What is Trailer Tongue Weight and How Does it Affect Towing?

Trailer Tongue Weight (also referred to as Hitch Weight) is the downward force that the tongue of the­ trailer applies to the hitch of the tow vehicle.  Many experts believe that an adequate tongue weight for any trailer will be somewhere between 9 and 15 percent of the gross trailer weight (GTW). The reason for this is trailer towing safety.

If the tongue of the trailer is too light and does not apply enough downward force on the hitch ball of the tow vehicle, that means that the trailer’s tongue weight is too light which could cause the trailer to sway. If the tongue weight of the trailer is too heavy, the tow vehicle’s steering of will be affected. That is why it is extremely important to make sure you know your vehicle’s tongue weight.  Fortunately, tongue weight is easy to adjust.  This is done through weight distribution hitching.

To figure your tongue weight you need to know the gross vehicle weight (GVW) and multiply it by the percentage (9-15%) that you are going to use.  For example, if the GVW of a camper is 7000lbs and you are going to use 10% for your tongue weight, then the tongue weight will be 700lbs. (7,000lbs x 10% = 700lbs)

Your vehicle has a tow rating for a reason and it is important to not exceed its maximum towing capacity.  For one, the brakes will wear more quickly and could lead to break failure. With the added weight on the back, it may hinder your braking ability and steering control The added weight of the trailer may cause your engine to overheat which overloads the drive-train and shortens the life of the transmission. These are just a few of the problems that could occur.  You may not notice the problems at first but it could eventually lead to a costly repair bill or possibly an auto accident.

It is best not to exceed your tow vehicle’s limits.  If you are unsure of your towing capacity, call your local dealership and ask.  You may need to have your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to get any accurate number.

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