Summer Time - Trailer Hauling and Safety Tips
Every Summer, the internet is flooded with videos of boat ramp nightmares. Hauling a trailer or boat can be intimidating, especially if you’re not experienced and backing into a driveway or going down a boat ramp can induce panic and anxiety for many people. Below is a list of tips, tricks and reminders to help reduce stress when it comes time to throw your truck in reverse with a trailer or boat behind your vehicle.
Know your vehicle
- No matter how big or small, a trailer adds weight to your vehicle. Even a small trailer can be several hundred pounds and now that added weight is attached to your hitch. Once you start adding things like lawnmowers, ATVs, UTVs or even a boat, you now have likely added 500+ pounds to your vehicle. An important first step is familiarizing yourself with your vehicle and its towing capacity. Every manufacturer has a specified towing capacity for vehicles and this number is something you should not exceed, as it could compromise the integrity of your vehicle’s frame, transmission and especially brakes.
- Before you begin towing, it’s important to inspect the receiver hitch on your vehicle. Many trucks, SUVs and crossovers come from the factory with a hitch integrated as part of the frame. However, in certain situations hitches can be added to your vehicle. Again, make sure you consult your owner’s manual before proceeding. Also, depending on where you live, some components can rust over time, such as trailer light terminals and trailer brake attachments. These items should be inspected, cleaned and replaced if necessary.
- Choose wisely – if you’re going to be hauling a 20ft bass boat to the lake every weekend, a small SUV isn’t the best option. Picking the right vehicle for your end goal is equally important to knowing what you have. A full-size gasoline powered truck might struggle with a large, heavy camper, whereas a ¾ ton diesel truck might make it a breeze.
- Campers and trailers are vulnerable and while you may think to yourself, what thief would try to unhook a trailer, it happens. Many fishing trips and family vacations have been abruptly ended when a trailer is stolen. There are many ways to deter theft and luckily, DuraSafe takes all the guess work out of picking the right locks for the job. It can be daunting to choose locks for your trailer and boat or camper, but with DuraSafe’s keyed-alike system, all you need is one key to secure your trailer. The locks can even be keyed-alike to the electronics on your boat or ATV too. Items such as swing away tongue locks, receiver locks, wheel chains and more can protect your trailer and toys from opportunists. These items can all be unlocked with one key, making safety and protection easy. To see more DuraSafe lock products for your truck, trailer, boat or ATV/UTV, visit https://durasafelocks.com/
- Hauling a trailer puts additional strain on a vehicle’s powertrain due to the extra weight. Making sure that your vehicle maintenance is up to date is important to maintaining the longevity of your truck, SUV or car. Things like regular oil changes and even changing your transmission fluid and filter are important when hauling. Because of the additional strain from a trailer’s weight, if you’re regularly hauling it might be smart to increase the frequency of fluid changes.
- BRAKES AND TIRES – that’s in bold for a reason. These are the items that keep your vehicle planted to the road and help you stop. It is critical to make sure that your vehicle tires and brakes are in good condition before hauling a trailer. Extra weight means your vehicle’s brakes will need to work harder to stop when pulling a trailer. The additional weight will increase stopping distances no matter what. Making sure that your pads and rotors are in good condition are critical to your safety. Certain brake manufacturers have specific brake pad compounds and rotor packages you may want to consider if you pull a trailer frequently. Tires are equally important, not just on your vehicle but also on your trailer. Tires are the only items on your vehicle in contact with the road. Old, damaged or worn tires can be compromised while driving and add a heavy trailer and that can increase the chances of a blowout. Why risk your brand-new $10,000 ATV or $25,000 boat because you tried to squeeze another season out of old tires? Spending money on a quality set of tires is a smart investment for the safety of you, your family AND your toys.
- Check and double check – it can be easy to forget a pin or chain in the rush of getting on the road, which can lead to big problems if a key component fails or is improperly used or even worse, forgotten. For the best towing safety device on the market, check out DuraSafe’s (link) Coupler Connect plus Protect.
- While some vehicles have trailer assist features, not everyone might have the fancy truck with the self-parking assist and heated cupholders. The easiest and most inexpensive way to build confidence in trailering is through practice. And while Fourth of July weekend might be a great time to hit the lake, showing up at peak times at a boat launch on busy holidays are sure to induce panic. So, take your time, practice in the evenings, and don’t be afraid to ask a savvy trailering veteran for advice and be patient. Taking five tries to get the right angle down a boat ramp or into a driveway is better than “sending it” once and doing damage to your truck or trailer and ending up on YouTube.
Hopefully, by following these tips and with a little practice, you’ll be on your way to becoming a trailering pro.