Tongue Weight and Towing 101
by Pat Goss
It seems like everybody is using their sport-ute or their pick-up truck to haul something that involves the hitch on the back of the vehicle. Hauling might entail the use of a universal carrier that fits into the receiver on the vehicle, or a specific one that’s designed to haul a motorcycle.
Whether it’s specific or universal, they all have ratings on them. They have ratings of how much they can carry. That rating is important because you certainly do not want to overload the carrier, but there is another factor to be concerned with and that is the ratings in your owner’s manual. Because there is a rating on how much that hitch can hold and how much tongue weight or down-force on the back of the vehicle is going to be safe. You don’t want to exceed any of those.
Be very careful with the universal and dedicated carriers that just slide into the receiver. Now here’s something else; this is a typical hitch. The trailer fits onto the ball, but there’s no way to know how much weight that trailer is exerting in down-force on the back of the vehicle, that is unless you have something like a senZbar.
The senZbar has a scale that is built into it that allows you to measure the amount of tongue-weight. For example, an Explorer can be rated for five hundred pounds tongue weight, and if we were at about 445, we’re safe. But if you were to change the load, move the load further ahead, that puts more weight on the tongue. Move it back and it reduces the weight on the tongue, so if our initial reading was wrong, say if we put additional weight on here then what we could do is move the load back, and we can tailor the load to the tongue weight. This is going to make the vehicle safe to drive and everything is going to work a lot better.
If you have a question or comment, write to me.
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