Determining Trailer Tongue Weight

In order to make sure your trailer is properly loaded, you need to know your trailer tongue weight. Tongue weight is the weight that the fully loaded trailer exerts downward on the hitch ball of the tow vehicle. Typically, your tongue weight should be 10-15% of your total trailer weight. If you don't know the tongue weight of your trailer, there are several different ways you can measure it.How to measure tongue weight:
  • Tongue Weight Scale
  • Bathroom Scale
  • Commercial Scale
Trailer Hitch with Weight Distribution
Curt BetterWeigh Mobile Tongue Weight Scale
Curt BetterWeigh Tongue Weight Scale

Tongue Weight Scales

The easiest way to measure your tongue weight is with a tongue weight scale. Various scales are available to help you easily and accurately measure your trailer's tongue weight. We'll talk about the most common scale tools below.

Curt BetterWeigh

Tongue weight scales have come a long way into the modern world. For instance, Curt's BetterWeigh wirelessly connects to your smartphone and allows you to easily measure your tongue weight, pin weight, payload, and gross combined weight—all right from your phone. The weight distribution feature lets you verify your weight distribution system is set up properly. The BetterWeigh works on both travel trailers as well as fifth wheels and gooseneck trailers.
Sherline Tongue Weight Scale
HaulGauge Mobile Tongue Weight Scale

Sherline Scale

Another popular tool is the Sherline Trailer Tongue Weight Scale. The Sherline Scale can be used with standard trailers as well as fifth-wheel campers with tongue weights up to 2,000 lbs. Simply place the scale beneath your trailer jack on level ground, and the easy-to-read gauge will display your tongue weight.
Weigh Safe Ball Mount
Weigh Safe Ball Mount

Weigh Safe Ball Mount

A third option is a Weigh Safe ball mount with a built-in tongue weight scale. Weigh Safe ball mounts are adjustable and are available in various sizes, rises, and drops. With a Weigh Safe ball mount, there's no need to keep track of or store a separate scale.

Bathroom Scale

You can use a bathroom scale and a box to measure tongue weight of smaller trailers. Place the coupler of the loaded trailer on the scale at normal towing height (see Figure A). For heavier tongue weights, use the second method (Figure B). Be sure to perform these measurements on a level surface and with a leveled trailer.
Measure Tongue Weight With Bathroom Scale (Figure A)
Measure Tongue Weight With Bathroom Scale (Figure B)
To use the method in Figure B, follow these guidelines:
  • Place the trailer tongue 1 ft from the pipe on the support brick
  • Multiply the reading on the scale by the total distance between the 2 support pipes
  • Use a brick that is the same thickness as the scale so that the 2 x 4 is level when you weigh your trailer
Example: If the distance between the trailer tongue and the pipe on the scale is 2 ft, and the distance between the trailer tongue and the pipe on the support brick is 1 ft, then multiply the reading on the scale by 3 to get the tongue weight. If the distance between the trailer tongue and the pipe on the scale is 3 ft and the distance between the trailer tongue and the pipe on the support brick is 1 ft, then multiply the reading on the scale by 4 to get the tongue weight.

Commercial Scale

Another way to determine your trailer's tongue weight (and get your vehicle and trailer weights) is to take the trailer with your tow vehicle to a scale at a truck stop, quarry or material supply center. For a small fee, you can weigh your tow vehicle and trailer there.Step 1: Determine Weight of Vehicle with Tongue WeightYour vehicle and trailer must be fully loaded and fueled just as they will be when you are leaving for a trip. First, drive on to the scale with all 4 wheels of the truck and record the weight of the truck with the trailer attached.
Tow Vehicle on Scale with Trailer Hooked Up
Step 2: Determine Weight of Vehicle without Tongue WeightUnhook the trailer and jack up the trailer tongue so there is no weight on the hitch ball. Make sure that the trailer jack is not on the scale. Record the weight of only the truck on the scale. This is your gross vehicle weight (GVW). Now, subtract the GVW from the weight of the truck with the trailer attached. This will give you the tongue weight of your trailer.A - B = Tongue Weight
Determine Weight of Tow Vehicle Without Tongue Weight

Determine Tongue Weight for Weight Distribution Hitch

If you want to use a weight distribution hitch, remember to include the weight of any gear you might load behind the rear axle of the tow vehicle. You should add the weight of this gear to your tongue weight to select a weight distribution system of the proper size.
Measuring Tongue Weight for Weight Distribution
Step 1: To get the weight of the gear behind the rear axle, weigh your vehicle with this gear and without. Then subtract the weight without the gear from the weight with the gear. This difference is the weight of your gear. A - B = C.Ex: (A) Vehicle weight with gear behind rear axle - (B) vehicle weight without gear behind rear axle = (C) total weight of your gear Step 2: Add the total weight of your gear to your tongue weight. Your weight distribution hitch must support this weight.Ex: 200 lbs (total weight of gear) + 800 lbs (TW) = 1,000 lbs (weight distribution must support this weight) Learn more about finding the right weight distribution hitch size here.

Determine Additional Weights

While you are at the scale, you can also make sure that your towing setup is within the rated capacity of your tow vehicle. To do this, you need to get the weight of your trailer.To weigh your trailer, pull it with your tow vehicle onto the scale so you can weigh them together. This weight is your Gross Combined Vehicle Weight (GCVW). You can get the weight of your trailer (Gross Trailer Weight - GTW) by subtracting the weight of your tow vehicle alone from the weight of your tow vehicle and trailer combined (GCVW). Then, check your owner's manual or with your dealer to determine if the weight of your trailer is within the towing capacity of your tow vehicle.GCVW - GVW = GTW(Tow vehicle + trailer) - (tow vehicle) = trailer weight
Tow Vehicle and Trailer on Scale
Related ArticlesRelated ProductsUpdated: 7/10/19

Questions and Comments about this Article

Darrel B.

