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Tips for Loading Cargo Into Your Enclosed Cargo Trailer

May 23, 2017

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by David Miller

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by allprotrailersuperstore

When packing a cargo trailer, you need to do it a certain way. Proper loading provides more safety on the road by reducing swaying from unbalanced cargo. Knowing how to load cargo properly also helps you pack more efficiently. You can place items in the trailer once without needing to move things around or unpack and repack.

Things to Consider Before Loading

When choosing a cargo trailer or loading it, it helps to understand key terms and how they relate to your cargo:

  • GVWR: The gross vehicle weight ratio (GVWR) tells you the maximum weight of your trailer and cargo combined. Find it on your trailer’s VIN label.
  • GAWR: The gross axle weight ratio (GAWR) tells you how much weight the trailer axles can hold. Some items you load may exceed the GAWR without exceeding the GVWR, so you should know both numbers.
  • Tongue weight: This number refers to the downward force the tongue applies to your vehicle’s towing hitch. If it’s too light, your trailer could sway — if it’s too heavy, it might affect vehicle steering. The tongue weight should be between 10% and 15% of the GVWR.
  • Hitch clearance: This measurement tells you how far your hitch is from the ground. You want it to have at least 12 inches of clearance to keep you from hitting curbs or train tracks.
  • Payload capacity: Subtract the weight of your trailer from the GVWR and multiply by 80% to find your payload capacity. This number tells you the total weight the trailer can carry.

How to Load a Cargo Trailer

Once you know whether your trailer’s weight capacities can handle the load, you’re ready to start adding cargo. Here are a few tips to guide you.

Check the Trailer

Before loading, make sure your trailer is safe for the road. While it’s still empty, walk around and inspect the tires. Grab another person to observe the back of the trailer while you test the lights. If the trailer has brakes, ensure they are in good condition.

Park Your Trailer Safely

It’s best to park your vehicle and trailer on a level surface. Doing this will keep the trailer and its load from shifting as you load it. Put chocks under the wheels of your trailer for safety against rolling. If your vehicle is hitched, place it in park with the emergency brake engaged for stability. Before you load, connect your vehicle or make sure there’s enough space to attach it after you add cargo.

Load Items Effectively

Before moving items onto your trailer, note what you must carry. Sort items into two categories — heavy, durable items and lighter, more fragile items. Load the heavier cargo first, especially top-heavy things that are more likely to sway and fall. Keep lighter and smaller items on top.

Distribute Weight

Keep about 60% of the weight in the front of the trailer axle closer to your towing vehicle to keep from weighing down the back of your trailer and causing it to sway as you drive. As you load, keep the weight evenly distributed across the width of the trailer to prevent it from leaning to one side or becoming unbalanced during transport.

Tie Down Loose Cargo

While you might arrange everything perfectly before leaving, a sharp turn could send your cargo tumbling. If you have empty space in the trailer, tie down items as you load to keep everything from shifting. Use chains, ratchet straps or rope, and eliminate slack and tie down from multiple angles. This tip also applies to loading a utility trailer since these don’t have side walls like cargo options do, meaning you could lose items as they move during transport.

You can also prevent shifting by filling all the empty space in your trailer. Just make sure you stay within the payload capacity when doing so.

Inspect the Contents

Before you shut the doors, take one last look at your cargo. See if the items are adequately secured and evenly distributed. Consider the unloading process, as well. Are your items positioned in a way that makes them easy to access once you make it to your destination? After inspecting the cargo, close the doors and fasten the latches securely to prevent the doors from swinging open while you drive.

Find a Cargo Trailer From All Pro Trailer Superstore

We have hundreds of new and used cargo trailers for those seeking quality options for hauling items. Now that you know the proper trailer loading procedure, browse our online selection to find a trailer that suits your needs. Once you find one, contact our team to learn the availability. We’re also here to answer further questions about loading your cargo trailer.