When towing trailers, it is always important to know a number of key points that, if not checked, could find you with problems with the trailer you are towing, the vehicle you are towing with, or, worse still, the local police force. For example, the weight limit of the trailer is an important factor. Here are three reasons you should know what the weight limit is for your trailer before you tow:
Axle and Brake Wear
If your trailer is overloaded and too heavy for the towing vehicle, that excess weight will cause wear and tear on the axles, which can ultimately stress the gears and potentially cause complete failure. In addition, it will strain the brakes on your towing vehicle. Remember that the brake system on your vehicle is designed with the vehicle weight and rated towing capacity in mind, so when you try to stop more weight than those brakes are designed for, it's going to not only cause premature brake wear, it's also going to slow your ability to stop, meaning that you'll need more distance to stop safely.
Tow Hitch Damage
The tow hitch fitted to your vehicle is designed to support the added weight based on the tow rating of the vehicle. That means it's crafted to withstand additional weight up to that limit, not beyond. If you overload the trailer, that's going to leave your tow hitch and tow bar under excess strain. This can weaken, bend, and potentially break both, which could lead to complete disaster on the road. While you can invest in a trailer hitch with a higher tow weight rating, if your towing vehicle won't support the additional weight, you're still going to be looking at trouble.
Avoiding Trailer Weight Problems
To ensure you are not overloaded, you can do a number of things. As not everyone carries or has access to a set of portable scales, here is one way you can check:
Find a local weigh station and weigh the vehicle and trailer together empty. This will give you the combined base weight. Ensure that you have everything and everyone you would take with you, as this too needs to be added afterward. That way, you know how much weight you will be putting in the trailer.
Also, you must ensure your trailer is loaded evenly so that it sits level on the towing vehicle. This is important, as if it is uneven, it will make the towing vehicle hard to handle and unsafe.
Here is why it's important to load evenly:
If you load mostly to the rear of the trailer, it will lift the tow hitch, which in turn will lift the rear of the towing vehicle.
If you load mostly to the front of the trailer, it will push the front of the hitch down, pushing the front of the vehicle up and making steering harder and very dangerous