A Simple Guide For First Time Trailer Drivers
Towing a trailer may seem simple—that is, until you’re actually driving a trailer, with all the additional weight to carry behind it. There is so much more that goes into safely towing a trailer to get to your destination. For first-time drivers, the goal here is to get to your destination unscathed. For that, here are some tips to help you out:
Know Your Weight Limits
Before you haul any items, make sure that your trailer can handle it. This is when checking the owner’s manual will be extremely helpful. The manual has a list of the trailer types that your vehicle can haul and relevant information on the maximum weight that your trailer can pull.
Make Sure to Distribute the Weight Evenly
Carry 5-10 percent of the trailer load on the hitch and redistribute the load as necessary. If your trailer fishtails, back off the gas and see if it stops. If it continues when you accelerate, the weight may not be evenly distributed on both sides.
Check Your Trailer Lights
Keep in mind that once you hitch a trailer, it will essentially be the back of your vehicle, which is why it comes with lights. As such, make sure that the trailer lights are properly connected. If you can, have someone stand behind the trailer while you test the turn signals and the brake lights to ensure that all the lights are properly working.
Check Tire Inflation & Pressure
The manual contains information on the recommended tire inflation levels. You won’t be able to operate well when the tires are incorrectly inflated, so make sure that you’ve inflated properly. While you’re at it, check the tire pressure as well. When you have tires that are in good condition, it will have a positive impact on your gas mileage.
Test the Brake System
Make sure that the two vehicles’ brake systems are synced. Since you will be adding additional weight, it could be too much for the vehicle brakes to handle, which is why it’s crucial to check the brake system as often as you can. You cannot carry on with your operations with both systems not working.
The open stretch of highway can be tempting for you to hit the gas pedal—but don’t. Keep in mind that you have a heavy load and driving fast can highly increase the chances of an accident occurring. Drive slow for safety, and to give you more time to respond should there be a change in traffic.
Always Plan Your Route
A trailer will add additional length to your vehicle, which means that you might not get into some spots quickly enough. That’s why you need to plan your route well before you drive. Plan your route with restrictions in mind, so you don’t get stuck in a tight spot or deal with tricky turns, which can be absolute time-wasters.
Take Time Off to Practice
Practice is crucial when driving a trailer. So, before you drive a trailer, practice backing up, making turns, and changing lanes until you get the hang of it. Driving a trailer is no joke, and if it’s your first time, practice will go a long way in ensuring your safety.
Driving a trailer is no easy feat. Fortunately, you can do it as long as you follow the safety tips we’ve recommended above. Always remember: safety first before you hit the road!
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