What happens if you exceed towing capacity?

In this article, we answer the following question: What happens if you exceed towing capacity? We speak about the dangers of exceeding towing capacity and overloading your trailer and car. We also give you tips on how to correctly load a trailer in order to be safe on the road.

What happens if you exceed towing capacity?

If you exceed towing capacity, you will be able to see the effect of the trailer load on the vehicle only when it is running. If the weights are evenly distributed and the car is collided from behind, the vehicle hardly destabilizes. But if, on the contrary, the weight is poorly distributed on the trailer and it suffers a blow, the vehicle loses control. 

This, on a busy road and at a high speed, could cause a fatal accident, so we emphasize the importance of dedicating the necessary time to properly place the load on the trailer and stop considering it an unimportant process. 

Dangers of exceeding towing capacity

When you carry your car heavily loaded and at the limit of its allowed load – you should never exceed it -, keep in mind that there are big changes that you must take into account and that affect both the way you drive and the mechanics of your vehicle.

  • Increased stopping distance. – It is necessary that when you travel with more weight in your car, you increase the safety distance with the car in front of you, redouble your attention and slow down. Your braking system will not work the same as when you usually drive, it will take longer and you will go faster before you stop.
  • Decreased stability and balance – The weight makes your car less agile and less balanced, especially if you carry a lot of weight in the trunk, in the rear, if you have a roof rack, a trailer or any other accessory to carry more cargo.
  • Increased consumption –  Always keep in mind that if you go with your car at full weight, you are going to spend more gasoline or diesel -also the autonomy in the case of an electric car decreases- so it is worth making an effort to implement the classic tips to reduce the consumption: smooth, careful driving and limited speed. 

In the same way, think about the cost of fuel when you are preparing suitcases and try to minimize so that the weight of the load is as tight as possible.

Plan carefully your trip. If you are going to travel with weight, it is better not to improvise on the way to go. Take advantage of new technologies to choose the most suitable route for a loaded car: avoid mountain passes, large slopes … in general, opt for highways or motorways to increase your safety and improve consumption, when you drive with a car with maximum weight.

Overload: consequences for your car

If you only overload your car a lot in specific situations, such as on vacations or exceptionally or occasionally, you do not have to worry about its mechanics especially. It is important to check the car before a trip and not skip the recommended revisions to avoid breakdowns and improve its durability. 

Another thing to keep in mind is to consider the option of taking out travel insurance which includes delays, luggage and assistance to people.

When a car suffers in its systems and parts, it is when you often use it to carry a lot of weight. Some parts are especially vulnerable to this type of situation. If you regularly use your car at the MAM limit, then pay special attention to the state of:

  • Tires
  • Suspension
  • Break system
  • Engine
  • CO2 emissions increase.

How to Correctly load a trailer

The first thing you should do before starting to place the load on the trailer is to check that its total weight does not exceed the weight limit that the trailer can carry, as well as its capacity. Remember that, if you have a B driving license, you can only carry up to a maximum of 3,500 kilos of maximum authorized mass.

On the other hand, you should know that it is very important that the centre of gravity of the trailer is in front of its wheels so that it is as level as possible. To do this, you must place the load as close as possible to the axle of the trailer, with the aim that, in case it is not completely level, at least the front part is the one that is lower than the rear.

Begin loading the trailer by placing the heaviest items first. Once you have the heaviest items loaded on the trailer, you can load the rest as evenly as possible, from closer to the trailer axle to further away, with a side-to-side distribution without leaving gaps, to reduce risk. overturning. 

Despite this, do not overload the front area, as it could cause a loss of control of the vehicle when driving with it. Besides, the heaviest load should be at the bottom of the trailer, while the lightest load should occupy the top, without exceeding the limits of the trailer.

Once you have all the load correctly placed in this way, you will have to secure it with chains or straps to prevent them from moving and could destabilize the vehicle or even fall onto the road when making a sharp turn, for example. 

It is also advisable to cover the load with tarps to prevent it from being damaged by the weather conditions, be it the sun or the rain, and they will also help to better hold the load, especially the smaller pieces. Of course, these canvases must also be held in turn with straps or cables.

Where to put the load in a caravan?

If the vehicle does not have much space to carry things and it is necessary to load the caravan, it will always be done in the centre and on the axle. Placing the load in the front will result in an imbalance resulting in the vehicle sinking through the rear suspension. This will cause the front axle to lift and lose steering.

In the same way, as is known, tow balls do not allow a lot of weight vertically. In a normal car, the weight that the tow ball can support is not much more than 70 kilograms. In the case of caravans, if you want to know the vertical weight they support to travel safely, you just have to look at the plate of the tow ball. However, reaching the weight limit is not good.

If what we do is to load the part behind the caravan a lot, the danger increases, since the part behind the vehicle will end uplifting and it will be totally unstable.

For all these reasons, the front chest should not support a lot of weight, although currently, caravans have a large chest, even with the possibility of placing two large butane or propane cylinders in it. However, it is recommended to carry them in the trunk.

It is important not to have a lot of weight on the drawbar because not only will the tow ball be overloaded, but also the stabilizers will not be able to support a lot of weight because they are not designed for it.

Lighter objects such as kitchen towels or towels can be carried in the mezzanine cabinets. However, it is better not to overload this part too much, since weighting such a high position ends up raising the point of gravity and it is easier to overturn.

In the event of an imbalance, what to do is stop and re-house the load in the best possible way.

How to know the weight that is carried?

Today there are all kinds of scales to know the weight carried both on the shaft and the lance. They exist from scales for the wheels to scales for the lance, passing through wheels that have the scale incorporated.

However, if you don’t want to spend money on any kind of appliance, you can use a bathroom scale and a wooden slat that must be cut at the height of the tow ball.

Another option, although more imprecise, is to lift the lance by hand. It should be possible to lift it without too much effort because, otherwise, there is too much weight in the front of the caravan and it needs to be rectified.

Conclusions

In this article, we answered the following question: What happens if you exceed towing capacity?

We need to remind you of the safety rules, and that exceeding towing capacity it is never recommended, as it can represent a great risk especially on a long road.  The weight makes your car less agile and less balanced, especially if you carry a lot of weight in the trunk, in the rear, if you have a roof rack, a trailer or any other accessory to carry more cargo.

If the weight is poorly distributed on the trailer and it suffers a blow, the vehicle loses control.  This, on a busy road and at a high speed, could cause a fatal accident, so we emphasize the importance of dedicating the necessary time to properly place the load on the trailer and stop considering it an unimportant process. 

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know!

FAQ on What happens if you exceed towing capacity?

Can I exceed my towing capacity?

It is not safe nor advisable to exceed the towing capacity, as it may make the vehicle unsafe on the road. Also, if you do not secure the hitch properly, it can cause fatalities on the road. 

What happens when you exceed your vehicle’s towing capacity?

When you exceed your vehicle’s towing capacity you bring a series of consequences for your card, such as engine overheating; tire failure, overloading the drivetrain, CO2 emissions increase among others. 

What percentage of max towing capacity is safe?

A percentage of 80% or 75% of max towing capacity would be safe and recommendable. 

How do you know if you tow too much weight?

You know you are towing too much weight when the rear of the truck will appear hunkered down and the front end will feel light.

Can any car tow a caravan?

Not any car can tow a caravan. A caravan with the maximum mass over 100%  of the car’s kerb weight should not be towed by the respective car under any circumstances!

References

Towingandtrailers.com

Caravanchronicles.com

Practicalcaravan.com

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