How to Correctly Load Your Trailer for Towing

Sep 29, 2022 | How To

The following guide answers the popular question – How do I correctly load my trailer for towing?

Depending on the size and weight of the cargo you are hauling, it’s important to understand how to safely and effectively load your trailer. Incorrectly loading your trailer can cause safety concerns out on the road. This articles shares a few important tips on how to load your trailer properly.

What is tongue weight and why does it matter?

Tongue weightThe amount of your trailer’s weight that transfers to your tow vehicle through the trailer’s tongue or gooseneck.

Towing a trailer with improper tongue weight gives you minimal control of your vehicle and trailer you are towing. It is important to make sure that your tongue weight is within 10-15% of your gross trailer weight (GTW). If you have less than 10% of your GTW on the tongue of your trailer, you don’t have enough tongue weight. This likely means that you likely have most of your load weight on the back of your trailer, and it means you have loaded your trailer incorrectly.

Fishtailing or trailer sway 

Have you ever been following a trailer that all of sudden appears to have lost control? Any sudden veer or jerk of the steering wheel can cause a vehicle and trailer to fishtail or trailer sway when loaded incorrectly. This happens when you have too little tongue weight, meaning not enough weight is loaded in the front of your trailer.

This video demonstrates what fishtailing looks like when a trailer is improperly loaded:

Weight Distribution is Important

As a rule of thumb, load 60% of your tow load weight into the front of your trailer. If more than 40% of the weight is in the back, your trailer may lose control out on the road from the most subtle turn of your steering wheel. When the weight is loaded in the front (as the video demonstrates) you are able to regain control of your trailer much easier if you need to swerve or get out of the way of an object in the road. 

How to Correct Trailer Sway

If you find yourself towing a back-heavy trailer that starts to fish tail, do not hit the brakes. Reduce your speed by letting off the gas pedal slowly and keep your steering wheel straight. Once you have regained control of your vehicle, stop and reload your trailer. Make sure that 60% of your trailers weight is loaded into the front. If you follow these few tips and tricks on towing safety, yourself and others will be safe on the road safe.