5 Helpful Tips for Safe RV Towing

The number one goal of any RV vacation should be a safe experience out on the roadways. As long as you reach your destination safely, and then return home in the same manner, you can consider it a good trip. A big part of your safety is understanding how to properly operate your RV. If you own a trailer, that means knowing how to connect the trailer to your vehicle, and how to drive your vehicle so that the trailer remains under control at all times.

8ec16-safe-rv-towing25bee-safe-towingWhile pulling a trailer with your pickup truck doesn’t have to be a scary experience, it certainly is different than just driving your truck with nothing attached to the hitch. Pulling a trailer requires a different style of driving, and you will have to make that adjustment as soon as you hit the road for your next trip. If you try to drive your vehicle the same way with the trailer as without, you could soon find yourself in a dangerous situation.

Safe-Towing-GuideRespect the Weight of the Trailer

One of the first lessons you need to learn that relates to safe RV towing is that you should always respect the weight of the trailer behind you. As you drive down the road, it is crucial that you remember how much weight is behind you – and how much additional time it will take to stop the vehicle. When you apply the brakes in your truck, the trailer is going to continue pushing you forward until enough stopping force is applied. This is a dramatically different experience than normal, everyday driving. It is key that you pay attention at all times during your trip and always remember that your stopping distance will be significantly longer when you are pulling a trailer.

Don’t Ask Too Much from Your Truck

To give yourself the best chance at a safe and relaxing RV experience, be sure to use a vehicle that has plenty of power to handle the trailer you are pulling. If you push the limits of what your truck is capable of pulling, you may find that you encounter some trouble spots along the way. Specifically, trying to start your rig on an uphill slope could become a major problem if your vehicle is underpowered for the task at hand. When you are buying your RV (or your truck), leave yourself plenty of margin for error so that you can be confident you will have enough power for the job.

Packing is Important

When you are packing up the trailer for your trip, keep in mind that you want the weight of the trailer to be as evenly distributed as possible. If you were to load up the majority of the weight on one side of the trailer, you may find that the vehicle is highly unstable on the road – especially at high speeds. Any heavy items that you place into the trailer should be carefully planned as to avoid an imbalance of the load.

Always Test Your Connection

Never head out onto the road without first testing the lights of your trailer to make sure everything is fully operational. To complete these tests, it may be helpful to have two-way radios that you and your traveling companion can use to communicate. As you sit in the cab pressing on the brakes, your helper can walk around the perimeter of the rig and let you know if everything is functioning as it should. This test should only take a minute or two, but it can go a long way toward keeping you safe.

No Room for a Lead Foot

In general, the best advice when pulling a trailer is simply to be patient. You aren’t going to make the same kind of time as you would in a little sports car, so relax and enjoy the trip. Most of the time, you will be better off in the right hand lane, and always be sure to let faster traffic pass when possible. You want to avoid sudden movements such as quick turns of the steering wheel or aggressive application of the brakes. Try to drive smoothly to and from your destination, and always respect the size of the vehicle that you are operating.

 

 Do You Have Any Other Tips For Towing? Let’s hear them in the comments below.

19 COMMENTS

  1. Like Richard above said, always check your cold tire pressure. Also, it is good to do a walk around your rig every time you stop to make sure you don’t have a nail in a tire or some road debris that you are dragging. I once found a screw in my tire, it was holding air ok, but I put on the spare and bought a new tire as soon as I could. I once saw a fifth wheel that was dragging a Christmas tree. It had wedged under the rig.

  2. I lost my brakes due to my rear brake line burning through because the added weight of the trailer pushed the line against one of my exhaust pipes. Inspect under your vehicle before pulling out for possible issues such as this.

  3. Very good article for towing. The following worked for me this past summer making a big loop over 23 states this past summer. Plan your trip around the weather. I watched what the weather was doing this past spring and early summer and drove Mid Atlantic through the mid West up through Iowa , Minnesota back thorough South Dakota Bad Lands, Black hills Wyoming, Montana, down through Colorado and New Mexico and a zig zag rout back home in Virginia and managed to dodge all the rough weather. Had rain all day going through Illinois and Indiana. I don’t know if that would work every year but paying attention to it helped with no bad weather.

  4. You did not mention how to test trailer brake if equipped. Move tow vehical into a slow forward roll and gently apply the manual lever on the electric brake control without applying tow vehical brake. If working properly, you will feelbtje parking brake engage if adjusted properly.

    • What parking brake? All the campers I have had don’t have parking breaks. The truck has a foot brake you put on for a parking brake, doesn’t work with the electric hand switch on the brake controler. The camper doesn’t have parking brakes. Well none of mine do or did. They have electric magnetic brakes. If they stayed on when you were parked your battery would be dead in a short time. Using the hand switch will let you know if the trailer brakes work. Still need to jack the thing up spin each wheel and adjust the beake pads on by one. When you start to feel a slight drag then back off one or two clicks and should be good to go. That is if the magnets are good and the pads are good and the wires are good.

  5. When Hauling Heavy Trailers Make Sure You Always Check End Of Frame Of Trailer That Hook’s Up To Truck 1 Time Mine Almost Broke Of Off Trailer Had To Have It Welded Back Up

  6. Tire pressure monitors are a valuable addition to towing equipment. They will make you aware of any deviation of pressure while traveling and give you the opportunity to stop before a leak becomes a blowout and possible severe damage or wreck. We travel nationwide and wouldn’t leave home without it.

  7. An easy way to check your connections is to turn on your parking/marker lights and your 4 way flashers. Then you can walk around your vehicle and see for yourself that your lights are working. Learned that one from my Dad a long time ago.

  8. When towing an RV safely, particularly in heavy traffic, understand that other drivers will frequently drive even more agressively than usual. They cut you off, quickly change lanes in front of you, trailgate contantly. Expect this to happen, but keep your cool, get used to being passed. When you find yourself “leading a parade” pull over and let those behind you pass, but only in a safe location, i.e. a rest area. This may prevent a frustrated driver from passing unsafely and causing a very bad accident.

  9. Be sure your traveling partner if over 18 yrs old, knows how to unload trailer, and or drive pulling RV in case of an emergency!

  10. Remember to always use your turn signals as soon as you need to make a lane change. I found many truckers would slow down to let me in. I returned the favor as often as I could.

  11. Where there are no reduced speed limits for towing (basically everywhere except the West Coast states), keep your speed below 65mph if you have ST type tires on your rig. ST type tires are speed rated for 65mph, and any faster is asking for trouble, as well as significantly reducing fuel mileage.

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