Summer’s here and all of us Midwesterners love nothing better than boating, camping and Civil War reenactments. Well, mostly the camping and the boating. Doing either will usually involve towing something behind your automobile. Towing is something that may seem scary but with some practice and common sense it can be done by even the most timid of drivers.
Think safety when towing a boat or camper.
Ideally, a truck or an SUV is the smart choice for towing that boat or camper. Even a compact pickup like a Ford Ranger is going to be better than just about any car. For heavier loads (say more than 4,000 pounds) a half-ton truck like a Ford F-150 or Chevy Silverado will meet the needs of just about any of the trailer-towing basics. Some mini-vans can be a good choice as well. Your best bet is to check the manuals of anything your drive, anything you tow and whatever it sits on. It just makes sense.
Towing beyond your vehicles capacity is just asking for trouble. You’re could do major damage to your suspension, overextend your brake component capacities, damage your engine or your drivetrain, and eventually your transmission could fail. Not to mention the safety issues like reducing safe braking distance, possible brake failure and zero passing ability.
Your driving style when towing a trailer needs to be updated as well. Being nervous about towing is understandable but that’s what empty parking lots are for. Find someone with towing experience and patience. You need to remember that you have considerably less margin for error when you’ve hooked up a trailer and then added something on top of it. You will need to learn to compensate for the added length, weight and maybe even reduced visibility. Towing is not the time for keeping up with the sports car that blows by you.
You’ll need to adjust your typical driving habits as well but just remember to do everything at about half-speed. Turning, braking, accelerating and changing lanes should all be done slowly and carefully, allowing for extra weight and space. It’s not as hard as you think, as you’ll be able to feel how your vehicle responds to your actions while you practice. Don’t forget to go over backing up! It’s an exercise in reverse thinking; when you turn the wheels of the tow vehicle to left, the trailer will go to the right; turn the wheels to the right and the trailer will go left – and you will get used to it!
As with any planned excursion the smart money is on getting your car checked out AND YOUR TRAILER CHECKED OUT. Light, brakes, tires and axles should be in the best shape possible. Bring it into Sallas Auto Repair and we can make sure your vehicle is up to the towing task as well as perform a thorough check of all your systems to make sure your summer plans aren’t halted by a major auto repair or boat left on the side of the road. So call us or come in and we’ll make sure you’re, can we say it, ship-shape for summer!