Why Europeans can tow 2x the weight we can


This is really a great article. Clear explanations of how the variables interact. No math.

Cliffnotes. European ideas for acceptable tongue weight are half ours 4-7% vs. 10-15% of trailer weight. So the Europeans shift the gear in/on their trailers a bit rearward so that their trailer tongues aren’t so heavy. Less tongue weight means Euro tow vehicles don’t need to be nearly as stout as ours. The trade-off is sway. The weight rearward in the trailer makes the trailer prone to sway. Since sway is exacerbated by speed, the Europeans tend to tow at slower speeds than we do.

So if you’re willing to keep your speed down, you can safely tow quite a bit. Note, however, that the lawyers might not see it that way. But once the hypothetical crash site is picked clean by gypsies and grifters, there might be so little remaining evidence that you were pulling a trailer that you could contend that [insert really good joke here]

<Maybe it was a mirage, your honor, how should I know?>
<Trailer?. Maybe they glimpsed a tailgator behind me>


Later edit. Opposite Lock has gone down. Content of article is visible here, minus the math. Great Explanation for USA vs EU Tow Ratings | Toyota RAV4 Forums

And for more comedy: Car Pulling Trailer Smoking - YouTube


To reach acceptable tongue weight, which defines the speed you are going to tow at you will need to purchase this: Weigh Safe 2-Ball Mount w/ Built-In Scale - 2" Hitch - 4" Drop, 5" Rise - 10K Weigh Safe Ball Mounts WS4-2

After loading the car on the trailer all that is required is to read the tongue weight on the Weight Safe Hitch dial and if necessary reposition the car on the trailer until the right tongue weight is reached. For years I used a bathroom scale and balance beam setup to get tongue weight. I recently purchase a weight safe hitch and it is wonderful not to have to screw around with my bathroom scale set up. Setting a proper tongue is key to setting a speed to tow safe at.

After all we have seen the proper speeds that the hosts of Top Gear tow their caravans at to avoid danger. The conclusion that I make from watching a multitude of Top Gear caravan episodes it is not the tongue weight that is critical to a safe caravan outing, but combustibility of a caravan. :wink:


A hitch with a scale in it. That’s actually really darn cool. I’d never heard of such a thing.

In my case I just loaded up my trailer and took it to truck stop one Sunday morning when there was no trucks to be seen. I gave the lady $30 to let me spend 30min on the scale. Then I drove the truck on to the scale, disconnected from the trailer and and got a weight. Then I connected the truck back up to the trailer and got another weight. Then I hustled to the cashier, got the weights and did some quick match. Then I repositioned the race car in the trailer a little bit and got another weight.

Last, I started screwing with the WD hitch. I disconnected the WD draw bars and got a weight. Then I I used the trailer foot jack to lift the center of the rig and reconnected the WD draw bars super tight.

Once I got home I marked the location of the car’s wheels on the trailer floor that gave me the target tongue weight. And forever more I’ve run the draw bars super tight. Because if they aren’t super tight, they don’t do spit. But I wouldn’t have known that w/o the visit to the truck stop.


Google Trailer Tongue Scale and there’s apparently all sorts of low cost solutions. Dang, I might have to buy one.


Previous as I said, I created a balance beam (forget what it was called in the vector static class I took 45 years ago), so that 1/2 of the tongue weight was read by a bathroom scale. Bathroom scales go up to 300 lbs. Of course I had to unhitch the trailer and drop it on to balance beam which I had welded a 2 5/8 ball to.

Getting the right tongue weight is a big deal, for example: Traveled up about 1,500 miles to get my Spec E30, previous I had been towing my Spec Miata. The Spec E30 of course was going to sit in a different spot on the trailer to get the correct tongue weight as well as it was loaded it up with all the extra parts I got. Used the bathroom scale setup to get the tongue correct and my wife and I headed back home. There is a great piece of mind when you first get on the freeway and take it up to 75 and know there will be no sway. Makes for a long trip home less stressful when you don’t have to worry what is behind you.

I had been looking a the Weight Safe Hitch from Etrailer a year ago and purchased it then. Here is a setup that I could adjust the height of the hitch and it comes with two balls. So it takes maybe 10 minutes to readjust the vehicle and the towing straps to get the correct tongue weight for a combination of weight that I have never towed. The great thing is I never have to take the trailer off of the hitch and put it onto the balance beam setup. I do of course have marks on the trailer for the front wheel position for my standard E30 with tires, tools, gas, etc. But I can always check the weight dial on the hitch in a heartbeat.

So now we are looking at a getting new tow vehicle and I don’t have to redo the balance beam for the new height of the hitch receiver, just pull the pins on the Weight Safe Scale to get the right trailer height and I am done.

If you tow you really need this hitch to make your tow safe. Because my trailer has seen different types of cars on it when a family member or friend needs to tow a broken car home.


I looked at the balance beam approach, but didn’t do it. The idea looked very dependent on accurately measuring the length of both lever arms. The more I looked at that idea, the more getting an accuracy of, say 5mm, looked like a pita.

At 62-64mph, I tow kinda slow. I’ve got a Ram Ecodiesel. It has a lot of charms, but with only 240hp, “power” isn’t one of them.

Re. Statics. For me that was 40yrs ago. Was a really cool class


I picked up the 2,000 lb Sherline tongue weight scale from Etrailer.

Easier than the bathroom scale option or running back and forth to the cashier at the weight station. Cheaper but not as easy to adjust trailer weight as the ball mount scale option.

I was surprised to see how much the tongue weight would change by shifting the position of the car on the trailer a few inches.


Getting a tongue scale like that is a great idea. A bit of cost up front but a person would probably use it for decades.