Whether your towing for work or leisure, follow these tips to prioritize trailer safety on your next towing trip.
You don’t have to have a pickup truck to tow a trailer. Other vehicles can pull a large load and are also great for everyday use. The important thing is to know how much weight your particular vehicle can tow. The tow rating and what trailer type(s) your car can handle can be found in the owner’s manual.
Once you’ve confirmed your vehicle can tow what you need, look for a weight distribution hitch to attach the vehicle and trailer together. When used in combination with a receiver hitch, the weight distribution hitch will give you a safe, level ride by distributing the trailer’s tongue weight from the rear axel of your vehicle to both the trailer and the vehicle. Like most vehicle accessories, you’ll need to find a hitch that’s suited to your particular vehicle and the weight you intend to tow.
Within the trailer, load heavier items near the front and lighter items at the back. Whether you’re pulling an enclosed or open trailer, use safety straps to further secure your load.
Safety straps are a better option for securing a load than chains because they’re lighter, more flexible, and easier to use. They range in price depending on material, length, and weight limit, but you can find many for less than $100 (a small price to pay for added safety).
It’s important not to confuse tow straps with recovery straps. Tow straps, as the name suggests, are meant for towing, whereas recovery straps are used to release a vehicle/trailer from a stuck position. It’s useful to have both when towing, as long as you use them correctly.
Here are some of the best safety straps for towing and recovery.
- Grip Heavy Duty Tow Strap
- TGL Tow Strap
- Gear America Heavy-Duty Tow Strap
- Smittybilt Recovery Strap
- Rhino USA Recovery Tow Strap
- AllTop Nylon Recovery Tow Strap
Make sure you purchase a tow strap that can handle the load you intend to tow and a recovery strap that can handle three times the weight of your vehicle. There are many other tow accessories, such as load levellers and extended mirrors, that can further increase your sense of safety when tugging a heavy load.
Another key factor in trailer safety is the condition of the item you’re towing. You should perform regular maintenance checks on any trailer before hooking it up to be towed. Never tow anything with broken or severely worn-down parts.
You’ll also need to adjust the trailer’s brakes before you tow. A brake controller will allow you to regulate, activate, and monitor the electric brakes on your trailer while it’s connected to your vehicle.
You should also look into getting a trailer breakaway system. This will activate your trailer’s brakes if it accidentally detaches from your vehicle. Depending on your confidence and DIY skill level, you can learn how to install these systems on your own or have them done by a professional.
Adjust Your Driving
When towing, you need to factor the extra weight into the way you drive. This means making wider turns to accommodate the size of the trailer and leaving longer stopping distances between yourself and other drivers. It’s also a good idea to stay in the right lane on the highway to make use of the shoulder in case of sudden braking.
Before heading out, plan your route to make note of any weight or size limits on the roads you want to take. This includes seasonal load limits that fall under the Highways Traffic Act. Check out this post for more safe driving tips when towing. You may also need a special permit for towing oversize or overweight loads.
Practice Your Skills
Before going on a long journey, practise driving with your trailer so you’ll understand how your vehicle handles. Learning a tricky manoeuvre, like backing up your trailer, for instance, is not something you’ll want to leave until the last minute. The best towing tip is to take your time. From preparation to parking, the best approach to any tow trip is to focus on getting from point A to B as safely as possible. That’s not something you can rush.