MrTruck’s Top 10 Trailering Tips to Save Your Life.
Trailering can be scary, especially downhill. It was tougher for me 40 years ago when the only gadgets were your trailer mirrors on your truck. Now with camera’s, backup systems, trailer sway control, and progressive trailer brake controllers, trailering is safer. This top ten list isn’t necessarily in order. Try to use them all.
- Don’t make obvious mistakes. Make sure the ball and the trailer coupler are the same size. It’s the #1 cause of trailer accidents.
- Trailer maintenance, have trailer brakes checked, adjusted and wheel bearings greased. Trailer lights all need to work. When towing, keep your truck lights on. You’ll see if the trailer lights go out, the trailer plug might be unplugged or brake wires bad.
- Even though newer trucks come with trailer sway control, it’s not good. You can buy trailer sway systems for your trailer from Tuson RV Brakes, and its very good. Electric Automatic Trailer Sway Control. But you need to learn manual trailer sway control. Go to a large empty parking lot and practice using the manual trailer brake on your trailer brake controller. It’s just a lever on the controller that activates just the trailer brakes. This will help you on ice, snow or any time your trailer starts swaying. You don’t want to use the trucks brakes in sway situations.
- Use a weight distributing hitch. It’s mandatory on some brand ½ ton and mid-size trucks. Not a bad idea on ¾ ton heavy duty trucks with high profile trailers like RV’s. Side wind is a bad thing and a good WDH with sway control, will help along with leveling the truck and trailer. A level truck and trailer means all the wheel bearings are supporting weight and all the brakes are helping you.
- If you trailer in the mountains or on long grades, diesel trucks have an advantage. The diesel exhaust brake will slow you down with little help from truck and trailer brakes. Tow Haul mode will downshift and hold gears longer going downhill and again save truck and trailer brakes on gas and diesel engines.
- Commercial Drivers License has some good info about trailering. The test and test manual remind you to always beware of your surroundings. From watching signs to monitoring traffic. Most of our follow motorists don’t understand that it takes longer to stop and truck with a trailer. So, they cut us off and don’t leave much room in front of our trucks. Stay alert and try to drive in the right lane so you can get to the shoulder for more stopping room.
- Camera’s, I love cameras. Newer trucks have lots of cameras. Backup cameras are now the law for new trucks. But some truck companies have cameras for hitching up bumper pulls or gooseneck trailers. GM 2020 trucks have cameras in the trailer, at the rear of the trailer and you can see thru the middle of the trailer. Ford truck also have cameras for your trailer and camera’s to see the side of your trailers.
- You know you need trailer mirrors. You can get factory tow mirrors on most trucks. At least get aftermarket towing mirrors. Tow mirrors extend out and have spotter convex mirrors to see the trailer tires when you go around corners and to see the sneaky little cars that drive on your right side in your blind spot. Ram just came out this year with a power spotter mirror, only one with it. Most RV trailers are 8.5 ft wide, lots of box trailers and horse trailers can be 8.5 ft wide. You need all the mirror width you can get.
- Practice backing your trailer. Goosenecks move less in reverse and are easier to control. Bumper pull trailers move back and forth faster. Every time I go near a boat ramp, someone with no experience is blocking traffic learning to back a trailer. Ford has Pro Backup Assist, for a new trailer operator. It uses cameras, trailer tongue stickers and a knob above the trailer brake controller to steer the trailer using the dash screen.
- Monitoring systems; Ford and GM have rear plug cords for in trailer and at the trailer rear cameras. Ram last year has a Blind Spot alert warning system when someone drives around the rear of your trailer it beeps at you, so you know they’re coming. When you turn the first corner, the system will measure how long your trailer is and set the warning to tell you before you can see the car about the pass you. Ford has a Bliss camera system that shows the sides of your trailer in the dash screen. GM has mirror cameras that show wide angles on the turning side activated by your blinker. Cars and trucks by law have tire pressure monitor system. You can get them for your trailer. The better ones have the pressure sensor inside the tire like your car and trucks. Those last longer and are more accurate than the sensors that screw on the valve stem. Also, the better air pressure systems can tell you on a cab monitor the temperature inside your tire. That can tell you if you have brake or bearing issues. Knowing your trailer tires are losing air before they blow and take out a fender and clearance lights is a good thing. Especially in a snowstorm or heat wave. Trailer tire pressure and heat monitoring.