Pickup trucks are made for hard work. One of the most common uses for them is towing. Thanks to their design and excellent pulling capacity, many of these can handle thousands of pounds. But, sometimes, you might notice that your truck is sagging when you’ve loaded it. This isn’t a good sign, and this article will tell you everything you need to know about it.
How do I keep my truck from sagging when towing?
The best way to prevent your truck from sagging when towing is to never exceed the towing capacity. Plus, other systems can help you keep the loads balanced, such as a weight distribution system and air suspension kits. In general, a truck might drop the rear end when towing because the suspension cannot handle the load.
But this situation can occur because of three main reasons. The first is that your towing more than your truck can handle. Since vehicles have a rating, which we’ll see later, you must stick to these numbers to avoid damaging your ride and your trailer.
Secondly, your suspension might be past its prime. Components like the shocks and springs don’t hold up to cargo once they’re damaged. There is a test you can do to check that they’re, in fact, still working.
Finally, you might be respecting your vehicle’s towing weight but not distribute the load adequately. Your tongue weight might be too much for your ride to handle, even if it’s within limits. So, it’s best to understand how weight distribution comes into play. We’ll be discussing all of these aspects in this article and seeing some of the solutions on hand.
But, first, let’s talk about some of the common signs that you’re not towing correctly.
Sagging could be due to excess weight
The first sign that you’re not towing correctly is that your trailer is too heavy. To understand what we mean by that, let’s talk about some practical towing terms.
- Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR): usually expressed in pounds or separated by class. It’s the vehicle’s maximum total weight.
- Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR): usually expressed in pounds or separated by class. It’s the recommended maximum loaded weight of your vehicle and your trailer.
- Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW): usually expressed in pounds. It’s your vehicle’s weight, alone, without the trailer, when fully loaded.
- Gross Trailer Weight Rating (GTWR): usually expressed in pounds or separated by class. The maximum recommended weight for a fully loaded trailer. This number is the maximum towing capacity. ç
- Tongue Weight (TW): usually expressed in pounds. This is the maximum weight that can be exerted onto the back of the vehicle. It concerns the hitching point between the trailer and the truck. It’s an essential value for stability.
- Curb Weight (CW): usually expressed in pounds. This is the vehicle’s weight when there are no passengers or cargo. But it does take into consideration fuel and the fluids necessary to operate.
- Dry Weight (DW): usually expressed in pounds. This is similar to the CW but removes the weight from fuel and the fluids necessary to operate.
Always check the manufacturer’s guidelines for towing and hauling. Exceeding towing capacity can lead to considerable damage to your vehicle. You can read our article on the topic here.
So, your trailer might be within operating limits. For example, the GCWR and GTWR are below the maximum allowable weight. But, your Tongue Weight is too much. Therefore, the back of the truck could drop.
Some valuable signs that or show you’re not towing correctly
Yes, your vehicle can sag when you’re not towing correctly. But, there are other symptoms as well. One of those is that the truck is leaning to the side.
This situation is because you haven’t loaded the vehicle evenly on both sides. Such conditions can make for hazardous driving.
When your truck sags in the rear, the steering can become lighter. But, in the case of leaning, steering becomes uneven. So, does braking power and stability. This situation can increase the chances of an accident.
Another essential aspect that you should check is your suspension. Damaged shocks and springs can make the car too bouncy or floaty. When towing a heavy load, this behavior becomes more significant.
There’s a quick test you can do to check on your suspension. On your driveway, you can push hard on every corner of your truck. If it bounces more than once, your shocks might be damaged.
The best way to check your suspension is with the help of a certified mechanic. They can let you know which of the components need replacement.
If you’re going to frequently tow heavy loads, you might consider installing upgrades on your truck. These include an air suspension system and a weight distribution system. Let’s talk about them in the following sections.
What is an air suspension?
As we’ve seen, the shocks and springs are vital for towing, but they only have a limited capacity. To improve your vehicle’s stability when towing, you can consider installing an air suspension.
These systems replace the traditional components in the rear suspension with airbags. There are plenty of options out there.
Models start from manually controlled to more advanced models that include automatic inflation.
Air suspensions operate in the following way: an airbag is connected to a pump that generates air pressure.
In normal operating conditions, the system works at a determined pressure. But, if you add more load to the back, for example, when you’re towing, you can inflate the bag to level the vehicle.
Because the vehicle is now level, towing is safer. The front and rear tires are both in full contact, and there’s not leaning to the sides.
It’s important to note that an air suspension system, on its own, will now increase your towing capacity. It only makes your vehicle more stable when pulling heavy loads.
There’s another system that’s essential for towing and that helps your truck stay level when pulling. Let’s talk about the weight distribution system.
What is a weight distribution system?
As we’ve seen, the tongue weight is an essential rating to keep in mind when towing. But, sometimes, it’s hard to calculate or even know whether your trailer is loaded correctly. That’s where a weight distribution system comes in.
As its name states, a weight distribution system evens out the weight between all axles of both your vehicle and your trailer. It works by using spring bars which create opposition to the load.
So, instead of having the entire tongue concentrated in the hitch, the bars create leverage that spreads the load more evenly.
Knowing when you need one is vital. Here’s a list of possible situations that might require that you buy a weight distribution system:
- Your GTWR is 50% or more of your truck’s GVWR
- You’re experiencing trailer sway, which is that the trailer begins to move from one side to the other when you’re driving.
- You notice that your truck’s lights are pointing upward (this indicates that the rear is dropping and the front is lifting)
- It’s hard to stop and steer, which means that the front tires don’t have enough grip, which automatically means that the rear has dropped.
- Last but not least, you can visually confirm there’s a sag on the rear end of your vehicle.
If any of these situations occur, you’re most likely in need of a weight distribution system, an air suspension, or both. Be sure to check out the manufacturers’ specifications for the maximum towing capacity before you buy them.
You should opt for options that equal your vehicle’s towing capabilities. This way, you ensure the safest towing possible.
Many people out there want to tow as heavy loads as possible. But doing so can lead to the back of your truck sagging. So, this article aims to give some of the best ways to prevent your vehicle from sagging when towing.
The first, and most important aspect, is to always remain below the truck’s maximum towing capacity. You must respect several ratings, which we’ve listed above, and these include the GVWR, GTWR, and Tongue Weight.
The second possible reason for sagging is that the suspension is damaged or isn’t up to par. A possible solution to this is installing an air suspension, which allows you to inflate the back to keep the truck level. Remember that these do not increase the towing capacity.
But, even if you’re sticking within the vehicle’s limit, the distribution of said cargo is essential. That’s where a weight distribution system. It acts as leverage.
Thanks to spring bars that create resistance, the system distributes the load evenly in the vehicle and trailer axles. Imagine, if you will, that someone was permanently pushing the ball joint up.
With these spring bars, the system can distribute loads evenly. This way, you level the vehicle and ensure a safe towing experience. Hopefully, this article gives more knowledge so that the next time you’re hitching to a trailer, there won’t be any sagging.