Can Too Much Tongue Weight Cause Trailer Sway?

A tongue is a point of attachment for your tow vehicle and the trailer. It assists in keeping the required weight on the tow hitch and balancing the trailer while towing. It keeps the trailer running accurately and stable as it adds stiffness to the chassis depending on the load placement and axle.

 A tongue determines the size of the required material and the design to use as much as it needs an excellent vertical and sideways strength subject to the trailer size and the loads to carry. 

On the other hand, the tongue weight is the fully loaded weight that a trailer exerts on the tow vehicle’s hitch ball downwards. It is essential to maintain the tongue weight since it helps maneuver the vehicle, braking, steering, and gaining traction.

Now, Can Too Much Tongue Weight Cause Trailer Sway? And what causes excessive trailer sway?

The tongue weight prevents overloading the axle and improves fuel efficiency. Moreover, it minimizes risks on the road and improves your vehicle and trailer towing experience. Be sure that too ‘Excessive Tongue Weight’ will cause the towing vehicle not to be responsive by overloading the rear tires, while little weight will sway the trailer.

tongue weight measuring hitch

What is Tongue Weight?

If you wonder, the tongue weight is the static force that the trailer applies on the hitch ball. It will vary based on where you position the load concerning the axle of the trailer.

What is Tongue Weight

 However, you can use a bathroom or commercial scale with the coupler at towing height to measure the tongue weight and determine the Gross Towing Weight.

You can calculate 10 to 15% of the Gross Towing Weight to get the tongue weight. Conversely, you will have a trailer sway if the trailer’s tongue does not use enough downward force on the tow vehicle’s hitch ball. 

Trailer Tongue Weight Scale

If you want a GREAT Product for Safe Towing, change the gauge from 0-1000 Lb. to 0-2000 Lb. Check the air bubble inside the hydraulic oil If your Scale Doesn’t Read Any Weight. For a straightforward and accurate way of determining tongue weight, Check Sherline LM 1000 – Trailer Tongue Weight Scale price here.

Sherline LM 1000 - Trailer Tongue Weight Scale - 1000LB

What happens if tongue weight is too heavy?

Will too much tongue weight cause trailer sway? The recommended tongue weight is within 10-15% of the Gross Towing Weight, with the main reason being your safety when towing with your trailer.

But have you ever fantasized about what would happen if it exceeds and becomes too heavy? Please read on for more detail.

When you exceed 15% of your Gross Towing Weight on the trailer tongue, your load will move to the front end of your trailer. It will push the rear end of your vehicle around from overloading the rear tires of the towing vehicle.

When you have less than 10% tongue weight, fishtailing will tend to occur, if the vehicle has more speed or travels fast.

Ultimately, the curves or corners may be more challenging to maneuver, and when trying to brake, the car becomes unresponsive. 

Also, it won’t be easy to steer the tow vehicle if the tongue weight is too heavy. what will too much weight on the rear of the trailer cause it to do? The tow vehicle will perform unresponsively as the trailer sways from too much weight. Your trailer will separate from the car and cause you to lose control of the car. 

What will too much weight on the rear of the trailer cause it to do?

So, what will happen if there is too much weight on the rear of a trailer?

How to fix when it gets overweight? 

Don’t worry; there’s a solution for you regarding an overweight trailer. Please make sure you don’t jump on the brakes when you experience trailer sway as you tow.

 First, straighten the steering wheel, then reduce the speed by letting off the gas pedal. You will be in control again as the trailer sway reduces and the vehicle stops.

 Then you can correct your tongue weight to lie within 10-15% of the GTW as you pull over. 

Nonetheless, adjust the load on the trailer’s axle if the tongue is too heavy. You will have a balanced line from the truck to the back of the trailer with the coupler from the right amount of tongue weight and balance.

 It will save you from the risk of vehicle damage and accident from a loosened trailer for a better trailer towing experience.

What causes a trailer to sway side to side?

If you notice your trailer begins to sway from side to side, there are several possible reasons behind it. They can be the resulting factor for swinging the trailer, so you should always know your driving conditions.

These potential factors are various disturbances combined. They may include over steering, improper handling of the tow vehicle and trailer, improper loading, overspeeding, rough roads, crosswinds, and steering inputs.

With these factors on your fingertips, you can prevent swaying by ensuring you:

  • Maintain a speed of less and not more than 55 miles per hour
  • Do not surpass your trailer’s maximum gross weight of 15%
  • Load the capacity with 60% of the load weight of the front half of the trailer box 
  • Don’t extend the load out the rear of the trailer but only load inside the trailer 
  • Don’t stress your tow vehicle with too much load

Is too much tongue weight bad?

