Video: The Physics of Trailer Towing Made Simple

towingCheck this out, fellow gearheads. This clever little demo using a toy car and an exercise treadmill illustrates a critical factor in trailer towing safety: weight distribution, especially tongue weight. Watch this. 



For car enthusiasts, trailer towing can be a regular chore. And whether you tow a race car, a collector vehicle, or just a small utility trailer now and then, this info could provide a light bulb moment. A trailer’s loaded weight distribution is a major factor in towing stability, tongue weight in particular. This clear and simple little video demonstration using a toy car, a clever trailer model, and a treadmill illustrates the matter perfectly.

Towing experts say that for proper stability, tongue weight—the portion of the trailer’s weight as measured directly at the hitch ball—should account for around 10 to 15 percent of the trailer’s loaded weight. However, the dynamics behind this familiar rule of thumb can be somewhat complicated to explain. As we often say here at Mac’s Motor City Garage, we love technical concepts made simple—and the less technobabble, the better. Here the matter is demonstrated with a clear visual and no words at all. Watch this.


3 thoughts on “Video: The Physics of Trailer Towing Made Simple

  1. Neat! Anybody that has experienced pulling a trailer loaded too heavy to the rear can relate to the latter part of this video. I have been there, done that, as they say! Just about flipped my CJ5 with a 4×8 trailer loaded with firewood several years ago when it started swaying like that. A 30 minute ride ended up taking a hour and half, couldn’t get above 30 mph or it would start violently swaying.
    Ever since, I load the front of a trailer just enough the rear of pulling vehicle starts to squat a bit. That usually does the trick.

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