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Practice Safe Trailer Towing with These 4 Tips

You take your safety seriously when driving—buckling your seat belt, maintaining your vehicle, etc. It's just as important to keep safety in mind when towing your trailer, whether you're hauling a 10' utility trailer or a 30' camper. No one wants a white-knuckle drive down the highway!Check out our tips and hand-selected products below, all designed to keep you and your family safe on the road!
Truck Towing Camper

Properly Load Your Trailer (It's Kind of a Big Deal)

Part of loading your trailer properly is making sure to never exceed your system's weight capacity. Products are heavily tested and rated by their manufacturers for a good reason! Remember, your towing setup is limited by its lowest rated component, whether that is your hitch, ball mount, vehicle, or any other component.It's also important to load your trailer in a way that properly distributes weight. Keep in mind that tongue weight should be 10% to 15% of the overall trailer weight. (Products like the Curt BetterWeigh # C51701 or Sherline Tongue Weight Scale # 5780 can help you easily, accurately measure your tongue weight.) Place heavier cargo forward and center in front of the trailer's axle to keep your trailer from swaying. Use tie-downs to prevent the load from shifting.If you still experience trailer sway, try readjusting your load. If the problem persists, you may need a weight distribution system with sway control. Weight distribution is recommended any time your trailer weight is more than 50% of your vehicle's weight, or at the load weight specified in your vehicle's owner manual.
Too Much vs Too Little Tongue Weight

Prepare for the Worst (It Will Happen Eventually)

If the worst happens and you end up stuck on the side of the road with your trailer, it's best to be prepared. Before your trip, pack an emergency supplies kit just in case disaster strikes on the road. Here are a few items to consider for your kit:
Of course, just tossing a few safety products in your trunk isn't enough. You also need the know-how for those "just-in-case" situations! It's always good to know how to change a trailer tire, how to jack your trailer, and how to jump your vehicle in case of an emergency. If you need to use road flares, know the manufacturer's recommendation for proper placement. For instance, Orion flares require you to place one at least 15 ft behind your vehicle and a second about 30 ft behind the first flare. On a two-lane road, place a third flare 15 ft in front of the vehicle.You'll never regret being prepared for bad luck!
Car with Hood Open

Take It Slow (It's a Trailer, Not a Racecar)

You may be able to zip through traffic when driving your unhitched vehicle, but driving with a trailer is—and should be—an entirely different experience. Keep in mind that your trailer adds additional weight and length to your tow vehicle, and you should adjust your driving style accordingly.So how can you drive more safely with your trailer? For starters, take it slow. Your rig will accelerate slower and take longer to stop with the additional weight, so give yourself extra time and distance to stop. Allow for extra time when switching lanes or passing vehicles. Swing out wider around corners to clear the turn, and don't take any turn too fast.Slowing it down will also help your fuel efficiency. The extra bulk of your trailer will already translate to poorer fuel efficiency—speeding on top of this will only further increase wind resistance and reduce your mpg. Try using a lower gear on long, steep hills or gravel roads, which can help improve your gas mileage as well.Also know that there are many products designed to help drivers safely tow their trailers. Here are a few to consider:
Tip: Always increase or decrease your speed gradually, especially if experiencing trailer sway. Slamming on the brakes can cause jackknifing, and increasing your speed can cause additional sway.
Stopping Distance With Vs Without a Trailer

Treat Your Trailer Right—And It Will Treat You Right

Regular maintenance is an important element of safe towing. Maintenance includes making sure your tires are properly inflated and in good shape; checking your trailer lights for proper function; checking and repacking bearings; replacing liquids as needed; inspecting/cleaning your trailer's appliances; and more.Certain tasks will need to be performed before every trip; others will need to be done just once a year or as needed. It's better to repair or replace worn or broken components as needed, rather than wait and have a more expensive problem to fix later.You can find a thorough trailer maintenance schedule linked in the box below.
Maintain Wheels, Bearings, and Hubs
Keep these four tips in mind, use your head, and don't be afraid to seek help if you have a question about safe trailer towing practices! And if you find yourself in the passenger seat, make sure you watch our video on What Makes a Great RV Co-Pilot here!



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