Mystery: Ram Towing Capacity Guide Cuts Max Tow Ratings on New & Existing Trucks…But Why?

It's not immediately clear why there are these discrepancies

Several TFL readers and viewers have reached out with questions about fluctuating figures with their Ram trucks.

For years, Ram has published a convenient tool wherein owners can enter their VINs and get the exact payload and towing specifications for their specific trucks. Some folks are coming across a strange and potentially troublesome phenomenon when they double-check the tool, however: Those stated capacities have changed, sometimes shifting downward by several thousand pounds.

Several of you have reached out to TFLtruck for more information. Why are the numbers shifting from year to year? What’s the explanation? To address your concerns, Andre and Tommy published a video to the TFLtruck YouTube channel covering what we know so far.

The short answer? We aren’t able to say at the moment what the issue is with Ram’s towing capacity tool. We have asked Ram for more information, and while they responded that they would look into it, we have not heard anything further as of Friday, February 3, 2023. A clarification one FCA spokesperson did provide is that no Ram 2500 model has been officially rated to tow greater than 20,000 pounds (a quick look at the towing chart [the link will download a PDF file] confirms this). The 2023 Ram 2500 in certain configurations can tow 19,990 or exactly 20,000, but no more.

Every truck manufacturer should include towing capacity with their compliance stickers

While the images above show just one viewer’s Ram 2500, we’ve seen similar stories from other members of the TFL community and owners’ forums. What’s more, the VIN lookup tool doesn’t just seem to be having issues with heavy-duty models. As I’m putting together this companion piece to the video below, another viewer reached out with another peculiar case.

Here, the payload and towing capacities change depending on whether you enter the VIN with lowercase or uppercase letters:

At any rate, as many of you pointed out, this creates a serious safety issue when people shop for their new Ram truck. There’s an intense amount of research, development and engineering that goes into deciding a model’s towing capacities, not least of which is the modern SAE J2807 standard. Publishing those figures in a public-facing tool only for those figures to change creates confusion, at best, and could lead to people towing over the truck’s capacity, which could endanger them and other motorists depending on the size of the discrepancy.

Now, as Tommy points out in the video below, you could work in a certain buffer for buying a truck to match your needs. In other words, you get a truck that tows well over what sort of cargo you’ll actually transport at any given time. That’s a good idea, but there’s still an issue of getting the stated capacity you’re paying for and the tool showing you a capacity delta of several thousand pounds from one year to the next (even with the same VIN).

Based on the cases we’ve seen, it’s possible (perhaps likely) that it’s just an issue with the tool itself. After all, Ram does publish a full towing chart breaking down capacities by configuration, like two-wheel drive vs. four-wheel drive, regular vs. crew cab, trim level, etc. It’s rare that towing capability physically changes within the same generation with the same powertrain mix, outputs and equipment, but it’s still useful to have accurate, verifiable information close to hand should you need to quickly locate those figures.

That leads into another idea: Why not post the rated towing capacity on a trailering information sticker? General Motors does exactly that with their modern trucks, so you know exactly what the GVWR, GCWR, payload, tongue weight and overall trailering capacity is for your truck (barring any aftermarket modifications). Not only is it useful, but it should be a requirement for truck manufacturers to improve towing safety.

Let us know your thoughts below. Again, we’ll provide an update if and when we get more information on Ram’s towing capacity tool and its present issues. Check out more of our thoughts below: