8 Tips Before You Tow a Trailer or Boat

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A truck tows a trailer at sunset

Hauling a boat up to the lake or a trailer to the mountains is a great way to break free from ordinary, everyday life. It’s also a great way to make lasting memories with family and friends. But getting your boat or trailer to its destination can sometimes be tricky. With these 8 tips, towing your trailer or boat is an endeavor worth the effort.

1. Check Your Brakes

Brakes are the most vital safety system of your car. And that’s never truer than while towing a boat or trailer. Ensure that your brakes are in good working order. Drive at a reduced speed while towing. And avoid riding your brakes to prevent overheating your brakes or possibly jackknifing your vehicle. Depending on your particular towing situation, you may also consider adding a trailer brake to make sure you have the most amount of control possible while on the road.

2. Find The Right Hitch

The hitch ball should be firmly fastened to the draw bar at all times. Go through a thorough check of your hitching system before going out. That includes making sure your tow bar is parallel to the ground, brake lights are plugged in properly, and all safety pins and cables are secure. It’s also a good idea to research if weight distribution or sway control will help keep you safer and more secure on the road. And always double check that you’re not exceeding towing capacity limits for your setup.

3. Check Your Tires

Inspect the tires on your truck and trailer for possible signs of failure. And always keep them filled to optimal pressure. Blowouts are especially dangerous when you’re towing. So carry a spare tire at all times for your vehicle and your trailer. Plus, you should know how to get off the road quickly and safely in case of a flat tire.

4. Ensure Proper Visibility

When towing a large boat or trailer behind your truck, it can be difficult to see other cars on the road. If needed, use wide-angle or extended mirrors that allow you to see around your wide tow load. At the very least, ensure that your mirrors are adjusted properly so you can make lane changes and backup safely.

5. Check and Replace Fluids Often

Because towing adds extra stress to your vehicle, it’s essential to follow proper maintenance measures. Oil is the lifeblood of your engine. And manufacturers suggest changing your car’s oil more often if you frequently tow a trailer.

6. Know Your Stopping Distance

When you’re towing a trailer or boat, it takes longer to accelerate and longer to stop. Before you tow, know how much space you need to slow down safely. And keep plenty of distance between you and the car ahead of you.

A truck tows a trailer at sunset

7. Be Wary of Wind

Wind can be your worst enemy while pulling a trailer or boat. Before going out, keep an eye on the weather and check the forecast. Avoid going out when winds are high. And understand safe driving techniques when you feel your trailer get sucked back due to wind or low pressure zones that can occur between your truck and your trailer.

8. Always Carry an Emergency Kit

Breakdowns occur more often when you’re towing a trailer. And they’re usually more complicated too. Never leave home without a few tools and essentials that could help in an emergency. That includes jumper cables, a portable air compressor, rags, reflectors, and a jack.

Taking the boat or trailer away for the weekend should make for a great getaway. Follow these tips, bring the family and friends along for the ride, and find an adventure well worth the effort.