Yes. It is precarious to drive with a trailer that has exceeded the maximum load capacity. It can cause the trailer to sway or tire blowouts since overweight trailers pressure the wheels and axles.

 That is because they have a unique design of handling only a limited weight capacity. Moreover, the weight makes it harder to stop the vehicle and causes the tire to wear out quickly. 

Also, too much tongue weight will shorten your life and that of your vehicle. Besides, small cars cannot handle too much pressure, so we see commercial trucks with big wheels having that added advantage.

They have stronger braking and suspension systems, more powerful engines, and significantly bigger wheels than small vehicles. And that is why they can afford such a massive load without swaying. 

Too much tongue weight will cause you to experience gradual wear and tear on your vehicle and eventually lead to failure with time.

The added weight leads to fading brakes, overheating the engine due to the extra work required of it, and shortens the life of your transmission after overloading the drivetrain. Now you know the repercussions of too much tongue weight.

Why does my travel trailer sway so much?

You’ll find that your travel trailer sways too much due to the lack of a friction sway control device. In turn, the travel trailer applies resistance to the trailer and vehicle concerning each other to reduce the effects of sharp turning and sudden wind gusts.

 Alternatively, make sure that your car has inflated tires with the correct air pressure and the same size. Otherwise, it will sway much and give you a hard travel towing experience. 

Your travel trailer will also sway so much from the wrong load capacity. It might be too heavy and wrongly placed that you find it challenging to maneuver the vehicle.

Would you mind checking your tongue weight and ensuring it is within 10-15% of the Gross Towing Weight to sort out the swaying problem?

How to set up a weight distribution hitch

Does a weight distribution hitch reduce sway?

Of course, sway control is regulated through additional features that weight distribution hitches offer. The sway control addresses the side-to-side motion while better weight distribution reduces the up and down trailer motion.

The trailer can sway back and forth from elements like wind and passing cars. It makes it difficult for suspension and dangerous when driving at high speeds.

Therefore, you can make your ride safer by reducing the swaying trailer and equipping it with weight distribution hitches. 

The weight distribution hitch distributes a portion of the trailer tongue to the front trailer axle. It is supposedly without a secondary sway control feature.

It prevents sway when a vehicle is towing a trailer, making the front axle too light. Also, it acts as a friction sway control unit by adding friction to the trailer or vehicle when it attempts to turn.

 It lets you tow to the extreme capacity that your hitch allows since it helps in ensuring a smooth, level ride. Overall, it is the right trailer sway for correcting tow vehicle sags and improve stopping and steering.

Can you increase tongue weight capacity?

You can increase the tongue weight capacity of your trailer if it doesn’t have too much weight. Do this by simply redistributing or adjusting the load to weigh more before the travel trailer’s axle.

Similarly, you will increase the tongue weight as you change the travel trailer’s payload forward.

Just move the trailer’s cargo from backward or forward to before, in front of, or behind your travel trailer’s axle to get more tongue weight capacity. 

 After that, you will attain a correct balance to tow without any left to right sway safely. 

How do you calculate tongue weight? 

You can calculate the tongue weight by taking the weight of your car and subtracting it from the car’s weight together with the attached trailer. The result is the trailer’s tongue weight. To achieve this, you will attain it by using a measuring tongue weight scale or a common bathroom scale. Also, you can alternatively use a vehicle scale for the same result. You can get it at a local dump or a rest stop. 

Is tongue weight the same as hitch weight? 

Tongue weight and hitch weight are similar terms of the bumper pull trailer force on a hitch. But it can even be more confusing for first-time learners since it also refers to pin weight regarding fifth-wheel trailers. You can keep it in the proper range by regularly adjusting and checking it. Otherwise, you’ll have problems with swaying when the tongue weight is too low and challenging steering with too much tongue weight.  

How to reduce tongue weight on a trailer? 

You can upgrade the LPG tanks to aluminum, use lighter-weight lithium batteries, and move the batteries inside the trailer to reduce the tongue weight. Also, you can as well reposition the spare tire. Alternatively, slow down on very rough roads to a travel speed of 55 mph since weight as static measurement projects dynamic forces transferred to the car as it travels at high speed. 

How to increase tongue weight capacity? 

