Towing is a science: It’s all about physics.
It’s all about proper weight distribution, angles and other variables. It’s not simply hitching up and hitting the road. It’s knowing what you’re towing, how much you’re towing and safely navigating the load to its destination.
For those reasons, ProPride Hitch wants you to be educated when it comes to hauling, regardless of the situation. It could be hauling heavy equipment to a job site, or it could be pulling your camper to the lake for a weekend of fun with the family.
Know your capacity
The first thing you must know is your vehicle’s towing capability. You wouldn’t want to tow a massive boat with a Fiat – that just wouldn’t work out too well, now would it?
Knowing how much your vehicle can handle is worth its weight in gold. Excess stress on the engine and frame, due to a load that’s too large, ends up costing you money in the long run – not to mention, it’s incredibly unsafe and unwise to tow large loads with vehicles that aren’t designed for such tasks.
This one isn’t too hard. Be smart. Information on your vehicle’s towing capabilities can be found in the owner’s manual, inside the door jamb or online, so there’s no excuse for being “that person.”
You’ve been notified.
Now it’s on to other important information.
Get to know the term: GCVWR, which means “Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating.” This pertains to the vehicle that will be in-tow, and everything that will be in/on the vehicle while towing. So add, for example, the weight of the camper, plus the weight of the fuel or any other fluids that will go into the camper.
Then it’s time to figure out curb weight, which is the weight of the tow vehicle with all of its passengers and fluids (gas, etc).
Once you’ve figured out that, subtract the curb weight from the GCVWR and you’ll have your vehicle’s towing capacity. To be safe, it’s best not to exceed that mark – and really, it’s best to not come within 10 percent, just to be even safer.
What is tongue weight?
Tongue weight (TW) is the term used to describe the amount of force pushing down on the trailer hitch by the load being hauled. Most experts agree that tongue weight should be in the range of 9-15 percent of the total weight of the load.
For example, if you’re hauling 5,000 pounds, you should have roughly 500 pounds of force pushing down on your hitch (tongue weight).
What is payload?
Payload is the maximum amount of weight a tow vehicle can carry in its cabin and bed. The capacity is the weight limit for a truck’s bed and cabin. Conversely, towing capacity refers to the weight limit for any trailer being pulled behind the tow vehicle.
Trailer hitch classes
Trailer hitches, like a lot of other things, are specifically designed for certain applications. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, so that’s why hitches are separated into 5 classes.
Class I: Typically used with cars and midsize crossover vehicles, these hitches can tow roughly 2,000 pounds (200 pound TW). Think of a small U-Haul trailer, or water ski/small personal watercraft trailer, or something along those lines.
Class II: These are for larger cars, vans and crossovers, and can handle about 3,500 pounds (350 TW). Think of hauling a small boat with one of these.
Class III: For large trucks, vans, SUVs, these hitches can haul up to 5,000 pounds and bear a tongue weight of nearly 800 pounds (though staying within 10 percent is recommended, so try to stay around 500).
Class IV: Again used for large trucks, vans and SUVs, these hitches can haul upwards of 10,000 pounds and bear a tongue weight of 1,200 pounds. These hitches are ideal for large campers, lawn equipment, boats, etc.
Class V: These generally go with trucks and SUVs that are designed for high towing capacity. They can bear a tongue weight of up to 2,000 pounds and are best suited for hauling car trailers, horse/livestock trailers, etc.