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How To Tow A Trailer – Some of the Basics You Should Know For Your Own Safety

If some of your hobbies involve camping, boating, drag racing or pretty much most outdoor activities these days, then chances are that you’ll need to do some towing. While it may seem scary, towing an average sized trailer is actually much easier than it looks.

But don’t get it twisted; the experience can be incredibly frustrating and intimidating, especially if you’re just getting your towing cherry popped. Anyone who tells you any different has obviously forgotten their first hours lugging a trailer around. Those hot, shaky, sweaty palms that can barely grip the wheel and a heart that won’t stay in its ribcage. If this is how you’re feeling, don’t fret, things will get easier by the mile. Especially with the following safety tips on how to tow a trailer the right way. But first, down to the basics and knowing your equipment.

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Towing Equipment Basics

Trailer hitch receiver – This is the bar to metal connector that mounts to your car. You will require a ball mount to connect to the base.

Ball Mount– As the name suggests, this is a metal ball at the top of the trailer hitch receiver

Trailer tongue – This is a bar from the front of the trailer running all the way to the towing hitch

Coupler – This is the inverted cup at the tongue end that is placed over the ball mount to connect your tow vehicle to your trailer

How to Tow A Trailer – Some of the Basics You Should Know For Your Own Safety

Not so fast there cowboy! Now that you have the equipment in place, there are quite a few things that you need to consider before you even touch the tarmac. Not only will the following tips help you tow more efficiently, but also keep you and other road users safe.

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1: Know the Towing Capacity of your Tow Vehicle

Despite the size and stature of your vehicle, it doesn’t necessarily translate to more towing power. Even if you own the largest SUV or truck out there, it’s best to reference the manual for the vehicle’s exact towing capacity and the gross combined weight rating. This will help you maintain a more controllable weight and avoid all the dangers that come with overloading and overworking your tow vehicle.

2: Inspect your Trailer Before Use

Just like clockwork, you’ll never fail to see a myriad of boat carriers, trailers, and even campers stranded on the roadside or highway shoulder. If you ask them what the trouble is, chances are that it’s a seized wheel bearing, flat tire, damaged connectors or some other issue with the trailer. RVs and trailers are often treated poorly and left to sit outside where they corrode for months on end. So before you hook up, make sure that your load is roadworthy. Trust me; it will save you a mountain of hassle.

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3: Check Your Lights, Brakes, and Mirrors

In addition to the overall road-worthinesss of your trailer, you need to ensure that all the brakes, lights and signals are working as they should. For the signals, just flick the hazard and check both in one go. In most cases, your rear view mirror will be fully obstructed by the trailer. The longer wheelbase will also work to create even more blind spots that will make backing up close to impossible. Make sure you adjust your mirrors outward accordingly and explore the possibility of installing even more blind spot mirrors.

4: Final Word – Practice Makes Perfect

It’s no secret; towing a trailer is not necessarily an intuitive task. It takes some time to become what you would call second nature. But before you put yourself out there in potentially challenging situations, why not visit an empty parking lot and practice some of the basics. Once you get acquainted with the setup, steering radius and feel of towing a trailer, you’ll be that much closer to being a certified trucker.