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Vehicle Trailer Towing Tips: Preparation

01/18/2021

Towing a trailer behind your vehicle takes a bit of getting used to. The first several times you do it are likely to be nerve-wracking and uncomfortable, but as long as you are fully versed in all the safety practices (including getting your race car, Corvette or other vehicle loaded up) and get a slow and steady introduction to trailer towing, you’ll be just fine.

Here’s an overview of everything you should know about trailer loading and towing safety.

Use Trailer Ramps to load vehicles with low clearance

You may find it beneficial to use trailer ramps when towing low profile race cars, sports cars, or modded project cars. Make sure you select a trailer ramp that is designed specifically to accommodate the required angle of approach for the type of vehicle you will be transporting.

For a step-by-step approach on how to find the right ramp you need, read How to Measure for a Trailer Ramp.

Be careful with your weight distribution

It’s not enough to just stay underneath your maximum allowed weight—you also have to properly distribute that weight. A failure to properly distribute weight could result in your trailer fishtailing, or you finding it difficult to control your vehicle while driving. Try to keep the weight centered as much as possible when loading your vehicle. When you find that “sweet spot” where your vehicle’s weight is evenly distributed in your trailer, a Race Ramps Front Trailer Mate with its tire cradle design can help you replicate this positioning for future loading. A driver can now feel when the vehicle has reached its loading position.

Secure your vehicle

Make sure you’ve double and triple checked that you’ve properly secured your vehicle and other items using tie-downs or ratcheting straps. In some cases, small items may be held with bungee cords. At times, your vehicle may have low clearance and reaching those tie down points may be difficult. Using the Race Ramps Rear Trailer Mates in conjunction with the Trailer Mates Front will now provide a full 3-inch lift to the vehicle – making those tie down points more accessible.

Check the trailer tires

Trailer tires, like your vehicle tires, need to have a sufficient amount of tread, be in good physical condition and be inflated to the proper levels. Sufficient tire tread will prevent the trailer from skidding along the road behind you if you’re pulling it during slippery conditions. Keeping the tires properly inflated will prevent potential blowouts, and make it easier for you to navigate the vehicle and make turns.

Check all trailer lights

It’s important to be considerate of the people who will be sharing the road with you. While part of that means knowing how to safely drive a trailer, it also means checking to make sure all your lights function properly so you can alert others to when you are turning or applying the brakes. Before you take off, test your lights and make sure they are functioning properly.

Frequently check the trailer while driving

Make good, frequent use of your mirrors while driving to check on the safety and condition of your trailer load. Every time you get off the road for a break, make sure you perform a complete inspection of the trailer before you get back on the road, including checking all of your tie-downs, looking for any signs of uneven weight or shifting, and checking the tires and lights.

Remember to increase your stopping distance

Adding a trailer to the rear of your vehicle significantly increases the weight of your car and thus increases your momentum while you’re moving, which means you need to increase your stopping distance to account for it. You must avoid tailgating while on the road, carefully scan for hazards ahead and, when in doubt, take it slow. If you’re on the highway, keep in the right lane and let other, faster vehicles pass you if they wish to do so.

Keep on top of transmission maintenance

One of the most common vehicle problems people who tow trailers experience is transmission damage. Towing puts a lot of extra stress on the transmission. You may be able to use a transmission oil cooler or fancier synthetic lubricants to reduce friction and protect against elevated heat levels. This will protect your transmission and maximize its lifespan even if you tow regularly.

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