Looking to purchase a Luma 638 to haul my Can Am Spyder. Spyder weighs in a little over 1,000lbs. Spyder will fit like a glove on this trailer, good or bad. I’m concerned about the tongue weight as the engine sits a bit forward on the Spyder. Don’t think dealer is going to want me experimenting with his trailer before I would make the purchase, to make sure in in range on the hitch. Can I replicate tongue weight by driving the Spyder on to a scale only as far as the front end would sit forward on said trailer and taking a reading? Not going to have much room to adjust the Spyder on the trailer to affect tongue weight. Tow vehicle is a 2017 Toyota Sienna. Any thoughts would be appreciated! Thanks!

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

That would tell you how much weight is added in front of the axle(s) but tongue weight doesn't quite work like that because it also uses the weight of the trailer frame as well. If you are getting this trailer just for hauling your Spyder then I would just be straight up with the dealer and ask if they would allow you to test it out to see if it will work. They might be willing to let you do this if it means a sale for them. You also might be able to get the tongue weight to work out alright if you use sand bags or weighted blocks to add more weight in front of or behind the axle(s).

Johnny

new to this.i have a 2011 eclipse milan 26ft travel trailer gross weight it says 9000 lbs.i have a 2019 ram can i pull this trailer.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

What is the model of your Ram pickup?

Reply from Johnny

1500 with the hemi

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@Johnny It looks like the range of towing capacity for a 2019 Ram 1500 is 6,250 lbs - 7-520 lbs which means your 9,000 lb trailer it probably close to maxing out your truck towing capacity without having any cargo in it.

Reply from Johnny

@JonG I need a 2500.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@Johnny A 2500 would definitely fit the bill.

David B.

So if you hitch is rated at 500/5000 with a WD hitch, and loaded tongue is 540, but with the hitch connected is only 400, this is good to go correct?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

No, you need to have the tongue weight of your trailer under 500 lbs prior to hooking up to a weight distribution system. A weight distribution system will naturally lower the tongue weight rating of the trailer because it is placing that weight among all of the axles in the tow setup so we don't measure tongue weight while hooked up.

Wayne B.

I purchased the Curt Tru-Track Model 17499 Weight Distribution Hitch. I am using it on a Jeep grand Cherokee that has the 5.7 Hemi engine. I set the hitch up according to the directions. The tongue weight was at 680 lbs, measured with accurate scale. The trailer weight is about 5700 lbs. When I setup the tilt on the Hitch Head I started out in position #1 as recommended. Both Positions 1 & 2 seemed to allow the spring bars to be installed onto the “L” brackets a little too easily. So position #3 was used. At that setting the spring bars were more difficult to install, but could still be installed by hand but by raising the hitch and tow vehicle up approximately 3 inches, and using a little brute force. The measurements were taken and the front was slightly higher than the back by approximately ¾ inch. The rear was off from the original measurement by about 1 ½ inches (lower) and the front was off by approximately ¾ inch (lower). The spring bars were horizontal to the trailer frame hitch. We decided to try position 4 and the spring bars were very difficult to install even after lifting the hitch up at least 3 inches. The lift bar had to be used to install. The measurement readings were both the same front & back and were within about a ½ inch from original measurements. After only towing for about 15 miles there was apparent wear on the “L” bracket, which to me seemed excessive for such a short distance. My question is should I back the Hitch head setting back to position #3. I am thinking yes. Thanks-

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

What kind of wear were you seeing? Keep in mind that the sway control is quite literally metal on metal so if you had high winds or a number of bigger vehicles that passed you while driving then that would be why you were seeing wear. The position 3 might work okay but we try to encourage having everything set up so that your truck is within 1" of the original heights.

John H.

I have a 2004 Toyota Tacoma 4 door with a short bed. Regarding tow hitches, the owner's manual states: Use only a weight carrying hitch designed for the total trailer weight. Toyota does not recommend using a weight distribution hitch. It gives no reason, and my Toyota dealer has no clue why either. Since WD hitches are supposedly easier on the truck, why would they say this?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

Usually when we see a note like that in the manual it's because the manufacturer doesn't want to be held accountable for anything that might happen - which is interesting because a WDH is supposed to help make your towing setup safer. I'm guessing that they are maybe thinking it will put too much stress on the frame of the truck? The choice is ultimately yours whether you will go with a WDH or not, but if you decide not to then I do recommend installing suspension enhancement to help your truck out as much as possible. Attached is a link to our selection of suspension enhancement for your '04 Tacoma.

Terry J.

So if my GVWR is 2990 and the trailer weighs 1360 when empty, my capacity is 1630. Can I subtract the weight that's on the hitch? In other words, let's say I have it fully loaded and it weighs 2990 lbs. and the tongue has 350 lbs. on it, can I subtract the 350 lbs. from the total trailer weight meaning I can actually haul 1980 lbs.? It would seem to me the 350 lbs. is on the truck, not the trailer.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

I see what you're saying but I wouldn't try doing that. There are quite a few different factors and pieces that make up that weight rating and if you try to start putting more weight on different areas than what the manufacturers state you will run the risk of overloading the trailer.

Reply from Terry J.

@JonG okay thanks!

Bill G.

I've been looking at several WD systems. The weights of the WD systems include hitch bar, ball, spring bars, etc. Weights seem to vary from say 50 lbs to 150 lbs. Hitch receivers have max tow weight and what appears to be max tongue weight, I understand how to determine the tongue weight of the trailer. Do I add the hitch receiver system weight to the tongue weight and then compare that weight to the receiver max tongue weight? For example, the hitch receiver shows max tongue weight of 1,000 lbs. The trailer tongue weight is 925 lbs. If directly comparing these two numbers, I'm fine. The WD hitch assembly (connected to the receiver and extends to the trailer) is 100 lbs. Do I add the 100 lb weight of the WD hitch assembly to the tongue weight of the trailer (100+925=1,025 lbs,) in which case I would exceed the receiver max 1,000 lbs?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Kef G.

No, you do not need to add the WD system's weight to that of the tongue weight. With a max tongue weight of 1000 pounds and a trailer tongue weight of 925 pounds, you are good to go so long as your WD system is rated for that range as well.

