What is trailer tongue weight?  How does trailer tongue weight affect driving performance?  How does trailer tongue weight influence GVWR and payload?
  • Tongue weight (TW) is the force of the trailer’s coupler onto the vehicle’s hitch. This is an important factor as it affects both the stability and the handling of the towing setup.
  • Tongue Weight and GVWR. Trailer manufacturers occasionally assign a portion of the trailer’s empty weight to the tongue of the vehicle to increase its GVWR rating while using the same axles.  For example, a trailer with a 10K axle might have an 11K GVWR (if 10% of the “weight” is assigned to the tongue).  This enables the user to legally tow a heavier payload assuming the tow vehicle can legally handle the extra weight, but the actual performance of the trailer has not changed.
  • Buyer beware. Recently, we found a manufacturer who applied tongue weight math, but the increased payload was greater than the dump’s lift capacity.
  • Distribution of Load. It is very important to ensure your load is distributed properly on your trailer.  If you don’t have enough weight on tongue, the vehicles rear tires can lose transaction; too much loaded tongue weight can reduce steering or braking, among other risks.  Pay attention to your tow vehicle’s and trailer’s specifications and recommendations.
  • There are many methods for measuring tongue weight and managing tongue height to maintain a level trailer such as adjustable height couplers, adjustable height tow balls, weight distribution hitches, and even vehicle air adjustable suspensions.
  • Generally, you want a level tow vehicle, a level trailer, and appropriate load distribution. Make sure your total setup is within legal requirements and equipment capabilities.  And don’t get hoodwinked by manufacturer claims.

As always, contact one of our trailer professionals for custom advice.