Introduction To Towing
Towing a trailer need not be a stressful driving situation, even though several aspects of your normal driving experience may change. Your vehicle becomes heavier, slower, and doesn’t generally stop as well. It seems like other drivers rush around you, won’t let you change lanes, and worst of all, they’ll pull right in front of you and hit the brakes. It’s no wonder that many drivers are reluctant to tow a trailer. But with the right gear and the right adjustments, towing can become almost as convenient and easy as normal driving.
You should know what kind of trailer you plan to tow. You might find that you need to tow a camping trailer, a utility trailer, a boat, a “dinghy” car behind your RV, or a horse and livestock trailer. Your trailer may require a basic receiver hitch, or it could be a heavy-duty fifth wheel hitch or gooseneck hitch design. The trailer may or may not come equipped with its own set of brakes.
Your towing needs are also dependent on the distance and road conditions along your route. For example, if you plan to tow a small trailer with motorcycles or ATVs to remote locations on unpaved roads, your needs are quite different from the driver who plans to tow a large fifth-wheel camper on Interstate freeways. And you might even have to consider alternating between both of these scenarios, and accommodating bike racks or cargo carriers.
Your tow vehicle may be a heavy or light-duty pickup truck, an RV, an SUV or family van, or a standard passenger car. Each of these has different characteristics and capabilities, and each may require different equipment to tow safely and legally. Additionally, your vehicle may be set up from the factory for towing, or you might need to install a hitch, wiring, or other upgrades before you can tow.
When you know these basic facts, you’re ready to look up what you need. Whatever your individual towing situation may be, this website provides detailed information to help you match your vehicle to the right size trailer, select and install a hitch and wiring, choose towing accessories, hook up correctly, and tow your trailer successfully.
We’ll start by defining the names and concepts you’re likely to encounter as you get your vehicle and trailer together. You’ll learn
- about the different types of trailer hitches and connections
- how to determine your vehicle’s towing capacity
- how to upgrade your vehicle for better towing performance
- how to select the right hitch and ball
- how to wire up your vehicle and trailer
- how to install a trailer brake controller
- how to flat-tow a car or use a tow dolly.
- Finally, we’ll cover some tips for safe and pleasant towing on the highway.
A picture is worth a thousand words, so in each article in this series we’ll have diagrams, tables, and photos to illustrate how to choose and use the towing gear you need. Our goal is to provide you the resources you need to make towing your trailer a pleasant experience, so that you arrive at your destination relaxed and ready to enjoy the location or activity you wanted in the first place.