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Tow Performance

In the towing and recovery industry, it is important that your trucks are optimized for the unique demands of your operation, and dangerous when a truck is trying to do a job that it is incapable of. However, there is a way to take the assumptions and guessing out, and that is by finding the Tow Performance of your truck.

The purpose of Tow Performance is to find the safe useable front axle weight on your tow truck for increased steering and braking capabilities. This can be found from a 50% front axle weight reduction while in tow.

To calculate the Tow Performance, you are going to need some simple information from the tow truck. First, find your trucks actual front axle weight (Not the Gross Axle Weight Rating or GAWR). Next, measure the wheelbase. On a single rear axle truck, this is done from the middle of the front axle to the middle of the rear axle. But if you have a tandem truck, measure from the front axle to the middle of the tandems. Finally, measure the overhang, the distance from the middle of the tandems to the middle of the fork receivers. This will ensure that the length of the underlift is set to where you would normally be towing the casualties from.

Now it is time to do the calculations with the information gathered. Take the front axle weight and divide by 2. Next, multiply that by your wheelbase and then divide by the overhang. This will give you the weight that you can lift and tow with a 50% front axle weight reduction. Your Tow Performance is the safe, usable front axle weight.

Tow Truck


(Front Axle Weight in lbs.) / (2) * (Wheelbase in inches) / (Overhang in inches)  = (Tow Performance)


14,500 lbs.  /  2  *  312”   /  190”   =    11,905 lbs. that can be lifted and towed with a safe useable front axle weight

This calculation is intended to show you what can be towed while maintaining a safe useable front axle weight. It is not intended to calculated axle weights for scaling purposes. Tow Performance is a calculation of 50% front axle weight reduction while towing and is a standard across the country. In addition, it is a good rule of thumb to abide by when building a new truck.

When following this method, you will find benefits such as:

  • Better steering
  • Better breaking
  • Reduced tire wear
  • Longer truck life
  • Many additional benefits

This calculation is a very simple and quick way to evaluate the tow performance of your truck, which has been used with great success for quite a few years.  Due to the increase of twin steer chassis and larger steer tire sizes, consider looking at the tire to ground PSI rather than a static weight for your tow performance ratings. In the next blog, we will find the differences and compare these two.

This formula applies to any tow truck, not just heavy duties, so keep this in mind when considering your next purchase. For more information, or if you have any questions, contact us today!

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