Tongue Weight–A Cautionary Tale

Our T@G is very lightweight and we pull it with mid-sized SUV, so we did not anticipate any towing issues. Our solution for hauling bikes created an issue related to tongue weight. Our earlier post, Bikes and Teardrop Camping–Our Solution, has been modified to include this new information. While what we originally had did not work, changing to a different receiver has been confirmed by E-Trailer to do the job!

We have hauled bikes with our teardrop by using a dual receiver, which enabled us to put a bike rack on the back of our SUV.

Bikes Towed with our Teardrop

When we ordered the bike rack, a customer service rep at E-Trailer explained that our dual hitch was splitting the towing capacity of the dual hitch into two amounts, each component one half of the capacity of the hitch.

Our dual hitch has a capacity of 400 lbs, so each component would have a capacity of 200 lbs.  Our trailer’s tongue weight is 160 lbs with LP and battery (less than 200 lbs) and our bike rack plus bikes weighed 100 lbs (again less than 200 lbs).

We also considered the capacity of our towing vehicle, which is 350 lbs.  One half of 350 is 175 lbs and as this is under the weight of our trailer for one component and the bikes for the other, we thought we were okay.

What we did not initially understand is that by using a dual hitch, the overall capacity of our towing vehicle was reduced.  My husband ordered the hitch on-line and was not aware of the impact of the hitch on tongue weight.   This left our towing vehicle with a capacity of 175 lbs and the tongue weight of our towing was 240 lbs.

Fortunately, we received feedback from members of camping groups on Facebook who are more knowledgeable than we and they alerted us to this problem.  However, because of the multiple things to consider, we were quite confused.

As I understand it now, if using a dual hitch, you have to compare the tongue weight of what you are hauling against two separate limitations.

1) The tongue weight capacity of the tow vehicle, reduced by 50% because the dual hitch is used.  In our case, this was 175 lbs.  Our total tongue weight was 240 lbs, and we had a real problem here.

2) The tongue weight of the dual hitch.  Our hitch has a tongue weight capacity of 400 lbs, with 200 lbs for each half.  At 160 for the trailer and 100 for the bikes, we did not have an issue with the hitch.

Because our SUV has a lower tongue weight capacity, it is the capacity that  must be used when determining our hauling weight.

We hauled our bikes on two camping trips that were relatively close to home.  The car handled well and there did not appear to be problems with the towing.  However, we had difficulty getting the leveling wheel off and on.   Also, the back tires on our SUV developed cupping. We had to replace our tires on the back sooner than we needed to replace the front tires.  We do not know that the excess tongue weight caused the tire issue, but we think it is the likely reason.

Now the good news!  I was communicating earlier with James Phipps, who is in a couple of teardrop groups on Facebook.  James and I communicated quite extensively about his concerns and he posed a question to E-Trailer to confirm his theory.  They confirmed that he was correct regarding the tongue weight issue but also offered two solutions that should be viable.  The response E-Trailer sent to James is below.

We could haul our bikes in much the same manner as we have in the past without exceeding tongue weight capacity if we just use a multipurpose ball mount instead of the dual hitch extender.

I would never have guessed that such a simple change could make such a difference.  If we were to use option 1 below, we would have a tongue weight of approximately 260 lbs and a capacity of our original 350 lbs. and will be well within our capacity.  Thank  you James for this information!

Options for hauling bikes

 

3 thoughts on “Tongue Weight–A Cautionary Tale”

  1. Neither my husband or I knew the term “cupping” related to tires, so he Googled it. He read that the primary reason “coupling” can be caused is due to bounce from a car’s suspension system failure. You didn’t mention knowing that in the post, so thought I’d share just in case your car suspension needs to be checked, Hope all ends well!

    1. Thanks, Colleen. Since replacing the tires, it drives really well, but I will check further into it. As we only took it on two small trips, hopefully the suspension system is not damaged.

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