It’s that time of year again – camping, boating and that inevitably means towing. Before you hook up a trailer, boat or camper, make sure you brush up on your towing safety. Some basic towing knowledge can go a long way for a safer road trip.
Know Your Weight
Knowing your weight is one of the most important safety issues with towing. Determine how much weight you will be towing and how much your vehicle is capable of towing. You can typically find the gross combined weight rating (GCWR) on the vehicle sticker that is near the driver side door. This sticker has information regarding tire pressure (PSI), max towing weights and payload. Next calculate the total weight of what you will be towing including the trailer and any passengers or cargo that is in the vehicle. Make sure you stay under the GCWR.
Safety Tips for Hooking Up Your Towing Load
Balls and hitches come in many different max weight classes. Make sure you have the right ball and hitch for your load capacity.
Connect the vehicle’s wiring light harness to the trailer. Check all the lights and make sure they are working properly. This includes the brake lights, turn signals and hazards.
Hook the hitch up to the ball. Once the hitch connects and falls completely over the ball, clamp it down and put a safety pin or padlock through the hole. This will prevent the clamp from coming up.
Cross chains are used for an extra safety measure in case something happens to the hitch and ball connection. Hook up the chains by crossing them and latching them to the hitch.
Inspect your load and make any adjustments where needed to equalize the load so it is sitting level. There should not be excessive weight on the front, rear or axle. All weight should be distributed evenly.
Check your tire pressure and fill to the recommended PSI. The PSI is found on the same sticker with the towing weights.
Once on the road, adjust your driving habits accordingly. It is best to do everything nice and slow when towing. From a stop, accelerate slowing and cautiously build speed. Leave plenty of room between you and the car in front of you to allow more braking time. When stopping, start earlier than normal and ease to a stop gradually. Don’t take any sharp turns. When making a turn, take the turn as wide as possible. Lastly if your trailer or camper starts to sway side to side, apply the brakes gently and slow down until everything’s back under control.
Camping and boating are fun adventures but be safe getting there. Know your towing do’s and don’ts. Follow these tips and keep your towing experience a safe and enjoyable trip for everyone. If you have any towing tips, please share with us in the comments section.