If you have a boat, a horse, a camper or anything else that won’t fit in a pickup or van, you probably pull a trailer. If you do, you probably know the importance of loading it up properly to keep things in control. If you don’t, have a look at this demonstration from U-Haul.
Consisting of a treadmill and a model mustang pulling a trailer with a movable axle and weights, the demonstration helps U-Haul explain to renters that weight placement can have severely dangerous effects on handling. The key is to maintain the correct ratio of tongue weight (supported by the tongue and the hitch) to gross trailer weight (the weight of the entire trailer, load and all).
To keep things safely under control, U-Haul recommends that 60% of the weight be loaded in front of the trailer, ahead of the axle. Any more weight farther back and you risk fishtailing out as the weight behind the axle acts like a pendulum, swinging back and forth.
Additional tongue weight will cause the rear end to sag under the load, raising the front end which can cause traction issues as well, so it is important to remember to not just take proportion into account, but the gross weight as well.
There are numerous other safety considerations to make when towing such as the height of the trailer’s center of gravity, even distribution of load across the width of the trailer, and visibility. Additionally, you will want to make sure your brakes and suspension are up to the task on the tow vehicle as well as the trailer itself. Please make sure to follow all guidelines when towing, and if you need some help, check out the rest of U-Haul’s towing tips here.
U-Haul ought to know what they’re talking about when it comes to trailers. You might know its trucks best, but U-Haul, founded in 1945, got its start with rental trailers. Back then, Sam Shoen had wanted to rent a trailer to move from Los Angeles to Portland. Though they never found a trailer for that move, taking only what fit in their car, Shoen and his wife Mary got to thinking and two weeks later, U-Haul’s first trailer was ready for rental.