Tips for Towing a Trailer for the First Time
To increase safety and enjoyment, you need to take precautions and follow tips to avoid making any mistake. You need to know the proper way to tow before you start your journey on the road. There will be less hassle, more fun, and you can lead an example for those who do not know RV safety yet. Keep in mind that if you experience an accident on the road, you can also cause trouble to other cars. It would be a good idea to buy a trailer brake controller, but before that, here are tips you can follow to ensure your safety on the road and stay away from any trouble:
1 - Having a compatible weight is important
This is an essential factor to consider because cars and trucks have certain towing weight limits. Find out the weight of your tow ring and trailer weights. Going to the local scales will start you off. You need to be sure that your tow vehicle can handle weight you need to tow.
Follow the recommendations of manufacturers if that is possible. All vehicles that have the capability of towing will have an indicated tow rating. Read the manual first, but websites of the manufacturers should also contain information about this.
2 - Cross the chains to add safety
Chains are considered as the Las resort hitch because if the tongue loses grip on the ball, it will be the job of the chains to keep the trailer from vaulting the guardrail to the incoming traffic or something that will provide the same convenience. You need to cross the chains under the tongue so that if it slips off, it will not land on the pavement, but on the crossed chains. There is a bonus of the X configuration: The chains will not appear in short and tight turns.
3 - Be aware of the changes while on the road
Vehicles for towing trailers have the tendency to shift their behavior and drivers have to feel immediately if the messages that are transmitted start to change. If this happens, you need to follow a certain distance. A trailer that has its brakes will put a load on the vehicle. This will push the nose lower, which makes the other end unstable and there will be an increase in stopping distances. You don’t need a trailer jack-knife inside your car.
The bumpy roads and wet weather can be a problem for light trailers and caravans that are tall. There is a variety of strategies that need to be avoided and controlled. If your vehicle has extra weight, it will not be able to respond normally, especially if it is traveling downhill and uphill. Stay on the left where it is possible when you are climbing and if you need to overtake, give enough allowance for distance. When you are about to come down, switch to the gear you use for climbing uphill, even if you are using an automatic vehicle and do this before downgrading, not while the brakes are hot and the car is adding pace.
4 - Hitch balls are important for your safety
The hitch ball is connected to the receiver hitch and a lot of vehicles already have a factory-installed receiver that normally have a connection to the frame. The aftermarket hitches that have good quality are also available, but everything should be clear about precise weight rating capabilities. The ball supports a bit of trailer weight and it will couple the trailer with the truck or car. The trailer hitches are divided according to tongue weight, and as the number of hitches climbs, so does the weight it handles.
5 - Sway with the breeze
Pay attention to weight limits and the distribution to set up the tow configuration so you avoid swaying problems. The options for sway control are there to help with trailer swaying and weight distributing hitch system is good for big trailers.
If you feel swaying from a brush of wind, shift down or draft from a truck that is passing by keeping in mind that you need to reduce speed gradually, keep the steering wheel stable and only use the trailer brakes. Avoid slamming on the brakes because it can lead to jackknifing. Avoid trying to steer out of sway, increasing the pace or making sudden changes in movement because it will only add more trouble. Avoid towing a trailer that keeps on swaying and find out what is wrong so you can correct the problem.
6 - Know the language of towing
Towing has its language and you need to understand it before buying because there are also towing laws on your state that you need to follow. There are terms you need to be aware of and the majority of them have something to do with weights and capacities. Here are the terms you need to know:
- Maximum tow rating – This is the largest weight recommended by the tow vehicle maker that a certain rig can tow.
- Gross axle weight rating – This is for the most weight one trailer axle can carry safely, other than the rest of the rig.
- Total gross weight rating of the vehicle– This stands for the total number of weight a truck with full load can carry as what the manufacturer gave. The weight rating should already count in the passengers, cargo, fluids, and tongue weight that can be applied.
- Weight rating of combined gross – This is for the total allowable weight that a fully loaded tow vehicle, as well as the trailered vehicle that already has the tow vehicle occupants, tongue weight, cargo fluids, and even the accessories. A common mistake made is underestimating the truck and trailer’s total weight. Using a local scale is recommended.
Towing a trailer can be fun if you follow these safety tips and having an accident can also cause trauma to anyone who is riding or driving the trailer. Make sure to also check the condition of the trailer before taking a trip so you won’t have to stop in the middle of the road because of an issue.
Nancy McCoy is a contributing author for Wheelarea.com - a handy blog that is focused on sharing experiences, tips and tricks about automotive. You will find the best recommendations for accessories and parts, "how to" posts, answers to questions, and in-depth guides to everything you need to know about automotive in this blog.