Tuesday, July 5, 2022

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Ask Dave: My truck feels very light in the steering. Why?

Dear Dave, 
I have a 2022 F-150 with a front axle weight rate of 3,525 lbs. and a rear axle rate of 3,800 lbs. I am pulling a dual axle trailer that weighs 7,000 lbs. loaded. The truck’s actual weight with a full tank of gas and ready to roll (without my wife and me) is front 3,200 lbs. and rear 2,250 lbs. Weighing the truck with the load leveler hitch hooked up and adjusted level by my dealer, the weights are 2,850 lbs. front and 3,800 lbs. rear. This makes the truck feel very light in the steering and somewhat difficult to control in windy conditions. What would you recommend? —Dennis

Dear Dennis,
After having worked with the RV Safety & Education Foundation for the past 20+ years and seeing the data compiled by truck and tire manufacturers, I am a firm believer in not putting weights at maximum capacity, but rather taking at least 10% off.

Let’s break down your weight ratings and actual weights and how that looks.

Weight ratings vs. actual weight

Truck with no trailer

Front Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) – 3,525 lbs. – less 10% (352) leaves 3,173 lbs. You are at 3,200 lbs. without you and your wife, which you do need to add going down the road.

Rear Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) – 3,800 lbs. – less 10% (380) leaves 3,420 lbs. You are at 2,250 lbs.

Truck with trailer and equalizing hitch connected

Front GAWR With 10% – 3,173 lbs.; Actual weight – 2,850 lbs.  Is this with or without passengers?

Rear GAWR With 10% – 3,420 lbs.; Actual weight – 3,800 lbs.

As you can see, adding the trailer put 1,550 lbs. on the back end, which lightened the front of the truck.

Shift some weight around

One weight you did not provide is the towing capacity of your truck. I would assume that it is able to handle 7,000 lbs., but you’d need to verify that. Since you have a tandem trailer, I would suggest finding a way to shift some of the weight in the trailer to the back for a more even distribution. Typically, you see most RVers put about 10-15% tongue weight on their tow vehicle, and you are about 25%. If you are carrying water, keep in mind that water weighs 8.25 lbs per gallon, so don’t go with full water.

One more consideration is tire pressure and condition. Make sure you verify the proper pressure and check them every time you hit the road. Roger Marble has some good articles pertaining to that.

Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.

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Chuck
1 month ago

Based on my personal experience yesterday, I believe the so called “half ton towable” is less than accurate or honest. I wanted to downsize after years of Class A, B, and 5th wheels and diesel trucks. I forecast the price increases of gas and diesel, the costs, and decided on a ’21 Ram 1500 4×4 CC, set up for towing with the 3.92 rear and Hemi. Having Arctic Fox’ 5th wheels, I was familiar with the sister company Ourdoors RV and their high quality travel trailers. I found a ’19 RKS, and the considerate seller offered to deliver the trailer, using a Chev 2500. Now the specs on the RAM say 1750 lb carrying capacity and 11500lb towing, so I knew I was within acceptable weights! Using the seller’s nice Andersen WDH, we sadly learned that the height of the Outdoors TT was too high for the low receiver on the 1/2 ton Ram. And the sag approached 3″, while the newly ordered Timbrens had yet to arrive and be installed. Moral of the story for me is either get a different lower (and cheaper) TT

Chuck
1 month ago
Reply to  Chuck

or get a 3/4 truck. And be sure to check the heights of the respective hitches to be sure you can safely hitch up and tow!

Crowman
1 month ago

Should ask if he has a hitch weight distribution system as I have seen plenty of people pulling without them over the years. Another thing is the bar spring strength as I’ve seen them from 500 to 1200 pound ratings. A half ton truck is too small to be safe pulling.

Leonard Rempel
1 month ago

All good ideas, but it sounds like an F-150 is just too small for safety with this trailer. I am surprised that there are so many trailers being pulled with 1/2 ton trucks. This just isn’t a good idea. Not everyone needs a 1 ton dually (coincidentally this is what I have) but build in some buffer with more truck.

Jesse Crouse
1 month ago

Looks like not enough truck to do the job at hand- no matter what adjustments are done.

Harry
1 month ago

For starters, why do so many people buy a 1/2 ton truck for towing?
My rule is 3/4 ton minimum with the longest WB available.

Duane R
28 days ago
Reply to  Harry

Because, Harry, some trailers pair well with half-ton trucks. Case-in-point, our 5,700 GVWR Lance 1995 pairs well. My F-150 has 1,730 lbs of cargo capacity. Load the trailer to GVWR, and balanced to 12% tongue wt, and I still have over 1,000 lbs for all cargo. We have never towed at max truck wt.

Now, a 7,000 lb trailer with 12% tongue wt still leaves us with about 900 lbs for cargo, so still have room for margin. Any larger, and a 3/4-ton is certainly called for, in my opinion.

Ron Seidl P.E.
1 month ago

I agree. An article on how to correctly set up a Weight Distribution Hitch would be a good idea. My Centerline Huskey has adjustments on both the tilt of the ball mount and the length of the bar attachment.

Ray
1 month ago

That dealer could be sending others down the road in the same condition. He needs to be informed. How about an article on how the weight distributing hitch works. They are marvels of design. A correctly attached hitch should have both loaded tow vehicle and trailer looking level to the pavement front to back before it leaves the dealership.

Roger B
1 month ago
Reply to  Ray

My son in law bought a travel trailer from Camping World. They set up the hitch waaayyy off. Almost couldn’t drive the thing on the interstate. He called the hitch manufacturer and got the right set up info. They had him take a lot of measurements on his truck and trailer, them came back with a setup that works. World of difference. Another case of can’t trust a salesman or dealership.

Larry
1 month ago

Dave, why not first adjust wdh to put more weight on front truck axle, which will take some weight off rear axle.

Rick Myers
1 month ago
Reply to  Larry

Ditto

Bob p
1 month ago
Reply to  Larry

You’re right it seems like the dealer didn’t set up his hitch correctly. This is the first thing I thought of when initially reading the post. He’s got so little weight on his front axle in and emergency stop his front wheels may skid possibly losing control. I experienced this situation last year when I didn’t tighten my wdh chains to the proper link drop. I didn’t lose control but I know the antilock brakes work on the front. Tightening 2 more links solved the problem.

Don
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob p

You brought up a good point about how many links to drop on the chains for the WDH. Dropping a couple links may be his only adjustment needed. I would ask if the dealer actually demonstrated hooking up (absolutely a must, especially if the customer isn’t an old salt) or just sent him on his way. Also, no one has mentioned just measuring the wheel well opening on the front wheel to assure the front suspension is at the same stance loaded and unloaded. This practice is recommended by nearly all hitch manufacturers.

Philip Mead
1 month ago
Reply to  Don

The best comment on here !

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