Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Vintage Trailer Towing Tips (Or Any-Trailer Towing Tips, For That Matter)

Few things in a Girl Camper's life are more empowering than to be hooked up and on the road, with her very own trailer in tow.

And, few things are likely to be more terrifying at first for those who've seldom (if ever) towed anything  until this point.

Learning to tow safely and with confidence is quite a bit like learning to ride a horse:  It's normal to be anxious at first, because you're suddenly expected to be in charge of something that's very big, and that you aren't sure you can control. Confidence comes with experience, but in the meantime, getting the experience can be pretty nerve-wracking.

Whether learning to ride or to tow a trailer--a few basic lessons do help. I'll pass some along, in tip form.

These are towing principles that were taught to me for towing horses--e.g., live cargo that can lose its balance, and even be injured from erratic driving or flat-out driver error.

'Caution' is the byword. When you have a load of expensive horseflesh behind you, the very, VERY last thing you want to do is get into an accident, or break down on the side of the road. You learn to think ahead, minimize risk, and above all, protect the cargo.

Which is just what you'll want to do when towing your precious trailer.

* Minimize lane changes. By keeping to a steady track, you reduce chances of having your load shift and possibly put the trailer off balance.

* Stay in the slow lane (note where the trucker is here), and let the rest of the traffic go around you. That car in the picture is going to be much more nimble at changing lanes than you will be, with your trailer, so leave that to the other driver.

* Minimize the need for stepping on your brakes. When going down a steep grade, for instance, take your foot off the gas, and shift into a low gear instead of riding your brakes. This will slow the tow vehicle and the trailer behind it and save wear and tear on the brakes.
* When approaching a stop sign or stop light, take your foot off the gas early enough that you can coast to a stop with little or no braking. Always leave plenty of stopping room between you and the vehicle up ahead--no tailgating!

* To avoid damage like that above--note the crease running the length of the trailer, and the huge paint scrape on the door--make all your turns wide and slow. With the trailer behind you, you need to make a wide arc as you turn in order for the trailer to make the turn, too.

* Invest in good equipment--this includes tires, hitch system, brake system, lights and wiring--and then inspect and maintain every piece of it like it's your religion. Do the walk-around at every stop: Tires good? Hitch secure? Lights and signals working? Gas tank topped off? Prevention is always your best insurance.

* Get roadside-assistance coverage, making sure you know what the towing coverage is before you sign up. Should you ever  blow a tire or break down and need your whole rig towed (heaven forbid), price of the premium will fade and you'll be very glad you're covered.

* Don't make a grand cross-country adventure your first novice trailer-towing trip. Practice towing by taking short, local trips that'll help you get the feel for your rig--its acceleration capacity, braking behavior, corner-turning capacity, and so forth.

You can do it--just do it safely and smartly.


  1. Thanks for these tips...I can always use a refresher...only been out a few getting expert advice!

  2. Always a pleasure, thanks for reading. (And remember, you get to practice your curve-taking on all drives to Girl Camp. There are 101 curves in the road between Bovill and Elk River!)

  3. So true about driving safe.... I am of the mind set that if the weather is dicey (& ditto for traffic conditions) it's wise to pull off the road, maybe take a break at a shopping center parking lot that offers ample room or even pulling off the road in a safe area, until the hectic traffic/weather is better to navigate. I would rather get to my destination late then not at all.
    OMG! 101 curves to G.C.? I'll have to count next time I drive over to G.C.... lol!
    Better yet,,, kpaints can count all the curves to the left & I will count all the curves to the right! lol!

  4. Thanks for the tips. I've pulled enclosed utility trailers but never my little baby. Next spring I intend to give it a try. Not too worried about backing up....well let's just say I'm going to look for drive through sites!!

  5. Backing is one of those things that takes practice, but it's practice you generally don't want to get in front of a crowd!

  6. For Towing equipment used in this area ranges from light-and-medium-duty trucks, used for Towing small vehicles, to large and sophisticated recovery vehicles.

  7. Trailer towing or hauling is not difficult but if you are new to towing, it may be a little intimidating at first. It is important to practice in a large parking lot or area where you won't damage your trailer, camper or any other vehicles.

    Heavy Hauling

  8. Good post! Thanks for sharing this information I appreciate it. God bless!

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  9. This is the tips we need for safe towing, thanks for the post.

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  10. The most knowledgeable folks recommend that initially, it’s best to stay outside! Plan on spending up to a half an hour with the exterior inspection. A thorough outside investigation helps you stay realistic before stepping inside the trailer and subsequently falling in love with the interior cuteness or ‘potential.’

    Cath Brookes
    Must see Seattle Senior Housing Hearthstone