Cutting corners while loading your utility trailer, as well as failing to take into account weight distribution and limitations, can lead to serious injury and a utility trailer that is quickly worn out.
Your utility trailer accessory suppliers here at Camco Wheel & Axle want to ensure that our customers are safe while towing their utility trailers and expanding the lifespan of their trailer by using it properly.
Before you strap your trailer in tow, here are a few tips to properly load your utility trailer.
Know Your Tongue Weight
Tongue weight is the amount of downward force that is applied to your vehicle’s hitch. Knowing the maximum weight is crucial when it comes to towing.
If too much weight is placed near the tongue of the trailer, excess stress is placed on to the back end of your vehicle, causing it to sag. A sagging back end will make braking less effective, reduces visibility for the driver, and negatively affects the driver’s ability to turn corners.
On the other hand, too little weight on the tongue of the trailer will actually cause the back end of your vehicle to lift, causing a dangerous condition known as “trailer sway”. This condition is the primary reason for trailer accidents.
Ensuring that the heavier cargo is placed right before the front axle is your best bet to avoid trailer sway. Center the cargo left to right and firmly tie it down so that it doesn’t shift while in transit.
The optimal tongue weight that you want is between 10% to 15% of the total trailer’s weight, contents and all. So if your trailer weighs 2,000 pounds and has cargo within it weighing 1,000 pounds, that is 3,000 pounds total with 10% of that total weight being 300 pounds; 15% would be around 450 pounds. Anything higher or lower than that and you are putting yourself in danger.
Weighing the amount of force being applied to the tongue can be done with a tongue weight scale or you can find yourself a public scale and weigh your vehicle and the trailer. To do this:
- Load your vehicle and trailer as if you were going on your trip as normal, hitching the trailer to the vehicle.
- Pull the towing vehicle on to the scale, making sure all tires are on the scale. Leave the trailer tires off of the scale for now. This is your combined weight.
- Disconnect the trailer and re-weigh the towing vehicle. This is your vehicle’s solo weight.
- Subtract the solo weight from the combined weight, and the results will be your tongue weight.
Placement of the Load is Everything
Bottom line: heavy items should be loaded onto the trailer first.
This is an important step when loading up your trailer because these items need to be secured to the trailer. These heavy items should be securely tied down at several different angles in order to prevent them from shifting and tumbling over while in transit. This is best done when the trailer is empty.
Then stick to the golden rule of loading a trailer: load the front of the trailer first with 60% of the cargo in front of the front axle and the weight evenly distributed from side to side.
Most Importantly, Make Sure Your Towing Vehicle and Trailer Do Not Exceed the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating
Your gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), or gross vehicle mass, is the maximum operating weight that is specified by the manufacturer of your vehicle.
This weight includes the weight of the chassis, tongue weight, engine, engine fluids, body, fuel, accessories, the driver, passengers, and cargo, excluding trailer weight. Exceeding this weight risks failure across many parts of your vehicle like the brakes, transmission, differentials, tires, and axles, all of which are designed to handle that specific amount of weight.
The GVWR can be found, along with other weight limits, on your vehicle’s Safety Compliance Certification Label.
In need of a utility trailer accessories or upfitting services? Camco Wheel & Axle in Pharr has everything you need.
Camco takes pride in being your #1 source for total vehicle solutions. We have the utility trailer parts and services you need to avoid injuring yourself or others on the road and to help keep your utility trailer in tip-top shape.
If you have any questions or concerns about your utility trailer or need to upgrade parts, contact our office in Pharr at (956) 781-4800.