If you’re lucky enough to own your own pickup truck then you’re probably more than likely going to be considering towing a trailer in the near future. Setting down the groundwork and knowing what to look out for means you’ll have an easy time towing and know how to act if things go wrong.
Before you Tow
Before you set off on your towing adventures you should read the owner’s manual in advance. Look out for facts such as the pick up’s maximum load limit and if there are any other specific notes about towing from the manufacturer. Now is also a good time to check that the trailer you intend to tow is the right type for your pickup. Trailer hitch classes are used to determine whether your pickup can tow a certain load – the higher the class, the higher the gross trailer weight.
General mechanical checks should also be carried out. Check your tire pressure on both the pickup and trailer and ensure that all lug nuts are tightened correctly. It’s also worth adjusting the mirrors on the cab to ensure that you have a good view behind your pickup and the trailer.
Connecting the Trailer
One top tip is to put a light coat of grease on the trailer ball before you connect the tongue to it. This will prevent friction and make your life a whole lot easier when you’re removing it in the future. It will also enable the trailer to move smoothly. After you’ve locked the two together confirm that they are locked together securely without any excessive movement between the two. If you’re connecting trailer wiring to your truck do a double check to make sure the lights and electric brakes on the trailer are working to prevent having to reconnect it all later. You should also connect your safety chains from the trailer to the pickup at this point.
Pulling the Trailer
Driving whilst towing a trailer changes the way the pickup drives completely. To get the trailer moving requires a harder push on the accelerator, a longer time to reach the initial speed and an extended distance to bring the two vehicles to a stop.
Braking immediately can have disastrous consequences, such as jack-knifing, so it is important to train yourself to look as far ahead as possible for potential hazards and drive with caution. For this reason it’s also a good idea to put more space between you and the vehicle in front then you normally would do.
Turning when towing is also effected as the trailers wheels will not track the same as your pickups. The turning circle on them will be tighter so if you’re trying to turn left, the trailers left wheels will be just over the centre line, pushing the trailer itself into oncoming traffic. To solve this make sure you are making wider turns to make up for the difference in tracking.