Towing a Trailer this Summer
Travel trailer towing isn’t as easy as you may think. Learning how to tow even a small travel trailer can be as nerve-wracking as learning how to drive for the first time.
You may want to find an empty parking lot to practice driving maneuvers before you head out on the highway. Until you get comfortable with towing, a simple maneuver like parking can become more difficult than one would presume. Here are some tips for travel trailer towing to get you ready this summer.
First things first, before you can go anywhere you need to get the trailer hitched to the towing vehicle. Let’s go over the basic process of hitching a trailer to your vehicle.
- Check the label on the hitch to make sure it can handle the weight of the trailer. If not, you will need a higher class of hitch. With the trailer raised on a jack, reverse your towing vehicle so that the hitch ball is centered to receive the trailer hitch.
- Once you’ve got things lined up, put your truck in park and put the parking brake on. Lower the trailer onto the hitch ball until it’s completely seated. Then engage the locking mechanism.
- Plug the trailer’s wires into the towing vehicle’s electrical outlet.
Now once you are hitched to your trailer and are on the road, you need to know how to brake properly. Towing a travel trailer means lugging around a lot more weight behind your truck. The heavier your rig, the more momentum you’ll have, meaning slowing down gets more dangerous. On the road, make sure you always give yourself plenty of space for braking. The faster you’re going, the more space you should allow between yourself and the vehicle in front of you.4) Attach the safety chains in a crisscross pattern, allowing enough slack for turns, but short enough to not drag.
To avoid trailer sway and generally maintain more control over your trailer, make sure to load it properly. This means spreading the weight you have in the trailer as evenly as possible. Very basic idea but it will make towing a bit easier for you.
This is always frustrating for the first-time tower, but easy once you know this trick. Place your hand at the bottom of the steering wheel and move your hand in the direction you want the trailer to go. Turning the wheel clockwise will turn the trailer left, and counter-clockwise will turn it right. Impossible to forget once you do it a couple times.
Keep in mind that you are carrying another vehicle with wheels behind you. The wheels of your trailer will always make a much sharper turn than the wheels of your towing vehicle. So give yourself plenty of slack by making a wide turn whenever safe and possible.
It’s always smart to have someone stand outside and guide you while you park, especially if you’re fairly new to the whole towing a trailer thing. Once you’re in the right place, shift into park, apply the parking brake. Then stick blocks behind the tires of the trailer to prevent them from rolling.
If you follow these few basic tips, you’ll have a smoother and more enjoyable trip any time you go to tow a trailer.
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