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Ways to Fix Truck Squat When Towing a Trailer Or Fifth-Wheel

Ways to Fix Truck Squat When Towing a Trailer Or Fifth-Wheel

Is your truck squatting when towing? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Today’s post is a guide for fixing truck squat when towing a trailer of any kind. So, if you’ve had issues with truck squatting when towing, read on for detailed solutions.

What Is Truck Squat?

Truck squat refers to the downward angle or tilt of the rear end of a truck when it’s heavily loaded or towing a trailer. This generally happens when a truck’s suspension compresses under the weight of a load, causing the rear of the vehicle to dip down. The term “squat” is used to describe this downward movement.

Truck squat can negatively impact the vehicle’s handling, stability, steering, and braking. So it needs to be dealt with if you typically carry heavy loads in the rear of the truck, or if you tow a trailer. That rear-end sag can have all sorts of negative impacts, but there are various mods and upgrades available to address the effects of truck squat that will help you maintain better control over your vehicle.

Why Is Truck Squat Bad?

Truck squat can be bad for many reasons, including the following:

  • Reduces steering authority by shifting weight off of the front axle, making it harder to control the truck and trailer.
  • Affects braking authority because the front axle may not have sufficient weight on it. So, the front tires won’t have as much traction as the rear tires.
  • Reduces nighttime visibility because the truck’s headlights may no longer be pointing correctly (and can also unintentionally blind oncoming vehicles).
  • Can increase wear & tear on suspension, braking, steering, and rear axle components.
  • Increases the likelihood of encountering trailer sway, which can be extremely dangerous, causing loss of control and a potential crash.

How to Stop a Truck from Squatting When Towing

The first thing to try to eliminate truck squat when towing a trailer is to address weight issues. The problem is often that the trailer’s tongue weight is too much for the truck’s suspension system to handle. As we talked about at length when recently discussing the best half-ton trucks for towing, several different weight ratings are critical, including the GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) of both the truck & trailer, the truck’s maximum payload, and the trailer’s tongue weight.

Trailer tongue and coupler shown

Here’s a typical trailer hitch, tongue, and coupler. There are a couple of ways to determine the tongue weight of your trailer (the downward force it exerts on the hitch ball). It’s critical to know that number to tow safely.

Assuming that it’s not a situation where the towing vehicle isn’t capable of towing the trailer’s weight (and/or doesn’t have the payload to support the tongue weight), you can try one of the following solutions:

Lighten the Load

Lighten the load by removing weight from the trailer and/or the truck. Try going more minimal if possible, bringing along only the gear you actually need for your RV trip.

Shift Trailer Weight Rearward

If you can’t remove weight altogether, try shifting it rearward in the trailer. The reason for shifting the weight in the trailer toward the rear is that too much weight too far forward in the trailer could be causing the tongue weight to exceed the truck’s towing capacity.

Just be sure not to go overboard because shifting too much weight toward the back of the trailer will increase the potential for trailer sway, which can be super dangerous. It’s all about balance. If your loaded trailer exceeds the maximum towing capacity of your truck, the only solution is to lighten the trailer by removing excess gear.

But if the trailer is within weight limits but unbalanced (too much weight forward or rearward), that may be able to be corrected simply my moving gear around in the trailer. A general rule of thumb is to have about 10-15% of the trailer’s total weight on the tongue. For example, the coupler on a 10,000 lb trailer should press down on the truck’s hitch ball with between 1,000 and 1,500 lbs of pressure.

Placing less than that approximate weight on the ball will mean that the rear of the trailer is too heavy, creating a high risk of trailer sway. Placing more than that approximate weight on the ball can cause truck squat.

The most important factor to consider here is the truck’s payload capacity. If the truck in this example has a maximum payload of 1,200 lbs, it almost certainly can’t be made to tow that 10,000 lb trailer safely. Simply adding the tongue weight and the weight of the driver will already have it maxed out.

Again, for much more on this topic, we encourage you to read about how we calculated the requirements of our new RV and ordered our GMC Sierra to exceed those requirements by a comfortable margin.

Install a Weight Distribution Hitch

Buy & install a weight-distribution hitch. This will help to shift the tongue weight of the trailer forward onto the front axle of the truck, and back onto the the trailer’s axle(s). This not only helps to level the truck and trailer to reduce or eliminate sag/squat, but it can also reduce or eliminate the potential for trailer sway.

