Load a Utility Trailer Like a Pro With These TipsJuly 14, 2022 by Kyle McFarlane
Professional movers have a lot of experience loading trailers. Use these tips to load just like a pro. Pros think ahead to consider trailer weight, payload capacity, and the different approaches when loading a single axle utility trailer versus a tandem axle utility trailer.
Calculate Your Trailer Weight
Start by measuring the empty weight of the trailer (also known as curb weight). Conventional steel trailers are heavier, while innovative aluminum trailers weigh less. It may be helpful to run a quick search of truck stops or weigh stations within driving distance of your location. Make sure that they are using certified scales so that you know their readings are accurate. Then follow these steps:
- Hitch your empty trailer to the vehicle you’ll use to tow the trailer.
- Haul the trailer to a truck stop or inspection station.
- Drive onto the scale.
- Record the weight reading.
Identify Your Trailer’s Payload Capacity
Once you get back to your original location, note the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of your trailer. This can be found in the owner’s manual, product description, or other literature. It may also be found on a sticker affixed to the trailer itself. The GVWR is the maximum legal amount that this trailer can safely weigh, when full.
Using what you already determined as the curb weight of the trailer, subtract the curb weight from the overall GVWR. This gives you the amount of cargo payload that the trailer can handle. Keep this number at the forefront of your mind when loading your trailer. If the items you are planning to haul exceed the payload capacity, you’ll have to use a different trailer to ensure the safety of all drivers and vehicles on the road, the security of the load itself, and the structural integrity of the trailer.
Verify Your Tongue Weight
This step is often overlooked, but it is very important. A trailer’s tongue should take up approximately 10% – 15% of the total weight once the trailer is loaded. A tongue that is too heavy could make it difficult for your towing vehicle to make turns successfully. A tongue that is too light could cause swaying of the load when the driver takes a curve.
The hitch you use should also measure tongue weight. If your GVWR is 10,000 lb, then your tongue should be 1,000 – 1,500 lb. If the hitch does not measure the tongue, you can use a portable scale and place it underneath, rest the tongue on the platform, and record the weight manually.
How to Load a Single Axle Utility Trailer
Always load the heaviest items toward the front of the axle (nearest to the hitch). The weight distribution within the trailer should be 60% in front of the axle and 40% behind it. An unbalanced trailer can lead to dangerous driving conditions.
- Park on a level surface.
- Chock the wheels.
- Ensure the weight is distributed 60/40.
- Load the heaviest items first.
- Use straps to tie down large items.
- Place lightweight cargo on top.
- Engage your hitch and test your lights.
How to Load a Tandem Axle Utility Trailer
Tandem axle trailers can usually hold more weight than a single axle trailer. The process is the same as above, however. If the trailer load is small enough, it may be possible to center what you have between the two axles. Make sure you verify, again, that the tongue weight is 10%-15% of the gross towing weight, for safety and efficiency.
Contact McFarlane Trailers at our website to learn about the different types of trailers that can accommodate your next move or haul.