(BPT) - With the summer months ahead, people will be towing boats, jet skis, campers, landscaping equipment, ATVs and more.
Towing can be tricky so it's important to plan ahead and emphasize safety. Operating a vehicle becomes a whole new task when another set of wheels is hitched to the back. Neglecting small details may result in a bumpy ride or even cause damage to the load being towed, and overlooking the bigger issues could cause accidents.
Take steps to stay safe and keep your towing loads secure by using these tips as a checklist before hitting the road.
* Determine a vehicle's towing capacity. Be aware of your vehicle's towing capacity. No matter how powerful the engine, there's always a limit on how much it can tow. Reference the vehicle's owner's manual to learn how much weight can be attached.
* Choose the right hitch and ball mount. Matching the trailer and tow vehicle to a hitch class is critical for safe towing. There are five classes of trailer hitches, each designated for the combined total weight of the load and trailer. When selecting a hitch you also need to choose the correct ball mount to match the receiver tube and to raise or lower the hitch ball as needed. Brands like Ultra-Tow from Northern Tool Equipment provide a variety of options to fit any towing need.
* Plan pit stops.Variables can change quickly when towing. On the way to your destination, plan to stop every 50-60 miles to check the lights, brakes and tires on the trailer. It is also important to make sure the load has remained evenly distributed.
* Inspect and maintain.Towing a heavy load puts tremendous stress on any vehicle, no matter how powerful it is. Routine maintenance is especially important in this situation. Make sure your vehicle is in good condition as towing stress can quickly make small issues larger.
* Exaggerate margin for error. Driving too fast increases the sway of the trailer and makes it more difficult to stop quickly. It's important to have enough room between other vehicles, take wide turns and know the trailer's tunnel clearance.
Benjamin Franklin said that, 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.' This logic certainly applies to towing. Taking common sense measures will greatly decrease the chance of towing mishaps that quickly derail the best-laid plans.