• Top 5 Best Tips on How to Safely Tow Your Trailer [Video]

    What do you need to know about safely towing with your truck or SUV? It’s not as simple as checking the marketing brochure for your pickup truck. A little more research and digging is required in order to setup your towing vehicle and trailer for safe towing. All this and much more is described in the new book that TFLtruck and MrTruck.com co-wrote, called “Truck Nuts: The Fast Lane Truck’s Guide to Pickups“. You can get the book now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Indie Bound. We always appreciate your support.

    5. Know the Max Weight Ratings of the Truck and Trailer

    Despite having the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) which is defined by the truck’s classification (midsize, half-ton, XD, or Heavy Duty), each truck configuration has its own max towing and max payload ratings. This most importantly depends on precise curb weight of the truck. Manufacturers specify all maximum weight ratings, including each Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR), but options of each individual truck determine its curb weight. The best way to find out the curb weight is to weigh the truck (and trailer) on a certified truck scale, which can be found at interstate truck stops or agricultural centers. This determines how much payload you have available (GVWR minus the curb weight), and maximum trailer weight you can move. Every trailer has its own GVWR, and this is generally determined by the trailer axle rating. Just like it’s a bad idea to overload the truck, it’s also a bad idea to overload the trailer. Axle bearing, spindle, or tires can fail if the vehicle is overloaded.

    4. Towing Laws and Regulations

    Heavy duty pickup trucks are getting so capable that all one-ton (3500 or Class 3) trucks are rated at over 26,000 lbs of Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR). If your truck and trailer are rated at over 26,001 lbs when you combine their capacities, then a Commercial Driving License (CDL) may be required. However, this is a complicated topic as there are exemptions for RV haulers and some regulations vary at a State level. We discuss this topic in more detail in the book, but we recommend that you check with your local Department of Transportation office for state-specific requirement. Another example is the towing speed limit. For example, California limits all vehicles with trailers to 55 MPH. Most other states do not have a special speed limit for towing.

    3. Know the Max Weight Ratings for the Hitch and Ball

    You have already verified the max towing, payload, and trailer capacities. There are two more numbers to check. Every hitch and hitch ball also have their maximum weight ratings. The hitch and ball manufacturer usually stamps or posts these ratings on the parts themselves. Truck’s ratings continue to go up, but what about the actual connection point – the hitch? The 2017 Ford Super Duty is rated at conventional hitch maximum towing of 21,000 lbs. However, this requires a special 3-inch shank hitch to handle the maximum weight. It’s the same case with the gooseneck and 5th-wheel towing. The gooseneck ball or the 5th-wheel attachment have their own ratings to handle their maximums. Again, the 2017 Super Duty require a 3-inch gooseneck ball to carry trailers of over 30,000 lbs.

    2. Weight Distributing Hitch (WDH)

    Most manufacturers recommend (and some require) the use of a WDH for trailers that weigh over 5,000 lbs. There are several WDH solutions and brands, but they are all designed to distribute the weight among all truck and trailer axles. These hitches help prevent too much squat of the truck’s rear suspension, thus keeping the truck and trailer more level. This helps ensure proper brakes and headlight operation. Some weight distributing hitches also help fight against trailer sway.

    1. Which Truck: Midsize, Half-ton, or Heavy Duty?

    Which class of truck should I get to tow my trailer? This is not as easy as checking the max towing and payload ratings. The main goal for a great towing vehicle is confidence and stability when hitched up a trailer. You can start with a trailer and match the truck to it, or vise versa. However, consider the weight, length, and size of your trailer first. Although, the latest midsize pickup trucks are capable of higher towing capacities, the length and width of the trailer may require a larger pickup truck. In a case of a 25-foot Airstream trailer, which is 8.5 feet wide, a narrow and short midsize truck is not the best choice. You need to be able to see around the trailer and to have enough wheelbase and truck weight to handle strong cross winds on the highway and stay safe.

    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov is an Automotive Enthusiast, Producer, Reviewer, Videographer, Writer, Software Engineer, Husband, Father, and Friend.

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    14 thoughts on “Top 5 Best Tips on How to Safely Tow Your Trailer [Video]

    1. Thanks again Andre for the top 5 tips on safe towing. Regarding number one, which I strongly agree with, I’ve recently added a rear view camera to the back of my RV because even 1/2 or 3/4 ton full sized tow vehicle’s make it difficult to see if you have a tailgater right behind a wide RV. If I do see someone back there I try to pull over when I can, and let them by, especially on two lane roads.

