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Pulling a Trailer 101

Aug 17, 2007
Sometimes, you may find yourself in an unavoidable situation. When I was younger I found myself in such a predicament. A couple of my girl friends and I had to move a friend from across the states. Being college students we didn't have a huge budget to hire a moving company, we decided to do the move ourselves to save money. After we surveyed the amount of OOO that had to be moved, renting a truck seemed like a viable option, but we were faced with the dilemma of who was to drive the truck. None of us had any experience driving trucks.

The second option was to tow a small trailer behind one of the vehicles. This allowed us the ability to load two cars, and a rented trailer. If we had rented a truck, we would have to tow one vehicle and that just was not feasible. We were not very experienced drivers. Luckily some cars come with trailer hitches attached and we had one of them. We thought it would be an easy task. Here are some tips to successfully using trailer hitches for novice users.

* Trailer hitches are the most important part of towing a trailer.

* Add onto your insurance that will cover the collision or theft of your trailer. For a little more money, you can add insurance to cover the contents of your trailer incase of a mishap.

* Make sure you fill your car with fuel before attaching the trailer. It is easier to maneuver at the gas station without the trailer attached.

* Top off all your other fluids. Towing a trailer can put a strain on you vehicle's engine.
* It is advisable to practice maneuvering (stopping, turning and backing up) with the empty trailer attached.

* Make sure your visibility in side mirrors is not limited by the size of the trailer. If so, consider purchasing modified mirrors.

* Understand the mechanisms of trailer hitches. The trailer hitch component on your car should have a trailer ball which fits into the trailer coupler on the trailer. Make sure they match. The trailer ball and coupler should fasten snuggly and the retaining pin with a locking clevis on it. A trailer ball, ball mount attaches the ball to your vehicle, trailer coupler, electrical wiring, and safety chains.

* Carefully balance your belonging on your trailer.

* Have a professional check your trailer hitch to make sure it isn't damaged and not usable.

* Actually Hooking. Before you start loading your trailer you need to hitch it to your tow vehicle. First back the car towards the trailer as close as you can get it. Next, unlock the coupler locking device. Pull the trailer closer, lower the trailer coupler over the trailer hitch ball attached to your vehicle, and lower it and until the coupler rests on the ball directly. Use the recommended locking mechanism. Remember to attach the lighting mechanism last.

* Drive the recommended speeds and give yourself plenty of distance. Remember the trailer adds weight to your car making braking distances substantial.

Safety was almost foremost on our minds. We took the trailer to a neighborhood gas station and had one of the attendant check and make sure we had everything set.
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