Keep in mind that a weight-distributing hitch is no substitute for following proper weight limits. A trailer that exceeds a given truck’s ability to tow it cannot be made safe by adding aftermarket fixes. These solutions are for trailers that fall within a truck’s towing and payload capacities but need adjustments to the setup to correct imbalances or other towing issues.

Install Suspension Upgrade(s)

If none of the methods above are successful in relieving the truck squat and you’re sure you’re not exceeding your towing vehicle’s capacities when towing your trailer, you can try installing suspension upgrades to increase the truck’s ability to support the weight. There are several approaches to this, some of which may be somewhat easy to install, and some that are more involved.

Adding/Upgrading Leaf Springs

With this method, you’re essentially increasing the suspension’s ability to support weight properly by putting in stiffer springs. Note that this will likely affect the ride, possibly making it rougher when not under load.

Adding Helper Springs

The general purpose of a helper spring pack is to increase the ability to handle heavier loads. There are two basic types – steel springs and pneumatic springs (more commonly referred to as air springs).

Hellwig EZ-550 Helper Spring Kit

Hellwig EZ-550 Helper Spring Kit - 550
  • Hellwig light-duty EZ-550 Helper Springs are designed to sit on top of the leaf springs at the rear of your truck and work in conjunction with the...
  • COMPLETE KIT: Packaged complete with the same heavy duty powder coated and plated components, hardware and installation instructions as our heavy duty...

SuperSprings SumoSprings Front Rebel for Ford F-53 (3000lb Capacity)

Timbren SES (Model GMRS15 for 2020-2022 GM 1500)

Timbren GMRS15 Ses 2020-2022 Gm 1500
  • ​Will fit Diesel engines
  • Features: Eliminate Vehicle Squatting & Sagging

Installing Airbags

Air bags allow you to adjust the amount of lift/support your truck’s rear suspension provides to counter the load/weight. Air pressure is used to set and adjust them for your rig.

Airlift LoadLifter 5000 Ultimate Air Suspension Kit

These Airlift airbags are suitable for up to 5,000 lbs of load leveling. They’re adjustable, however, you have to manually connect a compressor each time you want to add air to handle more weight.

You can find the right size kit for your year/make/model of vehicle here.

Air Lift 88295 LoadLifter 5000 Ultimate Air Suspension Kit
  • Fully adjustable air springs to level your vehicle when towing or hauling a heavy load for a safe comfortable ride
  • Up to 5,000 pounds of load leveling capability

Airlift Wireless AIR Control System with EZ Mount (App Only, No Controller)

This system includes a compressor and can be controlled via an app, allowing you to adjust the suspension “lift” on the fly.

AIr Lift 73000EZ WirelessAIR Control System App Only, No Controller with EZ Mount
  • Free iOS and Android Mobile app easily connects with Bluetooth-enable manifold
  • Dual-path control of all brands of air springs

Firestone Ride-Rite Replacement Air Helper Spring

Firestone Ride-Rite Replacement Air Helper Spring Rear 267C 1.5 (W217606782)
  • Innovative three-layer structure engineered to protect the interior of your vehicle with style, safety, and comfort in your daily ride

RoadActive Suspension

RoadActive Suspension (RAS) is a unique rear leaf spring suspension upgrade that converts a basic “passive” leaf spring suspension to a mechanical “active” suspension.

RoadActive Suspension 4611-HD (Fits Chevy/GMC 1500 1990-2024)

(RAS®) RoadActive Suspension 4611-HD | Fits Chevy/GMC 1500 1990-2022
  • Heavy Duty(HD) rear helper spring upgrade by RoadActive Suspension completely simplifies improved load and road handling without maintenance or hassle
  • Provides up to 40-50% additional strength to rear suspension and improve squat by up to 2-3’’

Here is a link to the RoadActive Suspension store on Amazon.

This is a link to the fitment guide to find which product will fit your vehicle.

If you have an issue with truck squat when towing, there are numerous approaches to try to resolve the issue. The important thing is to identify which approach suits your situation best and address the issue for a safe and comfortable towing experience.

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Luc Coulombe

Sunday 28th of January 2024

Have you decided on which WDH you'll be using?

TheRVgeeks

Sunday 28th of January 2024

Great question, Luc! We're actually in the process of making that exact decision! Stay tuned. We're hoping to know more soon.

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PLEASE NOTE: We're handy RVers, not professional technicians. We're happy with the techniques and products we use, but be sure to confirm that all methods and materials you use are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.

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