Posted on: 11 April 2017Share
Installing a trailer hitch onto a vehicle that didn't come with one from the factory can sometimes be a great idea, but you need to know whether the vehicle in question is actually going to work for heavy-duty towing before you take the time and money to do so. If you have a specific trailer in mind, you'll need to find out how much towing weight it adds, then check your manufacturer's information on your vehicle to see if it's within the recommended weight, and then choose the right trailer hitch. But what is it about your car that determines this limit? Here are three things.
1. Pulling power
Your engine itself can limit how much weight your car can tow. If your engine is small and lightweight, it can be great for fuel efficiency but may not be so great for hauling capacity. And you can't just try hitching your trailer to the car to see if the engine can physically pull it; staying within recommended guidelines is important because not only may your car be able to handle more weight now than it would out on the road when you come across a hill, but there are also other considerations, such as personal safety as seen below.
2. Stopping power
Your brakes are another thing that can limit your towing load. This is because your brakes are designed to have plenty of stopping power for your vehicle and anyone that's inside it, as well as any additional weight up to the limit of its Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), the number used by manufacturers to let you know how much you can load your vehicle down. However, if you exceed the limit, your brakes may not have what it takes to allow you to stop within a safe distance, especially on a downward slope.
3. Carrying power
Although most trailers only actually "weigh" your car down directly with a small fraction of their total weight, it's still possible to weigh down your car so much that it can't physically handle the strain (not recommended). For example, too much weight could damage your suspension system and can even increase tire pressure to over a safe degree. You don't want tire failure while you're towing, and suspension problems can be expensive to repair, so be careful.
Keeping a close eye on your GVWR when deciding which trailer hitch to install is crucial not only for keeping your vehicle from damaging overloads but also for keeping yourself safe while driving. Remember these three factors when you're getting your trailer hitch, and don't try to overload your car or truck. For more on this topic, check out a company like Major Tire & Hitch Inc.