For years, conscientious pickup truck manufacturers have had additional requirements for towing over a certain tongue weight with a conventional, bumper-pull trailer. These may include (working) trailer brakes, weight-distributing hitches, sway control or some combination thereof. Weight thresholds that call for this equipment vary by the size and weight of the pickup, any factory heavy-duty or towing options, and whether it has a single or dual rear wheel. This makes it difficult to know the exact ratings and requirements for your pickup.
Further complicating matters is the fact that our 50 states have their own laws regarding towing requirements. And recently, the word "recommended" joined the towing vernacular, suggesting manufacturers might think following their suggestions is a good idea but you don't really have to. Regardless, if a legal entity or manufacturer require it and you don't abide by it, rest assured, the law is not on your side.
As you might suspect, many pickup owners simply can't be bothered with figuring out which towing equipment they need, while others use the additional equipment even when not required. Ask 10 pickup owners who tow about rules and regulations, and you'll get 15 different answers.
Today, some pickups are so big and stability control is so advanced, weight-distribution and sway-control requirements are not as necessary as they once were. Knowing that, do you use the legally required hardware? Or do you just assume you're not at or above the recommended weight because the back of your pickup dropped only 2 inches when you hooked up the trailer?
We want to know how you decide what's safe when you're towing. Do you make it a habit to weigh your truck and trailer before heading off? Do you have a special way of calculating tongue weight? Do you know the limits of your truck's tongue weight or payload capacity? Let us know how you handle towing requirements in the comments section below.
Cars.com graphic by Paul Dolan; image by Evan Sears