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Tow a Trailer
Traveling with a Trailer
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Towing a Trailer . . .

        . . . looks as simple as hooking up and going, but there is more to it.  To be responsible and have a trouble free trip, there are a lot of little things to think about.  Certainly there's the safety of you and others, but more to the point any trouble or delay along the way just adds to frustration and can make things miserable.  Let's avoid that.

Here is a list of trailer towing tips -- hopefully as a gentle reminder -- that can go a long way toward making a trip pleasant.

Utility Trailer
The Tips List  to help you on the way to a trouble free trip.
  • Secure all bolts and other fasteners in vibration resistant ways – use things like Nyloc nuts, Loc-tite, cotter keys or wired nuts.  Be sure the methods are appropriate for the situation.
     
  • Check bolts, fasteners, hitch, tires, lights and brakes prior to towing.
     
  • Inspect the trailer regularly to assure there are no cracked welds, loose bolts, or other issues that can create problems.
     
  • Inspect the tires carefully – especially after storing for some time.  Dry rot is the # 1 failure mode for trailer tires.  (Keeping tires covered when stored will help reduce dry rot and cracking.)
     
  • Check tire pressure regularly when traveling.  It's a good idea to kick the tires every time you stop for gas just to see if they are full pressure.
     
  • Inspect the spare tire too, to be sure it is inflated properly and in good condition.  Nothing worse than getting a flat and realizing your spare is also flat.
     
  • Before connecting, check the hitch components to be sure they match -- like ball size and coupler size -- like rated capacity for both.
     
  • Double-check the hitch to be sure it is connected securely.
     
  • Use tow chains and secure them to a sturdy of both the trailer and the tow vehicle.
     
  • Use tow chains that are adequate for the job -- not wimpy, flimsy chain.  (If you have a 3000# trailer, make sure the chains are up for it.
     
  • For stability, distribute the load on the trailer evenly – not disproportionate on one side or the other.
     
  • For stability, the trailer should be loaded such that 10% - 20% of the gross trailer weight is on the tongue.
     
  • If you have a problem with swaying or instability, re-distribute the load.  Most instability issues come from improper trailer loading.  Other issues come from improper assembly (things not lined up or square) – so, take time and care when building a trailer.
     
  • Don't overload the trailer.  Check the capacity limits and stay within them..
     
  • Be aware of the towing limits of the pulling vehicle and the hitch components.
     
  • Don't overload the tires.  Tires on trailers often have a lower capacity than the axle they are mounted on.  This is a great way to have a blow-out.
     
  • Secure the load so it won't shift or move in transit.  Keeping a low center of gravity is also good.
     
  • If loads are tall, realize that wind loading can be very strong.  Make sure everything is securely fastened to the trailer.  You wouldn't want something to blow out or break off.
     
  • You are responsible for the load in your trailer.  Anything that blows out or falls off is your responsibility.  Not just as litter, but flying items can cause significant damage, injure or kill others.  Be sure things are secure!!
     
  • Double check tie-downs, tarps, ropes, etc. to be sure nothing will be "flapping in the breeze" or dragging the ground.
     
  • It's a good idea to stop and double check the load, the tie-downs, and the overall situation after driving a few miles from the start.  The load will "settle in" with the vibrations and bumps of the road.
     
  • Set tire pressure appropriate for the load.  When is traveling empty, tire pressure may be reduced to 10 or 15 psi.  This will allow the tires to absorb bumps and other anomalies, keep the trailer from bouncing around, and shaking the tow vehicle.  Full tire inflation pressure is needed for a full load.
     
  • If the trailer has high sides or a tall load, avoid traveling when significant cross winds are present.
     
  • Allow added distance for acceleration and braking.  Even if the trailer has brakes, it can take (sometimes) a lot more distance to stop.
     
  • Allow more girth around corners -- take the corners wide -– to avoid hitting the trailer tires on a curb, because the trailer makes a shorter radius than the tow vehicle.  Also, the longer the trailer, the more space it takes.  Hitting curbs and posts may cause big damage resulting in high costs.
     
  • Drive with a greater awareness of what is happening around you on the road.  Any maneuvering on the road requires more time, more care and more space when a trailer is attached –- and the larger the trailer, the more it takes..
     
  • When you tow a trailer you assume a larger responsibility.  Please drive carefully.

Utility Trailer
For more information about trailers and towing, our Articles section for links to additional articles about trailers:  
Good Luck !!   And Please Drive Safely.

Tire Travel

 
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