Unlocking the Secret: How To Determine Tongue Weight Without A Scale

Imagine planning an epic camping trip with your family. You've packed your trailer with all the essentials, hitched it up to your vehicle, and are ready for the open road. But wait! Have you considered the tongue weight of your trailer? This critical factor can mean the difference between a smooth, safe journey and a disastrous one. However, measuring tongue weight can be a bit tricky, especially if you don't have a scale. But don't fret! This guide will show you how you can accurately determine the tongue weight without a scale and ensure you're all set for the adventure that awaits. So, buckle up as we delve deeper into the world of towing and uncover the secret of determining tongue weight without a scale!

Understanding Tongue Weight

Casting light on the mysteries of towing, it's crucial to understand what tongue weight is before we even think about measuring it. Tongue weight (TW) is the downward force that the tongue of the trailer exerts on the hitch of the towing vehicle. This force plays a vital role in maintaining the balance and stability of your trailer while you're on the move. Ideally, the tongue weight should be about 10-15% of the total or gross trailer weight.

Now that we have the basics down, let's dissect why getting an accurate tongue weight is important and understand the risks of getting it wrong.

Importance of Accurate Tongue Weight

Getting the right tongue weight is like finding the sweet spot in towing. It ensures that your trailer tows smoothly behind your vehicle, reducing the chances of trailer sway and providing a safer and stress-free towing experience.

If the tongue weight is too little (less than 10% of the total trailer weight), your trailer might start to sway back and forth, creating driving hazards. On the other hand, if the tongue weight is too much (greater than 15% of the total trailer weight), your vehicle might become less responsive, especially during turns and braking.

Risks of Incorrect Tongue Weight

The risks associated with incorrect tongue weight are not to be taken lightly. Too much tongue weight can make your vehicle more difficult to control. It can affect the steering and braking, making turns and stops particularly tricky. This can be a serious safety concern, especially in emergency situations where sudden maneuvers might be necessary.

Conversely, too little tongue weight can cause the trailer to sway uncontrollably while driving. This does not only pose a danger to you, but also to other road users. A swaying trailer can easily veer into other lanes, creating a high risk of accidents.

In a nutshell, understanding and accurately calculating tongue weight is a crucial part of towing a trailer. It can be the difference between a smooth, enjoyable journey and a stressful, potentially dangerous experience. In the next section, we'll explore traditional methods of measuring tongue weight before discovering innovative ways to do it without a scale. Stay tuned!

Traditional Methods of Measuring Tongue Weight

If you've ever wondered how to determine the tongue weight of your trailer, you're in the right place. There are several traditional methods to help you find this critical number. Let's dive into the most commonly used ones.

Tongue Weight Scale

The first and most straightforward method is to use a tongue weight scale. These handy tools are specifically designed for measuring tongue weight and can be found at most towing supply shops. To use it, simply place the scale under the trailer jack and take a reading. And voila! You have your tongue weight. However, if the jack doesn't fit well, you can use a sturdy pipe placed vertically between the coupler and scale.

Bathroom Scale

tongue weight with scale

Now, you may be thinking, "What if I don't have a tongue weight scale?" No problem! Your common bathroom scale can also be used to determine tongue weight. If the tongue weight is expected to be less than 300 pounds, place the tongue or jack directly on the scale. To protect your scale's finish, consider placing a small piece of plywood down first.

However, if the weight is likely to be over 300 pounds, you can set up a simple home experiment with some boards and pipes. The key here is to take a reading from the scale and triple it to find the actual tongue weight.

Commercial Vehicle Scale

Finally, you can measure the tongue weight of your trailer using a commercial vehicle scale. These are often found at rest stops or local dumps. First, weigh your vehicle without the trailer. Then, hook up your trailer and weigh your vehicle again, making sure the trailer wheels don't touch the scale. The difference between the two weights is your trailer's tongue weight.

So there you have it! Three traditional methods of measuring tongue weight. But if you're looking for something a bit more innovative, don't fret. In the next section, we'll be exploring how to determine tongue weight without a scale. Stay tuned!

Innovative Ways to Determine Tongue Weight Without a Scale

Perhaps you're stuck in a remote area, or your handy bathroom scale has finally given up the ghost. Fear not! Even without a scale, you can still estimate your trailer's tongue weight. Here are three innovative methods to help you out.

Using a Lever and Weight Method

Think back to your school days and the principle of the seesaw, or lever. You can use this same principle to estimate your trailer's tongue weight. All you need is a sturdy board (like a 2x4), a known weight, and a bit of elbow grease.

Position your known weight (say, a 50-pound dumbbell) on one end of the board. Then, place the trailer's tongue on the other end. Adjust the trailer's position until the board balances. The distance from the known weight to the balance point, divided by the distance from the trailer tongue to the balance point, will give you a rough estimate of the tongue weight.

Using a Vehicle's Suspension System

If your vehicle has a suspension system, you're in luck! It can provide a decent estimate of tongue weight. Here's how:

First, measure the distance from the ground to a fixed point on your unloaded vehicle (for example, the top of the wheel well). Next, load your trailer and measure the same distance again. The difference between the two measurements can be used to calculate tongue weight.

Remember, though, this method only provides an estimate. Always double-check your tongue weight using a scale when you can.

Using Mathematical Calculations

If you're a numbers person, this method might be for you. You can calculate tongue weight by determining the percentage of total trailer weight that is resting on the hitch. This method requires knowing your trailer's total weight, which you can estimate by adding up the weight of the trailer and its cargo.

