You might be the most skilled driver on the road, but when you’re maneuvering a vehicle with something heavy attached to its rear, such as a travel trailer, your skills will likely be tested. Make sure your sanity doesn’t become tested too by becoming stranded in the middle of nowhere while hauling a huge trailer. Getting stranded is a quick way to put a dent in your vacation fun. Before you hit the open road, heed these tips to overcome being stranded while towing a trailer.
How to Prepare Your Vehicle for Towing
Before you consider towing anything with your vehicle, consult your owner’s manual for specifics on the maximum amount of weight your vehicle can safely and effectively tow. This number is known as the vehicle towing capacity. Exceeding the specified towing capacity can be extremely dangerous so don’t be tempted to risk it.
Next, evaluate the size of the trailer you are towing and your existing side-view mirrors. If your trailer is unusually long or bulky, consider upgrading to extended side-view mirrors that will give you more complete rear- and side-view vision. You can’t safely change lanes if you can’t see the other cars on the road.
When you are towing a trailer, not only do you need to make sure your brake and taillights and turn signals are in proper working order, you need to double them. Most states required that trailers be equipped with their own working brake and taillights and turn signals, in addition to your vehicle. Both sets of lights must by synchronized so when you step on your vehicle’s brakes, for example, the trailer’s brake lights illuminate at the same time.
Pack Your Trailer Strategically
Besides preparing your vehicle and trailer for the journey, packing your trailer properly is essential in preventing towing accidents and breakdowns. Properly distribute weight in the trailer to prevent it from shifting, falling, and jarring your vehicle while you’re driving. Pack heavy items first. About 60 percent of weight should go in front. Secure these heavy items with bungee cords or rope, then place smaller objects in empty spaces. Keep the center of gravity low and make sure the weight on each side of the trailer is even.
Keep a Close Eye on Maintenance While You’re Driving
When you’re towing a heavy travel trailer, you’re stressing your vehicle’s engine and parts. Just as an obese person finds it difficult to move around because extra weight stresses muscles, joints and bones, a vehicle towing a trailer is working at full capacity to address the extra weight. A vehicle gets fewer miles per gallon when towing so keep a close eye on the fuel gauge. If you’re driving through large stretches of unpopulated areas, make sure to scout out available fuel stops before you set out. Whenever you do stop to fuel up, check your tire pressure and coolant levels.
If you have plans to take to the road with a trailer in tow, make sure to contact us first to schedule a vehicle checkup. We’ll thoroughly evaluate your car so you’ll have the peace of mind your car is in good working order.