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How to Choose Correct Capacity for Trailer Safety Chains


Prior response to another customer: My confusion: If 5,400 pounds is the Working Load limit and the 5,400 lbs is 1/3 of the breaking strength, that means that that particular chain has a breaking strength of 16,200 lbs. So if my trailer has a 5,000 GTW I need a chain and hook that has a minimum of 1,700++ breaking strength and not the 5,400 lbs as stated?? Or must the chains WORKING LOAD LIMIT exceed the GTW and not the chains breaking strength as stated above?


Expert Reply:

I definitely understand how safety chain capacities and determining exactly what chain rating you need for your trailer can be a bit confusing.

To keep it as simple as possible, safety chain requirements state that the breaking strength of EACH chain, not the working load limit (WLL), should be equal to or exceed the gross trailer weight.A 5,000 pound trailer needs safety chains that each have a break strength of at least 5,000 pounds. A chain's working load limit comes more into play when choosing chains to secure cargo.

A couple of factors to help clarify why this is the case is that first, in the event of a trailer coming uncoupled, the safety chains won't have the full weight of the trailer on them since a lot of the weight is supported by the road. Also keep in mind that the chains will only be engaged for an instant in this scenario, they won't be responsible for actually pulling the trailer over a longer period of time.

With the above in mind, the 35" Long Safety Chain with Clevis Slip Hook # 1483-535-04 referenced in your question, which features a 5,400 pound working load limit, is more than enough for a 5,000 pound trailer. As you mentioned, the break strength for this chain is 16,200 pounds.

There is certainly nothing wrong with using chains that are over-rated, but using a lesser rated chain like the 27" Long Safety Chain # 2118-605-04 will still be sufficient. This chain features a 5,000 pound break strength (and a 1,250 pound working load limit).

expert reply by:
Chris R

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