Dos & Don’ts of Towing a Travel Trailer

Don’t confuse towing a travel trailer with driving a car—they only look the same. If you’re preparing to tow a trailer, it’s time to brush up on the basics.

White Tank Mountain Regional Park: West Valley Icon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Small travel trailer camping at White Tank Mountain Regional Park Campground, Maricopa County, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Two of the most important things to have when you tow are basic common sense and the ability to adjust your driving. In other words, when towing, everything you do while driving needs to be done at a lesser speed when compared to driving without a trailer.

When you turn, go much slower. When you accelerate, do it much easier. When you brake, allow yourself considerably more space to stop. And when you change lanes, allow room for your vehicle and the trailer.

Towing a travel trailer requires regular inspection of the equipment, especially the hitch, brake lights, and signals.

Beginner drivers are advised to find an empty parking lot and get used to maneuvering the tow vehicle-trailer combination. Jackknifing happens to the best out there though, so don’t give up after your first try.

Regardless of the shape and size of your trailer, there are several dos and don’ts of towing a travel trailer.

Spare tire

Always travel with a fill-size spare tire for your trailer as well as your tow vehicle.

Scamp travel trailer at Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Scamp travel trailer at Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A flat trailer tire without a spare equates to a massive headache, especially in a remote area. Carry two spare tires: one for the tow vehicle and one for the trailer.

Check the tire pressure

Proper tire inflation is essential when towing a trailer. It optimizes handling, fuel economy, and safety. Check tire inflation and tread wear often. Inflate the tires to the trailer manufacturer’s maximum recommended cold pressure. Heat is the tires’ enemy, and a properly inflated tire will run cooler. Every morning, check the tow vehicle and trailer tire pressure, as well as the trailer lights and brakes.

Adjust the side mirrors

Available in a custom or universal fit, towing mirrors increase visibility. This makes backing up and passing other vehicles easier and safer. Adjust the side mirrors in a way that the rear of the trailer can be readily seen. That ensures a clear view of what’s behind and beside the trailer when changing lanes or turning a corner. The lower mirrors are there to help you with judging curbs.

Pictured below is the beauty of Valley of Fire at Atatl Rock Campground. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Pictured below is the beauty of Valley of Fire at Atatl Rock Campground. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Load adjustments

Do not overload the rear of the trailer as this will lead to excessive swaying and general instability. Distributing the weight so that at least 10 percent is on the hitch.

Reversing

Position your hand at the bottom of the steering wheel. As you begin looking over your shoulder, move the hand to the right to make the trailer turn right and left to make it go left. If the trailer jackknifes, straighten the trailer by pulling forward and start over again, at a slower speed.

90-degree corners

The extra length can also cause problems on turns. Because the trailer does not follow the exact path as the vehicle on turns, remember to swing out wider when traveling around bends and corners.

Braking

The addition of a trailer adds weight and length to the tow vehicle. More weight means more time to speed up and more importantly, slow down and stop. Allow for extra time when changing lanes, stopping, and passing other vehicles.

Highway driving

To conserve fuel when towing, travel at moderate speeds. Faster speeds increase wind resistance, reduce fuel mileage, and place added strain on the tow vehicle and trailer.

Do not overload the rear of the trailer
Do not overload the rear of the trailer

DO – Good Towing Practice

  • Gradually reduce speed
  • Steady the steering wheel—sudden turns can cause more sway

DO NOT – NOT Good Towing Practice

  • Do Not slam on the brake—jackknifing can occur
  • Do Not tow a trailer that continues to sway

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

BURMA SHAVE

Read More

Lock ‘N’ Roll Articulating Trailer Hitch Available on Sears.com

In an earlier article I reported on the introduction of the Lock ‘N’ Roll articulating trailer hitch.

Lock ‘N’ Roll trailer hitches come in over 20 possible configurations to fit almost any type of vehicle and trailer.
Lock ‘N’ Roll trailer hitches come in over 20 possible configurations to fit almost any type of vehicle and trailer.

The newly redesigned Lock ‘N’ Roll articulating trailer hitch is now available on Sears.com.

The Lock ‘N’ Roll trailer hitch is a safer, easier to use, and more versatile alternative to standard trailer hitches.