Reply from Bill G.

I have a Reese Round bar. System. Upto 10,000 lb hitch head. Bars are rated for 750 lb tongue weight. I have a friction sway bar, but, went and installed the dual cam sway. Still have sway bar balls attached. Bought an apex nano 213rds. 2015 chevy colorado with 900 lb receiver capacity. Went to CAT scale and tongue weight came in at 760 lb. Trailer weighed 4900 lbs. Already a bit high on the tongue percentage. Only packed for weekend trip. Played around with adding weight here and there in the trailer. Also made sure i used two full propane tanks. Tipping bathroom scale method in the 840 lb range as if fully loaded. Reese does not make round bars over 800 lb s anymore. I could go with just buying 800 lb round bars. Would going over 800 lb a bit be ok? Reese does not have a 1000 lb round or trunion bar. I could by the 1200 lb trunion head and bars. I have the shank, chains, bracket, and sway cam system. Dilemma. Is a 1200 lb bar to stiff for a 750 to 850 tongue weight? A 1000 lb trunnion bar would have hit the sweet spot. Any other product reccomendations?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

Thank you for all of the info! Yes, getting your TW into that 10-15% range sweet spot is definitely the first step into having a properly loaded and level towing rig. If you have the head unit that matches the Reese 1,200 lb Trunnion Bar # RP66009 then this would be exactly what you want. It has a TW range of 600 lbs - 1,200 lbs which would be perfect for your 840 lb loaded TW.

Reply from Knut T.

But in the above scenario; would the hitch weight, say again 100lbs, have to be subtracted from the payload?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@KnutT The weight of the weight distribution system and/or the trailer hitch receiver is not calculated as extra cargo.

Reply from Knut T.

My understanding, currently using a BluOx Sway Pro, is that the weight of the hitch attached to the Tow Vehicle, has to be included as payload for the Tow Vehicle? What about the Hensley/ ProPride systems. This weight, 195 lbs total, and extend the distance from the hitch to the ball by almost 3’. And the tip of the TT tongue is attached to the extended Hensley/ProPride Hitch. How will this system affect the payload?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@KnutT You can calculate that in if you want to, but ultimately it shouldn't make that much of a difference in the system that you choose. We don't carry the Hensley/ProPride systems so you would need to ask them how they calculate the weight since their systems are significantly different than your standard weight distribution system.

Richard K.

WDH or Airbags or Both For Boondocking With Micro Minnie? Seriously considering a new Winnebago Micro Minnie 2100BH for boondocking. Of course a WDH and anti sway is a necessity. Probably will be the Equalizer for all highway travel and some travel on BLM ground. The question I have if in rougher country and going through washes and what not which could put the truck/trailer at strange angles such as: the front of the truck going over the high spot and the trailer tongue in the low spot with the arse end of the trailer still being higher than the tongue. Wouldn't that put the WDH and it's tension bars at some incredible pressure? Would it be better to take the bars off resulting in the rear of the truck too low? Or would it be best to have airbags to air up to level truck & trailer and take the WDH torsion bars off when going into rougher areas? Thanks!

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

If you are planning on going over some rough terrain then I think air bags would probably be the better choice. WDH is better for standard (or mild) road conditions so if you're able to swing the price of both then you'd get the best of both worlds, but you're definitely correct that going over rough country would likely mess with the WDH and how it operates.

Reply from Richard K.

@JonG Thanks JonG for a very logical answer. Makes sense to spend money on a preventative upgrade instead of a fix for possible trailer frame damage. etrailer is the best!!!

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@RichardK Anytime!

Chad B.

Once i have set my trailer tongue weight to 10%, then hook up my WDH, would I now be under 10% because of the weight being distributed back to the front of the vehicle and rear of the trailer???

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

That may be a possibility, but I'm not sure if there is a way to measure tongue weight with a WDH installed. The important part is that you have your loaded trailer tongue weight in that 10-15% range prior to hooking up your WDH. If you're in this range then you are good to go and you shouldn't need to worry about what the tongue weight is when the WDH is hooked up.

Reply from Camper22

@JonG I take my TT to the CAT scales. Drive on to the scales with: Vehicle front axle on 1st plate, Vehicle rear axle on 2nd plate, TT axles on 3rd plate, and do the weighing. Drive off and unhook, the TT. Drive back on the CAT scale with Vehicle axles on 1st and 2nd plate, and do the weighing. Now take the total weight from the 2 Vehicle axle weights from 1st weighing and subtract the total weight from the 2 Vehicle axle weights from 2nd weighing. This should give you the Tongue Weight with the WDS hooked up.

Adam

I see a lot of these new receiver mounts for trucks that have a split tongue weight max for with and without distribution system ... are all receivers aligned in this fashion that you would be allowed 100-200 more (ex) with a WBH? What is the reason they would or wouldn't be? My factory one has one number.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

While there are a lot of trailer hitches that have 2 different weight ratings, it isn't a hard and fast rule. You definitely want to check the sticker (like you did) on your trailer hitch to see if it has that increased capacity or not. Weight Distribution Systems (WDS) do weird things to a towing setup (in a good way!) and I believe that's why a hitch could potentially "handle" more weight. One of the most important things to remember is that you're always limited by your lowest rated component. So if your vehicle is already rated to tow lower than your trailer hitch is, you wouldn't be able to use a higher rating even if you wanted to.

Reply from Adam

@JonG -- Thanks! Agreed and I've actually had to explain that to others that have towed some fairly heavy trailers for years 10K+ without even knowing about that, scary! Your weakest component is your entire system (vehicle/trailer) limitation. This would be my weakest component @ 900lbs tongue. Given basic gravity laws, If I apply all my extra weight at or behind my trailer axles, my tongue should get lighter even without a WB hitch correct? Dry tongue of this toy hauler is 820lbs. I'm adding a touring bike that comes in at 850 dry. It's almost guaranteed to be minimum 85-90% behind the trailer axles if not all. Understanding weighing at a scale is the only guarantee, in theory the tongue shouldn't get any heavier (and I will be using a WD system anyhow) correct?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@Adam Yes, keeping the majority of the weight behind the axle will give you a light tongue weight. Just be sure that you are trying to stay within a loaded tongue weight range of 10-15% of the loaded trailer and you'll be just fine. If you get too much weight behind your axle then that can cause your trailer to sway a lot.

