Trailer Hitch Information and Trailering Safety

How to drive safely with a trailer

It is safe to say that when towing a vehicle, your driving skills will be tested, so we recommend you keep these things in mind…
Towing Capacity – measure of the upper limit of the weight a trailer can tow.

Tongue Weight – the weight the trailer pushes down on the tow vehicles hitch. If tongue weight is too little, your trailer can sway.

These are the checks you should carry out every time you tow a trailer to make sure you’re towing safely and legally.
! – you can be fined and banned form driving if your vehicle is in a dangerous condition.

Tow ball and connections

Check that:

  1. the trailer is correctly coupled to the tow ball or pin – follow the manufacturer’s advice
  2. the coupling height is correct
  3. the 7 or 13 core cable and plug is not damaged

Breakaway cable
Use a breakaway cable or secondary coupling. This engages the trailer’s brakes (if fitted) or stops the trailer if it becomes detached from the car.

Check that:

  1. the cable is not worn or damaged
  2. there’s enough slack in the cable so that it does not accidentally apply the brakes
  3. the cable will not drag on the ground when you’re driving
  4. follow the manufacturer’s advice to make sure it’s connected correctly.

Wheels and tyres
Check that the tyres on both the car and trailer:

  1. do not have any cuts or bulges
  2. are inflated to the manufacturer’s specification for the load being carried
  3. check that each tyre has a tread depth of at least 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tread around the entire circumference of the tyre.
  4. check that the wheel nuts and bolts are tightened to the correct torque.

Check that mudguards are fitted to the trailer and they’re secure.

Lights and indicators
Check that there’s no damage to the lights, and that they’re all working correctly.

Load and weight limit
Check that:

  1. the trailer is not overloaded
  2. the load is distributed evenly
  3. the load is secure

Its important to find out your cars weight limit.
The vehicle manufacturer’s plate gives information about weight limits for your car. Check the car’s handbook if a plate is not fitted.

Check there is enough water in the radiator and fluid in the transmission. Towing extra weight can often heat up a motor and strain the transmission. You will need to remember that an acute sense of awareness is needed when towing. 

Before embarking on a long journey, check you have full vision around the trailer; if not – look into getting modified mirrors for your tow vehicle. From here you want to practice turning, stopping, and backing up away from traffic before setting out and potentially not being comfortable with towing

Towing with a 4 x 4 truck

Gearing options will help the vehicle tackle many different situations that may be encountered if you have to trailer the load in a an off-road situation.  

4H allows you to drive full speed, if necessary. The high range ratios in 4×4 modes are the same as the gear ratios in 2WD. 4L is for creeping along at slow speeds. It reduces the strain on your vehicle; just keep in mind to stay below 25mph in low range. 

This does not provide traction but it will provide 2-3 times more torque at about 1/2 or 1/3 of the speeds in high range. 

When to use 4H:

1) for traction when the area isn’t steep
2) when stuck in sand
3) extremely slippery conditions
4) snow
5) ice
6) rocky, gravel roads
7) gullies
8) extremely muddy areas
9) ridges

When to use 4L:

1) on wet, slippery surfaces
2) passing through sandy area
3) on rough trails
4) through shallow water
5) rock-climbing
6) climbing steep hills
7) through mud
8) descending steep hills

Final note; check with your state laws for towing to be in compliance.