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Old March 22nd, 2006, 01:01 AM   #1
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Default Towing basics

There is often questions of towing a rig , here are some basics on towing .

Things to conceder on your tow rig .

Tires , the more ply the more stable . light duty 4 ply will sway much more then a 6 , 8 or 10 ply .

Be sure you have positive tongue weight , 10% of load up to 500 lbs for most common ball hitch trailers .This helps prevent trailer sway which is the cause of most trailer accidents that i have seen .

Distance from your axle to the trailer hook point .
The closer you are to your tow rig axle the better it will handle and the more you can tow safely . Major reason a 5th wheel tows much better , the weight is over the axle not behind it .

This is a major factor with light pickups towing large trailers of the ball type . The back of a pickup truck is light . the trailer can start swaying and throw the truck off the road . Any SUV has less problem here do the back axle carring more weight .

weight , basic solid rule is dont pull more then you weigh . if your truck is 5,000 lb then figure 5,000 lb to be your safe load including trailer and load for a ball hitch . This is providing your vehicle is rated to pull that much .

Example from recent photo posted .

in my case H3 equals 4,700 lbs , jeep and trailer 5,700 , problem correct ! no becuase i will transfer 500 lbs on to tongue weight which is now part of the weight of the H3 making it 5,200 plus ocupants another 300 so a total of 5,500 for the H3 , the trailer and grand are minus 500 which makes them a total of 5,200 wich is about equal and max for the H3 to pull . This is NOT a perfect situation , its a max load situation there for extra care and lower speeds are required .

Other points here , H3 has short distance from the rear axle to the ball connection , this greatly reduces the trailers ablity to push the H3 around .It also has a stiff suspension and 6 ply tire which help with control .

I use this example because the photo is questioned as safe by some .

Last and very important fact id like to point out is trailer brakes . I think Mi requires trailer brakes over 5,000 lb loads . I personnally like trailer brakes on any trailer of 3,000 lb capacity or more . It saves your tow rigs brakes and makes a much safer stop .

When you look at the tow capacity of your tow rig , keep in mind this is optimum conditions there rated at .

Common sense is a life safer when towing , follow all laws on cross chains lighting ect.

This post is for basic knowledge and not meant to be set or rules but rather a guide line . I hope it asnwers towing questions and is helpful for some .:gman:
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 01:06 AM   #2
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Geezzz, you are just taking business away from yourself with these safety post!:gman:

Good advice and it should be a sticky in a tech section or somewhere, maybe a Newb section along with lift and tire sizes and other questions that come up all the time.
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 01:07 AM   #3
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[QUOTE=Grandman]

weight , basic solid rule is dont pull more then you weigh . if your truck is 5,000 lb then figure 5,000 lb to be your safe load including trailer and load for a ball hitch . This is providing your vehicle is rated to pull that much .
QUOTE]

What about some of these new trucks that are rated to pull 15klbs or more?
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 01:16 AM   #4
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Or semi's?

Your saying my 2500 dodge rated to tow 8,800 pounds is almost at it's max safe limit with my YJ geared up on a trailor....

Solid info beyond that.
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 06:31 AM   #5
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Quote:
maybe a Newb section
Thats a great Idea, we could have section for the basics in tech and that would save hundreds of s.




as for maxing out the safe limits of towing in trucks its safer then you think. if you look at tongue weight Vs. vehicle weight you just have to distribute better if you are coming up on the max, that why they make equalizer hitches, they put weight back on the front wheels to offset the load.
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 06:59 AM   #6
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I still think you can tow a trailer that weighs more than your tow rig if you have load dist. hitch set up....and dont try to do 80mph.

I looked at a 36' Camper non 5th wheel...it wieghed 8500lb empty, so loaded about 10k. So thats more than a 1 ton crew cab dually w/a diesel. What are you suppose to tow that camper with.

We tow trailers at work all day everyday that weigh more than the vehicle towing it....its hard to aviod unless your gonna tow everything with a tandum axle 10 yard dump truck.


Alot of your points are usefull tho'. I just disagree with tow vehicle > trailer issue...but hey thats life.
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 07:44 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadhouse
I still think you can tow a trailer that weighs more than your tow rig if you have load dist. hitch set up....and dont try to do 80mph.
Gman covers this when he explains the 500lb tongues wieght tranferring to the tow rig, that is exactly what your load dist. bars are doing, but transfering even more then just the normal tongue waieght

Hey Gman, you mention following laws about lighting, what are they? other then having brakes lights/blinkers/running lights on the rear.
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 08:00 AM   #8
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Good post, overall.

