As school starts and students move back to college, we find ourselves asking questions we have never thought of before, like: “what if I need to tow something? Can my car handle it?” or “If I need to tow something, how do I properly set it up?” If you find yourself thinking these, or other questions, you’re in luck because Pfeiffer Used Cars has the top five keys to successfully towing a trailer with your vehicle.
- Know the maximum towing capacity. Make sure to check your owner’s manual before even trying to tow a trailer because your vehicle can only pull so much weight (if any). Also, make sure you have the proper tongue weight; usually 10 to 15 percent of the trailer’s total weight. Having this correct will help prevent the trailer from swaying.
- Use safety chains. Cross the safety chains in an “x” so if your hitch were to come undone it will fall onto the chains instead of the ground. You don’t want to risk losing your trailer if the hitch does come off.
- Baby your brakes. While you might know your engine will be working harder while towing, you might not think about the brakes. The added weight of the trailer will affect the speed of stopping as well as the pressure being put on the brake pads. Instead of slamming on the brakes, try to downshift and use gentle pulse taps when needing to brake to reduce to risk of overheating.
- Make sure you can see. Unless you frequently pull a trailer, you’re not going to be used to having the size of your vehicle extended, so try using extended mirrors and extra precautions. Also make sure you use your turn signals when turning or changing lanes just in case you miss another driver.
- Slow down. In most states the top speed while towing is 55 mph. The last thing you want to happen when you’re driving is to be going too fast and have to stop more weight than you’re used to. If you’re driving in rain, strong winds or any other weather condition, take your time.
If you notice the trailer beginning to sway, let off the gas and hold the steering wheel straight. Do not try to brake or counter the sway as this may make things worse. If you have any other travel tips, we’d love to hear them in the comments section below, but until then, safe travels!