Here are nine items to check each time you’re getting ready to tow a trailer. We're not saying these are the ONLY items that you should check, but they're pretty important.
1. Brakes: Make sure your brakes are in good working order. When towing, you need more stopping distance and so having brakes that are even slightly worn could be a hazard. If you’re towing a trailer, some come with their own braking systems that need to be connected to your vehicle. Although it takes added skill to coordinate the braking systems, this system means less stress on the towing vehicle’s brakes.
2. Cooling system: Prevent a meltdown by inspecting your cooling system. Your vehicle will get heated up by pulling an extra load so your cooling system needs to work optimally to safely tow. Radiator, including hoses and fluids, Water pump, Thermostat and housing, Cooling fan and its switch
3. Hitching devices: Check the hitch ball regularly to make sure that it hasn’t loosened and that any tow bar used is parallel to the ground when the towed vehicle is attached. Each piece of towing gear comes with towing capacity limits. Double check that the equipment you have is suitable for what you plan to tow.
4. Safety chains: If your trailer becomes unhitched when you’re towing, the only thing keeping the two vehicles together will be your second line of defense: your safety chains, which are required. Also, when you attach the safety chains to the vehicle, criss cross them underneath the trailer's tongue. That way, if the trailer comes unhitched, the tongue will rest on the chains instead of striking the ground.
5. Springs and shock absorbers: Consider upgrading your tow vehicle's suspension. Add heavy-duty springs and shock absorbers and make sure they're in good shape before each tow. Lighter-duty shocks can cause the towing vehicle to sag in the back while heavy-duty versions will help to keep your vehicle stable and level while towing. As a side bonus, they’ll also make the ride more comfortable.
6. Tires: Tires with the correct load rating and proper inflation are important. A common mistake that people make is to check the tires on the truck that will be doing the towing, but not the tires on their trailer. Trailer tires are more likely to wear out from dry rot and age instead of highway miles.
7. Wiring: Perhaps your truck came pre-wired for trailer towing from the factory or maybe your pre-installed hitch already contains the necessary connector. Whether one of these is true or whether you need to do your own trailer wiring, you need to make sure that nothing has short circuited before you tow.
8. Mirrors: Visibility can be a challenge when you’re towing something behind you. You can choose replacement mirrors or wide-angle clip-on mirrors, so test options out to see what works best. Extended mirrors are especially valuable when towing a wide vehicle.
9. Fluids: If you're going to tow a trailer, you should be following the severe maintenance plan from your vehicle's owner's manual. Check and replace fluids more often, including engine oil. The added weight inherent in towing adds stress to the towing vehicle, causing it to run hotter than normal. Consider using both synthetic motor oil and transmission fluid for added protection. Also check and change your oil filters often for optimal performance.
If you'd like the experts at Auto Select to check all this on your behalf, we are offering a summer travels/towing inspection for only $49.99 this month if you want some peace of mind while traveling this season!