Tongue Weight DIY

By Dan Armitage
Published: Summer 2013

Every trailer owner needs to know the weight of the trailer tongue on the hitch.

CAT Scales

Too little tongue weight leads to swaying and fish-tailing at highway speeds. Too much and the tow vehicle can become difficult to steer. Your tongue weight should be 7-10 percent of the total trailer weight. Here are two methods to finding the tongue weight of your trailer.

Truck Scale — The Easy Option

Most commercial truck scales will weigh trailered boats for a small fee. Pull the truck onto the scale, leaving the trailer hooked up to it, but having the wheels of the trailer off the scale. Get the weight, let's say it's 4,600 lbs. Then drive off the scale, disconnect the trailer, and drive the truck back on the scale again and weigh it only; let's say the truck weighs 4,200 lbs. The difference (4,600-4,200=400) is the tongue weight. If a truck scale isn’t readily available, tongue weight can still be figured out in the driveway.

The At Home Option

Most bathroom scales max out at 300 pounds, so when measuring the tongue weight of tandem-axle trailers that weigh more than 3,000 or so pounds, you risk wrecking your scale. To protect your scale, you need to set up a beam to spread the weight between a nice hard brick or concrete paver, and your scale. You'll also want two short lengths of pipe to act as pivots and a short piece of 4x4 to rest on the beam to keep the tongue level.

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