With it’s up and down, side to side articulation, and it’s 360 degrees of rotation, the new Lock ‘N’ Roll allows for towing of trailers across uneven terrain, without the hassle and limitations of a standard trailer hitch, according to a Lock ‘N’ Roll news release.

Lock ‘N’ Roll has a patented latching system that has been designed in such a way, that once the latch plates are in place, Lock ‘N’ Roll will never pop off like ball hitches do.

Unlike the ball hitch, everything is in plain view to eliminate any question of whether or not your trailer is hitched correctly. This positively secured connection keeps the driver in control so minor mishaps don’t turn into major accidents.

Lock ‘N’ Roll provides a very tight, close fitting connection that eliminates the “thunk and jerk” action of conventional hitches.

The 360 degrees of rotation, combined with the side to side, up and down articulation, eliminates twisting forces that could damage the vehicle or trailer frames.

Lock ‘N’ Roll Articulating Trailer Hitch Available on Sears.com
Lock ‘N’ Roll Articulating Trailer Hitch Available on Sears.com

With Lock ‘N’ Roll, nearly any terrain can be negotiated safely, making it easy to tow anywhere, and making it especially easy back your trailer into place.

This is a heavy duty product made of alloy steel parts and built by military contractors who trace their skills back five generations.

Lock ‘N’ Roll hitches come in over 20 different configurations to fit almost any type of vehicle and trailer.

All units conform to the requirements of SAE standard J684 and are tested by independent labs.

Details

Lock ‘N’ Roll

Lock-N-Roll-logo-290x67Lock ‘N’ Roll is a heavy duty product made of alloy steel parts.

These articulating on road, off road hitches and couplers are designed and manufactured at Greats Lake Forge in Chicago, by a family of blacksmiths who trace their skills back five generations.

Lock ‘N’ Roll trailer hitches come in over 20 possible configurations to fit almost any type of vehicle and trailer. All units conform to the requirements of SAE standard J684 and are tested by independent labs.

Lock ‘N’ Roll is a Great Lakes Forge Co., Inc. company.

Address: 2141 S. Spaulding Avenue, Chicago, IL 60623

Phone: (773) 277-2800 or (800) 399-5182 (toll free)

Website: locknroll.com

Sears, Roebuck and Co. 

sears-logoSears, Roebuck and Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of Sears Holdings Corporation, is a leading broadline retailer providing merchandise and related services and is part of Shop Your Way, a social shopping experience where members have the ability to earn Points and receive benefits across a wide variety of physical and digital formats through shopyourway.com.

Sears, Roebuck offers its wide range of home merchandise, apparel and automotive products and services through its Sears-branded and affiliated stores in the United States and Canada.

Sears, Roebuck also offers a variety of merchandise and services through sears.com, landsend.com, and specialty catalogs. Sears, Roebuck offers consumers leading proprietary brands including Kenmore, Craftsman, DieHard and Lands’ End — among the most trusted and preferred brands in the U.S.

The company is the nation’s largest provider of home services, with more than 15 million service and installation calls made annually.

Website: sears.com

Worth Pondering…

The World is but a Canvas to the Imagination.

—Henry David Thoreau

Read More

Fastway Introduces Shin Guard Protection & Trailer Harness

Provo, Utah-based Fastway Trailer Products introduces its dual purpose shin guard.

fastway-logoThis handy sleeve protects customers from banging their shins against a ball mount, and protects the trailer wiring harness from dragging on the ground.

“We’ve all unfortunately hit our shins on a trailer hitch before and it’s not a pleasant experience.  This product protects your shins from pain.” said Progress Mfg. Sales Manager, Rich Elliott, in a news release.

The Fastway shin guard also protects the wiring harness by utilizing an included rubber tether that loops around the harness, lifting it off the ground and out of harm’s way.

The Shin Guard is fast and easy to install because there is no need to remove the hitch ball. Simply slide the Shin Guard down over the top of the ball, stretch the bottom down around the nut, and that’s it.

The Shin Guard fits both 2 5/6-inch and 2-inch hitch balls on ball mounts up to 2½-inch-wide, and is available in three colors: black, orange, and yellow.

Shin Guards Retail Pack_WEBThe new Fastway Shin Guard is currently available through dealerships serving the towing industry throughout the United States and Canada.

