When you have something heavy to pull behind your vehicle, you may be tempted to exceed its towing capacity. But doing so can lead to accidents and injuries, so it’s better to take steps to increase the capacity first.
But how do you increase towing capacity? Keep reading to discover how a few upgrades can make you and others safer on the road while boosting how much your vehicle can tow.
What Is Towing Capacity?
A vehicle’s towing capacity is the weight it can pull before causing strain or damage. The total capacity includes how much you’re carrying and how it’s distributed, along with the control you need to transport it from one place to another.
Each vehicle has a towing capacity assigned to it, although this number is an estimate made by the automaker, so keep that in mind as you load up. Your vehicle’s load will affect how it drives, potentially requiring wider turns, earlier braking, or other modifications.
What Factors Affect Towing Capacity?
As mentioned, several factors affect the overall towing capacity.
The curb weight refers to how much your vehicle weighs with nothing in it. You should consider this weight when calculating towing capacity because if your vehicle is already heavy, that will affect how much you can tow.
The payload capacity is how much weight your vehicle can carry in its cabin and cargo area. If you drive a truck, the payload capacity is the amount it can hold in the cabin and bed.
You must pack items evenly when towing something significant for proper weight distribution. Too much weight in one area can throw off the entire towing setup, creating a potentially dangerous situation.
Your trailer hitch is crucial to determining your towing capacity, as it’s the connection between your vehicle and the vehicle or item you’re towing. Different trailer hitches have varying towing capacities, and they’re typically distinguished by class.
A quality brake system plays a significant role in safely towing heavy loads. You need to be able to bring your vehicle and any attached trailer to a quick stop and maintain control as you slow down, speed up, and navigate around curves.
Your vehicle’s suspension carries both the weight of your vehicle and anything you tow. When a suspension system is in good condition, it should be able to bear this weight easily without affecting your vehicle’s performance.
The size of your engine determines your vehicle’s performance while towing and the amount of weight it can pull. For example, an engine with six or eight cylinders will have a higher tow rating than one with four.
What Happens If You Tow More Than the Capacity of Your Vehicle?
Have you ever been tempted to pull a little more than your truck or SUV can handle? Learn what happens to your truck or SUV when towing more than the rated capacity of your vehicle.
Decreases Braking Performance
Carrying a heavier load will force your brakes to work harder, resulting in an increased braking distance. The velocity of what you’re towing will strain the brakes and could even overtake the system, increasing the risk of an accident.
Decreases Driving Performance
Carrying something that significantly exceeds the towing capacity impacts your vehicle’s driving performance. Turning will become more challenging, and tight turns may be impossible to maneuver safely.
Your steering ability is also affected, leading to a higher chance of losing control and getting into an accident. Accelerating and maintaining speed can be difficult because you’re pushing against the load.
Impacts Warranty Coverage
Carrying more than your vehicle is manufactured to handle will nullify your warranty, making repair costs more expensive.
Strains Your Transmission
The transmission is already working hard when just powering your vehicle. When you tow too much weight, it has to work even harder. A strained transmission may overheat and break down the transmission fluid, which can cause the system to seize up and sustain damage.
How to Increase My Vehicle's Towing Capacity
It’s clear that you shouldn’t overdo it by pulling more than your truck or SUV can safely tow. But can you increase your vehicle’s towing capacity? Yes, we’ve outlined six tips for how to improve towing capacity.
1. Use the Right Hitch
As mentioned, the hitch you choose plays a significant role in the vehicle’s towing capacity, so it’s essential to ensure you’re using the right one. This may mean upgrading the class of your hitch or investing in a weight distribution hitch, which spreads the weight throughout your vehicle’s frame instead of just the rear.
2. Upgrade Your Braking System
Upgrading your braking system to include heavy-duty components can help increase your towing capacity. Depending on what you’re towing, you may also install a trailer braking system to help you stop even faster.
3. Replace Axles
Similar to a brake system upgrade, replacing your axles with the highest-performing options can significantly increase your towing capacity while reducing the risk of vehicle damage. Remember, the axles carry a lot of the tow weight.
4. Use a Programmer
When auto manufacturers design and create vehicles, they typically aim to balance good fuel efficiency and strong driving performance. But you can use a vehicle programmer when you want to increase aspects of how your SUV or truck operates. This tool, called a transmission tuner, allows you to change specific settings, such as increasing horsepower or torque, to suit your towing needs better.
5. Change Your Suspension System
Upgrading your suspension system may prevent your vehicle from being weighed down when towing, easing the strain on the axles. Such an upgrade can also improve your steering control, making driving safer when pulling a heavy load.
6. Install a Larger Radiator
A larger radiator may improve the ability to cool your vehicle’s engine, preventing overheating even while towing heavier loads.
How Else Can I Tow Heavier Loads?
If the upgrades above don’t seem viable, other options can boost your vehicle’s towing performance. However, most require a complete overhaul of the existing setup. You could also consider choosing a different truck or SUV with a higher tow rating or replacing your trailer with something that weighs less.
Increase Your Towing Capacity with Weigh Safe
If you want to keep your current vehicle without sacrificing the towing capacity, upgrade your hitch with Weigh Safe. Using patented designs, Weigh Safe has changed the industry with its hitches, which are made of aircraft-grade aluminum and include a built-in scale. You can see just how much you’re towing before heading out on the road.
Contact us today to learn more about our products and feel safer when you’re carrying a heavy load.
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