Most people who buy and drive SUVs believe they are (near) invincible. But, like any other vehicle, SUVs have their limitations. Here are some tips on staying safe and protecting not only your ride, but your family as well.


Carrying Capacity

Carrying capacity refers to how much a vehicle can carry. For example, the Lexus RX has a maximum carrying capacity of 910 pounds. That means that you can have 4 190 pound adults in the vehicle at the same time and still carry 150 pounds of “stuff.”

Another capacity figure you’ll want to take note of is the towing capacity. This can vary by a lot. In some vehicles, it’s as low as 2,000 pounds. In the 2016 Ford Explorer it’s about 5,000 pounds.

Note that the towing capacity is often listed as the maximum capacity. Towing at the upper end of this capacity will put significant strain on the drive train and transmission.

Also see: 4 Things That All New Drivers Should Know

Pay Attention To Loading Order

When you load your SUV up with things, make sure you pay attention to the loading order. It’s generally best to put your heaviest items in the front of the vehicle.

In all vehicles, and in SUVs in particular, shifting weight to the front of the vehicle helps minimize the adverse effects on steering and handling, as well as braking. packing heavy items on the floor also keeps the center of gravity low, which again helps control the adverse braking, steering, and handling effects.

Finally, the lower center of gravity will help minimize rollovers in hard cornering. It’s not something you think about until it’s too late. So, this is one thing to plan ahead for.

Packing items on the floor also reduces your risk of a rollover.

Preventing Your Family From Being Injured

Secure all loose items in the vehicle. This is more of a safety issue that affects your family and any other occupants in the vehicle. Items from the cargo section shouldn’t be able to hit passengers in an emergency braking or maneuvering situation. If you don’t know whether they will or not, odds are you need to rethink the loading order and arrangement.

Finally, don’t load large items, or even small ones, on top of your cargo pile as these can become projectiles in a crash, sudden stop or quick maneuver.

Paying Attention To Visibility

Don’t stack your belongings so high that you can’t see out of the vehicle. Because SUVs sometimes have impaired visibility due to the sheer size of the vehicle, you don’t want to make it any more difficult to see than it already is.

Traction And Safe Driving

Maintaining good tire pressure is important. Pay attention to your Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), and inflate your tires when necessary. If your SUV doesn’t have a TPMS for some reason, check them at least once a week.

Under-inflated tires not only decrease your gas mileage by up to 25 percent, they can contribute to a rollover by making it harder to control your vehicle.