Proper Trailer Loading
Whether you are towing a camping trailer, ATVs, or transporting goods, it is important to balance your load and prepare your trailer and tow vehicle for a safe trip. Some important things to consider are:
Total Trailer Weight
- Total trailer weight not to exceed trailer GVWR
- Not exceed axle ratings
- Not exceed towing capacity or GCWR (combined rating) for tow vehicle
- Not exceed weight ratings of hitch, receiver, or hitch ball
Load Placement and Trailer Tongue Weight
One of the main causes of sway is improper load placement. Too much weight behind the trailer axles or uneven side-to-side loading will decrease trailer stability and contribute to trailer sway.
To reduce trailer instability and sway, most of the cargo weight should be placed toward the front of the trailer - ahead of the trailer axles – and evenly distributed side-to-side. The placement of the cargo front to back will determine the tongue weight of the trailer – the downward weight at the front of the trailer that is carried by the hitch ball. Measuring the tongue weight of the trailer is an indicator of proper loading front to back. Your tongue weight should be 10% to 15% of your overall trailer weight for bumper pull trailers and can be higher for 5th wheels and goosenecks – typically 20% to 25%.
A rule of thumb to help achieve proper tongue weight is the 60/40 rule- place 60 percent of the weight forward of the axle centerline. This will usually result in favorable trailer loading. However, always measure and verify your actual tongue weight to ensure good tongue weight percentage and that you are not exceeding vehicle, receiver, or hitch ratings.
Securing Your Cargo
Unsecured cargo is a safety hazard for you and other drivers on the road. Loose or moving cargo can contribute to sway, and if cargo falls onto the road, it is extremely dangerous for other vehicles. We recommend using multiple tiedowns to ensure cargo is properly secured. Recheck the restraints shortly after beginning the journey and then periodically during the journey.