Gross Trailer Weight (GTW) is easy to calculate and critical to know when towing a trailer. Gross trailer weight is the actual weight of your fully loaded trailer, which includes the weight of the trailer itself along with everything loaded onto it or into it. Any cargo, passengers, animals, equipment, fluids and everything in between contributes to the gross trailer weight. It is also important to know your gross vehicle/trailer weight rating (GVWR or GTWR) so that you do not exceed the maximum permissible weight when fully loaded. Check out last week’s blog post to learn more about that!
If your trailer does not have a visibly displayed information sticker that indicates the trailer dry or curb weight (unloaded), then you will need to weigh it yourself. To determine your dry weight and/or GTW, all you need to do is find a public scale and pull your trailer onto it. You’ll need to disconnect your trailer from your vehicle so that you can determine the weight of the trailer alone and not your tow vehicle. Make sure that your vehicle is completely off the scale and that the entire trailer, including tongue and all wheels, is on the scale. You can choose whether your trailer is fully loaded, which will give you your exact GTW, or you can weigh it empty and keep track of approximately how much cargo weight you’re putting on the trailer once you start loading it.
Once you know your GTW, you can then move your load appropriately so that your tongue weight stays within 10-15% of your GTW. Anything that is lower or higher than that 10-15% can cause trailer sway and decrease the towing performance of your vehicle.