Reply from Adam

@JonG -- Thank you!! The dry hitch is at 17.5% of the trailer so I'd hope that starting in the back will put it in the sweet spot, if too light there are some tie downs in front/behind the axle for a more forward position. Thanks for all of the information!

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@Adam Anytime!

Tony J.

My 2011 honda crv has a tongue weight of 150 pounds. How can the 150 pounds be increases?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

The only way to be able to safely carry more than 150 lbs of tongue weight is to get a different vehicle for your application. Even if you were to get a beefier hitch and rear end suspension enhancement, there are many factors that go into a vehicle's towing/tongue ratings so you never want to exceed what is in the manual.

Eric R.

I know the weight of the various parts of my hand made trailer. My question relates to the weight of the axle, wheels, and suspension. Seems to me they should not be included in the weight of the trailer for calculating proper tongue weight because they have no effect on the tongue - they are part of the fulcrum. They do count for towing capacity of vehicle. Agree?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

I see what you're saying and you do make a very valid point - and yes, all of those weights count toward the towing capacity of the vehicle. All I can say in regards to the weight of the axle and, wheels, and suspension is that using the whole GVWR of the trailer for helping to calculate proper tongue weight has been the industry standard for a very long time. When we are talking about 10% of the weight of that stuff then that is maybe a 15 - 20 lb difference depending on the size of the trailer? I would rather go off of the GVWR of the trailer just to be on the safe side of things.

Ron M.

I am looking at purchasing a TT with a front bedroom with a bed slide and a ward up front just aft of the front a frame. There is a space for a separate washer on one side of the ward and a dryer on the other. Combined the two units weigh in at a total of 214lbs. How much of that weight can I expect to transfer to the hitch as tongue weight?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

I'm sure there is a mathematical formula out there that can tell you exactly how much tongue weight that will add but in all honesty I'm not sure how much tongue weight that weight will add. You can see a difference in tongue weight just by moving some weight a foot in either direction so if you have set locations for your washer and dryer I'd just install them there and then move your other cargo around in your TT to find that 10-15% sweet spot.

Mel M.

I have posed questions here before. Thanks for the responses. However, I am always questioning myself and my judgment when it comes to safety and safely towing my rig. Can you recommend and safe weight rating for a anti-sway tow bar system. I purchased a Husky Center line anti-sway and I am concerned that I may not have purchase the correct rated system for my rig. The hitch accommodates 500-800 TW and up 8000# GTW. Rig description as follows: 2006 GMC 2500hd SLE 4X4 (factory tow package and hitch assy.) Towable: 2005 Keystone Springdale RLLS 266 - GTW 7400#. Any help to aid my knowledge and comfort with my decision would be most appreciated. Thank you.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

The Husky Center-Line that you have should be pretty close to what you're needing. To make sure that you don't overload it you need to keep the loaded tongue weight of your trailer plus the weight of any cargo behind the rear axle of your GMC within that 500 - 800 lb range. A properly loaded trailer should have a TW that is 10-15% of the trailer so if you shoot for the 10% you should be just fine.

Reply from Mel M.

@JonG Thank you for your input. That really make me feel more confident.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@MelM Anytime!

Hiram H.

Can you make a recommendation? I'm looking at a combination of Weight Distributing Hitch and helper springs (Firestone Ride RIte airbags, Timbrens or Sumo Springs). I'm really stretching the capacity of my 2020 Tacoma 4wd, and trying to not be stupid. Payload is 1240, Max tongue 650 and max trailer 6500. I tow a boat which is right at the limit, 6500. I only tow short distances, 3-10 miles, 5 times/yr. Currently, the TW is way too low, 350, so I have some sway. Nice that the truck doesn't squat, but the sway is dangerous. I am going to re-balance the trailer so TW is 650-700. Hopefully that eliminates sway, but will surely make my truck squat and max out my payload (including humans and gear). So here are my questions... 1) What is the best size WD hitch for me? 2) Which helper springs offer more dampening for sway reduction? (Ride Rite airbags, Timbrens or Sumo Springs?) 3) Which helper spring has the LEAST impact to factory ride when the truck is unloaded? (Vast majority of my driving is empty, and I don't want to jack it up or make a stiff ride). If I choose airbags, I would deflate to 5psi when not towing. How would that compare to Timbrens or Sumos?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

Great questions! You definitely want to make sure that you're towing safely so try to have your trailer tongue weight as close to 650 lbs as possible. You can also check your owner's manual/your hitch sticker to see if there is a slight increase in tongue weight rating when using a weight distribution system (WDS). For your application I recommend the SwayPro # BXW0750 with a 2" # 63845 or 2-5/16" # 63847 hitch ball, along with a pole-tongue adapter # BXW4023 . As far as suspension enhancement goes your best bet is the air bag kit. The Timbrens and Sumo Springs do an excellent job, don't get me wrong, but if you're mainly going to be driving unloaded then you can deflate them to 5 psi like you stated and you will be back to your factory suspension.

Sidney R.

I bought a Westinghouse 4500 Generator. It weighs 92# I am mounting it behind the butane bottles and moving the battery into the storage box. Will that effect anything? Thanks

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

If all of that is on the tongue (like it would normally be on a trailer) then yes, that will increase your tongue weight. You might need to place it elsewhere during travel if this increases your tongue weight too much.

Tyler H.

