Summer is just around the corner. For some of us, that means it’s almost time for road trips! If you’re planning to tow a trailer this season, follow these tips to ensure you get the job done safely.
Selecting Your Vehicle
The first thing you need for towing is the right vehicle. Not every vehicle can tow a large load. That doesn’t mean only pickup trucks can tow, however.
A vehicle’s towing capacity depends primarily on raw power and torque. Check your owner’s manual to find the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR), tow capacity, and the trailer types your vehicle can pull. This’ll help you determine whether your car can handle what you need.
You should always perform regular maintenance checks on your vehicle, especially if you’re going on a long journey. Proper vehicle maintenance includes assessing your brakes, checking your visibility, and replacing any old accessories, such as cabin air filters.
Trailers require maintenance, too. Trailer maintenance involves cleaning, lubricating, and repairing any damaged parts. Check out this article for a detailed look at how to maintain your trailer.
Selecting the right equipment is key to safe towing. Here’s what you’ll need:
There are several types of hitches. The most common is a receiver hitch. It’s compatible with most vehicles and has a capacity of 20,000 lbs. It’s often combined with a weight distribution hitch, which distributes the weight between your trailer and vehicle for added stability and safer driving. Hitches also come in different classes and sizes. Do your research to find the best fit for your vehicle and trailer combination.
The ball mount, also referred to as the drawbar, connects to the hitch opening to provide a space for the trailer hitch ball to sit. Like hitches, there are various ball mounts to choose from. You’ll need one that fits into the space of your hitch opening and remains level when in motion.
Pin and Clip
Next, you’ll need a pin and clip to secure the ball mount inside the hitch receiver opening. You can combine this with a hitch lock to deter theft of your towing equipment.
Trailer Hitch Ball
When on the ball mount, the trailer hitch ball becomes the point of attachment for your trailer. You can choose from three sizes of hitch balls, but make sure you select the size that matches the trailer’s coupler.
To control your trailer’s lights and signals, you’ll need a wiring harness. Sometimes, you can simply plug it into your vehicle. Other times, you may need to use quick-splice connectors to connect the wires.
If your trailer has electronic brakes or weighs more than 3,000 lbs. when loaded, you’ll need a brake controller. This is placed in the cab of your vehicle and allows you to manage the trailer’s brakes when towing.
A variety of accessories can further assist you when towing. These include extended mirrors, auxiliary transmission coolers, and load levellers. You can also purchase trailer assistance, a visual guidance system that helps you see as you
Towing a trailer raises the bar in and means you have to change how you drive. For starters, remember that your trailer occupies extra space.
Next, when towing, take wider corners to avoid collisions. Since the trailer’s weight will impact how quickly your vehicle can accelerate and brake, leave extra space between yourself and others on the road.
You should also review the website of your province’s ministry of transportation for any special laws regarding towing. If your road trip will take you into other provinces, check their ministry websites, too. Laws and restrictions can vary.
The best way to tow with confidence is to practice. Find a parking lot or back roads to work on driving, parking, and reversing. When you’re ready to set out on your tow trip, remember what you’ve learned and take your time getting to your destination safely.