You know we are all getting worried about all the technology in our newer trucks. We can’t work on them, have to take them to a mechanic and they have to plug in their diagnostic computer to find the problem. It’s the same for combines and tractors. Microchips, motherboards and circuits run our machinery. All that gets expensive and when there is a pandemic and microchips are stuck in a foreign land, we can’t buy new trucks. I long for the good ole days with points, condensers and carburetors. But some of technology is very useful. I’m spoiled enjoying massaging seats, adaptive cruise control, heated and cooled seats. Sirius radio, halogen lights, phone apps and antilock brakes, all improve driving cross country.
The one thing I think is the coolest truck gadget, is Ford’s F150 Smart Hitch and Onboard Scale. A friend of mine developed it before he retired back to his South Dakota farm. Can you imagine your truck weighing your payload, all the weight added to your empty truck, including the tongue weight of your trailer. And if you use a weight distributing hitch, the Smart Hitch can tell you how much weight to transfer from the hitch to the front truck axle by adjusting the spring arms on your weight distributing hitch. The majority of 1/2 ton truck owners, don’t know how much their loaded trailer weighs, what their tongue weight is or how much weight is on the trucks rear axle. I get calls from truck owners across the country and some of them want to know how to weigh their trailers, how much trailer weight they can tow and all the questions to be safe trailering in the mountains.
I’m glad to get those questions from people that want to be safe with trailers on the road. Trailering can be intimidating. Towing something that wants to sway, brakes differently and can make your truck act differently, can get on your nerves. But new tech can improve trailering with self-adjusting brake controllers, WDH sway control, air pressure monitoring for trailers and even ABS brakes are available for trailer brakes. Though Ford has the new Smart Hitch, it’s not easy to look up a Ford Truck to find out the max trailer number, max tongue weight and axle ratings. Ford does have the RV and Trailer Guide that helps get close to the safe numbers you want to know. Ram has a website you can put your trucks VIN number in and see all the specs. GM leads the charge by putting a label inside the drivers door that shows you all the specs for max trailer weight, both gooseneck and conventional, gross truck weight rating, rear axle weight rating and tongue weight. And it’s all for the truck you are looking at. GM doesn’t do it all for SUV’s yet, but I’ll push for that.
I know that farmers and ranchers generally know much about trailering, doing it often. I’ve been trailering over 40 years. But if you’re new to the trailer world, all the new truck camera’s and knobs for backing up trailers without the steering wheel, automatic emergency braking, will help you learn the ropes. Every week I’m grateful for the backup hitch camera on my truck. I can get close without it, but climbing in and out of my truck to see where the trailer hitch is, isn’t as fun as it use to when I had younger knees.