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TRAILERING TACTICS

23

TRAILERING TACTICS* (continued)

Avoid sudden stops and starts. This can cause skidding, sliding, or jack- knifing, even if your trailer has brakes. Avoid quick stops while turning. Smooth, gradual starts and stops will improve your gas mileage.

Signal your intentions. Let surrounding vehicles know what you intend to do well in advance before you stop, turn, change lanes, or pass.

Shift to a lower gear. A lower gear will help ease the load on the transmission and engine when going over steep hills, sand, gravel, or dirt roads. If your tow vehicle has an “overdrive” gear, shifting out of overdrive to a lower gear may improve your gas mileage.

Always be courteous. Make it as easy as possible for faster moving vehicles to pass you. Keep to the right of the road and prepare to slow down if pass- ing vehicles need extra time to return to their proper lane.

Don’t tailgate. Allow at least one car and trailer length between you and the vehicle ahead for each 10 mph on your speedometer. Three seconds should be the minimum distance.

If a problem occurs don’t panic. Stay calm and cool. Say you experience a sudden bumping or fishtailing. It may indicate a flat tire. Don’t jam on the brakes or mash the accelerator in an attempt to drive out of it. Instead, come to a stop slowly as you keep driving in as straight a line as possible. If condi- tions permit, coast to a very slow speed and try to avoid braking, except when your wheels are straight ahead and your trailer and tow vehicle are in line with each other.

If your trailer begins to fishtail as you accelerate to highway speed, back off the accelerator a bit. This should stop the fishtailing. If it begins again as you increase speed, stop and check you load. It probably isn’t distributed evenly from side to side, or it is too far back to put a sufficient load on the hitch ball. It is recommended that 10% of the trailer load be on the hitch. (See page 19 for more details). Redistribute the load as necessity dictates before contin- uing on the highway.

  • *

    Trailering Tactics courtesy of REESE PRODUCTS, INC.

SAFETY CHECKLIST

Maintenance Checklist (Up to Date) Hitch Ball Tight Hitch Ball Lubricated Hitch Secured in Receiver Safety Chains Crossed and Attached* Coupler Latched onto Ball Load Distributed Correctly and Securely Trailer Level when Hooked Up Trailer Lights Working Correctly Lug Nuts Checked and Tightened Inspect Tires for Cuts Tire Pressure Checks Breakaway Battery Charged Breakaway Cable Hooked Up Pin or Bolt through Coupler Latch Block Tires when Loading and Unloading

  • *

    If safety chains are too long, twist to shorten.

THE MAIN CAUSES OF TRAILERING ACCIDENTS

  • 1.

    Driver error.

  • 2.

    Failure to MATCH speed with weather and road conditions.

  • 3.

    Trailer sway due to improper loading—more or less than 10% cargo hitch

weight. 4. Failure to perform routine maintenance.

Remember, never carry passengers in trailer while moving. Check hub tempera- ture at each stop. Adjust sensitivity of brake controller to match load. 102" axles are legal on all Federally-funded highways (and some state highways).

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SAFETY CHECKLIST

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