Did you know that you can increase the tongue weight capacity of your trailer? Well, you can put more weighted things at the top of your rig and increase the tongue weight. Place cargo at the nearest hitch, in front of your rig, close to the tongue when hitting the road. It will ultimately increase the capacity of your tongue weight. 

What will too much weight on the rear of the trailer cause it to do

You will overburden the rear of the trailer if you load too much weight on end. However, it will cause the trailer movement to swing back and forth since the rear acts as a pendulum. Also, it will pull your vehicle along as it makes movement and causes it to sway. It will damage the frame of the trailer in addition to poor cornering, and the car will not be responsive when braking in due course.

Can too much weight on the back of the trailer cause sway? 

Of course, the trailer will sway from too much weight on the back of the trailer. It will cause the rear to wriggle, and the vehicle will start bending. You will put too much stress on the frame and suspension, causing difficulties to tow it.

What happens if your trailer is too heavy? 

A heavy trailer will cause transmission damage from overheating, damage to braking and suspension systems, and also damage the engine due to overheating. A heavy trailer will damage the vehicle’s structural integrity since it is not for hauling such weight. The brakes will also not be responsive to excess weight.

Where should the weight be on a trailer? 

Place smaller and lighter items near the rear while the heavier items are in the front of the trailer. Please note that you shouldn’t load the small and lightweight items above the height of the sides of the trailer box if you are loading an open trailer. Alternatively, please place them in the rear near the top of the trailer when towing a closed trailer.

FAQ

How much weight can your tongue carry?

The proper tongue weight is roughly 10-15% of the trailer weight loaded for conventional trailers with ball-mounted hitches. Moreover, trailers with a tongue weight that is more than 700-800 lbs move to a weight-distribution hitch from a weight-carrying trap.

Also, the proper tongue weight of a loaded trailer weight is between 15 and 30% for fifth-wheel trailers and a gooseneck designed to handle larger loads.

What happens if tongue weight is too heavy?

You will find that the tow vehicle performs poorly if the tongue weight is too heavy. Because too much weight will be pushing down on the rear of the car, causing you to have difficulty when braking, steering, and gaining traction.

Ultimately, the trailer won’t be responsive when braking and will separate from the vehicle, or you will lose control in the long run. Also, the rearmost end of the car will push around from overloading the rear tires of the towing vehicle.

Can I go over tongue weight?

Yes. You can exceed 15% of your trailer tongue weight. And when this happens, make sure you redistribute the load contents within the trailer to haul more simultaneously. You can also improve handling by adding more weight in front of the trailer’s axle.

Alternatively, you can minimize the risk on the road by maintaining a proper tongue weight within the range of 10 to 15% to be on the safe side.  

How much tongue weight can my truck handle?

A truck can handle within 10-15% of the Gross Towing Weight as your tongue weight. It will nearly level the coupler between the car and the trailer after reflecting a balanced line from the truck’s front to the back of the trailer.

Anything more or less than the calculated tongue weight will give you a hard time controlling the car throughout the trailer towing experience.

What does 200 lb tongue weight mean?

The tongue weight is usually an exemplification of your towing weight. Suppose you have a tongue weight of 200 lb, calculate it with the maximum required weight of 10-15% of the Gross Towing Weight, and you will be hauling a trailer worth 2000 lb.

It is essentially a sample scale for fast calculation. Nonetheless, please remember that you can potentially damage your vehicle when you exceed the maximum tongue. 

How do you lose tongue weight?

Don’t fret if you feel like your load is too heavy and need to adjust and lower it. You can transfer the load further at the back of the trailer if you want to lose the tongue weight.

Do this by ensuring that the load is evenly distributed on the right and left sides of the trailer after attaining the proper balance.

After that, you can prevent it from sliding while in motion by securing it to have a safe trailer towing experience. It’s that simple.

Conclusion 

Too much or less tongue weight can cause your vehicle to perform poorly. It risks your safety on the road and, at the same time, damages your car.

Though you may not see the damages instantly, you will notice them with time. But the good thing is you can redistribute the weight for a better trailer towing experience. 

You can prevent the trailer from swaying by slowing down on the road to produce less strain on the vehicle. Please check your tire pressure to avoid sway from under-inflated tires that reduce the load-carrying capacity. Firmly grip on the steering wheel to prevent force from large vehicles moving past you.

Now that you know everything about Can Too Much Tongue Weight Cause Trailer Sway- towing trailers go ahead and enjoy a safe trailer towing, but don’t forget to educate others as well. Be safe!

Click here for a step-by-step guide to measure tongue weight of your trailer. 

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