Blog

 

Towing Guidelines for Your Truck 

Whether it be hauling a camper or your motorboat, towing helps make our favorite outdoor adventures possible. While we all love zooming down the lake in a boat during the hot summer, towing your boat is not as easy as just attaching the trailer to your truck and heading to the highway. You don’t need to be a certified expert, but you should know the basics of towing setups and familiarize yourself with the different pieces of equipment.

 

Towing Capacity

Before anything else, you need to know the towing capacity of your vehicle. The AWD 2019 Ridgeline comes equipped with a trailer hitch rated for 5000 lbs, the 2WD model holding a capacity of 3500 lbs. We may have a lot of items to bring with us to our cabin, but no matter what our towing wishes are, never exceed the towing capacity. Doing so places added strain on your vehicle’s engine and drive-train.

 

What is Tongue Weight?

Tongue weight is an extremely important factor for proper handling during towing. Driving, no matter how safe, is always risky. Driving with additional weight can be even scarier if you do not utilize tongue weight – it is the factor to safe towing. 

Tongue weight is the downforce of the trailer coupler being applied to the hitch. There is a perfect balance to be found with exerting weight on the trailer tongue. Too little tongue weight could result in excessive trailer sway and the potential loss of control. However, if the force applied to the tongue is too great, downforce will be taken off the front wheels of the tow vehicle. This can reduce braking effectiveness and steering control. 

For a boat trailer, the tongue weight should be 5-15% of the total trailer weight. With all other trailers, the tongue weight should be between 10-15% of the total trailer weight. 

In your Honda owner’s manual, a table is included outlining how to estimate tongue weight based on rear suspension and compression when loaded or unloaded. There are other alternatives to measuring tongue weight; if you tow frequently, you probably want to measure your tongue weight fast and effectively. Purchasing a tongue weight scale is a compact and easy solution. If you find that your tongue weight either exceeds or does not meet the suggested weight, utilizing load distribution may be necessary to adjust the tongue weight. For larger and heavier trailers, a weight distribution hitch should also be considered.

 

If the difference is AWD models 2WD models
1 inches(2.5 cm) 150 lbs (68 kg)
1 1/2 inches(3.8 cm) 250 lbs (114 kg)
2 inches(5.1 cm) 350 lbs (159 kg)
2 3/8 inches (6.0 cm) 450 lbs (205 kg)
2 5/8 inches (6.7 cm) 500 lbs (227 kg)

 

Towing Trailers/Boats    

Should you be a veteran or first-timer when it comes to towing, all precautions from the first time you tow to the last time must always be taken. Many accidents caused by towing are due to the lack of trailer control. Even the smallest details can help to ensure the best handling can be met. The tow vehicle and the trailer should both be on the same level as each other (or close). To achieve this, you may need to increase or decrease the height of the hitching ball. 

Trailer Brakes 

For any trailer that exceeds 1000 lbs, you must have trailer brakes attached. Most camper style trailers utilize electric trailer brakes that require a brake controller to be installed within the tow vehicle. Honda Pilots and Ridgelines already have the necessary circuits built-in, including a harness to install trailer brakes (controllers are not included, but can be found at dealerships). 

Boat trailers do not typically use electric brakes due to the wheels of the trailer frequently being fully submerged. These types of trailers are usually equipped with surge brakes. Surge brakes take advantage of inertia –  a trailer braking system deploying the energy necessary to brake when the trailer moves closer to the drawbar tractor – for brake application. They do not require a controller. 

Best Practices Checklist When Towing

It is better to be safe than sorry. To ensure that your trip goes well, use this checklist before turning on your vehicle’s engine. 

  1. ☐ Are all the connections between the tow vehicle and the trailer intact?
  2. ☐ Is the wiring connector securely connected?
  3. ☐ Are the safety chains attached?
  4. ☐ For electric trailer brakes, is the cable (or the breakaway device) attached at one end to the tow vehicle (usually the hitch) and the other to a switch on the trailer tongue?
  5. ☐ Is the coupler fully seated on the ball, its lock closed?
  6. ☐ Is your cargo secured?
  7. ☐ Are all of your lights working? 

Drive Carefully

When towing, you have a lot more weight needed to bring yourself to a stop. Always allow for longer braking distances. Make sure to drive slower than normal, the recommended highway speeds while towing are 90-100 km/hr. As you make turns, turn with an added level of carefulness, taking your time to do so and with a wider arc. Arriving at your destination safely while having driven comfortably is the goal. To ensure this, patience and the basic knowledge of towing will be sure to provide you ease on the road.