I am wanting to see what I can do to get my tongue weight in the safe zone, my load is relatively fixed and can't be adjusted. I am using a 2011 toyota tacoma 4x4 to tow a 6 x 12 aluminum ez hauler single axle trailer. The trailer is rated for 3500lbs. I installed air bags to make the truck sit level and it seems to tow fine, but i was finally able to his a scale and did some weighing and found out I could be in trouble. I put just the jack(Which should be tongue weight) on the scale and it came in at 650lbs. I then put only the trailer axle on the scale and it came in at 2100lbs. if I combine those my trailer weight is at 2750. I made a 600 mile round trip without any issues, but I would like to have some piece of mind that I am ok, or what my options are to be better.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

I don't think you went the correct route to determine your tongue weight. If you look at the article above, the only time that we mention using the trailer jack to measure tongue weight is with the bathroom scale, 2x4, and a brick. I recommend either using one of the methods we mention in this article or using a tongue weight scale (see attached) to accomplish this. Let me know what you find out.

Reply from Tyler

@JonG I borrowed a friends wheeling scale and used a jack to get the ball height the same as the the truck and the scale reads 600lbs. Should I continue as is and hope for the best or is there another solution I should look at?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@Tyler I'm guessing you meant weight scale? If that's the case and you've been able to determine that the 600 lbs is your actual tongue weight then we do need to figure out how to get your tongue weight lighter. You really want to shoot for a loaded tongue weight that is 10-15% of the loaded weight of the trailer. Even if you maxed out your trailer weight at 3,500 lbs this means at the most your trailer tongue weight would be 525 lbs. Unless you changed the initial way that you determined tongue weight I still don't think it's actually 600 lbs so I'd try to use one of the methods that I mentioned above.

Charles S.

Due to the addition of Sea Legs to my pontoon boat, my tongue weight is now exceeding the maximum of 500 lb. rating. How can I address this? I have an adjustable trailer. Thanks for any advice!

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

If you can move your pontoon boat towards the rear at all then that will help with tongue weight. If not then what you'll need to do is add some weight to the back of your pontoon. Any cargo (or weight) that is placed behind your axle(s) will decrease tongue weight, while any cargo placed in front of your axle(s) will increase tongue weight.

Todd C.

I am looking purchasing a camper and wdh. My truck has a maximum of 800lb hitch weight. The camper i am looking at has a 709 tongue weight. Once we add a battery and propane tank I will be all over the max. It seems like the wdh takes weight off of the hitch by redistributing it. After reading some of the above it does not seem like that is the case. Am I safe with being right at that limit with the wdh? It is a ford raptor...which has reduced towing capacity.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

Tongue weight isn't always a set thing because you can add weight to the back of your trailer to help counterbalance that tongue weight. Even though a WDH does help distribute that tongue weight between all axles you don't really want to exceed the tongue weight rating of your vehicle. Sometimes adding a WDH can increase the tongue weight rating of a vehicle but that's only the case if your owner's manual states this.

Mack H.

im looking at a #C11265 hitch for my corolla it has a tongue weight of 200lbs. Im looking at getting a motorcycle carrier for my dirtbike it weighs 30-40lbs. my dirtbike is about 200lbs. I will aslo need an adapter to convert the hitch from 1 1/4" to 2". will i be ok or no?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

Since your dirt bike weighs 200 lbs you'll be going over the tongue weight capacity of the Curt Trailer Hitch # C11265 with the carrier. The other problem is that when an adapter is used it reduces the weight capacity of the trailer hitch by 50%. This means that your tongue weight capacity will be reduced to 100 lbs so you'll really be going over your weight capacity. Really the safest thing you can do is get a trailer to transport your dirt bike.

Darrell B.

I have a 2007 Four Winds RV. I have put on a Curt E-100 4x4 hitch on the bumper. This hitch was designed for this type bumper. It has a TW of 350 lbs. WILL a full size jeep with a tow bar work being pulled behind my RV ?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

Pretty sure the answer is a no. The Curt RV Bumper Hitch Receiver # E-100 is rated for 3,500 lbs towing which I'm pretty sure every Jeep exceeds, plus you're going to need to see how much your bumper is rated for because typically it isn't that much. You want to install a trailer hitch that connects directly to the frame of your RV and that is rated for 5,000 lbs towing (see attached), but you're also going to need to compare that with the curb weight of your Jeep.

John Y.

Thanks for the illustrations, which I've seen copied for at least one YouTube video. My question is why so loosey-goosey on the distance between the bathroom scale and the tongue. I'm quite sure it makes a difference if it's 2 feet or 3 feet.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

The distance does make a difference, but this should be balanced by adjusting the formula accordingly as described in the bathroom scale section.

Susan V.

We have a 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee and a 2019 Passport 2210RB. We have replaced the original battery with 2 lithium batteries in a 16 lb lockable case. When we hitch the trailer to the jeep, the vehicle squats. We have weighed the vehicle and trailer several times, we have used a tongue weight scale to get a tongue weight, but none of the figures make sense. What information do you need to determine why the vehicle is squatting and whether or not we can tow the trailer with this vehicle?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

Rear vehicle squat is relatively common when hooking up a trailer - so of course you want to make sure you aren't exceeding the Jeep's tongue weight capacity, but rear squat by itself isn't necessarily an indication that this is the case. When you say that the numbers you're getting don't make sense, what exactly do you mean by this? In either case, I definitely think you would benefit from a weight distribution system. The Fastway # FA94-00-1061 would be a really good choice for the Passport's 7,000 pound GVWR.

Matt B.

Can I tow a 5 by 8 by 5 high enclosed uhaul trailer across country in a 2019 2 wheel drive Jeep Cherokee (latitude)

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

When determining if you can safely tow a trailer with your Jeep, you'll need to go by the loaded weight of the trailer (the size doesn't really matter). Check the Cherokee's owner's manual for its towing capacity and as long as the trailer's weight is less, you're good to go.

Mary H.

I have a small SUV with the class 2 towing package. My manual says I can tow up to 3500 lbs with a max tongue weight of 300. I went into a mechanic recently to have them install a 7 pin connector and tow brake controller and he made it seem like my hitch wasn't welded to the right part of the vehicle. I want to tow a converted cargo trailer that weights around 2100 lbs fully loaded. Am I ok or do I need a better receiver?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

Unfortunately I would have no way of knowing if what the mechanic is telling you is correct. If it is indeed accurate your best course of action would be to talk with the vehicle dealer as this would be a factory defect - they should be on the hook for correcting if there's an issue.