Part info:

82-00-3125 Shin Guard- black with wire tether $8.95 (MSRP)

82-00-3126 Shin Guard- orange with wire tether $8.95 (MSRP)

82-00-3127 Shin Guard- yellow with wire tether $8.95 (MSRP)

To read posts on other Fastway Trailer Products, click here.

Details

Fastway Trailer Products

Shin-Guard-DisplayThe Fastway line of products is for trailer owners that want to get on to the fun or work that awaits them, instead of messing around with things on their trailer that are tedious and annoying.

Located in Provo, Utah, Fastway Trailer Products specializes in faster and easier towing products such as the Flip automatic jack foot, ONEstep wheel chock, Zip breakaway cable, and the e2 weight distribution hitch with built-in sway control.

Their products are no stranger to the spotlight; having been recognized by high profile entities like the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) and Popular Mechanics magazine.

Fastway Trailer Products and the Original Equal-i-zer Sway Control Hitch are divisions of Progress Mfg. Inc.

Mailing Address: 533 S. 500 West, Provo, UT 84601

Phone: (801) 377-9599 or (800) 478-5578 (toll free)

Websites: fastwaytrailer.com OR progressmfg.com

Worth Pondering…

Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast—you miss the sense of where you’re going and why.

—Eddie Cant

Read More

Lock ‘N’ Roll Articulating Hitch Increases Towing Safety

According the National Highway Traffic Safety statistics there are 418 injuries, eight deaths, and more than 700 incidents of property damage caused by vehicles towing trailers, every week.

Lock n roll banner01Each year more than 20,000 people have needed medical attention for accidents involving trailers towed by passenger vehicles.

“It even costs the American economy almost $2 billion every year,” said Gregory Russell, the developer of the new Lock ‘N’ Roll latching system, in a news release.

“And it’s no surprise; the standard ball hitch that is most commonly used is difficult to attach, can pop off in than ideal conditions and can even appear secure when it’s not. It isn’t uncommon for a standard ball hitch to disconnect, en route, sending a loose trailer into traffic.”

Russell, a fifth generation blacksmith from Chicago, has been developing a solution to this deadly problem for years.

When designing the Lock ‘N’ Roll articulating trailer hitch, he utilized 360 degrees of rotation and three axis of movement, eliminating the danger caused by bumps and potholes. This allows trailers to be safely towed on uneven terrain, also making it ideal for off road adventuring, he explained.

“Lock ‘N’ Roll is made with a patented latching system that is far safer than a traditional ball hitch connection,” said Russell.

Lock ‘N’ Roll trailer hitches come in over 20 possible configurations to fit almost any type of vehicle and trailer.
Lock ‘N’ Roll trailer hitches come in over 20 possible configurations to fit almost any type of vehicle and trailer.

Once the latch plates are locked in place, Lock ‘N’ Roll will never pop off like ball hitches do. Everything is in plain view to eliminate any question of whether or not the trailer is hitched correctly.

Lock ‘N’ Roll hitches provides a very tight, close fitting connection that eliminates the “thunk and jerk” action of conventional hitches.

Nearly any terrain can be negotiated safely making this articulating hitch the ideal off road hitch, horse trailer hitch, boat hitch, RV hitch, and more.

The 360 degree rotation along with the left to right and up and down articulation allows fantastic maneuverability, especially when backing a trailer into position, making Lock ‘N’ Roll the best off road hitch, on road hitch, or wherever-you-wanna-go hitch.

The positively secured connection keeps you in control so minor mishaps on the road don’t turn into major accidents.

Not only is the Lock ‘N’ Roll a better and safer design, these trailer hitches are made using old world craftsmanship that imparts optimum strength into each, carefully manufactured hitch, according to the news release.

These are heavy duty products made of alloy steel parts and are built to withstand the uncertainties of travel, making the roads safer for everyone, he added.

Lock-N-Roll-AnimationThis is a heavy duty product made of alloy steel parts. These articulating on road, off road hitches and couplers are designed and manufactured by a family of blacksmiths who trace their skills back five generations.

Lock ‘N’ Roll trailer hitches come in over 20 possible configurations to fit almost any type of vehicle and trailer.

All units conform to the requirements of SAE standard J684 and are tested by independent labs.

