Clever tech assists Ford truck owners for loading and towing

In-built scales help to determine safe payloads and ball download limits

2021 Ford F-150 towing trailer

Talking Points

  • Clever tech makes it easier to load and tow trailers
  • Smart tail-lights operate like a phone charger indicator

PICK-UP trucks or utes – call them what you will – are made to carry a load, either in the tray or pulled behind on a trailer.

Australia has strict regulations on towing and load capacities and getting caught on the wrong side of them can land you in hot water and facing large fines – that’s if you get caught and don’t end up off the side of the highway after losing control due to a poorly fitted trailer or load.

So it pays to know your limits and how to properly load your vehicle.

Ford understands its truck owners like to load them up and has just unveiled some clever new tech to assist owners on how to correctly load their vehicle or hook a trailer up to it.

The 2021 Ford F-150 will soon be available with on-board scales that tell the operator how much weight is in their vehicle and how close it is to the rated load capacity.

Ford’s on-board scales measure and display the approximate weight of the payload in the truck as it is being loaded. That information is displayed on the dash screen with a graphic representation of the truck, on a mobile phone through the FordPass app, or on the LEDs within the truck’s tail-lights.

The smart tail-lights operate like the battery charge indicator on a phone, displaying the percentage of payload capacity by illuminating LEDs arranged in a vertical bar. As the truck is loaded, all four lights illuminate, showing it’s fully loaded; if the truck is overloaded, the top lights blink.

The maximum payload based on the pick-up’s configuration is programmed into the system. Additionally, the truck can be set on scale mode, which zeroes out the current load and allows for approximate weighing of additional items loaded into the bed.

Also helping Ford users is a Smart Hitch, which can calculate the tongue-weight download on the hitch and provide guidance on weight distribution or hitch overloading on the screen, on the FordPass app, or within the tail-lights.

The truck will also indicate if the hitch weight is too high or low and can guide owners through properly tensioning a weight redistributing hitch.

It’s clever stuff and would be useful for any ute owners who tows and carry loads, including Australian Ford Ranger owners.

At around 1000kg, depending on the vehicle specification, Australian Rangers have a payload that is higher than that of the bigger F-150 US cousin – and the 3500kg towing rating is nothing light either.

So you can see how these features would make life easier for owners, giving them the information to stay on the right side of load limits.

The Ford Ranger already has trailer sway control as part of its chassis control systems, which can detect and arrest trailer sway if and when it occurs. A correctly weighted and balanced trailer would help eliminate that sway before it occurs.

The FordPass app on 2021 Rangers allows users to check the systems and start their Ranger remotely using the app on their phone, so some of the technology is already there. The on-board scale hardware could be something that is fitted to new of future models.

Most US pick-up trucks have in-built electric brake controllers, while Aussies rely on the aftermarket or dealer-fitted controllers to help pull up their rigs safely.

It’s this sort of integration and technology we’d like to see filter down to the Australian markets in our hugely popular mid-size four-wheel drive utes.


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