Allen H.

Hi I have a 2015 Heartland Prowler M-32BHS Trailer. The GVWR IS 9990 lbs. What size weight distributing hitch would you recommend? I am pulling it with a 2019 RAM 1500, if that makes any difference.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

For that size trailer the Curt TruTrack WD System # C17501 will work extremely well.

Greg M.

I recently weighed by TV and TT, then made the WDH adjustments . My goal was to evenly distribute the weight between the drive and steer axles. The results are theat the drive axle has 100lbs more than the steer axle. All weights are well under the mfg limitations. Is my theory of having weights equally balance between the two axles correct?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

A properly adjusted weight distribution system will definitely transfer trailer tongue weight to both axles of your tow vehicle, but it won't create an entirely equal setup. You'll still likely have a bit more weight on one axle with everything hooked up.

Guillermo

HI I'M TRYING TO FIND OUT ABOUT THE TRAILER HITCH ACCESSORIES..... I WANT TO PUT 4 BICYCLES... BUT I DON'T KNOW HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT ONE, I ALREADY HAVE THE BIKE CARRIER. I HAVE A TOYOTA CORROLA 2013

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

Are you just needing the hitch itself on your Toyota Corolla? If so, the Curt Class I # C11265 will work well. The issue though is that Class I hitches can only safely support up to 2 bikes (there are only Class I hitches available for your Corolla). If you need to transport 4 bikes you'll need to secure two of them on the roof. For a roof rack I like the Rola # 59734 and for a roof bike rack the Swagman # S64705 is a great option.

Jim B.

I have a small truck with a #5000 towing capacity and #600 hitch capacity. I am looking at a camping trailer, single axle, that weighs #3400 and has a dry hitch weight of #426. I assume once there is a #20 LP bottle and battery on the tongue, the hitch weight will go up to about #475-#480 or so. My question is this, I plan to use a weight distribution and sway control hitch, does this hitch need to weigh less that the difference between my truck hitch capacity of #600 and the tongue weight? In other words I only have about #125 left on my max hitch spec, so does the hitch, ball, and weight control/anti-sway bars need to stay under #125 or does the weight of the hitch and components not matter? Thank you very much.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

Good question. The good news is that you don't need to factor in the weight of the WD hitch as added tongue weight. When utilized, it essentially becomes part of the hitch and vehicle frame so it doesn't actually count as tongue weight.

Reply from Jonathan G.

@ChrisR So, where does the WDH or any hith weigh goes? Does it become part of the payload of the vehicle? If the hitch is a WDH does all the weight count toward the tow vehicle? Thanks is advance!!!

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@JonathanG Yes, that is essentially what @ChrisR was saying. The weight of the WDH will become part of the vehicle weight.

Donald P.

On the 2020 Silverado it states in the owners manual that the maximum trailer tongue weight rating for a conventional trailer hitch is shown on the trailering information label. Does this mean with or without a weight distribution system.Does conventional mean just on the hitch ball. The label in the door jamb indicates max tongue weight of 960 lbs on a conventional trailer hitch and in the owners manual it states to not exceed 1250 lbs as well the sticker on the hitch says 1250 max, Which weight is the one i should use?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

A conventional trailer would indeed be one that hooks up to a hitch-mounted ball mount/ball on your truck (as opposed to a 5th wheel or gooseneck trailer). Typically the door jamb label provides the most accurate info, as it's specifically written for your exact truck - where the owner's manual is a bit more general and covers all the various 2020 Silverado models. The rating on the hitch would just be for the hitch itself and it's definitely possible for it to have a higher rating than the truck it's on. When this happens you still have to adhere to the truck's lower capacity. You might also check with a local Chevy dealer with your VIN to get even more detailed specs.

Reply from Bradley A.

@DonaldP. On 7/8/20 I saw the owners manual for the 2021 Tahoe. Like the Silverado manual you saw, the Tahoe manual also says the tongue weight limit for a conventional hitch is 1,250 lbs. However, the manual directs you to the trailering sticker on the door frame to find out the actual tongue weight limit, which for that particular 2021 Tahoe High Country was 810 lbs. Also note that the manual clearly indicates the limit on the sticker is for a conventional hitch, not a weight-distributing hitch. Since the door frame sticker is always what matters for determining limits, I think we both should ignore the 1,250 lb figure in the manual. I think the 1,250 figure is in regards to how much weight a conventional hitch can handle, and it has nothing to do with the tow vehicle's capacity. Also note that the idea of a 1,250 lbs tongue weight is kind of nonsense for the Tahoe since the payload capacity for that particular Tahoe I saw was 1,471 lbs. There's only 221 lbs left over for people/gear. A 1,250 lb tongue weight implies a trailer weight of 8,333 to 12,500 pounds if tongue weight is 10-15% as it should be. These are all above the Tahoe's towing capacity. Again, not sure why the 1,250 figure is in the manual other than to protect Chevy's liability. It's not a useful figure for calculating anything useful regarding towing, and in fact it could make someone think their tongue weight limit is much higher than it really is (400 lbs difference in my case.)

Heather S.

We have a 2010 Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer EL 4X4 with heavy duty towing package. Love the truck for our large family. We are looking into renting first, then buying a travel trailer. We have 15,000lb GCWR with 8,700 lb Max Trailer Weight. We know the maxes are conservative estimates, but still, we are looking at 7,000lb dry/empty trailers. Safe, right?But heres the issue. The maximum weight of occupants and cargo for tires, suspension, etc. of the Expedition itself is 1,403 lbs. That seems really low, no? With five of us in the car weighing 650 lbs total, plus if we carry our luggage in the car or bring our other kids or friends, we are estimating 1,000 lbs. in the car. Correct me if Im wrong, but then we only have 400 lbs for tongue weight because you have to add the tongue weight to the towing vehicle cargo capacity? Tongue weight for a 7,000 lb dry/empty trailer would be between 700 and 1,050 lbs. So we are out of luck pulling a travel trailer with this SUV?How are other similar SUVs able to do it? Different tires, suspension, otherwise? All suggestions welcome including give it up, or get a class C. Were not interested in trading in our SUV for a pick-up truck at this time.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

Does the owner's manual for your Expedition specify anything other than occupants and cargo with regards to the vehicle's max weight? If not, I don't think a trailer's tongue weight would need to be added to this figure. As long as the 15,000 pound GCWR (combined weight of the Expedition and trailer) isn't exceeded you should be safely under its limits. With this in mind, I still highly recommend talking with a local Ford dealer to be sure. You can provide them with your VIN and they should hopefully be able to provide some more clearly defined capacities, etc.

