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Towing 101 – The Importance of Tongue Weight

Tongue Weight Blog 7

Towing 101 – The Importance of Tongue Weight

The Importance of Tongue Weight

Having the ability to tow a trailer is one of the benefits of owning a truck or SUV and while towing isn’t overly complicated or difficult, knowing how to tow a trailer correctly will protect you and others on the road. But before you take to the open road, you need to ensure that your trailer is loaded correctly. One major element of that equation is measuring the tongue weight of your trailer.

The LINE-X Scale Hitch is designed with a built-in gauge so you can be sure your trailer is loaded correctly, but why is that feature so important? Here, we break down what tongue weight is and why it’s so critical.

What is Tongue Weight?

Tongue weight is the downward force that the trailer tongue exerts on the hitch connected to the tow vehicle. The tongue is the most forward part of the trailer that attaches to the towing vehicle’s hitch. It often looks like one thick bar or two metal bars in a V shape.

What Is a Good Tongue Weight?

A good rule of thumb for an acceptable tongue weight for a trailer is to keep the weight between 9 to 15 percent of the gross trailer weight (GTW). For example, if you tow aLINE-X Scale Hitch Scale 5000-pound trailer, the tongue weight should be approximately 600 pounds.

Why Is Tongue Weight Important When Towing?

Improper tongue weight can cause a dangerous accident, so tongue weight is extremely critical. Too little tongue weight can cause the vehicle’s back end to lift, resulting in a hazardous condition known as trailer sway. The trailer can sway back and forth and become uncontrollable at high speeds.

On the other hand, excess tongue weight can cause the back end of the vehicle to sag, negatively affecting the vehicle handling, driver visibility, and the effectiveness of the vehicle’s brakes. Knowing how to measure tongue weight is vital.

Why Tongue Weight Matters

Trailer sway: ‘fishtailing’ or side-to-side movement

If you hook up your trailer with less than 10% of your GTW (Gross Trailer Weight) situated on the tongue of your trailer you will have:

    • Too much of your load situated behind the axle of your trailer.
    • An unlevel tow set-up that “peaks” at the hitch connection.
    • Conditions in which trailer sway will most likely occur.

Rear tire overload

On the other hand, if you hook up your trailer with more than 15% of your GTW situated on the tongue of your trailer you will have:

    • Too much of your load situated ahead of your trailer’s axle.
    • An unlevel tow set-up that looks more like a “V” shape, referred to as “jack knife”.
    • Conditions in which rear tire overload will most likely occur.

Unresponsive braking

As you drive, excessive tongue weight can beget enough force to push your truck’s back tires around. It also puts your braking system at risk for becoming overwhelmed and unable to find enough traction. Not to mention – any type of frequent heavy braking, with heavy loads, at higher speeds, will run down your brakes and make them less effective.

Blown tires

While the weight of your total load may be well within your truck’s tow capacity, if you carelessly situate your trailer’s cargo in a way that lays too much tongue weight on on the rear of your truck, the back tires of your truck will be shouldering more weight than they are designed to handle. Too much tongue weight while driving on the road can easily cause the most stressed tire to blow out, or come off completely.

Traffic accidents and citations

If you cause a traffic accident because you failed to follow safety tow ratings and regulations, it’s a violation – and you’ll receive a traffic citation.

Serious injury or death

Towing with too much – or not enough – tongue weight can prove deadly when it results in a crash.

Tongue Weight Is Key To Safe Towing

Proper trailer tongue weight can make the difference between a safe trailer towing experience and a dangerous one. Assuredly, every driver has the responsibility to load and maintain proper tongue weight for safest truck and trailer performance – not just for the safety of themselves, but for everyone else driving on the shared highways.

To purchase your own LINE-X Scale Hitch or other towing accessories, FIND YOUR LOCAL LINE-X HERE

Article content provided by Weigh Safe