Ten Towing Tips for Newbies
Baby The Brakes
And as you're driving, don't ride the brakes; dab them instead in gentle pulses to help keep them from overheating. Downshift going down hills as well as up, and make sure you start a steep downgrade at a slow, responsible speed.
Bring A Spare
Don't Try To Fix It Yourself
Because of the additional strain on the tow vehicle, if it's not a complete fix you run the risk of doing even more damage or causing an accident. Never try to disconnect the trailer yourself on the side of a busy highway. "Using a car jack on a trailer is not going to be a safe option either," said Nielsen.
Set Your Sights Wide
Take a Test Run
Practice Backing Up
U-Haul recommends the following tip: First, steer with the bottom of the steering wheel, in the direction you want to go, then when the trailer starts angling in the right direction, steer from the top of the steering wheel, gently, in the proper direction.
Click here for a demonstration video from U-Haul.
Slow down—more than you would otherwise—for rough roads, rain, strong winds, or other weather conditions. For any roads that aren't divided highways, make your speed limit about 10 mph below what's posted—especially if you have an unbraked trailer.
If you ever notice the trailer start to sway or whip, let off the gas and hold the steering wheel straight. Don't brake, speed up, or try to counter the sway.
Leave Distance Ahead
The only way around it is to allow extra reaction distance—at least four full seconds, according to U-Haul, behind the vehicle ahead.
It also helps to think one step ahead and look a little farther ahead than usual. "Don’t just watch the car in front of you," said Nielsen. "You want to watch the car in front of that."
Stop More Frequently
Stop for a break to stretch your legs at least once every two hours. And put that break to use by running around the vehicle, making sure the hitch and coupler are still tight, the tires look good, and vehicle and trailer still look as level as they were when you started. While you stand back, have a passenger tap the brake lights, turn signals, and running lamps, too.