Towing a trailer requires more than a regular driving experience but a new set of skills.
If this is your first time towing a travel trailer, it is important to seek expert tips on doing so, as getting it wrong can result in a trailer accident.
We have once been in your shoes and know the difficulties of towing a trailer for the first time. To make your first attempt hassle-free, we have gathered seven significant tips for you in this guild.
1. Make Sure Your Towing Truck Is in a Good Condition
2. Invest in Tow Mirrors and Trailer Safety Chains
3. Know Your Trailer
4. Check if You Are Allowed to Use the Road Ahead
5. Make Wider Turns
6. Avoid Sudden Stops
7. Keep to the Right Lane on Highways
1Make Sure Your Towing Truck Is in a Good Condition
As much as it is not always ideal to leave a towing vehicle unused for long, using your towing vehicle regularly also leads to tear and wear, which requires proper maintenance. As such, before you embark on towing a trailer with your towing vehicle, make it a part of your duties to check that your vehicle is in a reliable state.
This task includes changing your oil and filter, checking that your brake pad can still serve you for the journey ahead, ensuring that the engine coolant’s level is normal, and topping off the transmission fluid. During this time, also check that your trailer’s brake is good for the journey and grease the wheel bearing.
Here are other areas to pay attention to:
Inspect the Tires
While virtually every driver will remember to check the pressure of their truck’s tires, most truck drivers often forget to inspect their trailer’ tires. It is important to know that towing a trailer successfully depends on the conditions of both the truck and trailer to be towed.
Checking your truck’s tires is more important if you have parked the truck in an open space for long, as this exposes the tires to cracks and treads. Ensure you rule out cracks, as this can lead to tire failure.
Check Trailer Lights
Before embarking on the journey, it is important to know that you will need your trailer’s lights and that your trailer’s wiring system should be connected to the towing vehicle as appropriate. The best way to do this is to inspect them by hand. Ideally, the wires should not be too loose so they don’t drag on the road or too tight so they can maintain their standard when having sharp turns.
To check that the lights are working properly, tell a partner to check for you as you operate the lights. Lights to pay attention to include turn signals, brake lights, running lights, and hazard lights.
Check the Sizes of the Hitch Ball and Coupler
Another thing to pay attention to while preparing to safely tow a trailer is to ensure that the size of the hitch ball matches the coupler. It has been estimated that most trailer accidents are caused by an imbalance in coupling the hitch ball to the coupler.
Check Your Spare Parts
It is often common to have a burst tire on the road while towing a trailer. This burst tire can be from the trailer or the towing vehicle. It is, therefore, essential to go with extra tires – at least one for each vehicle. Also, ensure you have a lug nut wrench that is meant for your trailer, and don’t forget that you will need a jack to change a flat tire should you have one. Going out with these enables you to quickly rectify problems when they occur.
Towing a trailer requires wider mirrors, especially when the trailer you are towing is wider than your towing vehicle. Therefore, look for a wide mirror to fix to your towing vehicle. This will give you a clear view of your trailer’s blind spots. A wide mirror will also aid rear visibility, which is useful when parking. However, you may not need this if your trailer comes with blind-spot warning systems, which give warnings for the trailer’s entire length.
On trailer safety chains, while you have attached your travel trailer to the hitch of the towing vehicle, it is essential to keep in mind that this does not ensure complete safety, as there have been cases where the trailer disconnected from the towing vehicle. To eliminate this accident, use trailer safety chains to hook the trailer to the towing vehicle.
While doing this, ensure you cross the trailer’s safety chain and don’t just run it straight. This is to ensure that even if the trailer disconnects, the chains will serve as a cradle that the trailer’s tongue can fall onto. Another thing to pay attention to here is how loose the chains are. The chains should not be too loose so they don’t drag on the road and should not be too tight so they don’t interfere with sharp turns.
3Know Your Trailer
It is often common that a trailer overweighs the truck. In this case, it becomes more difficult to quickly stop the truck or navigate bends, as you would do when driving just your truck.
Another factor to pay attention to here is the height of the trailer, as this might cause a problem when passing under a low bridge.
While you can use your towing vehicle on virtually all roads, certain roads do not allow towing a truck on them. One common reason for this is the height, weight, and width limits of these roads. It is, therefore, essential to check the road ahead to know if it is suitable for you to tow a truck on them. This lets you find another road earlier in a condition that you are restricted from using the road.
5Make Wider Turns
It is essential to note that the way you make turns when driving your truck should be different from when towing a trailer.
When towing a trailer making turns gets the rear wheels of your trailer to the inside of the curve, which can cause the trailer to ride over curbs. As such, pay attention to how you make turns around corners.
Now that you are towing a trailer, it is not ideal to have sudden stops as you would do when driving only your truck. This is due to the added weight of the trailer you are towing. Therefore, ensure you plan your stops ahead, so you can apply the brake slowly.
7Keep to the Right Lane on Highways
The right side of the lane is the ideal side to drive when towing a trailer. This lane makes it easier for you to apply the brakes suddenly should you have a reason to. Also, the right lane makes it easier to control the vehicle without affecting other road users when you have a tire blowout.
The Bottom Line
Towing a trailer can be more complicated than it seems and requires more experience than regular driving skills. If this is your first time towing a travel trailer, these tips will help you tow a trailer safely.