Trailer Towing Safely and Efficiently

Trailer towing comes with a number of inherent dangers. There are certain rules to towing a trailer and a vehicle's equipment that must be followed. There are also some things that you as the driver can do to make your towing experience more efficient.

 

Make that Heavy Trailer Help You Slow Down

 

The laws of inertia and motion state that a moving body tends to stay in motion. Additionally, the more mass that moving body has, the more effort will need to be expended to bring it to rest. When you're talking about trailer towing, this means that your GMC Sierra or Acadia will need to expend more braking effort to slow and stop your boat.

 

The problem here is that if there's enough forward motion involved and not enough space, extra mass hanging off the trailer tongue could cause you to lock up the brakes on all four wheels on the towing vehicle, resulting in a loss of control of the vehicle and trailer.

 

A properly maintained and adjusted trailer braking system can help long haul drivers bring their twenty-plus-ton load to a safe stop. Similarly, the trailer braking system on your truck/SUV and trailer can save you major heartache if you keep it properly adjusted and maintained.

 

Two Major Rules to Never Forget When Towing Trailers

 

There are actually quite a few rules to keep in mind when trailer towing, such as remembering that your turning radius has increased, and that, when backing up, your trailer will swing the opposite direction of your steering wheel input. These are important.

 

But if you forget for a minute that a heavy trailer, even with a trailer brake, almost doubles your stopping distance, you will ruin your day, if not your year. Be sure to give yourself double the following cushion, especially on the freeway. Tripling the following distance in the rain is a good rule as well.

 

Never exceed the tongue-weight rating of your trailer hitch. Do this and you could end up stopping your trailer with the tailgate of the towing vehicle, at best. At worst, you could end up causing a serious accident.

 

Keep Fuel Efficiency as High as Possible

 

Any resistance that the trailer gives you has to be overcome with increased engine output. Reduce this resistance and the engine doesn't have to work so hard. Make sure the bearings on the trailer are properly greased (packed, we call it) and in good shape. Make sure the tires are in good condition and properly inflated. Lastly, make sure the brakes are well adjusted. A hung brake shoe takes much effort to overcome.