You don’t have to look any further than your local highway to know Coloradans love taking vacations. Trucks and SUVs are towing trailers, heading out into the high country to take advantage of all Colorado has to offer.
But did you know that towing a trailer has a huge impact on your brakes and suspension? If you aren’t aware of proper towing know-how, you could be putting a lot at risk. Improper towing could damage your car’s brakes, suspension, tires, transmission, and even impact your alignment. Your fun trip to the middle of nowhere could turn into one giant headache if you’re not adequately prepared.
Are you properly towing your trailer? Are your brakes and suspension at risk? Here are a few questions to keep in mind.
How much can your vehicle really tow?
You have a truck. You just bought a trailer. What could go wrong?
Quite a lot if the two aren’t properly paired. It’s important to understand how much your vehicle can tow before you purchase a trailer. If the trailer is too large for your vehicle, it can damage the suspension, transmission, even your engine.
Your vehicle comes with a towing capacity. The conventional towing capacity is regarded as how much it can pull with a frame-mounted hitch. Fifth wheel towing capacity would be mounted directly in the bed of your truck. Check with the owner’s manual to find out how much weight your vehicle can handle. This is the maximum weight it can pull without damaging the vehicle. Keep in mind that if you add other items to the trailer after you purchase it, it will add to the weight capacity. Make sure you stay within limits to ensure safety precautions.
Do you have the proper equipment?
Have you changed vehicles? Upgraded the trailer? Have a different combination than what you started with years before?
Not all equipment works in every situation. Towing requires four main pieces of equipment: a hitch, a receiver, a drawbar, and a hitch ball. Each of these parts work together to keep your vehicle and your trailer properly connected.
The hitch attaches directly to your vehicle and provides the connection between the vehicle and the trailer. A hitch class 1 tows up to 2,000 pounds, class 2 up to 3,500 pounds, class 3 up to 8,000 pounds, and class ⅘ up to 18,000 pounds. Hitches must be married up to the right vehicle to ensure proper towing capacity.
The receiver is the base for all other elements, and is appropriately sized depending on the different load sizes.
The drawbar is a tube that threads between the receiver and the hitch ball. You can buy an adjustable height to ensure you create a level plane no matter what load you’re towing.
The hitch ball comes in multiple sizes and is designed for varying amounts of weight.
These items are not interchangeable. You have to have the proper equipment as you move from towing your boat, to your trailer, to a mini-camper. Always ensure you have the proper equipment to remain safe at all times.
Have you thought about all of the details?
You have a truck or an SUV. You’ve purchased a new trailer. You’re about to head out on the open road. What could go wrong?
A lot if you’re not diligent about the details. Safety checks are mandatory to ensure your vehicle stays safe.
When you’re towing, you should ensure you have trailer lights to assure other drivers know what you’re doing. Do they operate correctly? Do they mimic your taillights and respond correctly to what you signal from your vehicle?
Have you used extra support chains to provide additional support connecting your vehicle to the trailer? This can prevent your trailer from careening into another vehicle if something should go wrong with the hitch.
Have you secured your load? Are all doors shut and properly locked? Is everything secured so it won’t fly out when you hit highway speeds?
Have you checked the laws for where you’re going? Different states have different rules. If you are spending time in a location, you may be required to match those laws with your own setup. Paying attention before you leave can prevent headaches down the road.
Check your tires regularly – all of them. If they aren’t properly inflated and in good working condition, they can become a danger out on the open road. This includes the trailer tires. A check up before you leave will ensure you don’t have tire troubles later. Look for worn spots, improper wheel alignment, or tires that simply aren’t up for the job you’re about to undertake.
Is it time to invest in additional performance options?
Chances are if you’re investing in a vehicle and trailer, this will be more than a one-time event. Think clearly about your long-term expectations, and find performance options that can help you stay safer.
For example, you can find a lot of additional parts that can make a difference in the way your vehicle moves and operates. How about a set of helper springs that help absorb the shock as your vehicle moves. They can assist with adding extra support to the springs and shocks, cushioning the action with every bump you hit in the road.
Or maybe an enhanced exhaust system to help release back pressure from the engine. This can help the engine breathe easier, which can be important especially if you’re heading into the Rocky Mountains.
No matter what you decide, the key to staying safe is to ensure they are all properly maintained for as long as they are in use.
Are you ready to go?
Before you head out on your next great adventure, ensure both your vehicle and trailer are in excellent shape.
Existing brake problems will only be exacerbated by towing a heavy load.
Worn tires or improper wheel alignment can spell disaster as you weave around curvy roads.
And the added weight can quickly impact your suspension, putting you more at risk of collision.
The best way to prevent all that is through regular maintenance. If you’ll be towing a trailer in the near future, let us know. We’ll check your vehicle out thoroughly to ensure it’s ready for the job.
And have fun on your next vacation!