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This Is Why You Should Front Load Your Trailer

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Ever wonder why, when you go rent a U-Haul, they instruct you to front-load the trailer rather than put all of the weight in the back? It isn’t an arbitrary rule that they just came up with to nag customers. The physics of weight distribution can significantly affect the way a vehicle behaves, to the point that putting all of the weight at the back of a trailer can be a serious danger.

Just check out this .gif that perfectly illustrates it:

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With the weight distributed more heavily toward the front of the trailer, the side-to-side force is dampened until the system becomes stable. When the weight is shifted toward the back, the force is amplified instead of dampened, creating a feedback loop until the system reaches a critical point, which in the real world would be a crash.

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It’s a great illustration of how quickly a trailer can get out of control if it isn’t loaded properly. However, one should note that this is more likely to happen the faster you drive, which is why it’s even more important to front-load your trailer in the United States than in Europe, as trailering laws allow you to drive faster with a trailer in the former.

Should you find yourself pulling a trailer that begins to oscillate in this manner, there’s almost no way to straighten it up again unless you catch it as quickly as possible. The best way to stabilize the trailer is to hit the trailer brakes while applying throttle to the vehicle pulling it, which might just be enough to get the trailer to straighten again. If successful, immediately pull over and rearrange the weight inside the trailer—there’s really no guarantee that you can kill the feedback loop the next time around.

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