch
Class 5
12,000 lbs - but can handle 17,000 with a weight distributing hitch

Considerations in Towing

There are a number of things to think about when towing. How you are going to tow? What is the weight of those items combined? What is the gas mileage when towing? Does it make sense or are there other options?

What Does Car Weight for towing?

Cars can weigh from the low end of 3,000 lbs for a compact car, all the way up to 5,500 lbs for a Large truck or SUV. With the average weight being 4,250 lbs for a mid size truck or SUV. So if you were flat towing a compact car behind your typical ford E350 or E450 class C one would be fine.

What Does A Trailer Weigh for towing?

Open flatbed dual axle car trailer weight from 1,600 lbs to 2,200 lbs, while an enclosed dual axle car trailer weights can be from 1,800 lbs all the way up to 5,000 lbs. While a boat trailer can be from about 1,000 lbs for a 15-foot trailer to 7,000 lbs for a 28-foot trailer. So based on your car size or boat size, a 5,000 tow capacity can be very quickly exceeded.  

What Does A Boat Weight for towing?

A typical 24-foot boat can weight from 3,500 to 4,000 lbs. If you want to bring along a small aluminum boat or an inflatable, with a motor the weight can quickly get up to about 5,50 lbs.  

Combined Weights

So the total weight of a car and trailer could weight as much as 6,500 lbs to 7,000 lbs or higher and the weight for a 24-foot boat would weight in excess of 6,000 to 7,000 lbs. On the lighter side, choosing to tow a compact car with an average weight of 3,000  with a car hitch or a small aluminum boat on a 15-foot trailer is the ideal weight.

Maximum Hitch Weight

This is the weight on the hitch placed on by the vehicle being towed. The motorhome will have the hitch weight written on the hitch sticker.

What Kind Of Mileage Will I Get While Towing

Choosing to tow inevitably has a cost to what you are towing. The heaver tow the lower the fuel mileage. This goes for diesel as well as gasoline engines. Typically the loss in mileage can be from 10 to 25% in lost fuel mileage. So if your diesel currently has about 20 mpg and you are towing 5,000 lbs then the lowered fuel mileage would be 15 mpg while towing.

Towing A Car - Flat & Dolly

There are really two methods to tow a car and not add much additional weight to the towing:

  1. The A-frame Towbar - typically about 30 to 50 lbs
  2. The Tow-Dolly - typically weights about 450 to 600 lbs.

When you are towing with the towbar, you are towing flat (flat-towed) and some vehicles were not designed to be towed this way due to the design of the transmission, which does not have transmission fluid running through when the car is not running. Doing so would ruin the transmission of the car. Cars with self-lubricating systems when the car is off is the ideal vehicle. The best way to know is to check the owners manual of your car and double check with the manufacturer.

The other option is to go with the dolly towing method, in which the front wheels are loaded and locked onto a dolly thereby preventing the front wheels where from spinning when being towed. Here is a video on how to load a car on a dolly.

Related Questions

What Is The Towing Capacity of A Pusher Diesel?

A pusher diesel is a type of motor that runs on diesel fuel manufactured by Cummins or Caterpillar. Typically they are in Class A motorhomes and have almost become synonymous for a class A motorhome, though there are many class A’s that run on gas. It is inaccurate to say class A is a pusher, though some Class A’s have pushers. So what is the towing capacity of the diesel pusher? So if we are talking about a class A with a Cummins or Caterpillar engines the potential could be up to 30,000 lbs, however, that limit is typically capped by the hitch which is around 10,000 to 15,000 lbs.

Which Class C Has A High Towing Capacity?

To get beyond the 5,000 lbs towing capacity one would have to look at a Super Class C, which actually can have a towing capacity beyond a Class A motorhome. A super Class C is a diesel motorhome built on Ford 550 chassis or a class 8 diesel semi truck chassis that can handle a GVWR exceeding 33,000 lbs.  

This would allow you to tow a semi-trailer if you chose to. In relation to the RV world, this would allow you to tow an enclosed car trailer with a car and a 24-foot boat on a trailer with combined rough weights of 24,000 lbs. Remember this also comes down to the capacity of the hitch. This would still allow you to tow another 10,000 lbs! I’m not sure who would want to tow that much with them on a camping trip and I’m sure the cost to tow that would be quite unreal.

Conclusion

So if you are thinking about towing a car or boat with your class C, the simplest answer is the maximum towable weight is what your motorhome can handle, is based on the type of hitch that was installed on your RV. However, you might be wondering after everything is in the Camper, can you still tow that same amount? Either way, we have covered that towing answer as well as what the maximum towing capacity of a Super Class C can tow.

Let me know what you think?

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