Toyota Tundra J2807 Tow Rating Explained

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The Toyota Tundra is the only full-size truck that uses the J2807 standard for determining its towing rating. What does that mean and how does SAE measure the rating?

Toyota Tundra J2807 Tow Rating Explained

When you tow a load in a Toyota Tundra, rest assured it will tow what it says it will.

For years, the towing rating for full-size trucks has been more of a gimmick than a factual number. Many, many times manufactures would simply use it as a bragging right. And quite often, trucks would “magically” have increased numbers with a new model without any mechanical changes.

Toyota has always been known for safety and it isn’t surprising that in 2010, they adopted the standard for their 2011 trucks. This was a bit of a gamble for Toyota with the towing ratings of its truck being revised lower than previous models. However, they know have bragging rights as the ONLY manufacture that is J2807 complaint.

For reference, the J2807 standard has many names. Toyota calls it the “truth in towing” standard. The Society of American Engineers says it is actually, “Performance Requirements for Determining Tow-Vehicle Gross Combination Weight Rating and Trailer Weight Rating.” It was first published in 2008 and since all the other manufactures have said they would be complaint by 2013. Then, they changed their mind once their towing numbers decreased. Why do they decrease?

Famously, manufacturers love to test their vehicles with ridiculous setups. Such as empty beds towing large boats without taking into account the driver.

The J2807 standard is actually really more of a way to set a standard bar for everyone. It uses three different tests and a standard calculation for weight. While, the test is imperfect, it is a good standard for everyone to use.

The standard is:

Acceleration: For any given trailer weight, the tow vehicle needs to accelerate to 30 mph in 12 seconds or less, to 60 in 30 seconds or less, and from 40 to 60 mph over level ground in no more than 18 seconds. Dualies are allowed extra time to meet these requirements.

Climbing: Tow vehicles need to climb the Davis Dam Grade (or an equivalent simulation) – a 3,000-foot run over an 11.4-mile stretch of Arizona State Route 68 southeast of Las Vegas – without dropping below 40 mph and with the air conditioning on full blast. Dualies get it easy again, with a 35-mph minimum speed.

Launching: On a 12-percent grade (an incline that rises 12 feet for every 100 feet of horizontal distance), the tow vehicle must be able to move 16 feet from a standstill five times within five minutes. That’s in the uphill direction, in both forward and reverse.

Weight: The standard specifies that vehicles with a GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) of less than 8,500 pounds carry a 150-pound driver and a 150-pound passenger. Vehicles above 8,500 pounds add an extra 100 pounds of equipment. If you’re heavier than 150 pounds or carry more gear, deduct that extra weight from the maximum towing figure.

Also tested (thanks to our reader, LJC):

  • braking (3000 lbs in tow on a trailer without brakes)
  • parking brake holding the weight on the 12% grade
  • deformation of the frame and receiver hitch

If you want a closer look at the standard, you can purchase it from SAE.org here.

Why Does J2807 Matter?

Quite simply, if you are towing in a truck without meeting the J2807 standard, you could be putting yourself, your passengers and your load in danger. Right now, the manufactures who aren’t compliant can claim whatever maximum towing rating they would like. As a consumer, you don’t have the resources to test it for yourself (most likely). This means you have to trust whatever the truck maker states without a third-party objective review.

Many Toyota fans and safety advocates want a safe playing field for all consumers to make a wise decision. With possibly millions of dollars in revenue from sales riding on being the “best in class” towing moniker, it is hard to see manufactures jumping on board (even though everyone was meant to be compliant by 2013).

What do you think it will take for the standard to be universally accepted? A death, a congressional investigation or something else? Or do you never think it will be accepted?

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  1. Larry says:

    Talk about a worthless set of evaluation criteria.

    “a 150-pound driver and a 150-pound passenger”

    I am 6 foot 4 and weigh 225 pounds, a bit over weight but not much. I can’t think of any person I know with the exception of perhaps 3 woman who would be a 150 pound passenger. There are plenty of men out there that will outweigh the driver and passenger with that 300 pound number.

    All this is getting out of control.

  2. Mickey says:

    What happened to NHTSA and our great friend Ray LaHood? Of course Ray isn’t interested in going after the Big 3 manufacturer’s. That’s a proven fact. Why do we expect the lousy 3 to follow rigid standards which everyone has agreed upon. There will be a day when one of these manufacturer’s get sued because of the fake numbers in towing. It will be definitely hard because it will be the operator’s fault falling under operator error.

    • LJC says:

      Not if the case goes to a jury. With all the commericials touting, for example, 11.3K lbs of towing, we consumers are being “brain washed” into believing this.

      A couple of other items tested by the J2807 standard:
      * braking (3000 lbs in tow on a trailer without brakes)
      * parking brake holding the weight on the 12% grade
      * deformation of the frame and receiver hitch

      I agree with the driver and passenger weight comment: the total should be more like 450 lbs.

      I strongly believe Toyota should advertise their compliance and the lack of it by GM, RAM and Ford.

    • Larry says:

      What’s sad in all this it the danger people are not thinking about. A relatively light truck (5000) pounds is not the thing for the average person to be towing 10,000 pounds down the high way at 70 MPH. Years ago I drove 10 wheel dump trucks out of a quarry and once and a while I had to tow a heavy trailer with a backhoe. It might have been around 10000 pounds. I wouldn’t want to do that with a 5000 pound trucks just because it has the power to pull it.

      Not everyone has the experience to get in the cab of an F250 with a diesel which can pull 25000 pounds and do it safely. From my house down to the Salt Lake Valley is about 12 miles of down grade of 7 percent in places. Can’t count the times I see people with 5th wheels passing on the right at over 70, yes on the right. I have also see a few big camping trailers rolled.

      We are going above numbers which are reasonable.

      • GoBig says:

        Great Points Larry. I drove tractor trailers for a few years in the early 80s. There is some knowledge that is required beyond the power under the hood.

  3. GoBig says:

    The towing standard sounds like a good idea, but participation should be mandatory for the manufactures like weight limits are for airlines. Although not as dangerous as aviation, an overloaded vehicle can present problems.

    I already don’t trust MPG ratings, and now I can’t trust most towing claims.

  4. Phoenix T says:

    Toyota really needs to call out the competition with a clever add campaign. Think of all the tests you could do with those advertised tow ratings…smoke but no mirrors.

    The 3 fan crowd can be very gullible. Slap a EGOBOOST or V8 badge on a F150 and it will tow a 20k trailer up any hill. Then there are those that do not know any better. I am somewhat surprised Toyota is not all over this.

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