Safety Tips for Towing a Trailer

 

Families today get involved in all sorts of sports and activities, and towing a trailer is a necessary part of many of them. GMC proudly supports the passions of American consumers and their need to "tow and go" with their full line of trucks and SUVs.

 

Whether you are hauling horses to the stable or you're pulling a camper for a long weekend at the lake, GMC vehicles can get the job done. Before you head to work or take off this weekend with your trailer, camper, or boat, there are a few basics you should check:

 

1. Review the towing capacity of your specific vehicle and hitch to make sure your vehicle can handle the load. The most important determinant will be the weight and size of what you are hauling and the hitch that you have on your vehicle. There are different types of hitches, and if you are hauling something over 5,000 pounds, you need a weight-distributing or fifth wheel hitch to safely handle your load.

 

2. Pack your trailer for the road. When you're towing a trailer, you'll want to load it to attain a 10-15 percent tongue weight. Then you will want to distribute 60 percent of load over the front half of the trailer (nearest to the truck), with the contents evenly distributed on both sides of the trailer. Once the trailer has been loaded and the weight is distributed properly, all cargo should be secured to prevent the load from shifting.

 

3. Be sure the lights on your trailer work before you take off. This is an important safety check that needs to happen every time you haul. Accidents can occur if the tail lights on your trailer are not working or if they are improperly connected. Have a partner stand behind the vehicle to check the brake lights and turn signals for proper operation.

 

4. If your trailer is equipped with trailer brakes, make sure they are working properly. Trailer brakes are required for trailer weights above 2,000 pounds on the GMC Sierra and Yukon, and above 1,000 pounds for all other GMC models. The most common trailer braking systems are surge brakes (found primarily on boat trailers) and electric brakes (used on travel trailers, horse trailers and car haulers). Surge brakes are a self-contained hydraulic brake system on the trailer, activated during deceleration as the trailer coupler pushes on the hitch ball. An electric trailer brake system uses a brake control unit mounted inside the trailering vehicle; it operates by sensing the vehicle brakes and then applying the trailer brakes.

 

5. Inflate your tires to the manufacturer's recommended level. (Please refer to the Tire Loading Information Label on your vehicle for the correct cold tire inflation pressure.) It's important to read the manual for your specific vehicle to make sure you're familiar with all the recommendations for towing a trailer. Owner's manuals come with all GMC vehicles and are also available on GMC.com.

 

Whether you're towing for work or play, safety on the road should always be the top concern. Time spent up front ensures that your rig is ready for the road, ensuring a safer trip every time you tow and go.