Tips for Driving with a Trailer
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.
- 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 trailerís 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.
- 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
- Always anticipate the need to slow down.
To reduce speed, shift to a lower gear and press the brakes
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
- 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
- Downshift to assist with braking on downgrades
and to add power for climbing hills.
- On long downgrades, apply brakes at intervals
to keep speed in check. Never leave brakes on for extended
periods of time or they may overheat.
- Some tow vehicles have specifically calibrated
transmission tow-modes. Be sure to use the tow-mode recommended
by the manufacturer.
- Put your hand at the bottom of the steering
wheel. To turn left, move your hand left. To turn right,
move your hand right. Back up slowly. Because mirrors cannot
provide all of the visibility you may need when backing
up, have someone outside at the rear of the trailer to guide
you, whenever possible.
- Use slight movements of the steering wheel
to adjust direction. Exaggerated movements will cause greater
movement of the trailer. If you have difficulty, pull forward
and realign the tow vehicle and trailer and start again.
- Try to avoid parking on grades. If possible,
have someone outside to guide you as you park. Once stopped,
but before shifting into Park, have someone place blocks
on the downhill side of the trailer wheels. Apply the parking
brake, shift into Park, and then remove your foot from the
brake pedal. Following this parking sequence is important
to make sure your vehicle does not become locked in Park
because of extra load on the transmission. For manual transmissions,
apply the parking brake and then turn the vehicle off in
either first or reverse gear.
- When uncoupling a trailer, place blocks
at the front and rear of the trailer tires to ensure that
the trailer does not roll away when the coupling is released.
- An unbalanced load may cause the tongue
to suddenly rotate upward; therefore, before un-coupling,
place jack stands under the rear of the trailer to prevent
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