Dead weight and towed weight: What's the difference?

Updated Jul 14, 2020 | Same topic: Let's Drive Smart!
Both the dead weight and towed weight has something to do with towing. Keep reading to find out what dead and towed weight are and their difference!

Have you ever carried a sleeping baby or a bottom-heavy box? If yes, then you might already know what dead weight is. Have you also heard of the term towed weight? Both the dead weight and towed weight has something to do with towing. Read on this article from Philkotse.com and find out the difference between the two. 

Novice drivers who are planning to purchase their very first trailer will find this topic very interesting. Let’s find out what dead weight and towed is.

1. Deadweight

It is also known as the weight carrying hauling capacity by carmakers. It is a term used to define the maximum amount of weight the vehicle can haul using a primary hitch coupling.  You will see the force of the trailer’s added weight in the towing car’s rear axle when you use the basic hitch.

You should rely on the dead weight rating because it indicates the maximum load a vehicle can tow. If the car’s hailing dead weight rating has exceeded its maximum limit, it will make the front of the trailer to lift off the ground. It is a potentially terrible situation to encounter when the trailer is speeding down the road.

Basic hitch of a car

Deadweight is also known as the weight carrying hauling capacity by carmakers

In this case, you are dropping the trailer’s dead weight on the ball hitch and focusing it on the rear axle.  In general, deadweight hitch towing is only applicable for a light-duty task and shouldn't be utilized for hauling heavy loads because it can lead to a disastrous situation.

Aside from the trailer’s hitch, the tongue weight is another consideration. The tongue weight is the maximum weight that the car’s trailer hitch can handle the downward force applied on it by the trailer's tongue. Its weight rating is the smallest of the three. Usually, it's less than 10% of the gross trailer weight (GTW). The tongue weight's maximum capacity is often displayed on the car's hitch.

>>> Read more: OEM vs Aftermarket car parts: All you should know about its Pros & Cons.

2. Towed weight

It is the number you will see on advertisements and touted by auto dealers. The car’s towing capacity also referred to as the vehicle’s weight distribution hauling capacity refers to the maximum amount of weight the vehicle can tow with a weight-distribution towing hitch.

It is a specialized hitch that employs spring bars or adjustable rods to thoroughly distribute the weight in the tow car – up to the front wheels.  It will allow you to tow more load because the tow vehicle is the one carrying the weight.

Towing car

The car’s towing capacity also referred to as the vehicle’s weight distribution hauling capacity

>>> Also read: 5 must-know tips if you want to avoid buying fake car parts.

3. The difference between dead weight and towed weight

The towing vehicle might be able to drag lots of pounds; it is not the same case when it comes to the trailer hitch. Hitches have their respective capacity rating. The maximum limit of your towing car and trailer hitch is not always the same. But in both cases, you should not exceed the boundaries of the two ratings.

4. Useful towing tips

Know the towing capacity

Before you tow a large amount of cargo into a hitch or trailer, you first need to know the towing capacity of the SUV, truck, car or recreational vehicle you will be using. If you tow too much weight and exceed the maximum limit, it can lead to a myriad of problems.  Even if you have a powerful engine, it will still not work if it exceeds the towing capacity. Refer to your car manual first before towing anything.

tire and loading information

You first need to know the towing capacity of the car before using it as a towing vehicle

Proper weight distribution

Proper weight distribution should be taken into consideration when pulling. It is a simple way that makes the towing job safer and smoother. It's best to start loading the most massive cargo first then type it down using bungee cords or rope. This way, it will not shift while the car is in motion.

The smaller load follows. It should fill the spaces in between. Keep in mind that the cargo's center of gravity should be low. 60% of the overall weight should be towards the front. It's also essential to balance the sides of the trailer to minimize the chances of it flipping.

car towing a trailer

Proper weight distribution should be taken into consideration when pulling

>>> Check out: 4 common types of tow scammers and tricks to avoid.

Check the mirrors

It's vital to understand the importance of proper side view mirrors when driving a towing car or truck. If you don’t have rearview mirrors, It will be very dangerous to switch lanes. Driving a tow vehicle or truck requires the use of extended side-view mirrors.

This type of mirror is taller and more significant compared to the regular side-view mirrors. It is a must if the tow car is pulling a trailer which will totally block the rearview sight.

Driving a tow vehicle or truck requires the use of extended side-view mirrors.

Driving a tow vehicle or truck requires the use of extended side-view mirrors

Check the tow car’s light, tires and brakes

The lights tire and brakes are essential when you're driving a regular car. It becomes more critical if you're driving a tow vehicle. When you’re towing, you need to double your lights because it is a requirement in most countries.

In any given situation, checking your tires is a smart thing to do. Tires are the primary contact of the car to the road, and it also requires frequent replacement and maintenance. If you ignore your tires, it becomes more dangerous because a flat tire can leave you stranded or lead to accidents.

Dead weight and towed weight

The lights tire and brakes are essential when you're driving a regular car

Just like the lighting of your car, your brakes should also operate simultaneously. Some countries require towed vehicles to have a separate braking system. It will prevent the tow car from carrying all the work when it's already time to apply the brakes. Make sure the brakes are functioning correctly because poorly operating brakes can lead to road disasters.

>>> You might concern: 6 key things to remember when driving a towing car.

Slow down

When driving a towing car, you should avoid pressing the gas pedal excessively. Remember that there’s an added length and weight from the towed car. If you drive faster, it will only get more dangerous. Increasing your driver speed will also increase the amount of trailer sway behind you, which will make it more challenging to stop without the risk of flipping or fishtailing quickly.

Besides, speed will also make it harder for you to maneuver in traffic. SO the best thing to do is to stay aware and cautious to ensure a safe towing trip. Slowing down is the key.

Author

Hanna Sanchez

Hanna is one of the most competitive swimmers in the country during her day. It was not long before she discovered her passion for the automotive industry as well. Nowadays, she balances her passion through writing as well as coaching.