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Top 10 Trailer Towing Tips

Take time to practice before driving on main roads and never allow anyone to ride in or on the trailer. Before you leave, remember to check routes and restrictions on bridges and tunnels. Consider the following safety tips each time you drive with a trailer.

General Handling

  • Use the driving gear that the manufacturer recommends for towing.

  • Drive at moderate speeds. This will place less strain on your tow vehicle and trailer. Trailer instability (sway) is more likely to occur as speed increases.

  • Avoid sudden stops and starts that can cause skidding, sliding, or jackknifing.

  • Avoid sudden steering maneuvers that might create sway or undue side force on the trailer.

  • Slow down when traveling over bumpy roads, railroad crossings, and ditches.

  • Make wider turns at curves and corners. Because your trailer's wheels are closer to the inside of a turn than the wheels of your tow vehicle, they are more likely to hit or ride up over curbs.

  • To control swaying caused by air pressure changes and wind buffeting when larger vehicles pass from either direction, release the accelerator pedal to slow down and keep a firm grip on the steering wheel.

Braking

  • Allow considerably more distance for stopping.

  • If you have an electric trailer brake controller and excessive sway occurs, activate the trailer brake controller by hand. Do not attempt to control trailer sway by applying the tow vehicle brakes; this will generally make the sway worse.

  • Always anticipate the need to slow down. To reduce speed, shift to a lower gear and press the brakes lightly.

Acceleration and Passing

  • When passing a slower vehicle or changing lanes, signal well in advance and make sure you allow extra distance to clear the vehicle before you pull back into the lane.

  • Pass on level terrain with plenty of clearance. Avoid passing on steep upgrades or downgrades.

  • If necessary, downshift for improved acceleration or speed maintenance.

  • When passing on narrow roads, be careful not to go onto a soft shoulder. This could cause your trailer to jackknife or go out of control.

Downgrades and Upgrades