How to tow a trailer properly

Revved about hitching up the ol’ trailer and hauling your ATV to the nearest trail or dune? Keep these towing tips from our driver education instructors top of mind.

Mind your towing capacity. It’s listed in your vehicle owner’s manual – don’t exceed it.

Get the right gear. You’ll need the correct class of hitch for your load, plus safety chains, a lighting harness and rear-view mirrors that allow you to see around the trailer. Safety chains should be crossed underneath the hitch to form a cradle, says Rick Lang of AMA Driver Education: “If the hitch fails, the tongue of the trailer will drop into the cradle instead of right down onto the ground.” The trailer must have its own brakes if its weight exceeds 910 kg fully loaded, or if the gross trailer weight is more than half that allowed for the trailer model.

Flash your lights. Test your trailer’s running, brake and signal lights every time you hook it up, and whenever you make a pit stop.

Strap ‘er down tight. Secure your load with more than one strap, crossing one from side to side and one front to back.

Take it slow on the road. Stay right, unless you’re passing. Pull over periodically and check the trailer’s wheel hubs for overheating, which may be a sign that the bearings need grease.

Turn extra-wide. Your turning radius will be about double what it is without the trailer attached.

Steer smart. When backing up, turn the wheel in the opposite direction that you want the trailer to go. Also remember that “small movements of the wheel will create a larger movement in the trailer,” says Lang, “especially with smaller trailers, which can jackknife quickly.”

 


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