How to tow a trailer

How to tow a trailer

Here you can get step-by-step instructions to how to tow a trailer.

Towing a trailer or caravan is potentially dangerous, and requires considerable skill. The trailer or caravan reduces performance and braking power and may radically alter the way the car handles. Towing are often a secure proposition, though, if you’re taking care and adapt your sort of driving to suit.

The crucial thing to recollect when you’re towing an outsized caravan is size – you will be taking over tons of road space, in both length and width. once you overtake an obstruction, you’ve got to remain on the incorrect side of the road for extended to permit the caravan to clear it too.

Width is a crucial factor because it’s quite possible that the trailer or caravan won’t fit into gaps you’ll get the car through – all too easy to forget.

Hitching Your Trailer

Make sure your vehicle is rated for towing the load

You almost certainly can’t tow an 8,000-pound full-size trailer with a Honda Civic. Depending upon the actual trailer you would like to haul, you would like to see to work out the load limits within the owner’s manual and determine the acceptable hitch to possess installed.

  • the load should be generally specified by the manufacturer and listed within the owner’s manual. Look online if you’re missing the manual, or check at an auto shop.
  • you would like to seek out two numbers, the gross trailer weight (GTW), which is that the combined weight of the trailer and therefore the gear thereon , and therefore the maximum tongue weight for your vehicle to work out the category of hitch you will need to tow the load.

Get the appropriate class of hitch for your load installed

Generally, you will get a hitch receiver installed that you simply can use for various size trailer hitches, for sophistication 3 and up. These receivers include a removable draw-bar that you simply can use to put in different sized hitches for various loads you would possibly use.[2] If you get the most important receiver installed on your vehicle, you will be ready for any sized load your vehicle can handle, classified consistent with the following specs:[3]

  • Class 1: 2000 pounds GTW/200 pounds tongue weight
  • Class 2: 3500 pounds GTW/350 pounds tongue weight
  • Class 3: 5000 pounds GTW/500 pounds tongue weight
  • Class 4: 7500 pounds GTW/750 pounds tongue weight
  • Class 5: 10,000 pounds GTW/1000 pounds tongue weight

Get the right-sized ball for the trailer

The larger the ball, the more weight it can carry. Basically, the ball of the hitch will come in one of three sizes:[4]

  • 78 inch (4.8 cm)
  • 2 inch (5.1 cm)
  • 516 inch (5.9 cm)

Attach the trailer to the vehicle

Use the tongue jack to boost the trailer and align it with the ball. confirm that the hitch lock is unlocked before lowering the trailer onto the ball and securing the tongue. Cross the security chains to the hooks near the vehicle hitch or the vehicle frame, ensuring there’s enough slack within the chains but not such a lot that they drag on the bottom.

  • Using the tongue jack, attempt to raise the tongue off of the ball. If you’re ready to do that , the ball and tongue sizes don’t match, or the ball isn’t locked properly. During this case, replace the ball with the right size, or lock it properly and check out again.
  • Once the tongue of the trailer is on the ball, you’ll lock it in situ by placing a bolt or padlock through the ball lock mechanism to stop it from accidentally opening.

Attach the lights with the wiring harness

Generally, these employ an easy color-coded connection that creates it easy to attach the lights to the harness should make it easy to put in the connector properly to the tow vehicle’s harness.

  • After you’ve attached the lights, do a fast brake check to form sure everything is functioning properly. it is important to form sure that your turn signals and brakes work on the rear of the trailer to make sure a secure trip (as well as no traffic tickets).
  • to stay the connection from corroding, you might consider spraying the contacts with a little amount of dielectric grease.

Check the tongue weight

You would like the quantity of weight resting on the hitch to be roughly 10 to 12 percent of the entire weight of the trailer.[8] you’ll use a daily bathroom scale to put under the beam to see.

  • If the load out-weighs your scale (which is probably going for 4000 lb. and up trailers) place the size farther up the trailer to urge a smaller measurement. If you go a 3rd of the high , triple the load on the size to urge the approximate weight.
  • counting on the load of the trailer, you would possibly think about using an equalizing bar to even out the pressure on the hitch. These are generally long metal brackets that transfer a touch of the load more toward your vehicle’s front axle. If you’re hauling at the upper end of the specs, use an equalizer.

Secure your load

Depending on the load you’re hauling, you would possibly got to use a tarp to secure loose objects in boats or refuse trailers since you’re liable for anything that flies out and causes damage.

