*This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
It looks like you have a Tacoma, but you’re not sure what it’s capable of towing, and you need to know. You might be planning on a camping trip and need to tow your 4-wheeler behind you, maybe you’re moving and need to tow your second car.
Maybe your friend managed to drive his truck into the lake on a fishing trip and you need to pull him out.
Whichever your reason, you need the dos and don’ts of towing with a Tacoma.
Tacomas without the towing package can tow a small car if you have the TRD Sport or TRD Pro models. If you get the tow package the Tacoma can tow up to 6,800 pounds which is enough to tow even full size cars, SUVs and minivans.
Based on the maximum towing capacities (without the tow package) on the Toyota website the line of 2021 Toyota Tacomas can tow…
|SR4×4 Access Cab||SR54×2 Access Cab||TRD Sport4×2 Access Cab||TRD Off-road4×4 Access Cab||Limited4×4 Double Cab||TRD Pro4×2 Access cab|
The last thing you want to do is break your truck or the car you are towing. If you want to know what your Tacoma can tow, even if you can’t Google it, then read on.
We’ll go over how towing works, the important towing factors, what a Tacoma can tow, and how to tow a car with your Tacoma.
How Does Towing Work?
There are several factors that matter:
- Payload capacity
- Towing capacity
- Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)
- Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR)
- curb weight.
The payload number is the total weight your truck can carry, NOT TOW. This number includes what’s in the cabin such as you and your passengers, and what you may have in the bed of the Tacoma.
This matters when towing because the weight you have in the bed and in the cabin will proportionally affect the towing capability. The more weight you have in the truck, the less effectively it will be able to pull because it’s approaching its gross combined weight rating and the harder your truck must work.
You can find this number inside the driver’s door jamb with the tire and loading information sticker as the combined weight that occupants and cargo should never exceed.
Towing capacity is how much weight your vehicle can pull safely.
You can find this number in your Tacoma owner’s manual, or you can calculate it by subtracting your Tacoma’s curb weight from your GCWR.
Be very careful! The towing capacity online might be including the payload capacity in order to create more impressive numbers for marketing! This was something Brian the Colorado Camperman found out.
You can get an idea if the number you’re looking at is a combination of the towing capacity and payload capacity by how large it is. Be suspicious of 20,000 or 30,000 towing capacities.
If you are suspicious of the numbers the dealer gives, the best practice you can do to be certain of what your Tacoma can tow is to subtract the payload capacity from the towing capacity.
If you are towing by using your back hitch, make sure the hitch itself can sustain what you’re towing. A sticker on the hitch should give you its weight threshold.
The GVWR is the combination of you, your passengers, the gas in your tank, “gear,” the trailer’s tongue weight (the weight on the trailer hitch), and the curb weight of what you’re towing with.
The GVWR matters when you tow because you need to be mindful of all that weight your Tacoma is already carrying as you add the weight of the car you’re towing, and make sure it doesn’t exceed the Tacoma’s GCWR.
The GCWR, also known as your tow rating, is the combined weight of your vehicle and what you’re towing, including anyone and any added cargo within. It lets you know the total weight your Tacoma can safely withstand and should be in your owner’s manual.
In case it’s not, you can calculate your GCWR by adding the towing capacity and the GVWR together.
The GVWR your Tacoma can handle will be on the door jamb sticker.
Curb weight is the weight of your Tacoma by itself. The reason this matters is because it’s a part of your payload capacity.
On the inside of the driver’s door, you should see some stickers with information. The curb weight won’t be specifically mentioned, but if you take the GVWR, which is listed, and subtract the total listed cargo capacity from it, you’ll get your curb weight.
The cargo capacity will probably be on the ‘tire and loading information,’ sticker.
Your owner’s manual should also have this information and tell you if these numbers take into account having a full tank of gas, an empty tank, or other fluids.
If your car doesn’t have those stickers and you misplaced your manual, you can get your Tacoma weighed to get your answer.
What Can A Tacoma Tow?
- Now that we have the exact numbers, how does that translate to objects?
- Based on Toyota’s website, the 2021 line of Tacomas with a tow package have a towing capacity of about 6,500 lbs maximum. CJ Off-Road has a list of example vehicles that fall under that threshold.
How To Tow A Car With A Tacoma
If your car is able to be towed by your Tacoma, the next thing you need to figure out is how to do it.
What You Need
If you do need to tow a car you’re going to need either a wire rope, chain, a steel bar, dolly, or an elastic tow strap. For the sake of this article’s length, let’s say you’re using a strap and you need to pull out a car that has been driven a short way off the road.
Before You Get Started
According to Your Mechanic, your Tacoma needs to be at least 750lbs heavier than the car it’s towing, so be sure that’s the case first.
Attaching the Car to Your Tacoma
Your Tacoma and the car should have, “recovery points,” which are loops or bolts in the front and back so that you can attach the strap. At the very least, your Tacoma should have a tow bar in the back.
If you have a strap with shackles, don’t use the shackle to attach to the loops or bolts, because it might break. Instead, remove the shackle, pull the strap through loop or bolt, and then clip the shackle through the loop of your strap. AutoTrader can show you how.
If you have straps with hooks, simply attach to the loops or bolts.
With the car securely attached to the back of your Tacoma, start slowly driving the Tacoma forward until the strap starts rising from the ground but is not tight.
This is when Truck Uplift suggests putting a blanket on top of the strap to avoid whipping if it breaks.
Keep pulling until the strap is taut, remove the blanket, put the car in neutral, and slowly start driving the Tacoma forward until the car is out of the ditch.
Once you have pulled out the car, call roadside assistance to get it home. Depending on where you live, there may be certain towing laws you weren’t prepared for.
Avoid maxing out your Tacoma’s capacity. Abusing your Tacoma’s capacities is a great way to break something.
If you do intend to tow the car some distance, be aware of towing laws in your area and use a tow dolly instead.
Finally, don’t be nervous about having to calculate the factors I mentioned because Big Rock Moto has a free calculator for you.