Vehicles have tow ratings for a reason, but often it's difficult to know when you've exceeded the limit for your particular vehicle.

Complicating the matter is the need to take into account the additional force the trailer tongue exerts on the hitch, known as tongue weight, which many people forget. A good rule of thumb is 10-15% of the combined weight of the trailer and anything it's carrying.

New technologies Ford is making available on the F-150 this summer takes out the guesswork, helping to improve safety when towing. They include built-in scales that measure how much weight is being carried directly by the vehicle (i.e. in the cabin and bed), as well as a scale to measure tongue weight to help you properly hitch up and reduce the possibility of trailer sway.

The first of the features, Onboard Scales, measures the weight being carried in the truck and displays this via the infotainment screen, an app, and some trick taillights that have individual bars that light up like the battery indicator of a mobile phone. When there's too much weight, all bars will be lit and the top bar will flash.

2021 Ford F-150 tow technology

2021 Ford F-150 tow technology

The second feature, Smart Hitch, is for towing a trailer. It calculates the tongue weight and provides this information the same way as the Onboard Scales feature. It can also provide guidance on better weight distribution, whether the tongue weight is too low or too high, and whether a weight redistributing hitch (when used) is properly tensioned.

In addition to these, the 2021 F-150 is available with active suspension dampers. When a Tow/Haul mode is activated, these dampers can help control unwanted motions such as bounce, pitch and roll. This can be especially useful when driving over a rough surface, including roads marked with potholes.

The F-150 was redesigned for 2021. The latest generation is capable of towing up to 14,000 pounds and carrying up to 3,325 pounds of payload, depending on the variant.

The new F-150 also saw the introduction of a hybrid powertrain and a battery-electric powertrain is currently being developed. For V-8 fans, a new Raptor R model is also in the works. The regular Raptor continues with a V-6.