To some people, towing probably seems like an easy task. All you need is a tow vehicle, a trailer, and all the right hookups. Easy, right? Not so fast! Did you know that many of the accidents involving trailers occur as a direct result of an experienced driver? Did you further know that in the United States, one person per day parishes (on the average) in a towing related accident? So, how easy do you suppose those drivers thought towing was?
If that scared you a little bit, good. It should. Trailers are awesome for all sorts of things. But their safe operation and the proper use of them are essential. Towing requires skills that are above and beyond those of normal vehicle operation. Towing a boat, another automobile, or a trailer can be very dangerous.
With the towing package, trailer, and tow vehicle in mind, let’s take a look at each one separately and some specifications to ensure your safety and the safety of others.
The Tow Vehicle
The load to be towed, the trailer, and the tow vehicle should all be a proper match. Just because you can pull a fully loaded trailer on a level road does not mean that you will be able to pull that load up an incline.
It is important that you are aware of the tow rating of your vehicle: maximum loaded weight, size, and the greatest trailer weight that can be handled by the tow vehicle. These specifications, and more, are likely found in your vehicle owner’s manual. Generally speaking, your tow vehicle should always outweigh the load you are towing (including the trailer).
One thing that should never be used to tow a trailer is a 12 or 15 personpassenger van.
In basic terms, the types of trailers are as follows (four categories):
- recreational vehicle trailers (this can include folding camper trailers, fifth wheel trailers, and travel trailers)
- enclosed trailers
- boat trailers
- open trailers or flatbeds
There are federal laws that apply to trailers and they state that all of the following must be functional during towing:
- rear and side reflectors
- turn signals
- side marker lights
- brake lights
Not only before you start the towing process, but throughout the towing process, a checklist of those components should be completed.
Towing packages have several crucial components, in most cases:
coupler – this secures the trailer and the towing vehicle together
tow ball or hitch ball – part of a hitch that is ball shaped and is where the trailer coupler (see above) is attached
hitch – providing the connection between the trailer and the tow vehicle, this device attaches right to the tow vehicle itself
(And don’t forget about the safety chains and the electrical hookups that are necessary to properly execute a safe towing process.)
Different states have varying laws applying to towing. If you’re going to be traveling in a state with which you are unfamiliar, check out the laws ahead of time. If you are going to travel across several states, do that for every state you will be traveling through. Leave nothing to chance.
If you are a professional driver that tows a trailer, or have a company that uses trailers on a regular basis, make sure that the proper training is in place before you or other drivers tow another vehicle or trailer on busy streets. And if you are in the market for a trailer, you can rest assured that at Mickey Genuine Parts, we sell trailers that have been inspected and are safe for the road. If you would like to discuss the purchase of a trailer, or parts for your trailer, with an experienced and knowledgeable member of our staff, contact us today.