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A Guide To Avoiding The Worst Towing Mistakes


There’s nothing quite as thrilling as the freedom of the road.  But before you pack up your trailer and go it’s wise to do some planning.

Driving with a trailer is a bit more complicated than it looks and it takes a little getting used to.  Read the literature before hitching your trailer and before you start off on a long journey do a trial drive in a familiar area, so you get to know the feeling of driving with the trailer.

Here are a few tips to help you avoid some harsh towing mistakes.

Towing Capacity

This is the maximum weight that your vehicle is able to safely tow – the weight of the trailer and of everything that’s loaded into it. The weight varies from vehicle to vehicle depending on structure, chassis and suspension, engine, hitch design, tires and more. Before you can start out you must find out your vehicle’s tow rating.  This is a little complicated but it’s essential for safety. It’s easy to find out the different weight limits the specs are in your vehicle manual and they are also noted on a sticker on the driver’s door.

Look up: Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, Gross Combined Weight Rating, Gross Axle Weight Ratings, Hitch Weight Rating and Tongue Weight.

Hooking Up

It’s always best to have a friend help you hitch your trailer. Have them stand next to the trailer and signal you until you have the hitch ball in place. It isn’t as easy as it looks. If you don’t have anyone to help you another good trick is to use a back-up camera to make sure you have the trailer level with your vehicle. And, always use the correct sized ball, you don’t want the trailer to come off while you’re driving, and use safety chains as an extra precaution. Once you’re hooked up don’t forget to check that all the lights are working.

Braking Habits

Towing a trailer requires getting used to a new type of driving and changing your old driving habits.  Don’t forget that with all the extra weight you need more time to slow down and stop. To do this safely you need to leave a lot more room between you and the car in front of you than you are used to.  Keep your eyes on what is going on ahead of you, don’t forget that you’re towing a trailer and keep a distance and you will be fine.

Going Back

Trailers make reversing a pain, so if you can avoid reversing, do so. But make sure you’ve had some practice at reversing before hitting the road. Do this in an empty parking lot until you get the hang of it.

Be Legal

Make sure you find out the legal requirements for trailers of the states you’ll be driving in, including required lights and safety equipment, speeding limits and sizes.

Check Her Out

Before you leave do a walk around and check out the whole trailer from tire pressure to the lights.

Have a good, safe trip!