As the season changes from winter to spring, we’re met with our desire to get out and enjoy the longer days, warmer weather, and hitch our favorite gear to the backs or tops of our vehicles. So whether you’re new to trailering equipment or a certified towing expert, here’s a little refresher on keeping yourself safe while traveling with an extra load of goodies.
How Much Can Your Car Carry?
Many of us have crossed paths on the highway with an almost comically overloaded vehicle. Whether it’s a smaller car towing a trailer twice its size or an SUV packed top and bottom with bikes for the whole family, it’s a wonder how a driver could even get all the equipment on their vehicle, let alone drive safely with it.
- Remember to keep the load in balance—meaning make sure you’re not exceeding the weight capacity of your trailer hitch, vehicle, and tires.
It might not be immediately apparent when your vehicle is weighed down; however, looks can be deceiving. Not only can carrying too much weight be a dangerous game for road safety, but it could also shorten your vehicle’s lifespan and bring down your fuel economy.
- Check for your vehicle’s weight limit.
Most vehicles have their listed weight limit in two places; in the owner’s manual and on a sticker on the driver’s side door. Can’t find it? Google is a great resource to check out weight limits when you can’t find them on the vehicle or if you don’t have a user manual on hand. You can also ask your mechanic if you can’t spot the correct information on the sticker.
Keep in mind that the maximum weight limit might be much less than expected. For instance, several standard sports cars aren’t rated to carry more than 500 pounds. You should also keep in mind the weight the vehicle is carrying internally. Cars with higher seating capacity will hit their weight limit quicker if all the seats are filled with occupants over 150 pounds.
Check Your Tire Pressure
When you look for that sticker that shows the weight capacity of your vehicle, keep an eye out for another number: that of the tire pressure recommended. If the tires are underinflated, you can significantly reduce your car’s carrying capacity. This won’t just mean that you might be stopping to fill up for gas more often, but tires that aren’t properly inflated based on the weight the car is towing can make tires heat up faster. This can lead to tire failure.
Getting the Most Out of Your Mileage
Simply reducing the weight, your car is towing can improve your overall fuel economy. Unfortunately, even cargo boxes and bikes on the roof of your vehicle can reduce your average mileage by as much as one-quarter.
- Every 100 pounds of added weight to your car reduces fuel economy by 1%.
This math is more pronounced in smaller cars. So, before you take off for the long camping trip, make sure everything you’re towing is what you need and nothing more!
Keeping Yourself Safe When Towing
Before you hit the road, check that everything is working as it should:
- Make sure your hitch pins are secure.
- Make sure your coupler latches are locked.
- Check Safety chains and make sure they’re crossed and secured to the tow vehicle.
- Be sure that all trailer brakes work correctly.
- Check all trailer and vehicle signaling lights are working as they should.
- Ensure tire pressure is correct on all tires (including the spare).
- Ensure you can see your trailer around the sides and rear when backing up.
Always keep your car’s braking system in good condition and ensure it has a full gas tank before heading out on the road. We recommend stopping into Master Muffler Bountiful before you hit the road. We’d love to help you make sure you’re doing everything to be the safest while towing.