Having the skill of towing another vehicle can be very useful sometimes; like if you’re moving and own a boat or are transporting an RV. However, towing isn’t just a ‘hook her up and start driving’ kind of situation. You need to know how to properly set up your vehicle, do the necessary checks and how to handle both vehicles on the road. It often takes a lot of practice before you can confidently tow another vehicle. Here are some of our favourite towing tips and hacks to help you brush up on your technique:
Below is a list of checks that you should run through every time you’re about to hit the road while towing a trailer or vehicle- no matter how much of a hurry you’re in:
✓ Look over the coupling and make sure it’s properly connected
✓ Check that the safety chains are in place
✓ Make sure the break-away wire is secure
✓ Check that the trailer plug is tightly in place
✓ If towing a vehicle, make sure the handbrake is off
✓ if you’re using a weight-distribution hitch, make sure it’s secure
✓ Ask a friend, partner or family member to double-check that the lights are working
✓ Before you start driving, have a thorough look in all of your mirrors at your trailer. Roll your windows down, lean out of them and look at the length of the trailer. This will help to activate an awareness of how much longer your vehicle is than usual and will help you to judge distances when changing lanes.
✓ Take wider turns than normal by driving a bit further than your usual ‘turning point’. Your vehicle will be around double its length or perhaps much more if you’re towing a large Motorhome or RV. You have to take this into account when considering the curvature of your path to ensure that you don’t hit curbs, other cars or even end up driving off of the road.
✓ Follow the 5-second rule. When towing you should always leave a 5-second gap between you and the car in front of you. Pick a bit of line marking on the road, a lamppost or a tree and make sure that there’s at least 5 seconds between you both passing it.
✓ When reversing, visualise your trailer like a wheelbarrow that’s being pushed by your car or the hitch ball. In order to make a wheelbarrow point left, you must move right. In the same way, you must steer the back of your car to the right in order to make your trailer point left.
✓ When reversing, avoid turning sharply in one direction as it will bring your vehicle and the vehicle you’re towing into a jackknife position, causing damage to both.
✓Avoid sudden braking, acceleration and steering.
✓ Avoid the right-hand lane when driving on the motorway since it will take longer for you to accelerate. What’s more, as a general rule you should always be driving a few km/h under the speed limit when towing which would make you an annoyance to other drivers in the right-hand lane.
✓Use a lower gear than normal for going up hills
✓If the vehicle you are towing starts swaying or you feel like you are losing control, don’t brake or speed up. Simply drive straight and gradually decrease your speed and your tow vehicle should correct itself.
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