    2. In regards to #1,that was referenced to the guy that wanted to tow the 25ft airstream with a colorado diesel.And if memory serves me,most all of us recommended a full size 1/2 ton,for the stability factor.I recommended the Ram 1500 diesel since he was asking about a diesel,and wanting to do a cross country sightseeing thing.Andre,did that guy ever acknowledge the many replies he got? If so,did he follow our advise?

    3. You must be stupid in the head to tow a 10000 lb trailer with a 1/2 ton pickup like ford,ram & Chevy it might have the power but not the weight or braking to safely to do the job.

      1. There are half tons today that will tow 12000 pounds safely. The trailer has their own brakes to help stop it. You are definitely old school by your comment!

      2. Hmm. Then I guess I’m stupid. With your ignorant comment I welcome you to the club.

        Loaded and wet, my trailer is right at 10k. With 1k hitch weight Im within the rated limits of my tire, axle, truck, trailer, hitch, ball, and most of all my comfort, confidence limits. Truck and trailer are level. My dual-cam Reese hitch is properly set up, and my air-lift air bags are properly inflated to stabilize the hitch load. Truck starts and stops as expected, and operates well within normal engine, and transmission temp ranges. Truck AND trailer are regularly and properly maintained.

        BTW, I DONT pull this trailer with my 3/4T Yukon XL because it would be overloaded by trailer weight, hitch weight, and would have zero cargo capacity.

        So….before you declare your broad, uninformed, and factually incorrect opinion, at least consider that perhaps there are still a few experienced, knowledgable, responsible RV owners out here doing it right.

    4. I have my ACMZ licence in Canada. Also currently training on an ultralight pilots licence. I can drive a bus which is the “C”. “M” is for motorcycles. AZ is for any tractor trailer configuration. Mostly I drove flat bed 32 wheelers across North America. But I am not licenced to drive a scooter. You need a special licence for that. That’s Canada for you.

      My number 1 is if you have a ball hitch keep the ball hitch weight plus the weight of the truck heavier than the trailer regardless of specifications or what is allowed unless your experienced. However, long trailers on a ball hitch when you do not load the trailer properly by putting too much weight near the back of the trailer will quickly cause you to lose control even if you are within proper specifications. Where you place your load on the trailer especially on long trailers with an overhang past the axles of the trailer are especially dangerous. Goose necks and tractors help to place the weight of the trailer and load onto the front tires of the truck. This gives the driver a lot more control as the weight will try to push the entire vehicle sideways even the front axle of the truck rather than kicking the rear end of the truck out with a light front axle in a ball hitch set up. Especially dangerous in the winter when you have hardly no weight on the front axle. Without a commercial licence I think manufacturers are pushing the limits too high for a g licenced driver. They are going to give inexperienced drivers false confidence that their 4500lb truck is safe to pull a 12,500 lb trailer and some will have no idea how to load the trailer correctly. But they will be legal to move down the highway.

    5. Can the new 2017 ford raptor be modified to tow more then 8000 lb.. to more like 12000 lb.. This was gonna be my bucket list truck but I’m crushed to see the towing rating.. Can you reply asap. Thanks in Advance

      1. Chance w. It’ll be worse than you think when you see the payload. That will limit your hitch weight which will govern even more so what little you can tow with it. The off road Raptor in. Half ton makes little sense compared to making something in a midsize which would be more off road capable. If you want more payload and towing with off road prowess you have to go to a Power Wagon. Anything off road capable to the degree of the raptor and power wagon ends at the power wagon for best pulling capacities and payload. Tundra Pro is pretty close as well. Raptor is the weakling when it comes to pulling

      2. As discussed below, the Power Wagon is the better choice if you can’t sacrifice the towing. While you may be able to stiffen the suspension on the Raptor to handle the load, you’d void all warrenties and take away a lot of the chararistics that make this truck excel off road. Depending on your taste and desires you may be able to build a 1/2 ton to suit if you’d rather stick with a 1/2 ton. The issue is towing rigs need a suspension to handle the load while the off road vehicle needs a flexible suspension. Building to meet both is hard to impossible. Good luck with the truck shopping. What weight are you looking to pull?

    6. my wife and I are in the process of purchasing a 1 ton diesel (ford / chevy) to tow our fifth wheel rv which will be about 40 foot long and weigh approximately 16,000! does anyone know where I can get correct information on proper care and preventive maintenance for both truck and trailer?

    7. James, the owners manual for the trucks have a couple maintenance plans based on your driving. Each can be downloaded from their websites. As for a fifth wheel, the dealership would have the best information for what maintenance your trailer will need. A quick search on the internet found this website: http://www.loveyourrv.com/fifth-wheel-rv-maintenance/ Which has a good basis for maintenance, but lots of variations between the trailers means each style has different needs.

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