Home » ShopTalk » Manufacturer » Non-Specific Vehicle » How Much Weight in the Bed?

ShopTalk - Automotive Questions and Answers

Pickup Truck Traction:
How Much Weight in the Bed?

Alex Steele
Save or Share Information
Print Page
E-mail Page



I have a long-standing question that perhaps you can answer. For years I've driven a two-wheel-drive pickup truck, not really needing a four-wheel-drive vehicle. However, in the winter, when it does snow, I traditionally throw sandbags in the bed to increase traction. The thing is I don't know really how much weight makes a difference or if it's safe to do so. I realize trucks are designed to carry weight beyond the weight of the vehicle itself much more than a car. But what is the optimal weight to carry? Is there any rule of thumb about how much weight to add to a standard half-ton pickup to increase traction without adversely affecting handling, not to mention gas mileage?




The whole idea behind a pickup truck's architecture is to carry significant amounts of cargo, as opposed to a passenger car which consists of the passenger compartment and room for a couple of suitcases in the trunk. Now, in today's society we see many pickup trucks with unused, empty cargo beds. Why? Your guess is as good as mine, but this is where a traction problem comes about.


Since the truck was designed to carry a payload, an empty cargo bed leaves very little weight on the rear axle, and therefore limited traction at the rear wheels. We were unable to find any manufacturers that give specific instructions in their owner's or service manuals regarding the addition of weight to gain traction. But common sense tells us that it's a good idea to do so during hazardous driving conditions when the wheels are spinning and you're getting nowhere fast. This is especially true when new snow tires and/or chains are extravagant for the situation at hand.


Sandbags work really well, but remember to place them directly above the rear axle. If the additional weight is placed too far behind the axle it may actually "teeter" the truck and lighten the front-end causing handling instability. As far as the amount of weight to use, you're going to have to play it by ear. The best way would be to gradually add weight while road testing the truck for traction on a slick surface. Then, by simply looking in your owner's manual under "standard" and "maximum" vehicle payloads you'll see the safe weight limits to work with without hampering ride and handling characteristics. But you should definitely see a traction improvement before coming close to the standard payload or losing MPG dramatically.


Related Topics:  

Non-Specific Vehicle | Driving | Towing
Browse by:  
E-mail Page
Print Page
Save or Share Information

Need Help?

Get FREE Answers from our Technicians at the Car, Truck and SUV Forums.


22 Nov 2019, 10:30
I have a 2005 F150 two wheel drive, and use 6 80 pound sand tubes over the rear axle of it gets slick out there. If it gets worse I can lower tire pressure back there to about 15 psi. Works great!
05 Nov 2019, 12:12
I would always use sand. If sackcrete gets wet it will turn to an 80# rock. That could cause a lot of extra damage if you crash.
08 Dec 2016, 19:44
I use about 1000 pounds in the bed of my F250
08 Apr 2015, 17:38
RE: Denny, You can use sand bags and put them over the axle. Putting the weight too far back will take weight away from the front and reduce the traction of the front tires. It is hard to tell you how much to put there so the best way is to add sandbags and test drive the truck and adjust the weight of the sand bags to the exact kind of traction you are looking for. Just experiment with the weight for best results.
07 Apr 2015, 08:52
I have an "83 short wide bed truck I race but can't get much traction even with slicks. How much weight would I need to put over the axles to get Traction?
23 Feb 2015, 12:23
80# bages of sackcrete placed over the rear axle. I use 5 of them in an F-150. And if in a bind you can bust one and use for traction.
lance topham
25 Nov 2014, 02:19
Thank-you i drive a 91 nissan hardbody i was getting no traction at all a coworker sugestted i add weight so i did and put it all to the tailgate i barely made it home i was sking in the rain so ill make sure i move them over the rear axles THANK-YOU


What's your opinion?

Notify me about new comments on this page
*Type characters in below (click image to refresh)

Home » ShopTalk » Manufacturer » Non-Specific Vehicle » How Much Weight in the Bed?
Save or Share Automotive Information
Custom Search