4 Tips for safely towing your trailer, boat or camper
Follow safe towing guidelines
By Laure Justice
You can have a lot of fun boating or camping with your family in Atlanta, but you have to safely reach your destination first. Pulling something behind your vehicle might sound like a challenge if you're new to the experience, but knowing a few safety tips can help you reach your destination without incident. Get started by checking your vehicle owner's manual to ensure your vehicle has the towing capacity to pull the load you plan to move, then read on to learn more about safely towing your boat, camper or trailer.
- Loading: If your load is unbalanced or improperly secured, it can lead to a big problem because it can make your tow-behind wobble, and wobbling can pull the tow vehicle out of control. This applies to towing a trailered boat or camper that is basically secure or static in position. So center your load evenly between the tow-behind's wheels with 60 percent of the load balanced in the front half of the tow-behind.
- Hooking up: Make sure your tow-behind is securely hooked to your tow vehicle according to the manufacturer's directions. This generally means making sure the tow vehicle's hitch ball latches securely inside the trailers hitch, but make sure to check your owner's manual or the manufacturer's website for specific details as it can vary. Hook up the wiring harness for the lights. Attach the safety chains to the holes or rings on the underside of the hitch, joining the tow vehicle and trailer hitch, crisscrossing the chains to form an x shape. This is important because if the hitch ball comes loose, the chains help ensure your tow-behind stays put.
- Testing: Test your brakes and turn signals without moving the vehicle to make sure your lights work. Check the pressure on your tires to make sure they're properly inflated. Then, take off slowly when you start driving and take a moment to test your brakes. This lets you make sure the brakes work properly, plus it lets you get a feel for differences in the way your brakes perform under the weight and influence of your boat, camper or trailer.
- Slowing: Schedule in a bit of extra time for the trip. Your vehicle will respond differently to braking and turning when towing and under payload, so you need to drive slower when towing in order to drive safely. You need to slowly depress the brake pedal rather than hitting it hard when pulling a load. You also need to plan ahead so you can corner a bit wider than normal, because trailers tend to pull to the inside a bit.
You can also discuss concerns about trailering safety, braking problems or vehicle performance issues with your Atlanta-area professional auto repair service before hitting the road for your vacation or weekend fun destination.
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