Details

Lock ‘N’ Roll

Address: 2141 S. Spaulding Avenue, Chicago, IL 60623
Phone: (773) 277-2800 or (800) 399-5182 (toll free)

Website: locknroll.com

Worth Pondering…

Try a thing you haven’t done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time to figure out whether you like it or not.

—Virgil Thomson

Read More

9 Safe Towing Tips

Whether you’re towing a fifth wheel or travel trailer, car, boat, or transporting trash to the dump, special attention to details is required.

A fifth wheel trailer camped at Alamo Lake State Park, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
A fifth wheel trailer camped at Alamo Lake State Park, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Adherence to the following nine key points will assist RVers in extending the life of the vehicle and towing safely.

The following towing tips have been adapted from those first appearing on an AMSOIL Website.

1. Weight

Ensure your net load is within the tow capacity of your vehicle. Check the owner’s manual to determine the trailer types that your vehicle can haul and the maximum load weight it is rated pull. Use the appropriate trailer hitch and ensure that it’s hitched correctly.

2. Weight Distribution

Ensure your trailer weight is evenly distributed. If you experience fishtailing or your trailer sways while accelerating, back off the fuel. If it continues when you accelerate again, stop the vehicle and recheck your load weight distribution.

3. Lights

Connect brakes and signal lights. Double check to make sure the trailer’s brakes, turn signals and tail lights are synchronized with those of the tow vehicle. Check lights daily to ensure proper functioning.

4. Tires

The tires on your vehicle are one of its most important components. (Source: hawkingevehicles.co.uk)
The tires on your vehicle are one of its most important components. (Source: hawkingevehicles.co.uk)

Ensure your tires have the recommended air pressure, sufficient tread depth, and have not aged out (NOTE: RV tires typically should be replaced due to age after six to eight years). Correct tire pressure is vital to your safety on the road. Properly inflated tires can save you up to four percent in fuel mileage, while under and over inflation can lead to premature tire failure. Ensure that you routinely check your tire pressure. Under-inflated tires affect handling and grip, potentially causing irregular or unpredictable vehicle behavior. Under-inflated tires are more likely to suffer from a dangerous blowout, especially on high-speed motorway journeys.

5. Handling

Since you’re operating a vehicle combination that’s longer and heavier than normal, ensure you make some compensating adjustments in your normal driving practices. Avoid sudden turns at highway speeds.

6. Buckle Your Seat Belt

In case your tow vehicle ends up upside down and it’s the law.

7. Stopping

It’s a matter of physics. When towing, you have more momentum than you would without a trailer. Be sure you keep in mind that it takes additional time and distance to stop. Avoid tailgating and pay attention to what’s happening further down the road than you normally would.

8. Pay Attention to Details

Some states are calling for stiffer penalties when there are accidents caused by trailers that break loose. It will be criminal negligence, not a mistake. Pay attention to the details, including hitches, safety chains, signal light hookups, handling, weight, tow vehicle capacity, and tires.

9. Use AMSOIL Synthetic Transmission Fluid and Gear Lube

Towing is one of the most demanding activities on a vehicle’s drive train system. In fact, because of the heat generated, towing is probably the number one killer of transmissions. For this reason many people install an oil cooler. An alternative is to use a high end synthetic lubricant. As a result of the reduced friction, the tranny will run cooler, and transmission life will be lengthened considerably. Tests have shown that AMSOIL synthetic automatic transmission fluid provides useful service up to twice as longer as conventional fluids.

Details

AMSOIL

AMSOIL RV products
AMSOIL RV products

From the initial breakthrough 40 years ago, AMSOIL has gone on to formulate a wide selection of synthetic lubricating oils for all types of engine and gear applications, including those for specialized vehicles and severe operating conditions.

In addition, AMSOIL has developed sophisticated fuel additives, filtration systems and other companion products that supplement and extend lubricant performance.

The history of AMSOIL product introductions defines an entire industry. AMSOIL synthetic motor oil, gear lube, automatic transmission fluid, two-cycle oil and other products helped introduce a new age in equipment and engine design.

Engineers today recognize synthetic lubricants as critical to increasing the power, longevity and energy efficiency of vehicles and equipment, providing concrete testimony to AMSOIL innovation.

Address: 925 Tower Avenue, Superior, WI 54880

Phone: (800) 956-5695 (toll free)

Website: amsoil.com

Worth Pondering…

Remember, Safety First, and Happy RVing!

Read More