Dealing Responsibly with A Car and Trailer

How well can you handle a car with a trailer? Here are a few things that operators should keep in mind.

First:

Check to make sure that your vehicle is rated for the size of trailer you intend to tow.

What people don’t do that maybe they should do is test (or retest) their reversing ability before they go on the main roads or, in the case of a RV, vacation.

Check the Coupling:

Some models come with hitches, or mounts, as well as safety chains in a few models. Make sure they are not too loose or too tight – in the latter case the tension may cause the trailer to break. When chains are too long, they drag and spark, which can ignite roadside brush fires.

Safety chains need to be as secure as possible with any damaged chains being removed. It is important to stop them dragging along the ground. If in doubt with the chains, please refer to the manual.

Check the Trailer Brakes:

Many trailers on the road have severe defects, the most common is the brakes failing so it is important to watch out for this.

Proper Equipment:

As well as having approved towing bars you will also need to fit towing mirrors. Failure to do so may lead to three penalty points. Does your trailer have a stabiliser? This will make it easier to handle. You also need to look at the chassis, the lighting (which also means the electricity is working okay if it is an RV) and the wheels.

Check the Load:

Make sure the trailer is not overloaded or the weight makes the trailer unstable. The camber – where it leans to one side – is also important. Most of the weight needs to be at the front when loading.

If it is something like a boat trailer you should check that the tie-downs are all strapped down, and they are all undamaged. It is important that everything is fully secure, and no dirt or similar items can enter the trailer or escape.

Check the Tags and Paperwork:

Before you set out with a trailer or RV it is vital to have the right license. You should stay within the speed limit as you are more vulnerable to accidents.

Trailers should give way to other vehicles-especially smaller vehicles such as cycles and motorcycles. Most people don’t know that a trailer will affect the aerodynamics of a car, including the acceleration and braking. Speaking of brakes, a trailer which weighs over 750 Kg must have working brakes, though brakes are a plus point on any trailer.

Dealing with Trailer Sway:

If you do have to slow down, say you have to deal with strong winds, try to do it gently without applying the brake, which probably means taking your foot off the gas. Also speed up again slowly.

The trailer swaying is a problem in certain types of weather and the driver should attempt to correct it. It is vital you don’t start swerving as it causes accidents with other road users.

Wet roads can also cause a problem because the trailer will have less traction than the car on its own. Again, it’s important to be aware of your environment and be prepared to slow down. Know your limits and the limits of your vehicle and trailer.

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