Towing a trailer safety requires an understanding of the trailer and tow vehicle capabilities. Often the weight of equipment to be transported is miscalculated, resulting in overloading the truck and trailer. Each vehicle manufacturer assigns a tow rating, which is the maximum weight of the tow vehicle when loaded.
Two common ratings that must not be exceeded are the weight rating of the trailer itself and the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR). The GCWR is the maximum allowable weight of both the loaded tow vehicle and the loaded trailer that the tow vehicle can handle safely.
The load on the trailer also need to be distributed properly with the proper weight distribution transferred to the hitch. Don't put excessive weight on the trailer tongue. A 10% to 15% tongue weight is common for bumper pull trailers and 20% to 25% for goosenecks and fifth wheels. Under-loaded or negative tongue weight is worse than excessive tongue weight, and could cause loss of control.
In reality, this can become a guessing game on jobsites as pickups are often used to move several different trailers with unknown weights and/or weight distributions. Drivers often use their best estimates when it comes to hitch weight and the total weight of the trailer.
Similarly, hauling a payload safely requires staying at or below the pickup truck’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). This includes the weight of the pickup, passengers, payload and even the weight of the fuel. Payload can also be very difficult to calculate on the jobsite since pickups often become storage for miscellaneous tools and gear.
Ford has stepped to the plate to solve this guessing game with new technologies available for the 2021 Ford F-150. The company is introducing Onboard Scales and Smart Hitch as well as continuously controlled damping which improves ride and handling in towing situations.
The Payload Solution
Onboard Scales takes the guesswork out of calculating payload. It measures and displays the approximate weight of the payload in the truck. Load information is displayed in the center touch screen with a graphic representation of the truck, on a mobile phone through the FordPass app or in graphics within the truck’s smart taillamps.Ford Motor Company
The smart taillamps display the percentage of payload capacity by illuminating LEDs arranged in a vertical bar. As the truck is loaded, all four lights illuminate, showing it’s fully loaded. If you overload the pickup, the top lights blink. The payload for each pickup truck’s specific configuration is programmed into the system. Additionally, the truck can be set on scale mode, which zeros out the current load and allows for approximate weighing of additional items loaded into the bed.
The Towing Solution
Smart Hitch is designed to help customers safely load trailers. It measures the tongue weight of a trailer being connected to help customers distribute trailer weight correctly.
After the trailer is set up in the center touch screen, Smart Hitch calculates its tongue weight and provides guidance on weight distribution or hitch overloading on the screen, on the FordPass app or within the smart taillamps. The truck will also indicate if the hitch weight is too high or too low and can even guide owners through properly tensioning a weight redistributing hitch.
Often hauling payload or towing a trailer changes the dynamics and handling of the truck. This can be unnerving to the driver. Ford is addressing this issue with an available suspension system that continuously controls dampening for enhanced ride and handling. A computer within the F-150 analyzes signals collected from high-resolution sensors and adjusts vehicle response to each situation by controlling valves in the shocks.
Dampening force is used to control unwanted motions such as bounce, pitch and roll. In Tow/Haul mode, continuously controlled dampening is tuned to provide a smooth and confident driving experience, easing truck and trailer responses to road conditions while providing precise steering.
Available Onboard Scales, Smart Hitch and Continuously Controlled Damping can be ordered in early June with deliveries beginning in late summer.