12 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Towing a Trailer

Are you planning to tow a trailer soon? If so, it’s important to be aware of the most common mistakes that people make when towing. Just one mistake can lead to serious safety issues on the road.

At Penner Trailer Sales, we know towing a trailer is not something that should be taken lightly. It requires specialized equipment and safety measures to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Unfortunately, many people make mistakes when towing that can put themselves and others at risk.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-timer, there are common mistakes that you need to avoid when towing a trailer. In this article, we’ll go through 12 of the most common mistakes and provide tips on how to avoid them. By following these guidelines, you’ll be better equipped for a safe and successful towing experience.

1. Overloaded Trailer or Vehicle

One of the most common mistakes people make when towing is overloading their trailer or vehicle. This can lead to serious safety issues, including loss of control, increased stopping distance, and tire blowouts.

To avoid this mistake, make sure you know the weight limits for both your vehicle and trailer. Don’t exceed these limits, even if it means making multiple trips or reducing your load. It’s also important to distribute the weight evenly throughout the trailer and to properly secure your cargo.

2. Poorly Distributed Cargo Weight

Another common mistake people make when towing is not properly distributing the weight of their cargo. This can lead to various issues, including swaying, fishtailing, and trailer jackknifing.

Ensure you distribute the weight evenly throughout the trailer. For example, you should place heavier items towards the front and center of a utility trailer and lighter items towards the back. Use tie-down straps to secure your cargo in place and prevent it from shifting while you’re driving.

3. Overworking The Engine

3. Overworking the Engine

When towing a trailer, your vehicle’s engine is working harder than usual. This can lead to overheating, transmission damage, and other engine problems if you don’t take proper precautions.

To avoid overworking your engine, ensure your vehicle is equipped with the right towing equipment, including a transmission cooler and heavy-duty radiator. Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for recommended towing capacities, and make sure you don’t exceed them. It’s also important to drive at a slower speed and avoid steep inclines if possible.

4. Incorrect Tire Pressure

Maintaining proper tire pressure is essential when towing any type of trailer. Overinflated or underinflated tires can lead to loss of control, uneven wear, and blowouts.

To prevent this issue, check your vehicle’s and trailer’s owner’s manual for recommended tire pressure levels and make sure your tires are properly inflated before hitting the road. Also, make sure to check the tire pressure periodically throughout your trip, especially if you’re driving long distances.

5. Wrong Ball Size & Mount

Using the wrong ball size or mount is a common mistake that can lead to serious safety issues when towing. If the ball and mount are incompatible, they may not lock together properly, causing the trailer to detach from the vehicle while in motion.

Ensure you use the correct ball size and mount for your trailer hitch. The size and weight capacity should be clearly marked on the ball and mount. Also, make sure to properly tighten the ball and mount it to ensure a secure connection.

6. Speeding When Towing

It’s easy to forget that you’re towing a heavy load behind you and drive at your usual speed. However, this can be dangerous and lead to accidents, especially when braking or turning.

Always drive at a slower speed than usual when towing. Follow the posted speed limits and slow down even further in adverse weather conditions or on steep inclines. Remember that your stopping distance will be longer when towing, so leave more space between you and the vehicle ahead.

7. Driving on Bad Tires

Driving on worn or damaged tires is a major mistake to avoid when towing a trailer. Worn or damaged tires can lead to blowouts, loss of control, and other safety hazards.

Before heading out on your trip, inspect both your vehicle’s and trailer’s tires for signs of wear and damage. Check the tread depth and look for any cracks or bulges in the sidewalls. If you notice any issues, replace the tires before towing.

8. Not Maintaining Brakes Properly

Another mistake to avoid when towing a trailer is not maintaining your brakes properly. Your vehicle’s brakes are working harder than usual when towing, and if they’re not in good condition, they may fail when you need them most.

Inspect your vehicle’s brake system before each trip. Check the brake pads and rotors for wear and replace them if necessary. Also, ensure the brake fluid is at the proper level and replace it if it’s dirty or contaminated.

9. Not Keeping Components Well-Lubed

Failing to keep the components of your towing setup well-lubed is a common mistake that can lead to costly repairs and safety hazards. When towing, several components require regular lubrication, including the hitch ball, coupler, and trailer brakes.

Before hitting the road, make sure to lubricate all necessary components according to your vehicle and trailer’s owner’s manual. This will help prevent rust, corrosion, and wear, ensuring that your towing setup remains in good condition.

10. Taking It Out of Overdrive

When towing a heavy load, it’s important to avoid overworking your engine by keeping it in the right gear. Many vehicles have an overdrive setting that allows for better fuel efficiency at higher speeds, but this is not recommended when towing.

Taking your vehicle out of overdrive will help prevent unnecessary strain on your engine and transmission. This will also help prevent overheating and other damage that can occur when towing in the wrong gear.

11. Not Using Chains & Straps

Using chains and straps is an important safety measure when towing a trailer. They help secure the load and prevent it from shifting or coming loose while in transit.

Make sure to use chains and straps that are rated for the weight of your load. Attach them securely to the trailer and vehicle using proper techniques, such as crisscrossing the chains underneath the trailer tongue and crossing the straps over the load. Check that they are tight and secure before hitting the road.

12. Ignoring Trailer Sway

Trailer sway occurs when the trailer begins to move side-to-side behind your vehicle, and it’s a common mistake to ignore this issue when towing a trailer. If left unchecked, trailer sway can lead to loss of control and accidents.

Ensure your load is evenly distributed and properly secured to prevent trailer sway. Additionally, consider using a weight distribution hitch and anti-sway devices, such as sway bars or electronic sway control. These can help keep your trailer stable and reduce the risk of sway.

Final Thoughts

Towing a trailer can be a great way to transport goods or enjoy a vacation, but avoiding these common mistakes is important. By following proper safety procedures and maintaining your towing setup, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on the road. Remember always to check your vehicle and trailer before each trip, use proper equipment and techniques, and be awa

In addition to the common mistakes mentioned above, there are other important factors to consider when towing a trailer. One of the most important things to remember is to never exceed your vehicle’s towing capacity. This can cause damage to your vehicle and create safety hazards on the road.

Another mistake to avoid is failing to properly adjust your mirrors. When towing a trailer, it’s important to have a clear view of any potential hazards while towing. With these tips in mind, you can have a successful and stress-free towing experience.

Need trailer maintenance or an inspection before your next long haul? Contact our team at Penner Trailer Sales today in Winchester, TN, to schedule service