After destroying quite a few parts during my first season of competition in the Street Legal Rock Crawling series (SLRC) I realized I may not always be able to drive my Jeep home safely. I don’t have the money or space for a trailer so I rent a trailer to haul my Jeep to competitions.
My first attempt at towing did not go as well as I had hoped. With the weight of the Jeep and steel trailer combined, I was close to maxing my truck’s towing capacity. (2004 Chevy Silverado 2WD) I found towing long distances to be an uncomfortable driving experience. I was limited to 55 mph otherwise I had a lot of trailer sway and bounce. Even driving at 55 mph I was worried about the stability of everything if I had to brake or swerve suddenly. After a couple of unpleasant cross-state trips, I decided I needed to do something to improve my towing. My solution was a Weigh Safe drop hitch and a set of SumoSprings.
Weigh Safe adjustable hitch.
The first product that I settled on buying was a new adjustable drop hitch by Weigh Safe that has a scale in the ball mount. I wanted to be able to fine-tune my tongue weight and this was the best product to allow me to quickly do that no matter the trailer or load I was towing.
Had I always had the same load on the same trailer there are other options such as using a commercial vehicle scale or tongue weight scale. This product appeared to be the easiest and most convenient option. Priced at around $300 this is a great product to ensure you do not have too much or too little tongue weight and are towing safely. Ideally, your tongue weight should be 10-15% of the total trailer weight. What I found out after using this product is that I had my Jeep positioned too far back on the trailer.
My general rule of thumb was always to have most of the weight just forward of center over the axles. Below you can see my before and after for vehicle trailer position. The slight shift in the vehicle position changed the tongue weight a couple of hundred pounds and made a huge difference in how the trailer towed behind the truck.
The second product I purchased is SumoSprings which is essentially a foam progressive bump stop. I chose these over airbags because they are inexpensive, easy to install, and require no maintenance. I chose SumoSprings over other composite or rubber helper springs like Timbren because I only tow occasionally and felt that the material SumoSprings uses would offer a better ride quality for a daily driver than the harder material used by competitors. Installing this product could not have been simpler.
With basic hand tools, I was able to remove my factory bump stops and install the SumoSprings in approximately an hour, with minimal effort. Jacking up my truck and removing the tire was probably more difficult and time-consuming than installing the SumoSprings themselves. Unloaded I only noticed two differences in my ride quality. The first was that I had less body roll in corners. The second is that my rear end no longer felt like it wanted to “kick out” if I hit a bump on the freeway. Prior to the installation of the SumoSprings, my rear end would sometimes want to jump sideways if my bed was unloaded and I hit a decent bump in the road. Otherwise, I did not notice any difference in my driving experience when I was unloaded.
With the truck loaded, either with a filled bed or while towing, the truck has significantly less sagging with the SumoSprings. Keep in mind the SumoSprings come in a variety of stiffnesses. I chose the softest compound because I knew there were other products that I could add to supplement the SumoSprings if they did not provide enough support. However, if I installed too stiff of SumoSprings my only option to reduce any harshness in my ride would have been to remove them completely. For approximately $260, the SumoSprings were worth every penny.
Combined Towing Improvements
I cannot attribute any single benefit to one product or the other when towing. What I can say is that with the combination of the two there was a phenomenal difference in the way my vehicle tows now and how safe and comfortable I feel driving with the Jeep behind my truck on the trailer. I can confidently cruise at any freeway speed limit while feeling in complete control of my vehicle.
Since using these two products, the trailer sway and bounce I had previously experienced has been eliminated and towing has become far more pleasant than it was before. While you cannot put a price on safety, these two products are relatively inexpensive for the benefits they provide.