The ability to pull heavy loads is a great asset not many vehicles have. Therefore, one of the main reasons people obtain a pickup truck, such as the Ford F-150, is to use it for towing. Whether the load is a camper or some other type of trailer, there are some universal changes you should make to your truck so it can do its job successfully. By taking these steps, you’ll ensure the safety of you, your passengers, and others on the road. Furthermore, keep your truck in optimal shape and so it won’t encounter avoidable problems. Find out how to prepare your pickup truck for towing by reading the following important points.
Determine Your Truck’s Weight Capacity
Every truck has a set weight capacity that marks the maximum amount of weight it can carry and pull. More specifically, this is known as the gross vehicle weight rating and includes the truck’s weight and the maximum weight you can safely add along with passengers and cargo. The truck’s weight includes the actual vehicle frame, all standard components necessary to its operation, and a full fuel tank. As you ponder whether a trailer will work with your truck, add the trailer’s tongue weight as cargo to see if the overall load falls within the gross vehicle weight rating. Notice that you’re not adding the entire weight of the trailer here. The trailer tongue weight is a measure of the front portion of a trailer’s weight that rests on its hitch ball. It should be between 10 and 15 percent of the trailer’s full weight.
Choose a Suitable Type of Hitch
The hitch is the small protruding piece you place on the back of the pickup truck so that it can link to a trailer. There are five classes you can choose from that support different weights. The weights we outline here are the totals of the trailers, not their isolated tongue weights, though you can find tongue weight ranges for each class as well.
- Class One hitches are for the lightest loads that total 2,000 pounds or less. They are useable for only the smallest trailers, such as little campers or wheeled platforms that hold buggies or motorcycles.
- Class Two hitches can support 3,500 pounds or less. They are popular among truck owners who don’t tow anything hefty. Though they can do more than Class 1 hitches, nevertheless they’re relatively restrictive.
- Class Three hitches have a maximum capacity of 8,000 pounds. With them, you can tow both medium and small trailers without any issue.
- Class Four hitches support up to 10,000 pounds, but with a weight-distributing system, this can rise to around 14,000 pounds. This kind of hitch is sufficient for substantial loads, including large campers and other trailers.
- Class Five hitches can have a maximum capacity at 18,000 to 20,000 pounds. They’re the most heavy-duty out of all types.
Select a Fitting Type of Connector
Other than the hitch, deciding on the type of wiring connector you want to use is another component of learning how to prepare your truck for towing. Connectors send the electrical signals from your truck to the trailer so the back lights on it will activate as needed. This way, drivers behind you will know when you’re switching lanes or braking. There are four variations of connectors to consider:
- Four-way connectors are the most basic option and include wires for your turning signals, braking, and running. The fourth wire is the electrical grounding wire. These features are sufficient for small trailers.
- Five-way connectors have an additional fifth wire so a somewhat larger trailer can synchronize with your truck’s braking.
- Six-way connectors incorporate a sixth wire you can use as a 12-volt hot lead. In other words, this wire provides the trailer’s inside with power. It’s useful when you want electricity in a towed motorhome or want to illuminate the inside of an animal transport trailer.
- Seven-way connectors bring in an auxiliary wire for applications such as powering backup lights, in addition to all the previously mentioned wires.
Increase Your Truck’s Engine Power
Your truck may be quite powerful to begin with, but to aid it in towing, you’ll want to increase its engine power. Doing this will prevent your engine from overheating as it works harder to move the heavier mass of the truck plus its trailer. You can install a cold air intake system that will move the air filter out of the engine compartment to bring cooler into your engine from the outside. This will increase the amount of oxygen your engine receives for combustion since cold air is denser than warm. As a result, you’ll gain more power. On top of a cold air intake, you can look at other performance upgrades, such as an exhaust system, that’s more efficient than the default one installed in your truck.
Preserve and Upgrade Your Tires and Suspension
Towing inevitably affects the distribution of weight on your truck and places a greater burden on its tires and suspension. Without proper care and consideration, you could end up having to deal with a blown-out tire while driving. To avoid this, keep a spare tire with you at all times and frequently check the air pressure of the tires you’re using to ensure they’re at the correct levels. Additionally, you can replace your current tires with versions that have more grip to give your truck the traction it needs as it tows. Supplementing your baseline suspension system with helper springs is also worth considering. This relatively cheap upgrade will ease the burden off your suspension so it lasts longer—without experiencing damages extreme wear.
If you’re thinking of upgrading your pickup truck in preparation for towing, visit Specialty Performance Parts online. We stock Ford F-150 accessories and parts to make your vehicle more powerful and capable.