By Tim Esterdahl, shared to GM Authority
One of the little reported pieces of information from the unveiling of the all-new 2015 F-150 is that Ford will finally adopt the J2807 towing standard. With Ford being the nation’s leader in light-duty trucks, this will create a domino effect, with other makers like GM adopting the standard as well. What does this mean for GM’s towing numbers? Simply put, they will drop.
The J2807 towing standard has been around since 2009 and was scheduled to go into effect in the 2013 model year. It was developed with the Society of Automotive Engineers and truck makers working together in devising a set of tests to determine safe towing weights. These tests went over items like acceleration at load capacity including up the Davis dam, braking safely with different load capacities among other things.
One of the main beneficiaries of the towing standard will be consumers. For the last several years, truck makers have been locked in a game of one-upmanship. Engineers from all companies have consistently come out with larger towing numbers when a rival releases their new towing numbers. This practice, known to journalists as “magical towing dust,” of recalculating towing numbers without making mechanical changes has created public mistrust over the numbers.
What does all this mean? The current towing numbers are higher than they will be after the standard is adopted, though they may not all have a big drop. For example, two years ago GM released towing numbers for 2013 trucks that adhered to the standard (they retracted these numbers are they heard Ford wasn’t going to adopt the standard). These numbers showed a mere 300 lbs drop from 2012 Sierra 1500 and 2013 GMC Sierra. The big news, though, was in certain HD models like the 2500 models with a 5th hitch. This truck dropped 3,400 lbs.
Does that mean that your current GM truck isn’t able to safely tow the current maximum towing limit? Yes and no. Yes, in that GM engineers have tested it with their methods at that load limit and found it safe. No, in that it doesn’t meet the standard set by the SAE. Confused?
The confusion is simply what is considered safe. Truck makers are long known to develop their towing standards by setting the vehicle up specifically to achieve the highest number possible. This means the truck’s payload is calculated with empty bed and a 150-lb driver. There is also some “recalculating” done as to regards to what is really safe when cornering and stopping. In short, they are trying to maximize their towing number to claim the most towing in their class.
It is easy to see that the manufactures towing test doesn’t mirror real life, based on multiple third-party tests and findings. Much like the way vehicles are setup to achieve high MPGs and “game” the EPA testing cycle, towing tests do the same thing. The new standards are meant to not “game” the system and mirror more of what real-life towing is like.
Now, the advancements GM has made to both the Sierra and Silverado will drastically offset the towing “losses,” so to speak. The truth is that ever since the standard has come out, manufactures have used it to test their vehicles. They don’t tell you this, but every truck maker has their “J2807 towing numbers” already calculated. It is also truthful that if they would have adopted the standard when it was first developed, the trucks would have had their towing numbers dramatically reduced. Why? With the standard out for a while, truck makers have worked hard to improve their product to minimize the impact.
In the end, what will happen when the 2015 F-150 adopts the standard? All truck makers will adopt it (everyone besides Toyota which already did) and towing numbers will change slightly for some to dramatically for others based on configuration. One thing is for sure, the consumers will finally have some truthful towing numbers.