Best Practices for Travel Trailer Towing
Whether you just bought a new travel trailer or you have owned one for a while, you’re always looking forward to your next chance to use it. RV camping makes for an incredible vacation, but in order to get there in the first place, you’ll need to take some time to make a habit out of safe towing practices. Trailers add a lot of extra weight to your drive, which severely affect the way your vehicle handles, accelerates, and brakes, so you’ll need to be prepared for these changes before hitting the road. At Crabtree RV Center, we put together a short guide to get you road-ready. If you would like any more information, or need parts or service for your travel trailer, stop by our dealership any time! We serve the areas of Fayetteville, Russellville, Fort Smith, and Van Buren, AR, as well as Poteau, OK.
Abide by Government Weight Restrictions
Make sure you take government weight restrictions into consideration before you even choose the type of RV you want to buy. These will tell you what kind of RV or travel trailer you are allowed to tow with your vehicle, so it’s important information to have in your selection process. The most important aspect of weight restriction is your gross combined weight rating (GCWR), which is dictated by your vehicle’s manufacturer and tells you exactly how much your vehicle is allowed to carry and tow. This is important because it doesn’t just factor in trailer weight, but also the weight of yourself, your passengers, and any added weight to your trailer. Stop by a weigh station after getting your trailer loaded and check the GCWR, because being overweight can get you fined if you get pulled over.
Preparing your travel the right way before taking off is essential to a safe journey. The first thing you can do is make sure you get your trailer checked regularly and repaired as needed, which you can do in our parts and service department. After that, there are things you’ll need to do yourself before every trip. First, make sure all your necessary safety features work and on on your trailer, including extended mirrors on your tow vehicle, functioning brake lights/turn signals on your trailer, and a tire pressure monitoring system to check your trailer’s tires.
Second, be sure to load your trailer with proper weight distribution. 10-20% of your total trailer weight should be in the nose, or front, of your trailer, resting on the trailer hitch. This allows you better control, as too much weight in the back of your trailer will cause the trailer to sway back and forth. Be careful not to put more than 20% in the nose though! Extra weight on the hitch can affect your tow vehicle’s driveability.
Relearning to Drive
Okay, you don’t really need to totally relearn how to drive when towing a trailer. You still know how to turn a steering wheel and start the engine, but it’s important to be prepared for the way the trailer affects your braking, acceleration, and turning. The best way you can practice driving with a trailer is to find a large, empty parking lot, drive around a little bit, and get a feel for how much longer braking takes, how much slower your acceleration, and how fast you should go when taking a sharp turn. These are important, because not knowing how to brake properly with a trailer is a big problem if you’re behind another car and suddenly have to come to a complete stop.
Once you’re out on the highway, you’ll need to keep a few other things in mind. Regardless of speed limits in your area, you shouldn’t exceed 65 mph, and try to keep it under 55mph if the road is rough, curvy, or if the weather is nasty. Overall, taking it slow and steady on any road will generally keep you safe and confident when towing a trailer.
This guide should have enough of the basics to get you started with driving with a travel trailer or RV, but if you have any more questions, or need some service or parts for your RV, stop by Crabtree RV Center. Our staff have plenty of experience with towing trailers, and they’ll be happy to help you get on the road safely.