As noted, for heavier trucks, you can safely tow more than the weight of the truck.

I think for anything less than a half ton, definately don't exceed the weight of the tow vehicle, and even for half tons, thats a point where you need to start being extra careful.


The info about trailer brakes is not quite correct:

257.705 Brakes.
Sec. 705. (1) (d) A new motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer sold in this state and operated upon the highways shall be equipped with brakes on all wheels, except a motorcycle or moped, and except that a semitrailer, pole trailer, or trailer of less than 3,000 pounds gross weight need not be equipped with brakes if the gross weight of a trailer or pole trailer, no part of the load of which rests upon the towing vehicle, does not exceed 40% of the gross weight of the towing vehicle, and if the gross weight of the towing vehicle and the gross weight of a semitrailer or pole trailer, part of the load of which rests upon the towing vehicle, does not exceed 40% of the gross weight of the towing vehicle when connected to the semitrailer or pole trailer. This subdivision shall not apply to a trailer or semitrailer owned by a farmer and used exclusively in connection with the farming operations of the farmer and not used for hire.




Roughly, anything loaded over 3000 lbs MUST have brakes on all axles.

Anything loaded under 3000 lbs requires brakes on all axles if the load exceeds 40% of the towing vehicle.

So, technically, a 5000 lbs truck requires brakes on any trailer above 2000 lbs..

Last edited by Haggar; March 22nd, 2006 at 08:02 AM.
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 08:05 AM   #9
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As for lights;

257.688 Additional lights or reflectors on buses, trucks, tractors, trailers, implement of husbandry, or special mobile equipment.

(d) On every trailer, pickup camper, or semitrailer having a gross weight in excess of 3,000 pounds:
On the front, 2 clearance lamps, 1 at each side.
On each side, 2 side marker lamps, 1 at or near the front and 1 at or near the rear.
On each side, 2 reflectors, 1 at or near the front and 1 at or near the rear.
On the rear, 2 clearance lamps, 1 at each side, also 2 reflectors, 1 at each side, and 1 stop light.


(f) On every trailer, pickup camper, or semitrailer weighing 3,000 pounds gross or less:
On the rear, 2 reflectors, 1 on each side if any trailer or semitrailer is so loaded or is of such dimension
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 08:40 AM   #10
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Yetti , Roadhouse you guys both mention " weight distributing hitch " this indeed ups the ability to tow .

This was written for what i see every day . Average guy hooking up to a trailer on a standard ball .

This post is ONLY A BALL PARK GUIDE :gman:
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 09:37 AM   #11
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You hear people argue over towing a trailer with or without a weight dist hitch. I just feel safer and the trailer tows nicer with one, especially if it has the optional torsion bar. Of course towing with dually is alot different than srw. We only have one trailer at work that we use a load hitch on thats a 24' enclosed haulmark trailer. It was a little squirly on the highway without one. All the rest of our bigger trailers that hall our Mill machine, bobcat, rollers, etc all have pinto hitches and do get towed with duallys. Our melters have a standard ball type hitch with now load dist....and they tow fine. They are really short dual axle trailers tho' so that might help...but they can be heavy bastards if they are full of material.

Marv all these times we talked about towing and saying unsafe, I thought you ment with a weight dist. hitch....sorry about misunderstanding that part.

But I still feel that a 1/2 ton truck with a tow rating of 9500lbs towing a 30' TT that weighs 7000lbs is safer than your H3 with a tow rating of what 4000lbs or less, towing you ZJ on a trailer that weighs 6000lbs. And my statement means both using load dist hitch.....I know you don't agree with me but thats cool.
But like you have always mentioned take it slow......
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 11:00 AM   #12
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Marv all these times we talked about towing and saying unsafe, I thought you ment with a weight dist. hitch....sorry about misunderstanding that part

I can see no reason other then cost to not use one .

Take the pig gig , i did not see one set up that way . Straight ball hitch , or 5th wheel set ups .

Your point on dually trucks is very true . There stability is remarkable compared to single wheel trucks . No sway out of the rear at all .
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 11:06 AM   #13
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Yep load dist hitch setups arent cheap. I belive it was around $400-500 for the one I bought last spring.

