Top 5 Towing Mistakes

02G28543While there is some late winter strangeness in some parts of the country, warmer weather is coming, and clear skies are ahead. That means it’s time to start planning those family excursions. If you’re one of the many travel enthusiasts who like to tow a “home on wheels” in the form of an RV, trailer, or camper it will go much better if you know what mistakes you need to avoid.


1) You Forget to Check Tire Pressure


This is something we should all do from time to time with our normal vehicles, but you need to be especially vigilant when towing such a heavy load. That includes tires on both the towing vehicle and the trailer. Underinflated tires are dangerous because they cause additional increase the chance for a blowout, and worse, a rollover. Excess tire wear also increases this risk, so check for that as well.


2) Ratings? What Ratings?


Not all towing vehicles are equipped to handle the same load. That’s why you need to be keenly aware of your vehicle’s tow ratings. If you try to tow too much weight, it can cause a number of potentially dangerous issues, such as tire blowouts, brake failure, broken suspension system, and an overheated transmission.

Your vehicle is rated in various ways to give you a clear idea of how much you are able to tow. These numbers should be included in your owner’s manual and on the sill of the driver-side door. Your trailer’s weight ratings are on its Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) plate.

  • Towing capacity – The weight your vehicle can pull.
  • Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) – This is the maximum operating weight for your vehicle, which is determined by the manufacturer and does not include the trailer. The number you see includes the vehicle’s weight, so don’t think that’s the weight your cargo can reach.
  • Gross combination weight rating (GCWR) – This is the highest weight you can reach for everything you have on the road, including the tow vehicle, the trailer, and everything that is in them, including fuel.
  • Gross axle weight rating (GAWR) – How much weight a single axle can safely support.
  • Tongue weight – In addition to the tow ratings, be sure that your hitch system coincides with your vehicle’s towing specs. The tongue weight is how much it can carry, which is about 10 percent of the total trailer weight. If the hitch is bearing too much weight, it can affect steering response. If it’s bearing too little weight, the trailer may sway.


3) Forgetting Trailer Brakes and Lights


While you are towing a trailer, you aren’t driving it. That means you need to have it set up to operate like the vehicle you are driving in some ways. Since you will have more momentum when driving with a trailer, it takes longer to reduce speed. Some states require that trailers over a certain weight need to be equipped with their own braking systems, which you control from your vehicle. Check with your home state for the weight cut-off point.

Since your trailer will block your towing vehicle’s tail lights,brake lights and turn signals, the trailer need to have them, which are hooked up to your vehicle’s electrical system.


4) Poor Cargo Loading Habits


How many times have you been behind a trailer or moving truck that was leaning to one side? Looked pretty dangerous, right? Keep your cargo balanced and secured, with a slight majority of it over the front axle.


5) Check Your Insurance Coverage


While your insurance for your tow vehicle covers basic liability, you need trailer insurance to protect yourself from total loss and other expenses, such as temporary lodging.

Take it from the towing experts at Chappelle’s Towing… If you love to travel big, don’t let your dream vacation turn into a nightmare. Be prepared.

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