How to Tow a Trailer Properly – A Beginner’s Guide

When you see a trailer towed from one place to another, you might seem to be surprised by its simplicity. This is not true, towing is not as easy as it seems, it includes several steps. In this article, we would explain everything about towing a trailer.

Towing a trailer includes two different specific functions to concentrate on, selection of the vehicle, trailer, and driving. There have been several instances where the driver or the owner has neglected any one or both these factors and eventually regretted it. Most of the customers who are new to using towing equipment do not know the basic principle of towing. The simplest way to efficiently tow a trailer is to select an appropriate vehicle, towing equipment, and careful driving. If you are planning to tow your trailer, then here is everything you need to know.

Tow a Trailer

1. Selecting an appropriate vehicle, hitches, balls, tongue weight, and indicator lights

1. Selecting the vehicle –

Every vehicle on the market is not designed for towing a trailer. For example, you cannot tow a trailer using a Honda Civic, a trailer would have a minimum weight around 8000  pounds, and no regular commuter car comes designed to pull or push such kind of weight. The two important numbers that you should check before purchasing an automobile and a trailer

  • The automobile would come with a maximum weight it could pull, check the specifications or check the user manual to get hold of the precise weight.
  • When it comes to trailers, then GTW (gross trailer weight), which is simply the weight of the trailer plus the gear on it, and the maximum tongue weight.

2. Appropriate hitch –

Different types of hitches are available on the market today, each type designed to support different types of trailers. Most commonly, automobiles designed to tow trailers come incorporated with a hitch. However, it might not suit your requirement. In such cases, you should select an appropriate hitch to meet your requirement. Each type of hitch is differentiated based on the load it could tow; each type is denoted by class. Here are each type

  1. Class 1: 200-pounds tongue weight and 2000-pounds gross trailer weight
  2. Class 2: 350-pounds tongue weight and 3500-pounds gross trailer weight
  3. Class 3: 500-pounds tongue weight and 5000-pounds gross trailer weight
  4. Class 4: 7500-pounds tongue weight and 750-pounds gross trailer weight
  5. Class 5: 1000-pounds tongue weight and 10000-pounds gross trailer weight

Based on the details mentioned above, select an appropriate hitch.

3. Appropriate size ball for the trailer –

The size of the ball of the hitch is the major factor that decides the quantity of weight the automobile could tow. Basically, the ball of the hitch comes in three different sizes.

a) 4.8 cm
b) 5.1 cm
c) 5.9 cm

Select an appropriate ball size to tow your trailer efficiently.

4. Selecting an appropriate tongue jack –

To couple the trailer to the automobile, the user will have to lift the trailer and align it with the ball of the hitch. To raise the trailer, the user would need the tongue jack. The capacity of all the tongue jacks are almost the same; however, based on the brand, the capacity could differ. Check the product specification and purchase an appropriate tongue jack.

It is important that you know to use the tongue jack to prevent any damage if the trailer is not lifted properly. Remember, not to loosen the tongue jack, unless the alignment is perfect.

5. Appropriate indicator lights–

Indicator lights are one of the most important things that you would need while towing a trailer. A trailer would most commonly come with a simple color-coded connection that makes it easy for anyone to connect the lights to the harness. It is very important that you check the indicator lights by stepping on the brakes.

Now you know, everything that you need to know about trailers and the equipment required to attach the trailer.

2. Driving the vehicle

Attaching the trailer to the automobile and driving the automobile is not an easy task. There are several things that you should consider while driving.

  1. Height and length of the trailer – there are different types of trailers available on the market, most of them have different heights. There is considerably a large difference in driving an automobile and an automobile attached to a trailer. If you are towing the trailer for the first time, it is best recommended that you practice driving the setup on a large ground or in an open space.We recommend that you try turning right, left, braking, and accelerating.
  2. Brake and accelerate slowly – Driving an automobile is an easy task; however, driving an automobile attached to a trailer is complicated. It would help if you compensated for the extra weight of the trailer. If you have practiced driving the setup, you would know that it is not a wise thing to drive fast while towing. If you do not want your automobile engines to fry, always consider not to increase the acceleration above a certain level. Install trailer brake controller for this also.
  3. The difference in fuel economy – Towing a significant amount of weight puts a lot of strain on the automobile. The strain could consume a lot of fuel, and this consumption could comparatively increase. This is why you should be prepared while on long trips. Frequent refueling could be stressful. Therefore, a full tank is better recommended.
  4. Frequent halts for inspection – Even if you have checked the connection between the automobile and trailer before starting the towing, it is very important that you halt in between the towing and check the connections to ensure there are no damages to the connection. Remember, traction, air friction, and condition of the road could loosen the connection.
  5. Be careful and patient – It is common that towing vehicle encounter sharp turns, even if the driver is experienced or not, passing through such turns is not an easy task. If you encounter such sharp turns, it is very important that you turn carefully and if you cannot turn in one-go, then be patient, slowly reverse the automobile and make the clearance you need, you could ask the help from anyone nearby.

3. Reversing the towing automobile

To be frank, reverse driving the trailer is one of the most complicated driving maneuvers there is; even if the driver is experienced it is the same. No one can escape the complication of reversing a trailer.Here is how to reverse a trailer.

1. To get your trailer oriented properly, you should first practice it on a plain ground; the best action would be to pull more or less straight perpendicular to where you need the back end of the trailer to move. This keeps the truck and trailer straight. Everything except this is basic driving.

2. To make an “S” turn, the driver must know the basic fact that if the trailer has move right, the automobile should reverse going left and then straighten back out. Now, slowly reverse the car and then quickly straighten the wheelout by turning the wheel back toward the right.

  • If your automobile has an automatic transmission, then the best advice is to avoid heavy foot, step on the gas sparingly. Never try to make fast changes.
  • Always avoid jack-knifing,if the angle between the automobile and the truck gets reduced to something lesser than 90-degree, you should stop brake the automobile and then slowly move the automobile.

3. While reversing or backing up the trailer, you must use the side mirrors. The side mirrors will help you keep track of where your front end is while backing up. The rear view mirror would be worthless while towing; however, instead, you could use the side mirrors and spotters.

Bottom line –

If you have read everything written above, then you would find that it is not an easy task. If you are a beginner, then we recommend that you do not consider long drives until you earn some experience. Even after achieving the experience, you should be careful and patient.

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