When traveling with a trailer vehicle its important to do safety checks and process to tow trailers safely.
Whether you're about to embark on your first trip with a small utility trailer or you're an advanced driver who's been hauling various trailers for years, towing shouldn't be something to be taken lightly.
A driver needs to master a whole new set of skills in order to pull a trailer behind their vehicle. Knowing every step of the pre-towing process is vital, and ignoring even one element of this procedure could greatly compromise safety.
So, for those of you willing to feel more confident when towing a trailer, we’ve prepared some safety tips to help keep your family and trailer driver as safe as possible.
Preparing for Towing
Know your tow capacity
The first step in safely towing a trailer is to learn about the hauling capacities of your vehicle. You can find this information in the manual, driver-side door of the vehicle, or on the manufacturer's website. If the trailer weight is heavier than those included in the car's ratings, then the trailer shouldn't be hitched to the vehicle and you should look for a trailer that is designed for your car’s rating.
Hitch trailer correctly
After you've determined how much your vehicle can haul, it's essential you securely hitch the trailer using the proper ball and towing frame. Every trailer requires a unique hitch and ball, and they cannot be swapped for any other type, so ensure you have the right ones.
Place the trailer to face the hitch directly, back the vehicle up to be close enough to your trailer, and then secure the ball under the coupler. If it isn't secure there is a risk of the trailer detaching from your vehicle while on the road. For that extra added security to your trailer, install a GPS tracker for you to track your trailer, farm equipment or goods in transit at any point. Using a trailer GPS tracker can help keep your trailer safe, and alerts you if there’s any unexpected motion.
Check the tires
Always make sure that all the trailer tires are in excellent condition before you ride off each and every time. A blowout when towing can lead to a very dangerous situation.
Inspect the trailer tires for cracks and rot, especially if you haven't used the trailer for months or if it's kept outside. Before you head off on your trip, it’s also important that you check the condition of your tyres on your own vehicle - they may require higher pressure for hauling.
Don't forget to check the jockey wheels as well. These integral trailer accessories are absolutely essential in keeping the trailer in balance and manoeuvring with ease, but they are often left neglected during the maintenance process. Check them for signs of corrosion and trapped dirt, and ensure the wheels haven't been damaged or worn out.
Check trailer lights and signals
Make sure to check all trailer lights and signals as well. Since trailers aren’t used as often as vehicles, it’s more likely that lights may be burnt out. It’s important that you check your lights every single time before towing to ensure they’re in working condition. Without them, other drivers will not know your intentions, which could lead to some very dangerous situations.
Distribute the weight properly
When loading your trailer, be sure to always follow the 60/40 rule. To achieve this, fill your trailer front with your heaviest load, placing around 60 % of the cargo closer to the front axle. The remaining 40 % can be loaded behind the axles. Don't forget to make sure that weight is distributed evenly from side to side.
If the back half of the trailer ends up being much heavier than the front one, it can result in significant trailer sway, making it very hard to control.
Once your trailer has been securely attached to your towing vehicle, it is time for some practice. Below we listed a few important recommendations to get you, your vehicle, and your trailer to your destination safely.
When hauling, always keep in mind that the trailer increases your towing vehicle's weight and length, so you should adjust your driving style accordingly. First of all, drive slower. This way you will have more control over the vehicle and more space to make necessary decisions if needed.
Due to the added weight of the trailer, the stopping distance of the tow vehicle will increase from what it can usually achieve on its own. That's why you will have to pay more attention to the vehicles stopping in front of you and begin braking sooner than usual.
Make wider turns
Make wider turns at corners and curves when hauling. Since the wheels of your trailer will appear to be closer to the inside of a turn than your vehicle's wheels, the trailer tires are more prone to ride over or hit curbs. Therefore, the driver must ensure a wider berth than usual when turning.
Trailer accessories replacement
Make sure to purchase the most essential trailer parts in bulk and keep a few spare ones at hand whenever you're getting on the roadway. This way, if something goes wrong, you can quickly fix the problem by replacing the broken item. You will want to have at least one spare tire for the trailer and towing vehicle, a jack and nut wrench specific to your wheels, a spare trailer jockey wheel, and trailer LED lights.
If you follow these safety recommendations every time you tow a trailer and spend enough time practising driving with a trailer, the next trips will give you that extra peace of mind and confidence.