Can I Tow With My Tailgate Down?

Towing is one of the most desirable features that a pickup truck has. But have you ever thought if it is possible to tow while your truck's tailgate is down? You have come to the right place. We have researched this topic extensively to give you the answers. This is what we found out.

Yes, it is possible to tow while your tailgate is down. But this would depend on your trailer type, particularly the trailer tongue length. You would need to measure to make sure that your trailer won't hit your tailgate while down, especially during tight turns.

But if possible, opt for closing your tailgate while towing. This way, you can mitigate risks while towing and have fewer things to worry about as you drive. 

Please, continue reading as we discuss additional questions related to towing, like, is it even legal to tow with a tailgate down, can you tow a camper with a tailgate down, tailgate weight limits, and more. 

Towing With The Tailgate Down

Sling for truck lid pick up car for open truck for working, Can I Tow With My Tailgate Down

Towing with your tailgate down is not as straightforward as you might think. Because the tailgate is down, the truck's length is actually longer.

Take an F-150, for example. You would have 231.7 inches for a SuperCrew with 5.5 feet bed length. With its tailgate down, an additional 21.4 inches would be added, making the total bed length over 7 feet long. As a result of having the tailgate down:

  • It shortens the gap between the truck and the trailer.
  • It makes makes tight turns more challenging, reducing your turning radius.
  • It can also damage your tailgate and/or trailer if they hit each other.
  • If using the tailgate as an extension of your truck bed while hauling something long with a trailer, the cargo on the bed can fall off potentially causing significant damage to your vehicle(s) or others'.

In a recent study, over 190 work-related towing deaths were recorded in a span of five years from 2011-2016. Of these, 34% were in contact with equipment or equipment malfunction. This goes to show that towing already posts risks, without the tailgate open.

Benefits Of Towing With The Tailgate Down

A man service brake calliper by myself basic service concept of stop wheel system

Although it is riskier, towing with an open tailgate is sometimes needed. The main reason for towing with an open tailgate is increased cargo space. If you are not pulling a gooseneck, you might use the extra bed space for extra long items such as carry a golf cart, a motorcycle, piping, or lumber while also towing a small trailer like a U-haul.

It is possible and doable, but you must be precise with your tow setup. You can use trailer neck extensions to make the gap between your truck and trailer longer. In some cases, you will also need an extension on the wiring in order to avoid snapping.

There will be added work as you will need to do measurements, particularly if this is your first time doing so. That is why knowing your equipment is very important. Being familiar with your truck's dimensions and limits gives you an advantage as you would know what you should and should not do.

Is it legal to tow with your tailgate down?

Taillights and tailgate of a pickup truck dirty

Currently, no laws explicitly prohibit towing with your tailgate down. This is because towing with an open tailgate is completely safe as long as you do the things that we mentioned above. Be aware of your vehicle's measurements and the load you will put on your truckbed while towing with an open tailgate.

You will always be responsible, however, if a traffic accident happens due to your negligence when towing. So consider your own safety, as of that of other motorists and your cargo before you hitch up and go. 

Proper safety precautions include:

  • vehicle and trailer are in road-safe condition
  • trailer is properly secured and signal lights are working
  • cargo is tightly secured
  • you have competent capacity to operate heavy machinery

How much weight can a truck's tailgate hold?

Pickup truck bed tailgate looking out from inside

This would depend on your truck's manufacturer, but tailgate weight capacity ranges from 500-2,000 lbs. Always check with your manufacturer for your specific truck model; these limitations are typically conservative to prevent overloading.

Tailgates aren't really designed to hold weight, rather to prevent cargo from sliding out. Remember, it is best to put the heaviest load nearest to the cabin for stability when hauling.

Can I remove my tailgate while towing?

Pickup truck tailgate latch detail

If you can tow with an open tailgate, then there is no reason that you cannot tow without one. Just make sure that if you will remove a tailgate any overhanging cargo is tightly secured.

The last thing that you would want to happen is your cargo from the truck bed falling off and colliding with your trailer. This could be a potentially dangerous situation. It could cause fatal road accidents, resulting in property damage and even loss of life.

With towing, having a powerful truck that could pull up to 30,000 lbs worth of payload is not enough. You will need to learn how to properly distribute the weight of your cargo, the correct way of hitching your trailer and your truck, the appropriate driver's license, etc.

Some truck owners opt to remove their tailgate when towing a 5th wheel or trailer with a gooseneck, but it can be done even without removing the tailgate. Make sure there is enough space between the 5th wheel from the truck to hook and unhook in the bed.

Final Thoughts

It is possible to tow with your tailgate down. First, take measurements to ensure ample space between your trailer and tailgate, especially for tight turns. 

We recommend that if you are unsure how to execute this properly, consult a professional. Though it is not illegal to tow with an open tailgate, you will be legally responsible if any accident happens because of improper towing setup.

Thanks for reading! We hope we have satisfied your questions about towing with your tailgate down. Do you have any more vehicle-related concerns? Specifically about towing? Check out some of our previously written articles below, all about head gaskets!

How To Remove The Jeep Wagoneer Tailgate

Does My Truck Have A Tow Package [Here's How To Tell]

Do Pickup Trucks Have To Stop At Weigh Stations? [Inc. When Towing]

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