Once you have the total weight, consider that the tongue weight should be about 10-15% of that. So, if your total trailer weight is 2000 pounds, your tongue weight should be around 200-300 pounds.

These innovative methods can help you determine tongue weight without a scale. However, keep in mind these are estimates. For the safest and most accurate results, consider using a scale when you can. And remember, whether you're a seasoned pro or a novice tower, maintaining the correct tongue weight is crucial for safe towing. Happy camping!

How CURT Manufacturing Products Can Help

Safety on the road is not a game of chance, it's about making the right choices and having the right tools. This is where CURT Manufacturing steps in, offering products that ensure your towing experience is secure and hassle-free.

High-Quality Towing Accessories

CURT Manufacturing offers a range of top-notch towing accessories that can make your towing experience safer and more comfortable. From trailer hitches and ball mounts to lock pins and safety chains, CURT has you covered.

For instance, their channel mounts and adjustable ball mounts are designed to accommodate varying tongue weights and trailer heights. This flexibility allows you to maintain the correct tongue weight and ensure safer towing.

Additionally, CURT's range of anti-rattle hitch pins and clamps can help reduce vibrations and noises, making your ride smoother. And let's not forget about their hitch tube covers that protect your hitch receiver from the elements, prolonging its lifespan.

Innovative Towing Solutions

Beyond these accessories, CURT Manufacturing is known for its innovative towing solutions. They have developed the OneControl AutoRebellion XD Ball Mount and RockerBall™, a product that reduces jerking and jarring for a smoother ride, regardless of the load you are carrying.

Furthermore, if you ever need to switch between trailers, CURT's Switch Ball™ sets make the job easy. These sets include different ball sizes that you can switch out without tools, allowing you to accommodate different trailers and tongue weights.

CURT Manufacturing is dedicated to improving your towing experience with its high-quality, innovative products. So, whether you're a seasoned pro or a novice tower, you can rely on CURT to help you achieve the correct tongue weight for safe and secure towing.

Remember, a successful camping trip starts with a safe journey. Equip yourself with CURT's accessories and solutions, and hit the open road with confidence!


Navigating the world of towing and understanding key terms like tongue weight can be overwhelming. To help clear up some confusion, here are some common questions and expert answers on the topic.

How Can I Determine Tongue Weight Without a Scale?

Let's face it, not everyone has a tongue weight scale or a commercial vehicle scale at their disposal. But don't worry, you can still determine the tongue weight without these tools. The secret lies in using innovative methods like the lever and weight method or relying on your vehicle's suspension system. You can also use mathematical calculations to estimate the tongue weight. Remember, regardless of the method you choose, always ensure that your tongue weight falls within the recommended 10-15% of your trailer's total weight.

What Happens If My Tongue Weight Is Incorrect?

The importance of accurate tongue weight cannot be overstated. If the tongue weight is too light (less than 10% of the trailer's total weight), the trailer may sway dangerously back and forth while in motion. On the flip side, if the tongue weight is too heavy (over 15%), your vehicle may become less responsive, particularly when turning or braking. Both scenarios can lead to unsafe driving conditions and potential accidents. Therefore, it's essential to calculate your tongue weight correctly for a safe and hassle-free towing experience.

How Can CURT Manufacturing Products Help Me?

CURT Manufacturing offers a range of quality towing accessories designed to make your towing experience safer and more straightforward. From their revolutionary QuickPin trailer coupler, which simplifies the coupling process, to their range of heavy-duty scales designed to measure tongue weight precisely, CURT has solutions for all your towing needs. By choosing CURT products, you're choosing quality, safety, and peace of mind for your camping adventures.


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So, you've just unlocked the secret: determining tongue weight without a scale is not a mystery anymore. Whether you're using the lever and weight method, relying on your vehicle's suspension system, or crunching the numbers with mathematical calculations, you now have the know-how to ensure a safer and smoother towing experience.

It's important to remember that while these innovative methods can provide a good estimate, they may not be as accurate as using a proper tongue weight scale. For the most precise measurements and to ensure your load is balanced correctly, it's always worth considering investing in a dedicated tongue weight scale.

CURT Manufacturing offers an array of high-quality towing accessories and solutions to assist you. By choosing CURT products, like the QuickPin trailer coupler and their range of heavy-duty scales designed to measure tongue weight precisely, you're choosing quality, safety, and peace of mind for your camping adventures.

Ultimately, knowing and managing your tongue weight is crucial for safe towing. It can help prevent trailer sway, maintain control of your vehicle, and promote even tire wear. So, don't just guess, measure it. Whether you're heading out for a weekend trip with your travel trailer or moving heavy loads for work, understanding tongue weight matters.

Remember, safe towing is no accident. It's a result of careful planning, regular checks, and understanding the importance of correct tongue weight. Now that you're armed with this knowledge, you're ready to hit the road. Happy towing!

About Author:

image of Kevin Pommells

Hi, I'm Kevin Pommells, a lover of camping and the great outdoors as everyone says nowadays. I'm also a passionate soccer fan and the proud owner of CamperRules.com, a website dedicated to helping campers and outdoor enthusiasts make the most of their adventures. With years of experience exploring the wilderness and a deep love for the sport of soccer, I'm always looking for new ways to combine my two passions and share my knowledge with others. Follow me for tips, tricks, and insights on all things camping and outdoor recreation.

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