Tongue vs. Gross Weight: What To Know When Moving a Trailer

Whether you’re towing a boat trailer or a massive 5th wheel camper, there are various weight factors to consider to make sure everything goes smoothly. This is important not only to ensure your truck can tow your trailer but to ensure your safety on the road and the protection of your truck. Let’s take a look at tongue versus gross weight to determine what you need to know when moving a trailer.

What Is Tongue Weight?

The tongue weight refers to the downward force the tongue of a trailer applies to the hitch of the tow vehicle, or more specifically, the amount of force being exerted on the hitch ball. In this scenario, your trailer acts like a lever with the axle of the trailer being the pivot point. If the tongue weight is too heavy or too light, it can be dangerous when you’re out on the road, damaging your vehicle or your trailer. This also applies to your trailer dolly, so make sure you have an appropriate model that can handle your trailer’s tongue weight.

Is Tongue Weight the Same as Hitch Weight?

You may sometimes hear the term “hitch weight” used and, yes, this is interchangeable with tongue weight. Another term you might hear that means the same thing is “pin weight,” but pin weight typically refers to 5th-wheel campers specifically.

What Is Gross Weight?

Gross weight is the other factor you need to know when moving a trailer. Gross weight is a bit more obvious, as it refers to the total weight of your trailer and the cargo within. You can use the gross weight of your trailer to calculate the tongue weight, which is typically about a tenth of the gross weight. So, for example, if your trailer has a gross weight of 1,000 pounds, you can expect the tongue weight to be about 100 to 150 pounds.

If the gross weight of your trailer is in the thousands of pounds, you should invest in a motorized trailer dolly, as your manual dolly will likely not be able to handle that much weight.