How to Maximise Your Trailer’s Load Capacity
When you’re moving heavy loads or travelling a long distance, you want to ensure that your trailer load capacity is as safe and effective as possible. Your trailer’s load capacity is the maximum amount of weight your trailer can be loaded with in order to ensure it is safe, controllable and won’t cause dangerous deterioration of your vehicle. As well as making sure you’re following the right guidelines for trailer load capacity for your own gain, there are also legal consequences for overloading a trailer – so adhering to the right capacity is going to save your vehicle, as well as your back pocket, from the threat of fines.
Why is maximising trailer load capacity important?
If the load capacity and best practices for maximising it is ignored, the consequences can be severe. Overloading or improperly loading a trailer can lead to a series of problems:
Damaged cargo —
Without securing your trailer’s load and respecting the maximum weight, you can easily risk goods arriving damaged to their destination.
Vehicle handling failure —
Unbalanced and overweight trailers pose a problem for safe vehicle handling on roads. This can cause swaying, jack knifing, a strain on the brakes and deterioration of the suspension and tires of a vehicle.
Car accidents —
Along with handling errors, overloaded trailers run the risk of causing car accidents. The additional weight affects your ability to brake, slow down and manage turns in a timely manner. With too much weight, you won’t be able to react properly to the situation on the surrounding road, and you increase the risk of collisions with unexpected obstacles and other motorists.
Broken connection —
While connectors and couplers are built from tough materials, you risk breaking them if you don’t adhere to the maximum load capacity of your trailer. Excess weight can cause the trailer to decouple and risk your goods.
Maximising your trailer’s load capacity allows you to safely carry the highest weight possible, giving you better control on the road and saving you money on fuel efficiency. Whether you’re moving furniture, making a regular trip with gear for a fishing expedition or as part of your job, ensuring you’ve safely loaded your trailer to its maximum capacity is essential.
How to maximise your trailer’s load capacity
If you haven’t owned or used a trailer before, maximising load capacity might seem like a tall order. In reality, by following a few simple steps, you’ll be able to determine your trailer’s load capacity, and load it up with maximum efficiency.
Identify your trailer’s axle configuration —
The first step you’ll need to complete is determining the axle configuration of your trailer. Single, tandem and up to 9 axle trailers all have different load capacities, and therefore different guiding principles for the best way to distribute the weight of your load in the trailer.
The single axle trailer load capacity in Australia varies from state to state, so it’s worth checking this with your relevant state government authority in order to avoid any penalties, especially if you’re planning an interstate journey. It’s also essential to not exceed the gross towing mass of your trailer with the weight of the load. The combined weight of your trailer and load is known as the aggregate towing mass, or ATM. If your trailer doesn’t have breaks, your ATM can’t exceed 750 kilograms or the mass of the towing vehicle, whichever is lower.
Prepare your cargo —
Once you’ve got the total mass of your load, you’ll need to load your cargo. This step requires taking into account three elements: secure fastening, even balance and appropriate weight distribution.
Ideally, you want to slightly front load your trailer with more weight, with about 60% of the total weight at the front end. This helps to avoid swerving or jack knifing on the road. Ensuring that this weight isn’t unevenly placed over one wheel or the other also reduces swaying and helps you safely and effectively control your vehicle once you’re loaded up.
Make use of load bars —
With some loads, weight isn’t an issue, but rather the size of your load. Unwieldy items like kayaks, lumber, canoes and ladders need to have the proper support, so they stay stable as you’re on the road. Load bars are a great way to maximise your load capacity if your load includes oversized items. If you want more security around a load which has significant height above the sides of the trailer, a cage is a great accessory to offer extra stability.
The projection of your load, both at the sides and the rear, is also legislated, so be sure to check your local limitations for overhang to ensure your load is within the legal limit.
Utilise load locks —
Even the perfectly packed trailer won’t stay stable for long if your load isn’t properly secured. Load locks help to keep cargo secure, and give you an extra level of security when you’re thundering down the highway or taking tight corners. Load locks can also help increase the overall load capacity of the trailer, so they’re a handy tool for maximising your carrying power.
Always keep an eye on your load —
Even with all the safety precautions and accessories in the world, hauling a trailer is a dynamic activity, and requires regular monitoring to make sure that everything is safe and secure. If you’re going to be on the road for several hours, take regular breaks, so you can check the fastenings like straps, ropes and chains, as well as the overall balance of your load.
Over time, even tightly packed and secured goods can start to loosen or move around, and in order to avoid cargo falling off the back of your trailer while you’re driving, you need to keep an eye on the trailer until you’ve reached your destination.
Respecting a trailer’s maximum load capacity is essential for ensuring you and your cargo arrive in one piece at the end of your journey. However, if you follow these guidelines and maintain your maximum load capacity, you’ll be able to complete the trip safely, taking advantage of the best possible fuel efficiency, and without risking the performance of your trailer or your vehicle.
Looking for more trailer tips for securing your load at work or managing a trip to the great outdoors? Modern Trailers has you covered. Check out our tips for trailer owners that cover everything from maintenance to buying and registering a new trailer.
Modern Trailers – quality trailers that get the job done
At Modern Trailers, we proudly manufacture our trailers in Australia to the highest possible standards for safety, durability and reliability. If you’re looking to upgrade your current trailer or switch from hiring a trailer to owning your very own, check out our trailer range online today. No matter what the job, at Modern Trailers, you’ll find the right equipment to get it done.