An important aspect of hauling with a trailer is ensuring that the weight is properly distributed. Proper weight distribution ensures safe and efficient towing, reduces the risk of swaying, and prolongs the life of the trailer. Finding out the trailer’s payload, following the 60/40 rule, and maintaining proper tongue weight will maximize the efficiency of the trailer, as well as increase safety.
Here are some steps you can follow to be sure that you properly distribute weight on the trailer:
Step 1: Know the Trailer's Payload
Before loading the trailer, it is important to know its payload. It is essential not to overload the trailer with weight as it can potentially lead to expensive repair costs. The trailer’s payload can usually be found on a sticker or plate, located on the trailer. If you are unable to locate the payload for the trailer, you can subtract the weight of the trailer from its GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating). This will give you the payload, providing you with a weight limit on how much can be carried.
Step 2: Follow the 60/40 Rule for Trailer Weight Distribution
Take the precautionary step of conducting a quick inventory of the cargo and roughly plan out where you will be placing each item on the trailer.
When properly distributing weight on the trailer, you can adhere to the 60/40 rule. This rule states that 60% of the load should be positioned in the front of the trailer, while the remaining 40% should be placed towards the back. This applies regardless of the number of axles that the trailer has. Following the 60/40 rule whenever loading cargo can increase your chances of having a smooth and secure hauling experience, which is vital whenever considering the safety of both your vehicle and others that may be on the road.
Step 3: Maintain Proper Tongue Weight
Tongue weight is the pressure pressing down on the hitch ball of the towing vehicle. If the trailer has too much tongue weight, it can overload the vehicle being used to tow, which can cause a loss of steering and braking control. Allowing too much tongue weight also puts too much stress on the tow vehicle’s rear axle, potentially leading to axle or suspension failure.
If the trailer does not have enough tongue weight, the risk of sway dramatically increases, and the chances of decoupling also increase. Decoupling is where the trailer completely detaches from the ball mount and is no longer connected to the vehicle that is towing the trailer.
You can adjust tongue weight by placing heavy items either away from or towards the front of the trailer. The ideal tongue weight is about 10-15% of the total trailer weight.
To reach maximum efficiency and safety, always park on a level surface, chock the wheels, and maximize cargo placement. When loading, place heavy items towards the front of the trailer, securely tie them down, and distribute lighter items on top.
With these steps in mind, you can easily distribute weight effectively and safely on the trailer. Remember to always consult the trailer’s manual or speak with a professional trailer dealer if you are unsure about the correct weight distribution measures. Following these guidelines will allow for the certainty that you will experience safe and successful towing, giving you peace of mind during your travels.
Fisher, Bob. "How to Properly Distribute Weight on Your Trailer." Millroad Manufacturing Inc, 4 Mar. 2020, www.millroadtrailers.com/blog/distribute-weight-on-your-trailer/. Accessed 17 Aug. 2023.
"The Importance of Proper Trailer Weight Distribution." How Stuff Works, 6 Aug. 2023, auto.howstuffworks.com/auto-parts/towing/towing-capacity/vehicle/trailer-weight-distribution.htm. Accessed 17 Aug. 2023.