Trailer Towing Tips

Trailer towing is not difficult but if you are new to towing, it may be a little intimidating at first.  It is important to practice in a large parking lot or area where you won’t damage your trailer, camper or any other vehicles.  Use these tips to make trailer towing easier and safe.

Before you tow, review your tow vehicles owner’s manual.  Be sure that you are not towing a camper or trailer that weighs more than what your tow vehicle is rated to pull.  Check to see if the owner’s manual offers any special notes related to towing with your vehicle.

Your tow vehicle should be equipped with a hitch package.  This will include a frame mounted hitch with a receiver area to put your hitch and a plug-in to connect your camper or trailer to the tow vehicles power.  Make sure that your trailer hitch is rated for the camper you want to haul. It is also imperative that your tow vehicle has a brake control.  The brake control will assist your tow vehicle in stopping by engaging the brakes of the camper through your tow vehicles braking system.

When connecting your camper to the tow vehicle, it is recommended that you do a pre-trip inspection before departing.  This inspection should include:

  • Checking tire pressure and condition of both the tow vehicle and the camper
  • Check to ensure that you have a good wiring connection from the tow vehicle to the camper.  Check that all of the lights are in working order including brake lights and turn signals.  Also be sure that the electrical brake system is working as it should.
  • If your camper or trailer is equipped with equalizer and stabilizer hitching, hook it up.
  • Be sure that your camper is riding in a level position.  This makes towing easier and improves fuel mileage.
  • Before pulling away, double check that your trailer tongue is locked or latched down securely on the hitch ball and that your safety chain are hooked on.
  • Be sure that you have allowed enough length on your wiring connection to make turns without pulling the wiring out.
  • If the camper is equipped with electric brakes, hook the break-away cable to an area on the trucks hitch so that in the event that your trailer and tow vehicle become separated, that the emergency trailer brakes will engage and bring it to a stop.  This mechanism requires a battery that should be included on the trailer.  Check to see that the battery is charged before towing.
  • You will want to be sure to have a good visual of the trailer from the inside of the tow vehicle.  If the tow vehicle is not equipped with adjustable mirrors for towing, you may need to invest in some mirror extensions.  This will allow you a better side view of the camper or trailer.  It is important that in your side view mirrors that you can see approaching vehicles and that you can easily see the tires of the camper.  This will assist in making proper and safe turns and watching to be sure that your trailer is staying in your driving lane.  If you can’t see past the trailer, you need to adjust your mirrors.
  • Secure all items inside of the camper to avoid shifting or breaking.  Lock all doors and windows on the camper.



When towing a trailer, you will have to adjust your driving.  Always allow yourself plenty of time to stop and extra time to accelerate.  Quick braking with a camper could cause a jackknife situation or abrupt steering changes could cause the trailer to sway and go out of control.  Always look as far ahead as possible so you can prepare for any problems and make steady changes in your driving. Keep extra distance between you and the car in front of you and be proactive with your driving by keeping these tips in mind:

NEVER PULL A HEAVY OR LARGE TRAILER OVER 55MPH

ALWAYS DRIVE WITH THE TOW / HAUL FEATURE ON (if the tow vehicle is equipped)

KEEP PLENTY OF DISTANCE FROM THE CARS IN FRONT OF YOU

ALWAYS ALLOW EXTRA TIME FOR STOPPING

IF YOUR TRAILER STARTS TO SWAY –PUSH IN ON YOUR BRAKE CONTROL TO ENGAGE THE TRAILER BRAKES.  NEVER SLAM ON THE TOW VEHICLE BRAKES

NEVER BE IN A HURRY – this only leads to stress and frustration

ONLY PASS ON STRAIGHTAWAYS – and allow enough space to safely pull in front of the car you are passing

MAKE WIDER TURNS – Trailer wheels do not follow in the same tracks as the tow vehicle. They generally track a little tighter.  This means that if you are bearing left around a corner and your tow vehicles drivers side front wheels are just right of the center line, the trailer wheels will actually be on or left of the center line going into the on-coming traffic lane.

NEVER GO DOWN HILL TOO FAST – Instead of keeping your foot on the brake pedal, you can downshift to help slow the camper down.  You can also engage the tow/haul feature if your tow vehicle is equipped with it.

MOVE SLOWLY WHEN BACKING UP –Don’t over steer as the slightest movements of the steering wheel will make sudden changes.  Use your side mirrors to watch the movement of your trailer.

Practice makes perfect!  It takes lots of practice and patience to get comfortable towing a camper but you will be surprised how quickly you will catch on.  Then you will be towing like a pro!

OTHER RELATED ARTICLES:

Trailer Hitch Classes

Weight Distribution Hitch

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