If you go and buy a new camper travel trailer style they automatically include the load dist hitch and set it all up for ya....just safer that way.

I have seen smaller SUV's like Durango, Explorers etc towing pop up campers with load dist. hitches.....dont see why you would really need one for that
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 11:12 AM   #14
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Yeah, it is quite a difference.

When I worked landscaping, our 'small' trucks were 1 ton dodges, dually, CTDs, dumping flatbeds.

All our trucks, from 3/4 ton and up, we used pintle hooks for everything, so thats a bumper pull.

On the 1 tons, I often towed up to a 28k trailer, didn't feel unsafe at all. But a good size equipment trailer with a bobcat was a bit of a load for the 3/4 tons that we had(foremen trucks).

Hmm, I never used an equalizing hitch when I was hauling a 35k lb trailer with the DT466... :tonka: Should I have?




My new dodge 3/4 ton(96 V10) doesn't have the camper special package that my 2000 3/4 ton did, and it sways a bit more, so I think I'll get an equalizing hitch for this one..
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 11:14 AM   #15
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Also, when talking about weight, its important to consider wheelbase, too, which is a huge factor.

THinking about trucks, compare a H2 to a 3/4 ton dodge(gas engine).. both are about 6000 lbs, both with similar engine capacity.

However, a ext cab longbed dodge with a 156" wheelbase will tow more weight with much more stability than the H2, mainly due to that big difference in wheelbase.
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Old March 24th, 2006, 01:19 AM   #16
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this is a good post, little confusing but good..lol. i dont have a weight dist. hitch yet, but i want one, they are really nice to tow with. granted my usual tow is my willys on a 12ft trailer. or the tractor with the brushhog, but roughly the same weight.

i do have a question about the brakes thought. your saying anythign over 3000 trailer weight has to have brakes on both axles? so what if my trailer is older and it only has them on one axle.? is this going to be a problem if i am over 3000? im not going to put another set on.. that would be a pain.

we bought a new trailer in dec. im not sure if that has brakes on both axles but im asumming it would have to, its a 20" also.

grandman? not sure what your job is but maybe you will know the answer to this question. i have heard of talk that 1 the old cam binders are no longer legal, 2 that you are required to have 4 chains and seprate binders on a load now. so it cant shift either way. a guy came in to our class and was explaining this, i cant remember where he is from though.:miff: and are the chain strength changing? how does this affect the ratchet straps or does it??
thanks.. and good post
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Old March 24th, 2006, 02:13 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noodles

i do have a question about the brakes thought. your saying anythign over 3000 trailer weight has to have brakes on both axles? so what if my trailer is older and it only has them on one axle.? is this going to be a problem if i am over 3000? im not going to put another set on.. that would be a pain.
I was told it was brakes on ONE axle anything over 5k lbs ???
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Old March 24th, 2006, 07:26 AM   #18
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I don't know what size trailer, but car haulers, campers, enclosed trailers in MI are to have brakes on all axles. Its not illegal to sell a trailer with brakes on only one axle, but the DOT can fine you for only having them on one axle.

but the catch is you would have to get pulled over and have your trailer inspected...which doesn't happen very often.

I'm sorry I don't know the weight of the trailer or gvwr of the trailer this applies to.
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Old March 24th, 2006, 08:13 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muddinguy
I was told it was brakes on ONE axle anything over 5k lbs ???
Can you read?

What I posted is a direct cut/paste from Act 300 of 1949, aka the Michigan Vehicle Code.

Brakes on all axles.


As for the question above, legally, yes, you need brakes on both axles based on the requirements stated. Many many many people do not have them on both. You aren't going to get pulled over for it, but it is the law.

Most trailers being sold seem to just put them on one axle. My last trailer was that way.


As for chains & binders, save them for construction equipment. Ratchet straps to unsprung components, using axle slings is the best way to tie down.


I've never seen anything in the laws about tying loads, I'll go look when I have time...
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Old March 24th, 2006, 11:02 AM   #20
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Jason...sorry I didn't even read the two post you made about laws...my bad

there are laws on how to secure the load for equipment, but I don't know if that carries over to passenger cars or not. what we have been told at work and in seminars from weighmasters is 4 chains 4 binders going to all four corners of the trailer....there is a little more to that but I really dont know how to make it make sense.
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