Winter towing with your truck, car, or SUV can mean having to face less than ideal road conditions. As with any form of winter driving, towing safely during the colder months requires properly preparing your vehicle and adjusting your behaviour behind the wheel.
These five winter towing tips will help you get your trailer from point A to point B safe and sound.
1. Choose the right tires
Snow and ice can significantly impact your vehicle’s ability to grip the road. Since traction is an important part of winter towing, it’s imperative that you give yourself every advantage in this department. Outfitting your tow rig with winter tires will go a long way toward providing you with the traction you need to accelerate, stop, and turn with confidence—even when hauling a heavy load.
2. Install trailer brakes
Predictable trailer behaviour is key to avoiding nasty surprises on slippery roads. When winter towing conditions get treacherous, one of the best ways to maintain steady control over your load is to install a set of trailer brakes. By distributing the braking force between the tow vehicle and the trailer, you’re far less likely to experience trailer fishtailing or sliding. You also take the pressure off your rig’s tires, as they no longer have to handle 100 percent of the stopping duties.
3. Stay smooth, stay alert
When faced with reduced traction on the road, it’s always prudent to drive as smoothly as possible. This means reducing your input on the steering wheel, brakes, and accelerator so that you’re applying power, stopping pressure, and steering angle gradually.
Winter towing challenges you to stay smooth and alert at all times. In such changeable conditions, you don’t always have the chance to correct mistakes made behind the wheel. Pay extra attention to the road and the weather forecast so that you can adjust your driving strategy accordingly.
4. Maintain momentum
Asking your vehicle to haul extra weight in the wintertime places serious demands on its available traction—even if you’ve installed a good set of winter tires. To avoid getting stuck on ice or in deep snow, you should aim to maintain your car or truck’s forward momentum, especially if you’re on a slope. Try to avoid stopping on an incline or in an area where snow has piled up.
5. Don’t use cruise control
Cruise control can be extremely convenient, but you should never use it when towing in the winter for two important reasons. First, by letting a computer take over your throttle inputs, you become less engaged and therefore less likely to react quickly and safely in a dangerous situation. Second, a cruise control system can’t detect what the weather is like or how packed the snow is on the road; it may also downshift or accelerate at the wrong time, potentially destabilizing your rig.
Follow these basic tips and you’ll get through the winter season without any towing troubles.
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By Benjamin Hunting