Towing a trailer or camper behind your car or truck can give you a lot of flexibility. However, it can also be dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing. Before you head to your favorite auto parts store to grab a hitch, read below to learn a little about towing and what you need to do to be safe and effective.
Check Your Weights
Before you even think about hitching a load to your vehicle, get to know the weight of your cargo and the capacity of your vehicle. Typically, you can determine how much your car or truck is capable of towing by finding a sticker or metal plaque with the numbers listed. This is most likely near your driver’s door.
Also, check the weight of the trailer or camper and any additional load you may be carrying. If you are carrying something on a trailer, check its capacity also. Keep in mind that this is often rated in gross weight, meaning that it includes the weight of the trailer. In other words, a 7,000-pound trailer that weighs 1,000 pounds can carry 6,000 pounds of cargo.
Getting the Hitch Right
Hitch and ball systems are rated based on the maximum weight they can handle. While the trailer ball sizes are mostly uniform, the entire system may not be. So, make sure that everything is going to fit together before you need to leave for your camping trip.
If you are carrying a load over 5,000 pounds, you likely need a weight-distributing hitch. Check your vehicle owner’s manual for more information about its towing requirements.
Get Your Vehicle Ready
Before towing, it is a good idea to do a maintenance check and, potentially, a tune-up of your vehicle. Check your fluid levels, make sure there are no imminent service intervals and generally ensure that everything seems to be running right.
A tune-up is also a good idea. If you’re wondering “what is a tune up”, don’t worry, they are simpler than they sound. In its simplest form, a tune-up is just replacing and repairing vehicle components that get worn over time or consumed. Chances are your auto parts store will have some information for your specific vehicle to help with this.
Load Everything Up
When you are ready, connect your hitch and ball, making sure everything is connected securely. There are likely chains as a backup in the event that the hitch fails. Ensure these are also securely fastened in place.
With a helper, make sure the lights at the back of your trailer are connected properly and working. Finally, check your tire pressure to ensure it is within the optimal range listed on your vehicle.
It is a good idea to do a practice run before a long trip. Doing so will give you a chance to find and fix any issues before the morning you are trying to set out.
Find more information and parts for towing by visiting your local auto store. Towing can open up a lot of fun opportunities. However, it is only enjoyable if you do things right. Learn more about towing today.
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