So many drivers tow trailers of one kind or another platforms for boats, horses or racing cars, also as caravans — that the Institute of Advanced Motorists operates a special towing test. Only existing members who have already passed the advanced test in a car or commercial vehicle are eligible. the basic points to remember when towing a trailer are these:
- Keep the nose weight on the trailer fairly high but not excessive: a downward force of between 501b and 1501b is usually needed to ensure stability.
- Always double-check that the tow-ball is fully latched home, that safety chains and emergency brake pulls are in position which all lights on the trailer (which must carry your vehicle’s registration number) are working.
- Ensure that any load is properly secured.
- Check tyre pressures on your vehicle and the trailer: pressures within the rear tyres of the towing vehicle may have to be increased, and pressures within the trailer’s tyres must be at the manufacturer’s recommended level — which can be considerably above the tow vehicle’s pressures.
- Release the parking brake and any overrun brake catch on the trailer’s drawbar.
You will find that the extra weight, perhaps a ton or more, of a laden trailer will create such a lot added momentum that stopping distances increase considerably, even if the trailer has overrun brakes. On an extended motorway journey with a really stable trailer, never allow yourself to forget temporarily that you are towing, in order that you discover yourself within the position of getting to brake very heavily for a roundabout at the top of an exit access road.
It is vital to permit for the extra width of a trailer, and to remember that the trailer will cut in closer to the kerb than the car itself when negotiating junctions or sharp bends. If it’s safe to try to to so, make a larger arc; alternatively, copy the technique employed by drivers of articulated lorries by drawing slightly past the apex of the junction with the ‘tractor unit’ (your car), then turn the corner sharply.
If you’re towing anything aside from a flat trailer, the mirrors on your car are going to be useless. it’s essential, therefore, to buy mirrors on extended arms to offer yourself adequate rearward vision.
The law affecting the utilization of trailers is just too complex for all the small print to tend here, so check by asking the local police or the corporate which supplies your trailer. Speed limits vary considerably consistent with the road and therefore the design of the trailer, and no trailer could also be utilized in lane 3 of a motorway. additionally , there are requirements governing lights, rear reflectors and therefore the display of 50mph warning signs at the rear.
Although it’s not a legal requirement, we would recommend that you fit sidelights on a trailer’s mudguards; they ought to show white to the front and red to the rear. This precaution could prevent an accident since other road users frequently fail to ascertain a trailer, particularly if it’s unladen.
Reversing is what sorts the men from the boys as far as trailers are concerned. it’s so tricky once you first attempt it that you simply would be wise to practise during a wide open space, perhaps in a public parking lot on a Sunday morning, before you have to do it in tight confines. As soon as you’ve got a go, you’ll find that the trailer will travel within the other way thereto in which the car is heading: if you back round to the left, the trailer will veer to the proper.
Overcoming this needs a special technique. If you would like to form the trailer swing to the left, you want to begin by reversing to the right; when the trailer has began to line up within the required direction, correct the steering and begin backing to the left. just like the other aspect of driving it takes a little time to master this, but once you’ve got acquired the knack it’ll seem easy. Always reverse very slowly because any mistake will be quickly compounded because the trailer moves rapidly off course; edge forward and have another go if necessary. In an extreme case it’s possible to use such a lot steering lock that the trailer jack-knifes and becomes jammed against the towing car’s rear bumper. Remember that you may need to latch overrun brakes out of use if they’re to not become clamped on as soon as you reverse.
One of the most important dangers on the open road is that the dreaded swing. Many trailers and caravans are prone at certain speeds to start oscillating from side to side, creating a pendulum effect which produces greater and greater swings until car and trailer are in peril of catapulting themselves off the road — or into another vehicle. Your only course of action is to hamper gently, but make sure that it’s gently because heavy braking could launch the unsteady trailer into even more violent swings. Stop as soon as possible so as to regulate the load on the trailer in order that more weight bears down on the drawbar.
- If you need to drive with a trailer or caravan, take the special towing test run by the Institute of Advanced Motorists.
- Allow a much greater stopping distance when towing a trailer.
- You are bound by different legal requirements when towing: make sure you understand how the law applies to your use of a trailer or caravan.
- Practise in an open space in order to learn the knack of reversing a trailer.