Double-Check the Load
Tongue weight is the force that the tongue of the trailer exerts on the back of the truck. Proper tongue weight should be 10 to 15 percent of the combined weight of the trailer and its load. So a 2,000-lb. trailer with a 3,000-lb. load should have a tongue weight of 500 to 750 lbs. The proper way to load a trailer is to keep the bulk of the load over the trailer tires, with a little more weight toward the front.
Too much tongue weight is hard on the truck’s suspension and takes weight off the front tires. This makes the truck unwieldy on curves and reduces stopping distance. Too little tongue weight will cause the trailer to sway back and forth and possibly fishtail out of control.
Unless you have a super-fancy ball mount that has a built-in scale, you’ll have to judge the tongue weight by how much the back of your truck drops down when the trailer is attached. The next time you have a few buddies over, have them climb onto the bumper of your truck. Measure and take note of how much the rear of the truck drops with the added weight.
Even loads that have been properly secured with the appropriate chains or straps can come loose after getting jostled on a bouncy trailer. It’s a good idea to stop after driving a short distance to inspect the load to make sure it’s still secure. And then every time you make a stop, for gas or whatever, check it again. You can’t be too careful.