Towing capacity is a measure describing the upper limit to the weight of a trailer a vehicle can tow. In the United States, towing capacity is expressed in pounds, while other countries express the limit in kilograms.
If you already have the vehicle that you plan to tow with, you need to find a trailer that is within the weight range of your vehicle. This was a common problem I ran into during my days as an RV sales manager. Customers would come in to purchase a travel trailer only to find out that their tow vehicle did not have a very good tow rating.
It can be extremely frustrating to go out and find the perfect travel trailer or fifth wheel and then be told that you can't tow it. On the other hand it can be worse if you go to a less reputable RV dealer and the salesperson tells you that you can tow it! This happens every day, and this is why you need to be armed with the right information before you buy.
It is not my intention to upset any RV dealers, but if you go to a dealership and they don't ask you for information about the tow vehicle it would be wise to go elsewhere. The first question my salespeople were required to ask was if you already had a tow vehicle. If so, they would look in our towing book and identify the tow capacity for your vehicle. Then we would tell you what options you had. We lost many sales because the customer could not safely pull the camper they wanted, but we did not allow them to jeopardize themselves or their family.
If you don't already have the tow vehicle, it's a good idea to find the camper you want first and then buy a vehicle that is capable of safely towing it. I will caution you again, be careful if you listen to the salesperson at the car dealership. They are only interested in selling you a vehicle, and a large percentage of them do not understand vehicle tow ratings. Call a reputable RV dealer and ask them to check the vehicles tow rating before you buy it.
Mark Polk is the producer of the most highly regarded DVDs about RV use and maintenance. He is also the author of popular books and eBooks about RVs and RVing. Learn more about these products at RVbookstore.com.