Many people are surprised at the extend of trailer towing. It is so common that most motorists accept trailers as a normal part of road users. There are millions of privately owned and small rental trailers in the United States, with trailers being towed millions of miles every year.
The mobility, increased leisure time, desire to do it yourself and cost-consciousness have necessitated an increased satisfaction by automobile towing trailers. This guide gives you expert advice to make your towing adventure a smooth experience.
In the safe operation of a car trailer combination, the single most important element is the driver. Driver actions and behavior influence the efficiency and safety of the car-trailer combination. The driver is the leader, the controller, and the boss of the whole system. Driver error is a major contributing factor to all motor vehicle crashes, with mechanical and vehicle failure playing a small percentage. Drivers are advised to avoid errors such as exceeding the speed limit, following too closely, driving too fast for conditions, inattention, among others.
The Tow Vehicle
An integral part of the towing process is the tow vehicle and its components. Important elements of a tow vehicle that must be in good working condition include; the general condition of the tow vehicle, suspensions, tires and tire pressure, braking system, electrical system, cooling system, and mirrors.
The point of contact between the tow vehicle and the trailer is the hitch. There are three basic types; weight carrying, weight distribution, and the fifth wheel. The weight carrying hitch is the most commonly used hitch and accounts for 90 percent of the passenger vehicle hitches in use today.
The performance of the trailer element of the car-trailer combination system depends on the type, speed, design, and braking ability. The work of the trailer is to follow – It plays a passive role in a vehicle combination by following the active lead vehicle. It follows the speed, acceleration, deceleration, and the path of the lead vehicle. The stability of a trailer is determined by tongue weight and axle weight. Improper tongue weight shifts the center of gravity making the trailer sway. There should be a balance in weight distribution to facilitate a smooth towing experience.
The proper distribution of weight in the trailer and tow vehicle is critical for smooth towing. Manufacturers of SUVs and automobiles recommend a total rear seat and cargo area load of 650 lbs. Trailer tongue weight is added to the rear of the car and adjustments made to stay within the structural capacity of the car, prevent excessive changes in car attitude, and prevent undesired changes in car handling. Trailers should be loaded more heavily in the front so that approximately 5-15 percent of their total weight is carried on the tow car hitch.
Trailers must be loaded heavier in the front so that approximately 60 percent of the trailer weight is in the front half of the trailer. Additionally, keep the center of gravity low with heavy items not packed on top.