Not everyone is cut out to be the driver of a vehicle that is towing a trailer. It can be a difficult job and a big adjustment from driving your average vehicle with nothing in tow. If you’ve got it, the skill of towing a trailer can be useful in quite a few situations actually.
It also takes the proper knowledge to safely attach a trailer to the hitch on your vehicle. (Don’t forget the chains, lights, and license plate). Otherwise, you are in for a big problem … no matter how well you can drive. If you are new to towing or just want to brush up on safety, the following tips for towing should help you to hit the road with confidence when the time comes.
Trailer Towing Tips
- Plan your parking — Parking is an underrated part of the towing process. It can be a challenge. If possible, make a plan of where you are going to part your trailer before you leave. This can prevent some major frustrations when you arrive. If you don’t have a parking spot in mind, it can take more time than you want to spend to find a suitable space that you can get to safely. If you are going to be in a parking lot, be sure to leave yourself plenty of room — like using a remote part of the parking lot where it is unlikely that many vehicles will be.
- Know your limits — No matter what kind of vehicle you are going to use, it is a good idea to check out your owner’s manual to know exactly how much weight you can safely tow. Quite often, owners are surprised to discover just how much weight they can or can’t tow. This includes choosing the correct hitch, gooseneck adapter hitch, and other components of your setup. The last thing you want to do is load your vehicle with more than it can handle because this can lead to additional problems.
- Size matters — The larger the load you are pulling the more you will need to adjust the way that you drive. For example, pulling a tiny utility trailer won’t change much for you. But if you’ve got a large trailer behind you, it requires special attention at all times.
- Turning — With a trailer in tow, be sure to take wider turns. You are driving something that is about two times its normal length. Taking a normal turn and you will be all over the curbs, sidewalks, and whatever else is on the side of the road.
- Distance — When you have so much additional weight behind you, it will take longer to slow down. So you need to keep a bigger distance between yourself and other vehicles on the road than you normally would. This can be difficult to remember if you aren’t giving the road your fullest attention at all times. Plus, this can actually help extend the lifespan of your vehicle if you can eliminate the sudden starts and stops from your driving.
- Practice — You may be confident in your driving skills. And that’s a good thing. But if you are a little too confident, that’s when you can get into trouble. Underestimating how hard it is to tow a trailer can make you look pretty foolish in a heartbeat. Before heading into areas with a lot of traffic, don’t be too proud to sharpen your skills with a little practice session on some back roads.
- Avoid the jackknife — Maybe the most difficult part of this process is doing anything in reverse. This too takes a lot of practice to master. If you turn too sharp and your trailer can jackknife. You don’t want that. Even if you have experience in backing up with a trailer, it can take several attempts to maneuver your load into the proper position.
- Slow and steady — When you are towing a trailer, you are going to want to drive a little slower. In fact, you should be sure to stay in the right lane as much as possible. Not only does it take longer to slow down, but it also takes longer to speed up as well.
- Anticipation — Driving errors are the top cause of accidents while towing. The causes are the same that you would expect — driving too fast, following too closely, and just not paying attention as you should. Remember, it takes longer to slow down or speed up so you’ll have to be looking ahead even farther than you normally would. You’ll be able to avoid almost all accidents that might come your way with a little bit of anticipation.
- It can be easy for your trailer to begin to sway. If this happens, let off the gas and manually apply trailer brakes with a brake controller.
- Changing lanes can be an issue. There are more blind spots so be extra careful to leave plenty of room to move from one lane to the other. Tow mirrors are also a good way to help with this.
- If you do need to pass, use extreme patients. And remain calm at all times. Lots of people have road rage. Don’t let that be you.
- Make sure that all parts of your setup are in good shape before you go. This means checking your brakes, fluids, and everything else.
Choose T Built
Being able to tow a trailer safely is a handy skill to have. Hopefully, these tips will help you to be prepared for the next time the opportunity arises. And if you are big into the outdoors, this is basically a necessary skill for someone in your group to have — if not more than one person. The more the better! Just make sure to be smart, be prepared, and have fun!
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