Towing a trailer takes planning, patience and attention to safety, whether it is loaded or empty. While many factors can cause problems when towing, one of the biggest concerns is trailer bounce. If you’ve ever tried to pull an aluminum landscape trailer, you likely have encountered this issue.
What Is Trailer Bounce?
It only takes one time to experience this phenomenon to recognize it. When a trailer being towed seems to sail through the air briefly before landing back on its wheels, that is trailer bounce. According to the weight of the trailer and whether you are carrying a load, it can happen only occasionally when you hit a bump or it can continue repeatedly as you drive down the road. At a minimum, it is unsettling, but it can potentially cause damage to the trailer, the joint or the items in the load.
What Causes It?
Numerous factors can cause trailer bounce. Empty trailers are known for bouncing, as the mass of the trailer itself is typically only a fraction of the weight rating and not enough to compress the springs without a load. Improper tire pressure, oversized trailer tires, stiff suspension, improper load balance or tongue length combined with the position of the axle can all be culprits. All parts of the towing system must be working together to keep the tires on the pavement and ensure a smooth ride.
Why Is It Dangerous?
If you value what you are towing, you want to minimize damage to the load. For loads that exceed the towing capacity, trailer bounce could cause the driver to fail to keep control of the vehicle. Damage to the trailer can also happen with very heavy loads. Repeated bouncing could even break the joint connecting the trailer to the towing vehicle, causing it to separate from the truck and potentially causing an accident.
How Can You Prevent It?
There are a few steps you can take to increase the safety and comfort of your ride when towing. Familiarizing yourself with your trailer and understanding the importance of weight distribution are essential steps to ensure an incident-free towing experience.
Distribute the Load Properly
How you load your trailer can materially affect the ease of towing. Improper load distribution can cause bouncing and swaying, potentially leading to difficulty controlling the vehicle. Generally, 60% of load weight should be toward the front of the trailer. However, you must make sure that the tongue weight does not exceed 10-15% of your gross trailer weight.
Reduce the Tire Pressure
Lowering tire pressure can make for a smoother ride. A general rule of thumb is to reduce your pressure by half to tow an empty trailer. However, the pounds per square inch needed are dependent on the tire size, trailer weight and whether the tire is a vehicle or trailer tire. Full tire inflation is usually required for a full load.
Check the Suspension Ratings
Every trailer has a suspension rating. For a smooth ride, make sure that your gross trailer weight exceeds that number. Gross trailer weight is the total of the load added to the trailer weight. As long as the weight of the unloaded trailer exceeds the suspension rating, the trailer will compress the springs, keeping it balanced and reducing the amount of rebound.
Choose the Highest Quality Trailer
At Millroad Manufacturing, we use Torflex axles on our custom aluminum trailers to ensure a smooth ride. The rubber ride suspension system provides a cushion for the tow, virtually eliminating trailer bounce. We take great pride in building the highest quality trailers to ensure our customers have a safe and comfortable tow every time.