Listen up, fellow truck nuts, because this is one of those stories that sounds a bit boring but is really quite exciting—at least for those who actually put their pickups to work. Ford is about to release an on-board scale in the 2021 Ford F-150, and in doing so, they’ve just made towing and hauling a lot safer. Like, a lot safer.
We all know that an overloaded truck or truck-and-trailer situation can turning things very nasty, very quickly. But really, how do you keep track of what your truck weighs? Fuel, passengers, payload? With trailers, things get even more murky. You probably know what your trailer weights, but what about tongue weight—that is, the amount of weight carried by the trailer hitch? Sure, you can calculate a rough estimate, but not all trailers are loaded evenly. Without some sort of a scale, it’s hard to really know.
And really knowing is important, because getting it wrong can cause stability problems. And that can cause a crash. Enter Ford’s new killer app: Onboard Scales. Coming this summer to a Ford F-150 near you, it allows the truck to weigh itself—or, more specifically, to show an approximate weight of what has been added to the bed or the trailer hitch. Tell it the trailer weight and it can advise you how to adjust your load or set up your weight-distributing hitch to get the proper amount of weight on (or off) the hitch. Most importantly, it will take into account passenger loads and tell you if you’re overloading the truck.
The system displays through the center screen, which is all well and good if you’re sitting inside the truck—but if you’re watching a forklift drop a couple of pallets of peat moss into the bed, chances are you’re outside. So Ford designed a taillight with four LEDs that progressively light up, battery-meter style, to tell you how close your truck is to full. Overload and the top LED blinks. The lights can also help you get the tongue weight right, and all of this info is displayed in real time on the FordPass smartphone app.
The idea of a truck that can weigh its own payload and hitch load doesn’t have the excitement of, say, Hyundai stuffing the Veloster N powertrain into a Kona SUV. But for those who use their trucks for truck stuff, this is a significant advancement that we’re amazed no one thought of before. (Though, to be fair, we didn’t either.) We’re eager to try out Ford’s Onboard Scales and start towing and hauling more safely.
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