When owning and/or towing a trailer, the most important thing is the safety of you and others on the road. Learning the proper way to tow a trailer and taking all the safety precautions necessary can help you become a confident trailer towing, driver! So, what are the necessary precautions? Well, it starts from the initial hook up to your vehicle and a lot of practice! Don’t just assume that you know how to tow different trailers because of your seamless driving record. This is a whole new ballgame and these tips can help you practice safe trailer towing.
Safe Trailer Towing in 5 Easy Steps
Learn to hitch your trailer up correctly. This is the most important aspect to your trailer. If it is not hooked up properly, you will encounter swaying, tightening, or damage to your trailer. When you first purchase the trailer, talk to the dealership and have them look at the vehicle you have towing it to make sure that everything is compatible. When you are hooking everything up check the wiring, the coupler and all the chains as well. After you see the secure connection, you are ready to load the trailer up.
Load your trailer correctly. Did you know that there is a right and wrong way to load up your trailer? Depending on what type of trailer you have, it is important to note where the axel is and where you plan to put all of your belongings. When you are loading everything on, you are to put the heavier items in the front. Think of it as 60% in the front and the remaining 40% in the back. From this point you can use tie downs and ropes to ensure that the items aren’t going anywhere. After everything is secure, drive the vehicle for a short distance, park, and check the items to see if they are still in place.
Practice makes perfect. Even if you are used to driving larger vehicles, towing a trailer is much different and can throw some obstacles at you! When you first start learning to tow a trailer, practice on a back road or an empty lot. This can help you learn how to use the brakes correctly while towing a trailer, understand the extra weight and see the space you will need to leave between you and the car in front of you. Try adjusting the weight on the trailer if you feel something off, and make sure to check the hitch before you take off each time. Also, we recommend reducing normal driving speed! Try to stay under 60 mph when driving and never go over the speed limit.
Careful changing lanes. Changing lanes with a trailer must be done strategically. Unlike a small car, there are no quick moves and no swerving. Changing lanes must be done with a very large gap among cars in the next lane, and typically only done when you need to turn or get off on an exit. When you initially turn onto a road, try to get in the desired lane as soon as possible to avoid changing lanes later. To help with this situation, you can install tow mirrors. These are designed so you can see much better in the rear than typical truck or SUV mirrors. Your blind spots get much worse when you attach a trailer so these mirrors should help eliminate that.
Check on your trailer as often as you can. It is easy after driving for a while to forget you are towing a trailer. It is recommended to check on the trailer whenever possible. If you are out to get gas, stopping at a restaurant or making plans to sleep somewhere, check on your trailer.
Do a full walk around and check the hitch, the wiring, the items that are loaded up, the tie downs and the tires. Never forget to check the tires and the air pressure. Losing a tire to a nail or getting a flat for any reason could result in damage or a potential accident. When you are stopped, you should also concentrate on parking it correctly. Always try to park it where you can pull forward to get out, or back it up in order to pull out easily. This may take a while to master, but it will make towing a trailer much safer and a whole lot easier!
Do you have all the confidence in the world to tow your trailer now? These tips for safe trailer towing can help you to stay safe on the road. Taking extra time and extra precautions is the best way to avoid a possible accident. Just remember to check the hitch and make sure it is connected properly, load your trailer with more weight in the front and the rest on the back, practice towing the trailer before you hit any major roads, be careful changing lanes, and do frequent checks on your trailer whenever you can!