Pulling a travel trailer, or any trailer for the first few times can be an intimidating task. The best way to learn how to pull a trailer is to properly educate yourself about trailer towing fundamentals. The following trailer towing tips will help build a great foundation for anyone seeking to become a better and safer trailer tower.
Trailer Towing Rule No. 1: Determine Vehicle Towing Capacity
How to determine vehicle towing capacity
Fully understanding your vehicle’s towing capacity is very important to keep your adventure safe and successful. Folks with limited towing experience should always consult with a professional to determine if their preferred tow vehicles are appropriately powered and stable enough for the trailers and loads that they wish to transport. Seek professionals for introductions to weight ratio and towing power calculations.
Trailer Towing Rule No. 2: Inspect Trailers Before Towing
Inspect trailer axle hubs, tires, running lights, leaf springs and the receiver for potential problems prior to every departure. Better yet, if you're new to trailer towing, regularly seek out a professional who assesses the road worthiness of a trailer. A qualified mechanic may also be required to help you bring the trailer up to code for travel, if you’re not fully experience with the skills required to safely prepare the trailer for travel, legally with respect to the states’ transportation codes in which you will be traveling in.
Trailer Towing Rule No. 3: Acquire and Tow with Emergency Repair Equipment
Always travel with a properly inflated spare tire for the trailer, a cross-tie, a jack, work gloves, road flares and a charged head lamp for hands-free tire changing at night. Traveling with chocks to keep an unhitched trailer from rolling and a spare hub assembly are hallmarks of the experienced trailer hauler as well.
Trailer Towing Rule No. 4: How to Properly Hitch Trailers
It is greatly preferred to load a trailer that is attached to its towing vehicle with the parking brake always engaged. Place the receiver over the ball and lock it into place. Raise the tongue jack and stow it. Safety chains are the law in the U.S. and crossing them creates a temporary cradle, should the receiver coupling break or otherwise disengage. Make sure the trailer lights are plugged in and working.
Trailer Towing Rule No. 5: How to Properly Load a Trailer
Load utility trailers weight forward and over the axle or axles and tie down or ratchet loads securely to keep your effects from shifting dangerously. After the very first mile of a long trip, pull off the road safely to check tie downs and both trailer hubs for excessive heat. Inspect the trailer load and the trailer for issues at all subsequent stops.
The vigilant, well-prepared hauler uses side mirrors to routinely monitor the way the trailer is tracking behind the tow vehicle, the trailers tires and its cargo and is ready to stop immediately and completely off the road at the first sign of trailer trouble.
Trailer Towing Rule No. 6: How to Tow on Steep Grades
Use third gear when towing up and down long and/or steep grades. In the event that a driver experiences trailer sway and speed, come off the gas, then come off the brake, steer straight and wait for the camper to recover a straight line behind the tow vehicle before resuming acceleration. Reduced speed is needed. Seek appropriate mechanical solutions if trailer swaying persists.