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How to Determine Trailer Tongue Weight

Question:

How can I get an accurate measurement of my hitch weight without guessing? Do I disconnect the front of my trailer on a truck scale? Will that give me true hitch weight?

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Expert Reply:

Determining Trailer Tongue Weight

In order to select the correct components to safely tow your trailer, you need to know its tongue weight. This is the weight that the fully loaded trailer exerts downward on the hitch ball of the tow vehicle. If you don't know the tongue weight of your trailer, there are several different ways you can determine it.

1.Tongue weight scale
2.Weigh Safe ballmount
3.Bathroom scale
4.Commercial scale

Remember, if you intend to use a weight distribution system, you will want to keep in mind the weight of the contents that you will carry in your vehicle behind the rear axle. You need to know this because the spring bars, which provide the support in a weight distribution system are available in different sizes. And any weight that is located behind your rear axle affects the performance of the spring bars. You will need to include this weight so you can select spring bars of the proper size for your vehicle and trailer.

Tongue Weight Scale

We offer a heavy-duty tongue weight scale # 5780 that quickly, easily and accurately allows you to get the weight of the trailer tongue. This scale can weigh a trailer tongue with a weight of up to 2,000 lbs. Since tongue weight is typically 10% to 15% of the weight of the trailer, this scale can handle a gross trailer weight of up to 20,000 lbs.

Weigh Safe Ballmount

A Weigh Safe ball mount # WS8-25 can provide the easiest and most convenient way to find your trailer's tongue weight. This ball mount has a scale built right in to the mount. You can instantly determine the tongue weight of any trailer you hook up to it, eliminating the need to go to a commercial scale or keep track of and store a separate scale. This ball mount is adjustable and comes in a variety of sizes. These type of scales are not compatible with weight distribution systems.

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 (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.

Figure A and B are attached to this help page.


To use the method in Figure B, follow these guidelines:

•Always place the trailer tongue 1 foot 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

For example, if the distance between the trailer tongue and the pipe on the scale is 2 feet and the distance between the trailer tongue and the pipe on the support brick is 1 foot, then you would 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 feet and the distance between the trailer tongue and the pipe on the support brick is 1 foot, then you would multiply the reading on the scale by 4 to get the tongue weight.

Attached to this help page is an help article that goes into deal about determining trailer tongue weight on a commercial scale and also covers all the other methods previously discussed.

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