The 2021 Ford F-150 will tell you when you overload your truck

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Midway through the 2021 F-150 run, Ford managed to sneak in a few options that weren’t quite baked in when the updated truck first went on sale last fall. Although they were announced in April, it was only recently that Ford was able to demonstrate the new Onboard Scales and Smart Hitch — two features that came about as a byproduct of an updated electronic architecture designed to enable an adaptive suspension system that Ford is “Continuously Controlled.” Damping”. .”

Ford took the same extra mile approach here as it did with the PowerBoost hybrid – looking for ways to leverage the new platform beyond the obvious. In this case, this resulted in two useful features for people who do not only use their truck for commuting. We understand it; neither sounds particularly sexy, but under Microsoft’s naming convention are a few gadgets truck owners might find useful.

Onboard Scales is about as smart as its features, and it solves what Ford says is one of the most common mistakes truck owners make: miscalculating how much they can safely carry. Onboard Scales uses those chassis-mounted sensors to measure the spring load at each corner, which translates into the total weight, and spits it out in a new Sync 4 app, so you can compare the truck’s total weight with its maximum payload to make sure you’re within a reasonably safe working window.

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The system takes a lot of guesswork out of loading the truck, and remember, it’s not just about the weight in the bed. Passengers also count towards your total, and you can enter a passenger compensation to let the truck know you plan on adding a few more hundred pounds of people before all is said and done. Don’t want to constantly walk up to the front of the truck to see how close you are getting to max? No problem. The F-150’s taillights feature LED progress bars that show how much you’ve loaded so far; the top one flashes when you’ve exceeded your target (or maximum payload).

That’s not the only way weight can get you in trouble on a pickup, though, and that’s where Smart Hitch comes in. Smart Hitch does for trailer weight distribution what Onboard Scales does for Payload. The Smart Hitch configuration in Sync 4 requires you to enter the total weight of your trailer for the system to work. Once that’s in, the current weight on the hitch will be displayed along with the minimum and maximum safe tongue weights for your trailer specifications. It will even help you to use a weight-distributing hitch if you’ve never set one up.

As you adjust trailer load, Smart Hitch updates the display in real time and, like the built-in scale, shows you how you’re doing using LEDs on the rear of the truck. The bottom lights let you know that the tongue weight is too low; upper ones indicate it is too high. If you’re in the middle, you’re golden. Adjust load in a closed trailer? You can also access the dashboard information via a smartphone app. You don’t have to walk outside to check your progress.

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Smart Hitch has its limitations. While it could easily calculate the total trailer weight, the truck would need to be in motion for that, as the computer would need to extrapolate it from the load placed on the engine along the way (taking things like ambient temperature, elevation, surface slope into account) , etc.). In short, it could be done with a degree of precision, but how much value is that information if the driver has already stopped in traffic?

Onboard Scales and Smart Hitch are bundled in a package available on multiple F-150 classes. Depending on the quality you choose and how you specify the truck, you may need to add one of the F-150’s tow packages to get the goodies.

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