  • You’ll also take this chance to form sure the hitch height is about correctly, your trailer’s tires are inflated to the acceptable specifications, which you haven’t overloaded the trailer in such how on negate the careful checks you’ve already performed.


Get familiar with the clearance of your new rig

Before you hit the road, get out your tape . Does the trailer make your rig considerably taller? By how much? what proportion length is added to the rear of your car or truck? These are going to be important considerations any time you’re trying to park somewhere you normally wouldn’t provides a reconsideration to squeezing into.

  • If it is your first time towing a trailer, it is best to practice some during a big empty parking zone before taking it out on the road. you would like to be as familiar as possible with the vehicle’s reaction time and turning radius.

Accelerate and brake slowly

You want to always catch up on the additional weight, especially when slowing down, and particularly when driving on inclines. Play it safe and take care . you furthermore may got to pay especially close attention to the added length of your rig anytime you’re:

  • Changing lanes
  • Merging
  • Exiting the interstate
  • Parking
  • Stopping for gas
  • Pulling over

Prepare for the difference in fuel economy

Towing a big amount of weight will negatively affect your fuel economy, so keep an in depth eye on the gauge. Making frequent pull-offs in crowded gas stations are often stressful for first-time towers, so attempt to anticipate your fuel needs before time to avoid difficult maneuvers.

Stop frequently and check the connection

Albeit you checked and doubled checked your connections and everything is up to code, there’s always the likelihood that something within the road will jostle the trailer lose a touch. it is best to prevent sometimes, especially on long or especially bumpy trips, to form sure everything’s still attached. Seeing your trailer careen off the road is not the time to double-check.

Stay calm if you take a turn too narrowly

It’ll probably happen eventually that you’re going to mus-time a turn, or lack sufficient space to clear a turn such as you figured you’d . Don’t panic. confirm there’s not traffic behind you and copy slowly and as straight as possible to offer yourself the clearance you would like. Get a passenger to get off and watch the trailer from a special angle to offer you steering tips, and use your mirrors judiciously.

Backing Up

Get ready

No lie: backing up a trailer is one of the most difficult driving maneuvers there’s , but it is easy to master with the proper technique and a touch of smarts. to urge ready, avalanche your windows and kick a passenger bent act as a spotter. it’d take a couple of runs before you catch on perfect, so it helps to possess another set of eyes.

Set yourself up for success by getting perpendicular

To get yourself oriented properly, pull more or less straight perpendicular to where you would like the rear end of the trailer to travel , keeping the truck and therefore the trailer straight. Pull past the spot by 8–10 feet (2.4–3.0 m) to offer yourself adequate room to copy .

  • When you’ve it lined up, turn your wheel opposite the direction of the parking spot. So, in other words, if you’ve pulled up perpendicular to a spot on your passenger side, enough before the spot to copy , stop the car and jack the wheel to the left, or the driver’s side.

Learn the “S” turn

Basically, to urge the rear end of the trailer to travel right, you would like to form your car copy going left then straighten it back bent avoid a jackknife. Start backing up slowly and quickly straighten the wheel back out by turning it back toward the proper . Watch your rear closely and straighten it back out if your angle gets too sharp. This’ll take some practice.

  • Go extremely slowly. If you’re in an automatic transmission, the idling speed should be plenty fast to form you nervous. Use gas only sparingly and do not save or fast changes.
  • Avoid jackknifing. If, at any point, the angle of the truck to the trailer becomes smaller than a right angle, straight it back out and provides it another go. Don’t attempt to force it, because it won’t work.

Don’t neglect your front end

Make friends together with your side mirrors so you’ll keep an eye fixed on where your front is in the least times, taking special caution to observe out for parking obstacles and bumps which may ruin your approach and be a drag when you’re trying to straighten back out. Drive sort of a pro and use your side mirrors.

  • Your rear-view are going to be basically useless within the task. Use the assistance of a spotter and your side-mirrors to copy correctly.


The main difference you’ll notice when you accelerate with a caravan or trailer hitched behind is that it takes for much longer to collect speed due to the extra weight the car has got to pull. For this reason, you’ll got to allow longer for overtaking.

When beginning from rest, keep the engine revs swell to urge away cleanly without stalling. Once you’re going you’ll partly catch up on the additional weight by keeping the engine turning faster than normal, but during a lower gear , until you’ve got settled right down to a gentle cruising speed. It’s tempting to collect momentum by going quickly down a hill to require a run at the opposite side, but it’s best to avoid this because you would possibly not have enough stopping power in hand.


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