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Should I buy an LC300 or Silverado 1500 for towing?

Reader question:

Hi Robert, been watching your videos on towing, very helpful. I am confused about one thing though. After watching your video “what I should tow with” we had a LC300 on order and a van that will come in right on 3.5T fully loaded.

After watching that video we cancelled the LC300 and ordered a Silverado 1500 thinking that it’s playing it safe than having the latest dash etc. Now after watching another video about axle weights I used the calculator on your website and whilst the LC300 passes all the parameters the Silverado fails on axle weights as the axles are only rated at 1724 kgs. So, my question is am I doing something wrong or is the Silverado a dud? And I need to go back in the queue for a LC300?

I have watched many videos trying to get it right and I must say they are all a bit vague really and just when you think you’ve found a good tow car something else comes up to the point I’m thinking about cancelling the lot and staying in hotels, ha ha. Thanks, sorry for the long question.

No, you’re not doing anything wrong.

It’s hard to find a vehicle which will tow 3500kg comfortably within limits when you’ve got any form of load in the towcar. You’re right to use my calculator for your buying decisions, that’s why I wrote it. However, the calculator needs accurate information and for rear axle loads, that’s typically not available so the calculator makes a conservative estimate.

If we go to GMSV’s website we find a lot of the towing information displayed and easy to find, which is great:

We can see that the unladen mass of the Silverado 1500 is 2481kg. We don’t know the front/rear distribution, but we can work on around 55/45 front/rear, so that’s maybe 1116kg on the rear axle. The limit for the rear axle is 1742kg, so we’ve got 625kg of rear axle payload to play with. Now we’ll assume the 3500kg van has a towball mass of at least 300kg, maybe 350kg, so we’ll work with 320kg. Because there’s a distance between the hitch and rear axle there’s more load on the rear axle than there is on the hitch, usually 1.5x (may be a little less, this is something that the carmarker never supplies so needs to be measured), so 320 x 1.5 = 480kg.

We take that 480kg off the 625kg and we’re left with 145kg. And that’s not enough, because adding two people to the car of say 160kg combined would add maybe 70kg to the rear axle, then a few bits and pieces, or maybe the TBM is 340kg not 320kg..and you have exceeded the rear axle load limit.

The online bot popped up and asked if I wanted help, so I actually asked the question. Doubt I’ll get an answer, but anyway.

Now the real answer can only be found by getting the van and weighing it with the rig, but if the calculator doesn’t give a big margin to play with, then I’d suggest the detailed weighing exercise is going to end in tears.

You’re not the first person to think towing is all too hard and just buy a motorhome or use hotels. It’d be nice if the towing industry woke up to the complexity and actually helped people.

There are higher-capacity utes such as the 2500s, or you could go for a light truck.

Here’s rear axle loads explained, and my initial analysis of the Silverado 1500’s “4500kg towing” capability.

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