Although I am on the trailing side of… ahem, 50 years old, I realized the other day that I can still learn a thing or two. For instance, from the “Where have you been all my life” files, I introduce to you the Weigh Safe aluminum drop hitch.
I pride myself on knowing all there is to know about safe towing. But I just recently learned about this hitch, and I was a little upset with myself for being out of the loop. What’s the big deal you ask? I’ll get to that shortly, but first, we need to be sure we understand why this hitch is a great idea and how that translates into safely towing a trailer.
A Little Forward Of Center
To be safe when towing a trailer, load positioning on the said trailer is crucial. To keep the trailer properly tracking behind your truck and not swaying or pulling your tow vehicle from the shoulder to the yellow lines and repeating, requires a certain amount of downward pressure must be applied to the ball of the hitch connection. This is called tongue weight. Just to clarify, it is not just the weight of what you are hauling that matters, but also, the position of that weight on the trailer.
The video below is a simple demonstration of how load positioning can affect the way your trailer “tracks” behind your tow vehicle. As crucial as load position is, there has never really been an easy way to ensure you have the proper tongue weight applied to your trailer — until the Weigh Safe hitch.
No More Guessing With A Weigh Safe Aluminum Drop Hitch
The Weigh Safe aluminum drop hitch gives truck owners the ability to accurately and easily measure tongue weight. What’s more, they can do so without utilizing the time-consuming steps of pulling the trailer onto a scale, uncoupling it, leaving it on the scale to get their total trailer weight, then reconnecting and driving the truck wheels off the scale to measure your trailer’s axle weight measurement, then subtracting the axle weight from the total trailer weight to determine your trailer’s hitch weight… You get the idea.
Since getting a proper measurement of tongue weight can be a pain in the posterior location, many people don’t even bother to check tongue weight at all. They just eyeball it and call it “good enough.” When hauling a loaded trailer on busy public roads, “good enough” is never really good enough. With a Weigh Safe hitch, you can utilize the built-in scale to make sure you have the perfect tongue weight every time.
According to Jamie Bates, VP of Marketing at Weigh Safe, “the function behind the Weigh Safe aluminum drop hitch is actually pretty simple. The tow ball sits on a plunger over a reservoir of oil. As you add weight to the tow ball the plunger compresses the oil. The gauge on the side of the slider [ball mount] measures the compression of the oil and can translate that to the amount of weight on the tow ball.”
If you’re like me, one of the first questions that comes to mind is, can the scale/gauge be replaced by the user or does it need to be sent to Weigh Safe? “It can be replaced by the user,” Jamie says. “We offer a lifetime warranty on the gauge, so if there’s ever an issue, we’ll send the user a repair kit that includes all the parts and tools needed to replace it. The only thing it doesn’t include is an air compressor, which is needed to make the change. If the customer wishes, they also have the option of sending in their slider block and we can replace the gauge for them.”
In case you are wondering, in order to safely tow a trailer, the recommended amount of tongue weight is 10- to 15-percent of your loaded trailer’s total weight. An easy way to accurately determine tongue weight is to use a formula to calculate the recommended amount of tongue weight for your trailer.
Getting It Right With A Weigh Safe Aluminum Drop Hitch
If you’re good at math, you first need a few calculations to put into the formula. First, you need to find your Gross Trailer Weight (GTW). This is the weight of your trailer plus the weight of the cargo loaded onto it. GTW can also be referred to as GVW, (Gross Vehicle Weight). As an example, let’s use 12,000 pounds as our hypothetical GTW.
Multiply the GTW by 0.1 (12,000 x 0.1 = 1,200 pounds). This is the recommended minimum of your target tongue weight. Once you have that number, then take your GTW and multiply by 0.15 (12,000 x 0.15 = 1,800 pounds). This is the recommended maximum tongue weight you should have. Seems easy enough, but think about what I wrote that needs to be done to find those weights — a trip to the scales. If you have a Weigh Safe hitch, positioning your load on your trailer to achieve an appropriate tongue weight is easy. Without Weigh Safe, it’s either a trip to the scales or it’s all guesswork and unsafe.
Adjusting Tongue Weight
Adjusting your tongue weight is as easy as putting heavier items ahead of the trailer axle. This does not mean they need to be at the extreme forward edge, just properly positioned ahead of the axle(s). Moving your load only a slight amount can make a big change. Also, always center heavy items from left to right. The goal is to have about 60 percent of your cargo’s mass ahead of the trailer axle(s) and 40 percent behind them.
If you are using a trailer with two individually suspended axles, the height of your hitch connection can also affect your tongue weight. With a trailer coupler that is too high, the trailer is not level and the tongue weight increases. Also, in this scenario, the rear axle’s tires will receive more weight. However, if your trailer coupler is too low, your tongue weight will be less. This will cause your trailer to have more weight on the front axle’s tires. In short, if your trailer is not towing level, the tongue weight will not read true on the Weigh Safe aluminum drop hitch and your tires will wear faster and unevenly.
The Parts Of The Aluminum Drop Hitch Puzzle
When connecting a traditional “bumper pull” hitch, it is composed of three main parts. First is the receiver. This is the square hitch receptacle mounted to your truck’s frame. The shank is the shaft that slides into the receiver and is securely pinned in place. And finally, the trailer ball is the metal ball and connection point between your truck and trailer. These three components should all be stamped or labeled with their individual GTW ratings. All three ratings must meet or exceed your truck’s tow rating.
As I mentioned, the Weigh Safe comes in configurations/sizes to fit Class III, Class IV, and Class V receivers. The receiver hitch classes are separated by their maximum weight capacity rating and receiver opening size. You can start by using the chart below to determine which class of receiver hitch is required to pull your trailer.
If your trailer has a GVWR of 5,000 pounds, you should have at least a Class III receiver hitch. Your shank should be at least a 2-inch shaft that fits into the 2-inch opening of your truck’s hitch receiver.
Receiver Hitch Ratings
If you are like me and want to be safe when you tow anything, maybe it’s time you slid an American-made Weigh Safe aluminum drop hitch into your receiver. It’s a good idea so tongue weight and load position on the trailer are no longer a guessing game. But, if you are on the fence, Jamie adds some good advice. “Pulling a heavy load can be dangerous if not done correctly. Having the correct trailer tongue weight on the tow vehicle is critical to safe towing. The Weigh Safe is the only product that helps you know your tongue weight. Not only that, but it’s as strong as or stronger than all of our competitors. It also comes with an industry-leading warranty, and is made in Lindon, Utah, by a family-owned business.”