10 Tips for Safe Trailer Towing

When we tow something, the primary consideration is always the safety issues involved. Every time you tow a trailer on the road, it is important to ensure the safety of you, your passengers, your vehicle and trailer, and other road users.
Today, we bring you 10 top tips to ensure your safety while towing. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at TrailerTek’s top 10 tips for safe trailer towing.

1.Know Your Limits

Knowing the limits of your trailer and towing vehicle is critical to ensuring a safe towing experience. You can find the limits for towing vehicles in the vehicle documentation. Do not exceed the maximum towing capacity of the weakest component. That is, if your vehicle has a maximum towing capacity of 3500kg and your tow bar has a maximum towing capacity of only 2000kg, you must not tow more than 2000kg.
The trailer comes with its own maximum towing limit, which must not be exceeded. You should match the trailer to the towing vehicle whenever possible. Larger trailers usually have a greater impact on the handling of the vehicle, so a larger vehicle is required to tow them.

Trailer Towing

2.Weight Distribution

Properly distributing weight on the trailer when it is being towed can make a huge difference. Your goal should be to put about 60% of the weight on the front of the trailer and 40% on the rear. This will ensure that the towing equipment does not carry too much weight and will also prevent the trailer from pulling upward at the rear of the tow vehicle.
Improper weight distribution can cause the trailer to start swaying while towing, which is most likely to occur at higher speeds and is one of the leading causes of trailer accidents. Learn how to deal with trailer swaying by reading our trailer swaying article.
Weight should be distributed evenly front to back, side to side and vertically. When it comes to vertical weight distribution, there is a simple rule – keep the weight as low as possible. Keeping the weight low helps lower the center of gravity of the trailer, which helps reduce the chances of the trailer leaning when turning.
All items in the trailer should be secured to prevent them from moving around during transport. If items begin to move, it could affect the weight distribution of the trailer and cause an accident.

3.Understand Handling Differences

When you hook a trailer to a vehicle, you will immediately change the handling characteristics of that vehicle. As the weight of the trailer increases, the effect will be exaggerated. This means you will have to change your driving style to account for these handling differences.
You will find that backing up with a trailer is different than backing up with just a vehicle. It is always convenient to have someone outside of your vehicle to guide you to ensure you drive safely.
Avoid sudden turns when driving and remain cautious when completing any maneuvers. Due to the increased center of gravity, high speed turns may cause the trailer to tilt, which can lead to an accident.
Please note that the increased weight of the combined vehicle and trailer will increase the momentum of the vehicle. This means that stopping will be more difficult, so you must be careful and brake early when you are towing a trailer.
Typically, the larger and heavier the trailer, the greater the impact on all of the above.

Trailer Towing

4.Keep an Eye on Your Trailer

Just because your trailer looks good before you leave, doesn’t mean it will stay that way for the entire trip. Bumps and vibrations during the towing process can cause belts to come loose or items to move around during transport. Looking behind you every so often during the haul helps you spot problems before they develop into serious issues.
A quick glance in the mirror is enough to spot any problems. If you do notice something, even if it’s small, you should take the time to stop and inspect the trailer – those few minutes can save a lot of time and energy, and even save a life if the problem develops into something serious.

5.Plan Your Journey

Maneuvering a trailer can be very difficult, so why not make your journey as easy as possible! Try to plan your route well and avoid narrow roads or any other tricky routes as this can make towing more difficult for you. Route planning is a great idea because it helps you avoid road closures and also lets you know what to expect on your trip. If you’re going on a long trip, be sure to add a few rest stops so you can recharge your battery before continuing on your trip.

6.Use an Appropriate Driving Style

The general rule when towing a trailer is that everything slows down and requires a more planned approach. This applies to everything from lane changes to acceleration. The extra length and weight that a trailer adds to your vehicle means that this should be taken into account during every maneuver.
Give yourself more time when changing lanes on the highway and make sure you have enough room to do this maneuver safely. The same applies to coming out of an intersection, which is where the extra length and weight of your vehicle is most noticeable. Never pull out onto the road when you think the distance is just large enough to give yourself as much room as possible to turn and accelerate. Be aware that you will need more turning room, which may mean you have to cross the centerline of the road as you turn – in this case, be patient and wait for the gap between the two lanes, don’t appear and expect people to stop, as this puts both you and them at risk.
If you find yourself driving on a road that you feel may pose a danger to you or others, reduce your speed as much as possible, pull over if you feel it is necessary, or if there is a queue, let the vehicle behind you pass.

7.Use Your Transmission to Your Advantage

Using the transmission is a great way to improve the performance of your vehicle under acceleration and braking conditions. Use lower gears when going uphill to help take pressure off the vehicle’s transmission and give it optimum traction potential.
Similarly, use lower gears when going downhill, as this will allow you to take full advantage of engine braking and help take pressure off the vehicle or trailer brakes – you may find that the vehicle’s brakes can overheat after emergency braking or prolonged use of the brakes (going downhill), so engine braking can help avoid this.

8.Complete a Walk-Around Safety Check

Looking around your vehicle before you leave or during your trip is a great way to make sure your vehicle and trailer are roadworthy. Before putting your vehicle and trailer on the road, check your tires for wear, check for perforations, make sure all loads are properly fastened, and test your lights.
Not only will this improve the safety of your vehicle, but it will also prevent you from being fined by the police for driving a vehicle that is not roadworthy.

Trailer Towing

9.Understand What to do in an Emergency

You may find that you encounter problems during towing, which could be a tire leak or a completely shaken trailer. Dealing with each situation effectively and calmly is essential to ensure the safety of your vehicle and trailer on the road.
When traveling long distances, it is recommended that you carry equipment such as a spare tire and the tools needed to change wheels. Roadside repairs should be performed safely, as far away from traffic as possible, and always wear clothing with good visibility when completing repairs.
You should be aware that strong winds can sometimes affect trailers while they are being towed and can cause them to sway or snake behind your vehicle. If this happens, gently release the throttle, do not apply the brakes, and allow the vehicle and trailer to slow down naturally. As the speed decreases, you should regain full control of your vehicle and the swaying should abate. If your trailer shakes more than once, you should pull over and consider redistributing the weight on the trailer more appropriately.

10.Take Your Time

As we have mentioned many times, the key to safe towing is always to take a slow approach. Taking the time to tow safely can truly be a lifesaver. If you avoid rushing, this will not only help you spot any mistakes or problems with your towing or vehicle, but it will also help avoid any problems that may arise due to the way you drive.
For more information on our towing safety tips, or for general help with all things towing, please contact TrailerTek and one of our experienced team members will be happy to help.

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