Even experienced drivers need to exercise caution when operating trucks and large vehicles. You might feel comfortable in sedans, minivans, SUVs and convertibles, but when you get behind the wheel of an RV or U-Haul, the dynamic changes. You have a lot more weight to manage, and mistakes are common.
If your plans include hauling and towing, you should study some of the errors others in your position have made in the past. As long as you learn from them, you’ll avoid any miscalculations or slip-ups that could cause an accident. All you need is a little foresight and preparation.
To guide you in the right direction, here are five hauling and towing mistakes to steer clear of.
Forgetting to Attach the Wires and Brakes
Your vehicle will take a longer time to reduce its speed with the added weight of a trailer. Heavier trailers account for their momentum with a separate braking system which you, the driver, have to connect to a controller if it’s electronic. If it’s a “surge” system, it’ll work independently of any wiring.
On the subject of wiring, you’ll also need to ensure your trailer’s wires don’t drag or detach. As long as they’re taut enough that they don’t touch the road and loose enough that they don’t disconnect during turns, you’re in the clear. Set aside some time to double-check these small details.
Failing to Properly Distribute Weight
Loading a trailer isn’t as simple as placing your items in the most convenient spot and sliding behind the wheel. Without the proper weight distribution, you’ll have difficulty controlling your vehicle and struggle with balance all the way to your destination. Fortunately, the solution is straightforward.
Follow these three rules:
- Maintain a low center of gravity.
- Secure your cargo to prevent shifting.
- Keep 60 percent of the total weight in front of the axle.
While you should keep over half the weight in front of the axle, don’t load your items too far forward in the trailer. It’s counterintuitive to achieving the right balance. After everything is in its proper place, you can feel confident getting in the driver’s seat, but not before.
Neglecting to Plan for the Weather
Hauling a trailer or truck is difficult without experience, but it’s even more of a risk during bad weather. Depending on the season, you’ll need to prepare for inclement weather before moving or traveling.
Keep checking the weather up until the day of your move. As long as you remain aware of the forecast, you can ready yourself for any of the scenarios mentioned above. It’s easy to stay safe when moving in bad weather if you pay attention to weekly predictions and plan accordingly.
Disregarding Tire Pressure and Wear
Keeping an eye on the condition of your tires is standard advice relevant to every driver, but in the context of hauling and towing, it takes on a new significance. A fully loaded trailer with underinflated tires can lead to blowouts and even rollovers, endangering the driver and everyone they’re sharing the road with. Checking tire pressure and wear is critical.
Whether you’ve recently purchased your trailer or haven’t taken it out for a while, you’ll want to examine the treads. After the inspection, take an extra few minutes to assess the tires on your tow vehicle as well, which is just as important as the trailer it’s carrying. Safety always takes priority, even if you’re behind schedule.
Overlooking Legal Requirements
Some states require a special endorsement on your driver’s license if you intend to operate an RV or a large vehicle with an attached trailer. Other states mandate that someone must be at least 18 or 21 to drive a car carrying a trailer. An awareness of these regulations will prevent any expensive fines.
As you prepare for your move, check the towing laws and regulations for your state and any states you’re going to travel through. You should also research any additional insurance you might need for full compliance with legal guidelines. In other words, cover all your bases before you begin your trip.
Show Caution as You Continue
Others in your position are guilty of some of the mistakes listed above, and they’re admittedly easy to make if you’re inexperienced with hauling and towing. At the same time, these errors also easy to avoid if you take preventive measures and plan for potential problems.
As you begin to pack and ready yourself for the big move, take things slow and steady. With a bit of preparation, you have nothing to worry about.