How Much Can You Tow with A Class C License? My Findings

Towing a trailer behind your RV can be an awesome way to bring along extra gear and toys for your road trips. But before you hitch up and take off, it’s key to know how much weight you can actually tow with a regular class C license. 

The short answer is that most states max out a class C tow rating at around 10,000 pounds. However, a few key factors like your motorhome’s specs, special license endorsements, and local laws can allow you to potentially tow a bit more. 

In this article, I’ll break down the towing limits of a class C driving license and will look at important ratings like Gross Vehicle Weight Rating and Gross Combined Weight Rating. And will cover different trailer types, licensing rules, and safety considerations, so you can tow your rig with total peace of mind and avoid any issues out on the road.

How Much Can You Tow with A Class C License

Weight Limits for Towing with a Class C License

When looking at tow ratings and legal limits, there are two key specifications to pay attention to:

The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR)

The GVWR refers to the maximum allowable weight of a fully loaded vehicle, including all cargo, fluids, passengers, and accessories.

Towing capacity: the maximum weight a vehicle can safely tow.

This rating is determined by factors like the vehicle’s engine size, transmission, chassis, axles, and braking system. Towing anything over this limit can compromise control and put undue strain on the drivetrain.

The general towing weight limit for a regular class C license in most states is:

  • 10,000 lbs for a towed trailer or vehicle.

However, there are a few exceptions that allow you to exceed the 10,000 lb tow rating with a class C license:

  • You can tow a single vehicle with a GVWR up to 26,000 lbs, provided your GCWR allows it.
  • Trailer coaches or fifth-wheel travel trailers with a maximum loaded weight under 10,000 lbs are permitted.
  • Some states may allow fifth-wheel trailers with a GVWR between 10,000 and 15,000 lbs with additional endorsements on your license.

The maximum towing capacity for a typical class C motorhome usually tops out around 10,000 lbs. For instance, the 2023 Winnebago View 24V has a max towing capacity of 10,000 lbs with its Ford E450 chassis.

The gross combination weight rating (GCWR)

This is the maximum allowable weight for both the motorhome and the towed trailer or vehicle combined. Most class C motorhomes have a GCWR in the 20,000 to 30,000 lb range. This puts a cap on total towing capacity, even if your particular hitch, vehicle, and license may technically allow more.

Max tow ratings are determined by chassis specifications like:

  • Engine power and torque. More torque at lower RPMs improves towing performance. Diesel engines have an advantage here.
  • Transmission gearing. More gears spaced closer together improves pulling power.
  • Heavy duty frame, suspension, and axles designed for higher towing loads.
  • Additional brake actuator that activates the trailer brakes.

So while a class C license generally limits towing to 10,000 lbs, the specific motorhome and chassis involved play a big role in determining realistic tow ratings. Always consult your owner’s manual for the safe limits.

State-Specific Towing Regulations

While federal law governs class C licenses, states have certain leeway in setting their own towing regulations:


California restricts class C license holders to a maximum tow rating of 10,000 lbs for both fifth wheel and bumper tow setups. Towing over 10,000 lbs requires a commercial class A license. However, if the towed 5th-wheel trailer exceeds 10,000 lbs but is less than 15,000 lbs, and towing is not for compensation, existing law requires the holder of a class C driver’s license to also pass a specialized written examination


In Texas, drivers with a standard class C license can tow up to 26,000 lbs provided it does not exceed the GCWR. Fifth-wheels up to 15,000 lbs are allowed with an endorsement. Towing over 26,000 lbs needs a commercial driver’s license


Florida law mandates a commercial license for towing over 10,000 lbs. So for a personal class C license, the max tow rating is 10,000 lbs. Additional safety certification is required for towing heavier trailers

New York

New York does not allow exceeding a GCWR of 26,000 lbs with a class C license. So the max tow rating depends on your motorhome’s GCWR but typically falls around 10,000 lbs


Illinois allows towing up to 16,000 lbs with a class C license, provided it does not surpass the vehicle’s GCWR. Fifth-wheel trailers are limited to 15,000 lbs. Special CDL endorsements needed over 16,000 lbs.

Always check your own state’s regulations to understand the precise tow rating limits for a class C license holder. Some rural states tend to have higher towing limits, while more urban states keep limits lower for safety.

Types of Vehicles That Can Be Towed

The most common trailer types towed by class C motorhomes include:

  • Small utility trailers, enclosed cargo trailers, car haulers for transporting vehicles, or popup tent campers can easily be towed within the typical class C limits. These tend to have GVWRs of 10,000 lbs or less.
  • Travel trailers and fifth wheels under 10,000 lbs loaded weight are also options. A class C may be able to tow a medium-sized fifth wheel, depending on the ratings.
  • Larger triple axle trailers or fifth wheels are not recommended for class C towing. These heavy trailers can exceed GCWR when loaded and require more robust tow vehicles.

Gooseneck hitches allow lighter fifth wheel trailers to stay within class C towing ratings:

  • Gooseneck adapters convert a standard hitch receiver to a gooseneck ball mount.
  • Goosenecks place more tongue weight over the rear axle compared to fifth wheels. This results in better handling.
  • Gooseneck hitches allow a class C motorhome to safely tow a smaller fifth wheel, car trailer, or livestock trailer within its tow limits.

Carefully match your towed trailer to your motorhome’s capacity to avoid exceeding any ratings. Consult the manufacturer towing guides for your particular make and model.

Licensing Requirements and Restrictions

To legally tow anything over 1,000 lbs loaded weight, most states require:

A Non-Commercial Class C Driver’s License. This involves passing the standard license tests for class C.

Potential additional endorsements for certain heavier trailers exceeding 10,000 lbs GVWR. For example, a Class C “O” endorsement may be required for fifth wheels up to 15,000 lbs.

States may impose certain restrictions on a class C license that impact towing:

For example, California requires an RV Brake Certificate for towing over 10,000 lbs.

Drivers over age 70 may need a medical certification and have a maximum GCWR reduced to 26,000 lbs.

Adhering to any license restrictions or additional certifications is crucial when towing heavy loads. Always verify your particular state’s class C towing regulations.

Safety Considerations and Precautions

Staying within your abilities, vehicle ratings, and license limits is vital for secure, hazard-free towing. Here are some key safety tips:

  • Practice first with an empty trailer to get a feel for backing up and maneuvering with a trailer in tow.
  • Distribute weight appropriately in both the trailer and motorhome to avoid exceeding axle or tire limits.
  • Account for increased stopping distance when towing. Allow extra room to slow down.
  • Take wide turns to accommodate trailer swing.
  • Use towing mirrors to improve rear visibility. Consider a backup camera system as well.
  • Adjust equipment like hitch height, weight distribution bars, and brake controllers properly.
  • Inspect tire pressure and wheel lug nuts regularly when towing.
  • Avoid towing in severe weather. High winds and wet conditions make controlling a trailer much more difficult.

Exceeding tow ratings risks damage, loss of control, and hazardous situations that endanger yourself and others. Always put safety first by understanding and complying with weight limits, license regulations, and safe towing practices.

To Sum up, 

the basic towing limit with a class C license is 10,000 pounds. But the actual max weight you can safely and legally tow depends on your motorhome, hitch setup, and state laws. Sticking close to the 10K limit is a good rule of thumb for most RVers. Beyond that, you’ll want to check with local regulations. And remember, taking it slow and practicing good towing habits is just as important as staying under your vehicle’s limits.

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