Top 8 Mistakes People Make While Towing
We hear about burned-out engines, uneven tire wear and other woes often enough that we’ve compiled the top mistakes here to help people avoid them. A few of these may be familiar, but others will surprise you. Take a minute to check them out so you don’t end up like the guy in the picture!
1. Overworking Your Engine
The number one mistake people make, by far, is overworking their tow vehicle. Overextending your vehicle by driving while at high temperatures can start a landslide of engine troubles due since your engine will overheat and parts of it will begin to crack. At the very least this mistake leads to a meltdown on the side of the road and at worst will require a brand new transmission.
To avoid this common folly, keep an eye on pressure gauges, temperature gauges and your exhaust gas temperature. Temperature gauges can be inaccurate so aftermarket it’s important to move the temperature sender to the transmission pan and instead of leaving it in the case.
2. Wrong Weight Distribution Bars
If you don’t’ have your weight distribution bars set up right, you’re bound to have bouncing between your truck and your trailer. Not only can your ride be bumpier than usual if set up wrong, but hitch and frame can be damaged in addition to potential loss of steering effectiveness.
And when it comes to weight distribution bars, bigger is not better. The bars with chains come are tuneable and come in various strengths and weights. When properly loaded with the correct bar size they should be parallel to the trailer’s frame.
3. Not Checking or Maintaining Brakes
Brakes are the most essential and most overlooked safety system that you have and this put them at number three on our list but they could have easily tied for first place.
Trailer brakes do not self-adjust like the brakes on your tow vehicle and must be manually adjusted by you. Additionally, they wear out just like any brake and must be checked regularly. For the safest ride, we can’t emphasize enough that we highly recommend getting that brake controller installed. After doing so make sure you read up on how it functions!
4. Poorly Loaded Vehicles
Back in this post we told you how important a balanced load is for your trailer. We weren’t kidding! Just do it right and know the weight restrictions of your trailer. If you don’t, your tow vehicle won’t last very long.
5. Wrong Ball/Ball Mount
Make sure that you have the right ball and mount for each trailer you tow. There are three different sizes of balls – 17/8 inches, 2 inches, and 25/16 inches – each with a different weight rating so make sure you’re using the right one. Determining the right ball mount is easier as the ball size required is stamped right on the mount. Using the wrong mount or ball will pitch your trailer up or down on your axles. Have the wrong ball or mount puts extra stress on your brakes and tires and reduces your breaking ability. If you use multiple trailers, carry multiple mounts.
6. “Racing” While Towing
We know how exciting it is to get to a destination – we tow a rig every weekend – but the tortoise will be the winner yet again if you race to your destination. Speeding up – or down – a grade is the last thing you want to do for the longevity of your tow vehicle. That’s the common theme in this list: Tow wrong and your tow vehicle WILL crack.
7. Low-Pressure Tires
Not only does maintaining the right tire pressure on both your tow vehicle and trailer mean that you’ll have even tire wear, it also means that you’re less likely to have blow outs from them overheating. This scenario is especially dangerous when it happens on your rear trailer tires so make sure to pay special attention to them. Also take into account that your tires degrade more quickly when not in use. Make sure to inspect your tires and pressure before hauling a load.
8. Not Lubing Your Components
Like any well-oiled machine, your preventative measures with your trailer and tow vehicle are going to go a long way. Axles and all pivot points where steel meets steel (or rubber bushings meet steel) should be greased. Keep the tongue jack greased as well to keep it from jacking – this usually never happens at a “good” time.