This information is from the Good Sam Club’s website, “Towing Basics” by Chris Hemer. Click here to see the full article.
Whether you’ve never towed before, only tow occasionally, or purchased your vehicle specifically for the purpose of towing, it pays to know the basics before you head out on your first journey. From vehicle weight ratings, weighing and weight distribution to hitches, trailer brakes and tire ratings, there is an awful lot to understand in order to ensure a safe towing experience.
Here are 10 Basic Towing Tips:
- Find out the vehicle’s max towing capacity.
- You cannot upgrade your vehicle’s tow rating. If the trailer you plan to tow weighs more than your truck’s rating, either choose a lighter trailer or buy a heavier duty truck.
- Overloading severely degrades your truck’s ability to stop quickly or to handle predictably in an emergency situation, which could cause a serious accident.
- It is important to know not only your truck’s towing capacity, but how much the trailer you plan on towing actually weighs–and by that we mean how much it will weigh when you tow it.
- If you have an older truck for which no towing guide is available, the best advice we can give is to determine the Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) for the rear axles, and don’t overload them.Equip the truck with the proper load–rated tires for the job at hand, and weigh the truck/trailer combo to be sure that neither the Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) nor the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) have been exceeded.
- Determine which class of hitch your truck is equipped with, or what it will need to be equipped with in order to tow the trailer you are considering.
- With travel trailers, there are two types of hitches: Weight Carrying and Weight Distributing, both of which slide into a hitch receiver on your truck.
- Weight Carrying hitches carry all the hitch weight of the trailer. These are most commonly used with lightweight trailers with little hitch weight, such as an ATV or tent trailer.
- Weight Distributing hitches are a heavy–duty piece that uses distribution bars to distribute the weight more evenly. It takes some of the weight off the rear of the tow vehicle and shifts it forward, and takes some of the weight from the front of the trailer and shifts it rearward. These hitches increase stability dramatically when towing a heavier travel trailer (especially when used with a sway control device) and reduce the strain on your tow vehicle tremendously.
- For really heavy loads, you’ll need a fifth wheel (recreational use) or a gooseneck (commercial use) hitch.