How Much Can the Ford F-150 or F-250 Safely Tow in the ‘Real World’? (Ask TFL)

It's not just about the towing ratings, it's about the payload.

2019 Ford F-150 f-250 towing comparison
2019 Ford F-150 vs F-250

How much can my Ford F-150 safely tow in the real world? We recently received several question about towing heavy trailers with a new F-150 or a F-250/F-350. It has to do with the truck’s payload/towing ratings, trailer type, and more.

Here is a question from Robert D.

” You helped me make the decision on purchasing my 2016 F-150 (3.5 EcoBoost 4×4). My wife and I upgraded our travel trailer to a larger one. I am now near the max tow capacity of my truck (new trailer is approx 9,500 lbs GCVW).  I know my truck can actually tow the weight, but in your opinion what is the realistic towing capacity of my F-150 when it comes to relatively long and tall travel trailers?

As always you should check the actual towing rating of your truck. It depends on several other parameters: the rear axle ratio, trim of your truck, towing package level, and more. You should also check the payload rating (on the yellow sticker in the driver’s door jam).

If you are within your payload, GAWR, towing, and GCWR ratings – then your truck will be safe towing the larger trailer. We have tested several F-150 trucks over the years with trailers weighing between 9,000 – 9,500 lbs. We ran them on the Ike Gauntletâ„¢ with confidence. However, we always made sure to stay with rear axle Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) and payload limit. As soon as you approach or go over the truck’s axle or total payload capacity, the suspension gets fully compressed and the truck will start to sway a lot more. This is a the last thing you need when towing heavy.

Here is another question/comment from Mark W.

I recently upgraded from an F-150 to an F-350.  I skipped over the F-250 due to a smaller increase in payload capacity.  I found that my travel trailer was within the tow rating of my f150, but it put me way over max axle loading.   Doing further research showed me that most 3/4 ton trucks have inadequate payload for fifth wheel trailers. I see alot of very large triple axle trailers being towed by 3/4 ton trucks. Some of these have pin weights too high for single wheel 1-ton trucks. I think it would be helpful for TFL to do a video on this and show that just looking at tow ratings is only a small part of the picture.

Mark, you make some great comments. Indeed, many people forget to check their payload ratings for their specific truck. This can be found on the yellow sticker inside the driver’s door jam. Many current 3/4-ton diesel crew cab 4×4 trucks have a payload near 2,000 lbs. This is not enough to handle a bog trailer. Many 5th-wheel or gooseneck trailers have a very heavy tongue weight.

If you plan to tow heavy, then the Ford F-350 single-rear-wheel is most likely what you need. These one-ton trucks have a max. payload of just over 4,000 lbs. Naturally, if you are towing full-time or need over 4,000 lbs of payload, then you need a dually one ton something even bigger.

We already made a video to help with these questions. Check it out below.

Andre Smirnov is an Automotive Enthusiast, Producer, Reviewer, Videographer, Writer, Software Engineer, Husband, Father, and Friend.