What do I need to know before towing a trailer?

Towing is one of the tough jobs and requires precise handling. You can’t take this job easy even if you are towing a small travel trailer. Ample experience and driving skills are required to successfully complete a towing job.

So, how to get ready for towing? Or, What do I need to know before towing a trailer? Well, there are some safety practices, and guidelines useful for safe, and efficient towing. Drivers need to carefully assess all steps before towing a trailer.

As discussed above, we need to strictly follow the towing guidelines, and checklist to make towing activities smoother, and safer.

Here are the 8 important tips to be followed for towing a trailer safely.

Never Cross your limits

You can find the towing capacity of your vehicle in the owner’s manual which is also available freely on the manufacturer’s website. It is highly recommended to carefully read the owner’s manual before using your vehicle for towing purposes.

Sometimes, vehicles are capable of towing more than their rated capacity when equipped with necessary towing packages, or accessories. For instance, the towing capacity of the all-new 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning ranges from 7,700 lbs to 8,600 lbs however, it can tow up to 14,000 lbs with Max Trailer Tow Package, and Extended Range Battery.

If you exceed the maximum rated towing capacity of your vehicle, it may result in several malfunctions including higher chances of accidents. That’s why you need to ensure your vehicle is capable of handling the weight of your trailer.

Properly check your tires

Tires are one of the vital components when it comes to safe driving and towing. The tires of both the tow vehicle and trailer must be good enough to safely tow a trailer.

The handling might get affected due to tires that are not inflated properly. Besides, faulty tires lead to rolling resistance and force the engine to struggle more. With that, your vehicle consumes more fuel, and may also result in your tire blow-out.

You need to check the tire pressures and inflate within the limit if necessary. You can find the standard tire pressure requirement in the owner’s manual, and also in the driver’s doorjamb. In addition to the tire pressure, you need to check the speed rating of your tow vehicle, and trailer.

Another important thing to consider is the quality of your tires. Using your tires for a long period may reduce the grip and overall performance. So, you need to check it and replace it if necessary.

Ensure your brake is working properly

Braking is the most important factor when it comes to safe towing activity. Both your tow vehicle and trailer need effective braking. However, small, and light trailers may not require trailer brakes.

Powerful pickup trucks such as Ford F-350, GMC Sierra, RAM 1500, and Chevy Silverado 1500 are equipped with Trailer Brake Controllers. You can read the owner’s manual to use new braking technologies.

The Trailer Brake Controller uses braking input, vehicle speed, and ABS logic to balance the performance of the truck brakes and electric trailer brakes.

Adjust your Mirror 

Mirrors are always critical when you are reversing your vehicle, driving in tight traffic conditions, or towing a trailer. If your mirror is not configured properly, you might not get a clear view of the traffic resulting in a possible accident.

That’s why you need to ensure your side view mirrors are adjusted in a correct manner so that, you can get a clear view extending to the end of the trailer.

Check Camera settings

The latest pickup trucks and SUVs are equipped with camera technologies to assist you in making pinpoint decisions when reversing, towing, or driving in a critical situation.

For example, the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning offers Trailer Reverse Guidance that uses high-definition cameras to provide multiple views along with helpful steering guidance graphics to assist in backing and maneuvering a conventional trailer.

You can check the availability of camera technologies on your vehicle, and familiarize yourself with safer, and more precise towing.

Check Tail Lights and Marker lamps

Tail Lights and Marker lamps are also important when you are towing a trailer with your vehicle. If such lights and lamps are not illuminated, other drivers may not see your vehicle, especially during the night, and low visibility conditions. There is a higher chance of collisions if the lights are not working properly.

Besides, large trailers or heavy loads may conceal the tail lights on your tow vehicle. You need to properly check the tail lights, brake lights, and signal lights before using your vehicle.

Explore more:
How to check the towing capacity of your vehicle?
Can you increase the towing capacity of a vehicle

Properly position your cargo

We already discussed the maximum towing capacity of a towing vehicle however, proper positioning of your cargo in the trailer is also necessary for safe towing. 

It is recommended to place 60% of your load over the front half of the trailer which results in 10-15% Trailer Tongue Load weight of the total loaded trailer weight. Also, you need to ensure the overall weight is evenly distributed on the left and right sides of the trailer.

You should be good to go if the load is properly distributed, and the ideal tongue weight (10-15%) is achieved.

Regular maintenance of your tow vehicle

You can’t neglect the scheduled maintenance if you want your vehicle to have optimum performance and result in safe driving. Frequent use of your vehicle for towing purposes puts extra stress on the engine and other components. You need to regularly check your vehicle.

Some recommendations for maintenance include:

  • Make sure you have recently changed the oil and filter
  • Brake pads must have plenty of life remaining
  • Engine coolant should be filled to the proper level in the reservoir
  • Transmission Fluid is sufficient
  • Ensure proper working of the Trailer Brake Controller
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Stellan Carter is an accomplished writer, entrepreneur, and avid Ford Raptor owner. As a co-founder and content contributor for this renowned blog website, Stellan brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the automotive industry. When he's not behind the wheel of his beloved Ford Raptor, Stellan can be found exploring new terrains, capturing the essence of his automotive adventures through his camera lens.

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