Towing tips! Whether
you're towing a folding trailer or a fifth wheel,
you have to ensure that your towing equipment is
in order and that your crgo weight is distributed
properly. Many accidents have occurred in the past
because of faulty equipment, improper load balance
or simply lack of experience (re. practice) on the
driver's part. Driving a vehicle and towing a trailer
are two different things. For simplicity's sake,
in this document, the term "trailer" will
refer to anything that can be towed (a utility trailer,
a folding trailer, a park trailer etc....). Here
are some things to consider if you're planning to
do some towing!
will you be towing?
fact that your vehicle is currently equipped to tow
a utility trailer doesn't mean that you can use it
to start towing a folding trailer or a park trailer.
Although most mid-size and full-size family cars,
most minivans and most light-duty trucks can pull
a trailer, they cannot pull all trailer sizes. Your
owner's manual identifies the trailer types that your
vehicle can haul and the maximum load weight that
it can pull (see below for a definition of common
"weight" terms). If you can't find that
information or if you simply cannot figure it out,
contact your car dealer or manufacturer. Be aware
that towing a trailer that's beyond the weight recommended
by your car manufacturer can cause serious damage
to your vehicle and even void your warranty.
If you're going to purchase a new vehicle or a new
towing hitch, bring the following information with
you when you go shopping; the trailer's length, weight
and height, and the type of trailer brakes on your
trailer. You can easily get this information from
your trailer dealer/manufacturer.
|Loading your RV
|When you load up your RV, remember to store heavy items low and forward and lightweight articles high. Keeping your RV's center of gravity low will help minimize swing, sway and wobble. Make sure that heavy items cannot slide into the water pump or other fixed equipment. Try to balance the load between the two sides of the RV.
is important to load your RV so that it
is heavier towards the front. In other words, approximately
60% of the cargo weight should be in the trailer's
front half. This ensures proper weight distribution
while only placing about 10 percent of the loaded
trailer weight on the "tongue". As a general
rule, the tongue weight guideline is;
- for trailers up to 2,000 pounds, the tongue
load should not exceed 200 pounds
- for trailers over 2,000 pounds, tongue load
should be 10-15 percent of trailer weight
- for fifth wheel trailers, tongue load should
be 25 percent of trailer weight.
Finally, you should ensure that both the trailer and
the towing vehicle are within load recommendations....
otherwise you may end up with handling and trailer-stability
you "hit the road"
||If applicable, check the oil, fuel and coolant levels
of you vehicle.
||If applicable, inspect all the belts and hoses for cracking (especially radiator hoses) and replace as needed.
||If applicable, check your headlights and turn signals.
||Check your tires... both air pressure and tread! Most tire failures are caused by RV overload or tire under-inflation. Make sure that your tires are inflated in accordance with proper inflation pressures for the load they're carrying. Overloaded tires are prone to blow out and under-inflated tires can cause swaying.
your trailer and hitch safety chains for proper connections.
Always ensure that the electrical hookups work for
the trailer wiring and the brakes and that the vehicle
and trailer lights work properly and are synchronized.
If you have a break-away switch, make sure that you test it.
|| Ensure that you have the following tools handy;
- jumper cables
- flat repair spray
- road flares
- adjustable wrench
- duct tape (useful for temporary repairs such as a ruptured radiator hose)
you haven't had much experience with trailer-towing,
you should practice in a safe area before
beginning a long trip. Before you drive away, always
adjust your rear view mirrors for optimal road views.
Do not wait until you're on the road to make these
adjustments. Also, remember that backing
up with a trailer is the most difficult part.
So here's a tip; when backing up, place one hand
on your vehicle's steering wheel at the six o'clock
position.... if you want to move the trailer's rear
end to the right, simply turn the steering wheel
to the right (and vice versa). Avoid any sharp movement
of the steering wheel once the trailer is moving
in the proper direction. And remember... you have
to have your hand on the steering wheel at the six
o'clock position for this to work!
While "on the road"
driving, always avoid sudden moves as they
might create a side force on the trailer and in some
cases, "tilt" the trailer. On right-angle
turns, always allow more room to the inside since
the trailer wheels will be closer to the inside turn
path than your vehicle wheels.
||When changing lanes, always signal well in advance and move gradually into the next lane. After passing,
remember to allow extra room for the trailer before
returning to the driving lane. For obvious reasons,
avoid passing on steep grades (up or down).
||Always allows a greater distance to stop when
towing a trailer. Always allow one "vehicle and trailer length" for each 20 km/hr (10 mph). So
if your vehicle + trailer length equals 30 feet and
you're driving at 80 km/hr, you should keep a distance
of approximately 120 feet between you and the vehicle
in front of you. If you have to do an emergency stop, do not step on the brakes but shift to a lower
gear and "pump" the brakes lightly to cut
the vehicle speed. (You definitely should practice
this one regularly!).
you found a spot to park your "rig", if
it happens to be uphill or downhill, you have
to take precautionary measures. This involves placing
a "block" (you should always leave some
in your trunk) either "in front of" or "behind"
the vehicle wheels depending on whether you're on
a downgrade or upgrade respectively. Someone traveling
with you should do this while you're holding the brakes.
Once the blocks are in place, you then slowly release
the brake pedal until the vehicle and trailer come
to a complete stop. The final step is to fully engage
the parking brake and to shift the transmission to
park (or to 1st gear for a manual transmission).
||Remember to always observe posted speed
limits and to slow down in bad weather or
slippery road conditions.
Click here to see our "Towing glossary"