In our previous post, we covered everything you need to know to tow a trailer with your truck. You now have the trailer hooked up to your pickup truck and you’re on the road. So what about actually driving with a trailer? This post offers useful tips for driving with a trailer.
Get proper tow mirrors
The best option is to invest in proper tow mirrors. If you don’t have proper tow mirrors, just take your regular mirrors and adjust them as far out as they can go. You should be able to see the back end of your trailer.
The law requires you to be able to see the vehicle directly behind you while towing. If you have a large and closed trailer that blocks your rearward view, you will need tow mirrors.
This is one of the most important safety tips for driving with a trailer. It’s actually a good rule to follow when driving anything, but it’s especially important when you’re towing a trailer.
When you’re hurrying and when you’re getting stressed out, that’s when accidents take place.
Take corners nice and wide
Taking corners can be a little tricky with a trailer. Remember to take every corner nice and wide.
While you’re cornering, you want to be paying attention to where your wheels are because you don’t want to clip a light post or a curb.
Keep your distance
Another important part of towing safely is braking. Owing to the additional weight on the back of the truck, it’ll take you longer to stop so you’ll want to leave plenty of distance from the car in front of you.
The distance you maintain depends on the weight you’re hauling with the truck, but as a general rule of thumb, you should leave about 3-4 vehicle lengths. If you’re really pushing your truck, you’ll want to leave even more distance.
Set up your trailer brakes
Most modern-day trailers have some kind of internal braking system like electric trailer brakes. An integrated brake controller is used to operate the braking mechanism of the trailer. The controller is usually located on the dashboard of your truck.
The operation of the trailer brake controller system varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. But they generally serve the same purpose: to allow the trailer to help the truck stop safely.
A nice, empty piece of road will help you in setting up your trailer brakes successfully. Set the trailer brake gain to somewhere around 5 to give you a good baseline. Then, gradually accelerate the truck to about 20 miles an hour. At that speed, squeeze the manual brake controller.
You’ll now want to watch for lock up in your trailer wheels. If the trailer wheels don’t lock up, you’ll want to increase the trailer gain until the wheels lock up. Once this is achieved, back the gain by about 0.5 to have the trailer braking system working optimally without locking up.
About 15-20 minutes after taking off, stop once more and double check everything because the load may have shifted while the trailer was in motion.