How to Keep Towing from Becoming Dangerous to You and Your Vehicle

January 12, 2022

When it comes to towing, there’s a right way and a wrong way. The right way isn’t easy, especially at first.  The wrong way can ruin your vehicle. So it is vital to understand tow ratings and how to apply them correctly. It’s also vital to know how to move the load safely. 

Go Through These Steps to Correctly Apply Tow Rating Requirements

First, don’t underestimate your load.  You must add together the weight of everything you are hauling plus the weight of the trailer. Or, you must add the weight of your belongings to the weight of the camper you plan to pull.  

Usually you can find weight estimates for specific vehicles online.  Only use official sources such as the manufacturer’s website.  You may also be able to find calculators to help you determine the weight of loads of lumber.   If you are dealing with a purchase, your seller may be able to give you the weight of the load.  

You also can’t exceed the gross vehicle weight.  So, if you have a heavy payload in your truck or SUV, you will have to decrease how much you are towing.   

Using a Honda SUV for an example, the Pilot can tow 5,000 pounds when the 280-horsepower engine is paired with the all-wheel drivetrain, and the vehicle has been properly equipped. However it can also be limited to 3,500 pounds when the same engine is paired to two-wheel drive.  

Furthermore, you must have the factory equipment required to achieve the tow rating.  Many SUVs and trucks don’t come automatically equipped to tow so be sure yours has the equipment it needs. If you look at stats on an automotive review site, the numbers may not refer to your specific model so be sure to look at your manual and, if all else fails, contact the manufacturer to get the true tow rating for your exact configuration/engine. 

If your camper or trailer weighs too much, it will ruin your vehicle.  You don’t want to trash your truck or SUV by moving a load that’s too heavy.  Furthermore, you don’t want to have a wreck because you can’t control your vehicle due to the extra weight.  

Next you must make sure the hitch is handling the proper amount of tongue weight.  There may be a set amount recommended by the manufacturer. If not, you can consider it to be around 10 to 15 percent of the towed vehicle’s weight.  For instance, a 5,000-pound tow would need for the tongue weight to be about 500 pounds.  

Take These Precautions to Stay Safe While Towing

Beyond weight considerations, it is vital to use today’s driver assistance aids to tow safely. For instance, on the road, trailer sway control is vital.  Fortunately more and more trucks and SUVs have this feature. If you aren’t sure if yours does, look it up.  Without it, you may need to watch your speed more and avoid traveling when the wind is strong.

Another feature that is available or standard on many trucks today is the trailer brake controller. This gives the driver extra control over the braking process.  Many trucks offer a tow/haul mode as part of their four-wheel drive system. This isn’t just good for safety, of course. It’s also a way to ensure your vehicle isn’t overtaxed in the towing process.

If you are looking for a new truck, you should definitely be on the lookout for the latest trailering equipment.  For the last few years, Ford has offered a blind spot monitor that watches the trailer.  This year it has introduced a smart hitch and a built-in payload scale system.  

When shopping used trucks, don’t assume that just because it has a hitch that it is ready for the maximum tow rating. You’ll still need to do the research to find out what the truck can do safely. 

It can be frustrating to do all the math involved in getting this right, but considering the cost of vehicles today, protecting your investment is vital.  Once you get the hang of it, towing will become easier and, in the process, safer.

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