"Whether you’ve been hauling large trailers for years or you’re about to embark on your first family vacation with a small travel trailer, towing isn’t something to be taken lightly, says Consumer Reports."
"To pull a trailer behind another vehicle, a driver needs to develop a whole new set of skills. Just the process of hitching and unhitching a trailer from a tow vehicle requires know-how and numerous steps, and forgetting even one crucial element in the process could compromise safety."
"Getting Ready for Towing
- Check those trailer tires. 'A lot of people check the tire pressures on their pickup truck, but they forget to check the tires on the trailer,” John Ibbotson, Consumer Reports’ chief mechanic and towing master, says. 'Also inspect the trailer tires for dry rot and cracking, especially if the trailer is stored outside and hasn’t been used for months.' Even if the tires appear to have plenty of tread, they age over time and that can lead to tire failure. Also, your tow vehicle’s tires may require a higher pressure for towing, as outlined in the owner’s manual. Don’t forget to make sure the wheel lug nuts on the trailer and tow vehicle are tightened to the specified torque.
- Make sure your tow vehicle’s maintenance is up to date. Towing puts additional stress on the tow vehicle, so before heading out on a towing road trip, be sure your truck has recently had an oil and filter change, the brake pads have plenty of life remaining, the engine coolant is filled to the proper level in the reservoir, and the transmission fluid is topped off, Ibbotson says. It’s also a good idea to have your trailer’s brakes (if it has them) checked and adjusted, and keep the wheel bearings greased.
- Match the hitch ball to the trailer. 'Make sure the ball on your tow hitch is the same size as the coupler on your trailer,' says Kent Sundling, MrTruck.com founder. 'Incorrectly sized hitch balls are the No. 1 cause of trailer accidents,' he says. Hitch balls typically come in three sizes: 1? inches, 2 inches, and 2 5⁄16 inches.
- Don’t get stuck on the side of the road. 'Always make sure you have at least one spare tire for your trailer,' says Rod Romain, Ram Trucks chief engineer. You’ll also want a lug nut wrench specific to your trailer’s wheels, as well as a jack that will work properly with your trailer in case you need to change a flat tire on the side of the road, he says.
- Use trailer safety chains. All trailers should have safety chains that hook up to the hitch. 'Always cross the trailer’s safety chains, don’t just run them straight,' Ibbotson says. 'If anything were to happen and the trailer got disconnected from the tow vehicle, the crossed chains will form a ‘cradle’ for the tongue of the trailer to fall down onto, instead of digging into the pavement.' The chains should have enough slack to permit sharp turns, but not drag on the road.
- Check trailer lights. Before hitting the road, double check to make sure the trailer’s electrical wiring system is properly connected to the tow vehicle. Inspect the wires by hand; they should be loose enough to be able to make turns without getting disconnected from the tow vehicle, yet not so loose that they touch the road. With a partner to visually confirm, check that the trailer’s running lights, brake lights, turn signals, and hazard lights are all working in correlation with the tow vehicle.
- Choose the right hitch. 'Some vehicles come with factory-installed tow hitches, but for those that don’t, finding the right hitch is important,' says David Bennett, AAA repair systems manager. 'Visit your local trailer rental company and explain what you intend to tow. A professional there can give you proper guidance.' AAA also recommends that trailer hitches be connected to the tow vehicle’s frame, not the bumper.
- Consider getting tow mirrors. If your trailer is wider than your tow vehicle, look into getting factory or wider aftermarket tow mirrors to help see the trailer’s blind spots while driving and to aid rear visibility when backing up. 'You need all the mirror width you can get when you’re towing a trailer,' Sundling says. Many new trucks and SUVs are also available with blind spot warning systems that not only help with the truck’s blind spots but also give warnings for the entire length of the trailer.
- Get a larger fuel tank. Some full-sized pickups can be ordered with a larger than standard fuel tank, a good idea if you plan on doing a lot of towing. 'You generally use more fuel while towing, and stopping at small, remote gas stations is not always easy [when towing a long, tall trailer],' says Nick Cappa, vehicle engineering media relations manager at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
- Use wheel chocks. When unhooking the trailer from the tow vehicle, place wheel chocks (sturdy, wedge-shaped blocks) in front of and behind the trailer’s tires to ensure the trailer doesn’t roll away when it is released from the tow vehicle."
Towable Camper Shoppers may not have considered these important details before hitting the road. Luckily, these shoppers tend to do their research before making a purchase. According to AudienceSCAN, within the last month, more than half of this audience used a search engine to research a product they were considering and nearly half looked up how-to, do-it-yourself or repair information. They're also 120% more likely than others to say that emails containing how-tos and ideas are their favorite type of email to receive from businesses and, last year, more than half were driven to action by email ads. Last year, these shoppers were also influenced by TV commercials, direct mail ads, commercials they heard over both digital and over-the-air radio and ads they either saw on their mobile smartphone apps or received via text.
AudienceSCAN data is available for your applications and dashboards through the SalesFuel API. In addition, AdMall contains industry profiles on RV/camper dealers and auto specialty equipment shops, as well as lead lists at the local level. Media companies, sales reps and agencies can access this data with a subscription to AdMall from SalesFuel.