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Preparing Your Tow Vehicle

Throughout this series, we’ve talked about preparing your vehicle’s trailer hitch and wiring, determining weights and towing capabilities, and how to hook up and tow. The last area to cover is improvements to your tow vehicle. There are modifications you can make that can yield more engine power and protect your tow vehicle from the…

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Towing Safety

When you’ve got the correct gear, some practice and confidence, towing can be as easy as single-vehicle driving. Yet safety should always be your main concern when you’re pulling a trailer. Because no matter how easy and comfortable the process, the fact is that your towing rig weighs more and doesn’t dodge or stop as…

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Tow Bars/Dinghy Towing

One of the most common towing situations in the United States involves flat-towing a small car or SUV behind an RV. For those lucky permanent road warriors, pulling a small car allows them to set up camp virtually anywhere and use the towed car for local jaunts to tourist attractions and to run necessary errands.…

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Hooking Up

When you’ve got your receiver, hitch, wiring, and ball all in order, it’s time to hitch up your trailer and go! Many people have heard horror stories about how hard it is to back up to a trailer and hook up. In truth, most of these stories have some truth to them, but the good…

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Hitch Installation

If your tow vehicle did not come equipped with a trailer hitch from the factory, you’ll need to install one, or have it installed for you by a professional hitch installer. The majority of receiver hitches today are “no-drill” applications. That means that the trailer hitch and hardware were designed to fit into existing bolt…

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Brake Controls

Most trucks, vans, SUVs and RVs made since the mid-1990s are set up to use an electronic trailer brake controller. These vehicles include a factory-installed “quick plug” under the dash that connects with a standard brake controller. Many pickup trucks made in the last 5 years even include a brake controller built in to the…

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Wiring/Electrical

Before you can legally tow your trailer on public roads, you have to have working trailer lights. In fact, this is more important than simply risking a ticket – if your trailer lights don’t work, you’re inviting an accident. Always check your trailer lights before you leave on any towing trip, no matter how short.…

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Selecting Your Hitch

When you know your vehicle’s towing capacity and your total trailer weight, you have the information you need to select a hitch. As you shop for a hitch, bear in mind that it’s good to have excess capacity. Sometimes your towing needs will increase – perhaps you’ll buy a larger boat or camper – and…

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Determining Towing Capacity

It is critical that you understand your vehicle’s maximum towing capacity before you begin towing. If you exceed the manufacturer’s rated capacity you are creating an unsafe driving situation, and you are very likely to damage your vehicle’s engine, transmission, rear axle, brakes and wheel bearings, and you will void the manufacturer’s warranty. If you…

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Types of Hitches

When you go shopping for towing equipment, one of the most bewildering choices you face is selecting a hitch. There are many different options available, and it’s easy to become confused about the details of each kind and class of hitch. Figure 3-1 shows the most common trailer hitch classes, with information about the maximum…

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