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Avoiding the Jackknife: The Role of an Extended Tongue on Your Trailer

July 13, 2023

When it comes to towing a trailer, few things are more daunting than the prospect of jackknifing. This dramatic and potentially dangerous maneuver typically occurs when a trailer pushes against the tow vehicle, causing both to fold in on themselves, much like a folding pocket knife – hence the term 'jackknifing'. In today's blog post, we delve into the intricacies of jackknifing and how features such as an extended tongue can help prevent this dreaded phenomenon.

Understanding Jackknifing

The first step in preventing jackknifing is understanding why it occurs. Typically, a jackknife happens due to sudden braking, slippery road conditions, or incorrectly distributed weight in the trailer. The latter is especially crucial. A poorly balanced load, with too much weight at the back, can tip the balance, causing the trailer to sway uncontrollably and lead to a jackknife scenario.

The Extended Tongue Advantage

Enter the extended tongue. This seemingly simple modification can provide a significant advantage when it comes to preventing jackknifing.

First, let's understand what a trailer tongue is. It's the protruding part of the trailer that connects to the towing vehicle's hitch. The tongue plays a pivotal role in maintaining the balance of your trailer while also ensuring a smooth connection with the towing vehicle.

An extended tongue increases the distance between the tow vehicle and the trailer, which inherently makes your rig more stable. A longer tongue reduces the trailer’s tendency to sway because it moves the pivot point of the trailer further back.

Furthermore, an extended tongue also offers improved maneuverability. With a larger turning radius, you have more room for error and can more comfortably make sharp turns without fear of the trailer colliding with your tow vehicle or causing a jackknife situation.

Taking Safety Measures

While an extended tongue does wonders for preventing jackknifing, it's not a magic bullet. There are other precautions you should take when towing:

Proper Weight Distribution: Ensure your cargo is well-distributed across the trailer, with about 60% of the weight in the front half of the trailer.

Slow Down: Always maintain a reasonable speed while towing. The faster you go, the harder it is to react and correct any sway that might lead to jackknifing.

Regular Maintenance: Keep your trailer and tow vehicle in top shape. Regular maintenance will help spot and address any potential issues before they become serious problems.

An extended tongue can undoubtedly help prevent jackknifing, but it's important to remember that safe towing is a combination of many factors. If you're considering modifying your trailer, make sure to consult a professional to ensure the changes will benefit your specific towing needs.

At Renown Cargo Trailers, we're here to help you have a safe, enjoyable towing experience. Reach out to us for advice on the right trailer modifications, or browse our selection of trailers designed with safety and durability in mind.

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