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Whether you’re bringing your boat and RV to the lake or your ATV and snowmobiles across town, getting them to your destination quickly and safely is a top priority. Towing is the easiest and most efficient means of transporting your big toys and equipment from one place to another, but are you towing the right way? Towing incorrectly can not only damage your vehicle and the expensive items you’re hauling, it can also be an accident hazard to you and others on the road.
Many people may not even realize they are making towing mistakes. To reduce accidents and protect everything you’re hauling, follow these towing safety tips from the experts at Agri-Cover:
Know towing capacity
Before you hit the road, know your vehicle’s towing capacity and make sure your load doesn’t exceed it. In addition, know the towing capacity of the hitch you’re using. There are different types of hitches – for example, if you’re towing more than 5,000 pounds, you need a weight-distributing or fifth-wheel hitch.
Use safety chains
Why use safety chains? Just in case your trailer becomes disconnected from your vehicle, the load falls onto the chains rather than the ground and stays connected to the vehicle. Chains provide a level of insurance and peace of mind for you and other drivers. By sure to cross safety chains under the hitch and connect on each side. Crossing chains, rather than connecting them straight across, allows you to make tighter turns without chains binding.
Protect what you tow
Road debris can damage campers, boats and trailers, all of which are significant investments. Avoid costly repairs and maintain your investment with Rockstar hitch mounted mud flaps. These mud flaps contour to fit your truck’s bumper and act like a shield to deflect rocks and other road debris away from what you tow.
Verify all lights work
It’s critical to check the lights on your trailer every time you haul. Make sure you check your trailer’s brake lights and turn signals. These lights are important elements that prevent accidents and let other drivers know when you are slowing or making a wide turn. Any time you make stops on the road – such as at a gas station – it’s smart to check lights and your load again, just to verify everything is secure and working correctly.
Check brake functionality
Larger trailers are equipped with a braking system that helps your vehicle to slow down when hauling a large load – such as a horse trailer or big boat. Checking the braking system before leaving helps ensure a safe haul for you and other drivers. Many drivers take a test drive before heading out, just to be sure all systems work well.
Understand tongue weight
The tongue weight is the force that the tongue of the trailer applies to the hitch while towing. A good target for tongue weight is 10 to 15 percent of the trailer’s total weight. Why is tongue weight so important? Too light and there won’t be enough downward force on the hitch, which can cause trailer sway. Too heavy and your vehicle’s steering could be compromised, or worse, your load could pull your hitch right off.
Check tire pressure
The importance of tires cannot be understated when towing. In addition to checking the tire pressure on the trailer tires, make sure your vehicle’s tires are properly inflated too. Refer to the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure for guidance. Proper tire pressure helps keep you safe, plus increases fuel efficiency.
Driving while towing requires patience. Allow extra time to accelerate and slow down. Visibility may be hindered when towing, so be aware of other drivers and the surrounding environment – you might want to add towing mirrors or wide-angle clip-ons to increase visibility. Keep in mind most states recommend driving no faster than 55 mph when towing – and in many it is the law – so even though you can’t wait to arrive at your destination, getting there a few minutes late is better than getting into an accident or damaging your equipment.