Trailer towing can be pretty challenging and daunting, especially to someone who lacks experience in the ‘game.’ It is a totally different experience from simply driving an automobile.
Over the years, a number of fatalities have been attributed to trailer towing due to one mistake or the other. The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) showed that about 474 fatalities in 2016 were associated with vehicles towing a unit. The following year, 2017, DangerousTrailers.org stated that this figure increased by 10 percent.
It’s no wonder trailer towing is considered a dangerous ‘mission’ to many. However, it doesn’t have to be so dangerous and cumbersome. With the right information, virtually anyone can tow a trailer safely. This is why we took the time to compile this quick, yet in-depth tow guide on safe trailer towing. Be sure to check it out before you hit the road.
1. Check Trailer Components
A common mistake people make is jumping on the idea of towing a trailer without proper preparation. It is very critical to follow certain rules, for your safety and that of other drivers. Be sure to check essential components of the trailer (such as the braking system, crossed safety chains, lights, tires, etc.) before setting out on your journey. All tires must be properly inflated, the lights should be in good working condition, brakes should have plenty of life in them, and your vehicle mirrors need to be properly adjusted for maximum performance.
2. Are They Compatible?
The compatibility of your trailer and towing vehicle is of paramount importance. In fact, the first rule of safe towing is that both vehicles must be compatible. Do not embark on any towing journey without determining, beyond a reasonable doubt, that both vehicles are perfectly compatible. The trailer has a critical impact on how the tow vehicle drives so it is essential to match your trailer to the right tow vehicle. You can confirm their compatibility by checking the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. We strongly advise you to stick with the value stated there. Don’t compromise your safety!
3. Understand the Hitch Type
To properly hitch your trailer to the tow vehicle, you will need a basic understanding of hitches. There are a plethora of hitches and devices used to hitch a trailer to a tow vehicle. This makes it extremely important to take the time and understand the various hitches and how they work, so you can choose the right one for the job. Most tow vehicles for travel trailers will require a hitch to be installed for use with a ball mount system. Keep in mind that there are various hitch ball sizes and that the ball on your vehicle’s hitch needs to be the exact size intended for your travel trailer tongue. Be sure to check all of these critical towing specs for safe towing.
4. Properly Pack Your Trailer
Loading your trailer is yet another crucial part of the towing experience. Statistics show that improper loading is one of the major reasons for losing control of a trailer during a tow. There is no one-size-fits-all approach in loading a trailer as the nature and type of the cargo determines how best it should be loaded. The distinct design of the trailer also plays a crucial role in loading cargo. We recommend you take the time to review your trailer owner’s manual before proceeding with the loading, irrespective of how simple it seems. Also, drivers are advised to ensure the cargo is properly secured before proceeding with trailering. It sounds basic, but improperly secured cargo is enough to ruin the entire towing experience and put you and other drivers in danger too. Make sure the weight of the cargo is evenly distributed in the trailer. This will make it much easier to handle.
Safety should always come first. Don’t risk it!