Shop Talk Logo

Tips for Driving With a Trailer

There are a number of reasons why you may need to travel with a trailer. Before you hit the road, you want to be certain everything is secured properly and safe. Maintain a trailer checklist so that you are sure you can drive properly.

Check Towing Capacity

driving with a trailerBefore you get a trailer attached, you want to make sure your vehicle can handle it. A truck or SUV can naturally handle a larger capacity than a sedan. Review your car’s manual for information related to this, and double-check how much the trailer you have weighs.

Keep Everything in the Trailer Secure

When you are driving, you do not want a bunch of things in your trailer moving around. Keep loose items secure. In the event the trailer has cabinets, make sure they are locked shut.

Check Your Mirrors

Although you have a trailer behind you, it is still important to be aware of other vehicles on the road. Your rearview mirror may no longer be effective, and it can be prudent to install larger mirrors on the sides so you can see cars traveling behind you. The types of mirrors you typically see on semi-trucks may be a good investment.

Inspect Lights and Blinkers

People driving behind you still need to be aware of when you are stopping or turning. Therefore, you want to be certain your trailer is correctly connected to your vehicle’s light system. Test the lights before you go on the road by having someone behind the vehicle let you know if the lights are working.

Drive at a More Moderate Speed

With all that extra weight behind your vehicle, you want to take it easy. Even if you are on the highway, you want to drive well below the speed limit. If you need to, then you should give yourself extra time to arrive at your destination so that you do not feel rushed.

Plan Out Your Route

It can be helpful to know exactly what roadways you need to take before heading out. Be mindful of any sharp turns you will need to make. You do not want to take turns too wildly, and you do not want any turns to take you by surprise.

Make Sure It Is Hitched

You do not want to leave anything to chance when hauling a trailer. These are some of the items you will need to guarantee your trailer is hitched properly:

  • Ball mounts
  • Trailer hitches
  • Safety chains
  • Hitch balls
  • Trailer wiring
  • Weight distribution system
  • Sway controls

Other items may be required, depending on the exact trailer you have. Always consult with the trailer guide if you want to know exactly what you need.

Be Mindful of Changes to Gas Mileage

One unavoidable reality you are going to face is decreased gas mileage. This is due to the fact that your vehicle is exerting more energy to haul a heavier load. The exact amount you can expect to lose will depend on the type of vehicle you have and the weight of the trailer. However, if you are planning a long road trip with your trailer, then you can expect to visit gas stations more often.

Get Your Car Checked

Another thing you cannot avoid is that the trailer is going to create more wear and tear on your vehicle. Before going on your trip, get your car examined by a professional to make sure it is in good shape. Once you return from your journey, get another inspection to see if anything took more damage than expected.

Trailers can be incredibly useful, but they also present a few unique challenges on the road. Before you head out on the big trip, practice driving with a trailer so that you can get used to it, and keep these tips in mind.