Towing a trailer for the first time can be a harrowing experience. There are a lot of things that may go wrong, especially if appropriate precautions are not taken. This is the reason we have prepared this guide to help all beginners. It is a perfect guide for any first-time trailer owner, as well as seasoned veterans looking for a refresher. Let’s have a look at key things you need to observe.
Choose the right equipment
Having the right gear for towing work is the first step to making a successful tow. The weight capacity of your vehicle as well as the equipment must be enough to handle your trailer and load of cargo. Another key to ensuring everything fits securely is the size of your hitch.
Hitch up your trailer correctly
Before you attempt to tow, ensure you have followed the correct procedure for hooking up your trailer. Perform a double check to ensure all connections, including wiring and coupler are secure. Ensure the safety chains are crossed under the trailer tongue and securely connected.
Allow enough stopping distance
When towing a trailer, ensure you increase the following distance. This entails increasing the amount of space between you and the vehicle in front of you. With a trailer, it takes longer to stop than it does with your ordinary vehicle alone. This distance is required to cater for sudden accelerations, braking, and maneuvering.
Be prepared for any eventualities
One of the leading causes of accidents in both towing as well as normal driving situations is driver error. One of the main reasons why people get into accidents is because of not paying attention to other motorists, driving too fast and tailgating the person in front of them. Note that it takes longer to accelerate, stop, or change lanes while using a trailer. It is important to scan the road ahead farther than you normally would. That way, you can see many problems developing a long way before it happens.
Be Careful of Trailer Sway
Large trucks, downhill grades, crosswinds, and high speeds all can contribute to trailer sway. If you are not cautious, your trailer can start swinging uncontrollably, mostly in a back and forth movement like a pendulum. The best way to address this problem is by using a hitch stabilization device. In case you experience trailer sway, try taking your foot off the gas and manually apply the trailer brakes with the use of a brake controller. When you press the button once, the trailer should align with your tow vehicle.
You need to be extra careful when changing lanes. Even when you are not towing, changing lanes on a highway is a major problem. With the use of a trailer, your blind spots increase and you are not able to accelerate as quickly as possible. When changing lanes with a trailer, ensure you have plenty of space and move slowly from one lane to another.
Make a gradual stop
Towing a trailer requires extra work on your brakes. You need to anticipate stops and then start braking sooner than normal. Keep the trailer brakes properly adjusted and ensure the brake controller is well calibrated.