Reply from Heather S.

@ChrisR Thank you. But yes, the owner's manual does show pictures and say that the cargo weight of the vehicle includes "Base Curb Weight, including cargo, people and optional equipment. When towing, trailer tongue load or king pin weight is also part of cargo weight." With a 1,400 pound max cargo weight, perhaps subtracting nearly 200 pounds alone for a full tank of gas (31 gallons X 6 pounds per gallon)? Then I'm already at 1,200 pounds max capacity that could be almost entirely utilized by tongue weight of a 7,000 pound trailer much less if I pulled the 8,700 pounds max trailer weight. I mean, a 1,400 pound max cargo weight for an 8 passenger vehicle is ridiculously low in the first place, no? How can other SUVs pull travel trailers? I can't imagine Ford Expeditions are so different from other large SUVs. But the towing capacity vs. cargo capacity seem WAY misaligned, no? I have called Ford dealer, no clue, they keep repeating 8,700 pound towing capacity and have no idea about tongue weight being added to cargo capacity. RV salespeople either have no idea or tell me the tongue weight doesn't need to be considered in vehicle cargo load. I've called Ford Customer Service, no idea. I'm now awaiting a call back within a couple days from Ford customer service supervisor, who I'm sure also won't know, because only design/engineering would be knowledgeable on this, I think.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

Thanks so much for that clarification. That cargo weight really doesn't give you much room for a travel trailer, like you said. I wish I had a solution for you here, hopefully the supervisor at Ford CS will give you some better insight. As for how other SUVs can handle larger travel trailers - it honestly is likely a combination of some simply having higher capacities and others being driven by those who don't do their research (and are likely exceeding their vehicle's capacity).

Reply from Mark

Just so everyone is clear here... tongue weight absolutely needs to be deducted from the vehicles overall payload. In the above example the 2010 Expedition has: Payload: 1,403 lbs Trailer Tongue Weight: ~1,000lbs? That leaves 403 lbs for additional occupants and gear. If you need more than that, you need a bigger vehicle. Or a smaller trailer. Suv's arent made to haul 7000 lbs campers around. Try looking at 4000-4500 lbs trailers. Lots of nice ultra light models in that range.

Reply from Heather S.

@Mark and Chris - thanks to both of you. This was a VERY helpful discussion. No reply from Ford customer service afterall (sigh). But we have indeed concluded we would need a lighter trailer, fewer passengers and gear or a different truck, not the Ford Expedition XL 4X4 even with heavy duty towing package that we have. So for now since we love our Ford and don’t want a pick up truck with heavier duty payload, we have started looking at Class C RVs. It’s surprising (and scary) to realize all the people (RV salespeople, car dealer reps, trailer owners/drivers, etc) who do not know about tongue weight and it being deducted from vehicle payload. Well done gentlemen.

Reply from Knut

@HeatherS . You are correct on all points. I had a 2008 Expedition EL and was right up against the max Payload capacity. Also have kids and dogs, somI had to go out and buy a new Expedition Max. Took a long time but found one MAX XLT with 1798 lbs payload. I made up a spreadsheet which adds everything and flags numbers out of range. I pull a TT, Keystone Passport 2950 a 6500 lbs fully loaded. Using a WD hitch I’m good now, the most restrictive limit now is rear axel weight. Let me know, and we can coordinate and I’ll send you my spreadsheet as a guide when your loading and what your looking for.

Reply from Heather S.

@Knut - thank you. I hope your Expedition Max will work. I gotta tell you I'm skeptical - I think the rear suspension of these Expeditions is just too soft to safely handle it. Our story: We bought a 2021 Heartland Wildnerness travel trailer with wide dual axle making it a low 518 pound tongue weight (empty) and 6,378 dry weight. We geared it up but without too much added weight, we installed a brake controller in our Expedition, and Indiana dealer slapped on (while vehicle and trailer were on a slope) a good weight distribution hitch with sway bars. By every measurement, we SHOULD have been set. Not by a long-shot. Day 1 driving slowly in Indiana (flat, straight roads with little traffic), we were a mess with lots of sway plus 10-12 instances of an odd noise/feeling as if trailer was braking/pulling us from behind & very light steering. We stopped the first night and had to get a dealer to reinstall WDH with sway bars - original dealer did a horrible job with uneven sway bar, hitch height way different than car height, slant of hitch way off with not enough washers. After reinstallation, it was better rarely having the pull from behind/feeling of braking issue, but still too much sway and even the vehicle skid light on the instrument panel illuminating sometimes. We drove in right lane, typically 60-65 mph and gained experience but never confidence. We took it to a local RV dealership owner who test drove our set up - a pretty bold guy who drives fast and has been RVing for decades. Within minutes, he said he'd never drive it again. He didn't experience the pull from behind issue or even skid symbol on the instrument panel but he said he felt the rear of our truck was too soft, he felt sway all over the place. He wouldn't even consider driving that setup from Raleigh to Wilmington (flat roads). We looked into changing our rear suspension from coil to leaf spring which is tighter. Cost prohibitive and apparently nobody does that. So we were out of luck, after having bought a travel trailer in part that would allow us to tow with our Ford Expedition XLT with heavy-duty towing. Nope. So we are now the not-so-proud owners of a Ford F-150. We took the set-up back to the dealer (now friend) for another test drive. He was flying down the highway, said it felt great, he'd not only take it across the state, but across the country including the Appalachians and Rocky Mountains. I hope yours can really work for you. So many people are CLUELESS on hitches, tongue weight, payload capacity/cargo weight. We were, but we kept doing our research, asked professionals who were equally clueless and told us tongue weight didn't matter (wrong!), ultimately bought the right set-up and still ended up in a really dangerous situation. Now beyond just giving U-Haul type trucks a wide berth, when we see RVs, travel trailers especially, we presume they are clueless and give them a WIIIIIDDDDEEE margin.

