It is very important to know your vehicle’s limitations when towing anything whether it be a small utility trailer or a large travel trailer. Things are not as simple as just knowing your towing capacity and sticking anything under that on that back of your vehicle. Weight distribution is just as important as towing capacity.
Trailers Fort Collins takes a look at the basics of weight distribution and the best practices in achieving a proper balance.
What is Weight Distribution?
To put is simple terms weight distribution is the division of your load on the towing vehicle, hitch, tongue and trailer. To achieve a proper weight distribution you need to know two things.
Gross Trailer Weight – This is the total weight of the entire trailer, including fuel and anything stored in the trailer.
Tongue Weight – The amount of the load that is directly pressing on the hitch of the towing vehicle, which can be anywhere from 10 to 20% of the gross trailer weight.
Without the proper weight distribution these two factors can lead to many problems on the road including swaying, loss of power, loss of braking capabilities and jackknifing. Too much tongue weight can raise the back end of a vehicle exacerbating these factors especially in back wheel drive vehicles.
What’s the Best way to Distribute Weight?
The secret is in the hitch, for some compact and light loads a simple vehicle towing hitch will do the job just fine but the heavier and bigger the load the more potential there is for problems. That’s where a weight distribution hitch comes in handy.
A weight distribution hitch helps to alleviate some of the tongue weight and helps push the weight forward on the towing vehicle providing a more stable situation. Weight distribution hitches can be rated by either the gross trailer weight or by the amount of tongue weight they are meant to distribute.
It is best to match the weight distribution hitch as close as you can with its optimal capacity. Too little weight and the hitch may distribute weight incorrectly, too much and the hitch won’t be effective.
In the world of weight distribution hitches, you get what you pay for so try not to go cheap or you’ll encounter the same problems. Opt for a higher end hitch that may have some extra features such as sway control and you’ll be much safer on the roads!