Stephen D.

My trailer as weighed at dealer had a TW of 800 lbs. When I follow this procedure with a WDH it shows I only have a 400 lb tongue weight. I have a sway problem. Is the WDH causing this by redistributing too much weight back to trailer axle? as per CAT scales GVCW- 12760 TV-6200 GTW-6160 but according to dealer GTW-6025.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

A weight distribution system redistributes tongue weight to all axles of your setup, so this is exactly what's happening. It's doing what it's supposed to do. If you're still having sway issues though then it likely just has to be adjusted a bit - try tilting the head towards the trailer a bit, which will take some tension off of the spring bars. If you can let me know what model system you have I would be happy to look into this further as well.

Reply from Stephen D.

@ChrisR Its an equalizer hitch. Yesterday I lowered the tension bars a full notch and that has helped quite a bit. I now have a tongue weight of 640, 580 on truck. I think it should be heavier, there are about 7 washers pushing the head out. I did notice that the friction points where the bars attach by pin, look really scuffed up after one trip home from the dealer. I mean grooves in the metal. Any other thoughts would be appreciated.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

Why do you think you need more tongue weight? I wouldn't base this off of weights alone - if the ride is much better after adjusting the head and your truck and trailer are level, there really isn't a need for anything further (unless of course you still feel the need for some improvement in the ride). You could try adjusting the head even further, or even physically adding some more weight to the front of the trailer to see if it helps.

Wali R.

Just built a 8x6 bicycle trailer using a DIY kit from WikeBike Co.Canada using 1 sq aluminum tubing. Its designed to be attached to the left side of the bikes rear wheel. Instead I got a bike ball hitch assy. and plan on attaching the connecting rod on top of the tongue and connect to the rear of the bikes cargo rack or seat post. In determining the tongue weight, should trailer be loaded/unloaded? Need to know just how much I can tow

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

If you're trying to determine how much you can safely pull, you'll definitely want to calculate the trailer's tongue weight while it's loaded. Load it up just as it will be for a trip.

Reply from Wali R.

TY Chris I'll load up my camping gear and take weight.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

No problem! Just let me know if anything else comes up.

Kathleen F.

I was wanted to know what size weight distribution sway bar do i need for a 2017 Winebago minni plus 8800lbs

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

You're looking at a loaded tongue weight of around 880 to 1,320 pounds on the Winnebago. With this in mind I highly recommend the Equal-i-zer # EQ37140ET , which will work perfectly for this range once you load up the back of your tow vehicle with cargo.

Jeff W.

So if any can tell me if Im ok I got a dodge 2500 with 11 ft lance camper. Im using an extended 4 ft or so hitch to tow a mid 90s ski boat with tandem axles. Im guessing around 350 pounds on tounge of boat or more. The salesman said Id be fine but Im thinking I need a super hitchdouble bar extension an a double reciever rather not spend the money if not needed. Any thoughts or suggestions/info would be grateful.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

Can you tell me what particular model hitch extender you're using? I think the truck itself has enough capacity to handle your current setup, but the limiting factor here might be the actual extender. A lot of the longer units will have varying tongue weight limits or they may reduce the capacity of the trailer hitch on the truck when used. I can definitely provide a more detailed answer if you know what model you're using.

Jake

I installed a Draw-tite class III hitch on my 2020 Forester Sport. Is the weight of the hitch counted in the tongue weight? In other words, the Forester unfortunately only has a max tongue weight of 150 lbs, and I read elsewhere on this site that the hitch weighs 32 lbs, so am I limited to adding only 118 lbs?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jacob H.

The weight of the hitch itself will not cut into the total weight capacity of the vehicle. So you will still have what the manufacturer says that your vehicle can handle.

David P.

You mention TW This combined weight is used when choosing the weight distribution system needed for your application. my question has nothing to do with choosing the correct weight distribution hitch system. My question is to the TW rating of the hitch and vehicle. Example: I have a TV with a hitch TW rating of 950lbs WDH rating, not static rating. I measure the tongue weight of my fully loaded TT at 900lbs - NO WDH ATTACHED. 900lb is under my TV max rating of 950lbs. EXCEPT, if I then add the 100lbs of WDH which is actually joint between the TV and TT, carried by the hitch, am I now at a TW of 1050lbs which is OVER my TV TW rating. Again, nothing to do with ing the correct system with the correct bars.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jason S.

The tongue weight rating of the vehicle will be listed in your vehicle owner's manual. The trailer hitch tongue weight rating may be greater or less than that and will be listed by the hitch manufacturer. The lesser of those two ratings is the maximum tongue weight. If your travel trailer has a tongue weight less than that rating, then you will be able to tow it with or without a weight distribution system. If the travel trailer tongue weight is greater than that rating, then whether you have a weight distribution system or not, you would need a different vehicle to pull that trailer.

Dave P.

Is the 100lbs of the WDH ADDED to the tongue weight of the TT to determine if you are over the vehicle WDH-TW rating, or does the vehicle assume a 100lb WDH already present, and the vehicle already takes into account the presence of the hitch when is lists the WD rating, in other words, the TW of the TT ALONE is the TW used, and the 100lb WDH is not added to the measured TT TW.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jason S.

The weight of the weight distribution system (the head, shank, brackets, and spring bars) is not added to the total tongue weight. The total tongue weight used is the trailer tongue weight as well as any cargo weight behind the rear axle of the tow vehicle. This combined weight is used when choosing the weight distribution system needed for your application.



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