As the festive season fast approaches it’s a timely reminder to check a few things before heading off on that family trip. Many of us take a trailer, boat, caravan or similar towable item away with us and now is a good time to make sure all is in good order before you hit the road. Many of us use these trailers only a few times a year so to help you enjoy your trip and stay safe here are a few simple reminders.
1. Check wiring, lights and plugs before heading off and carry some spare bulbs, remember moisture is the worst enemy of electrical items, or a bad earth.
2. Check tyres are safe and legal. Tyre must have minimum 1.5 mm of tread across the contact patch, check tyres for signs of cracking in side wall and pressures are up, generally no lower than 36psi, maybe higher with a load. Check spare wheel too.
3. Check wheel bearings are secure and there is no play. These can go at any time, and if the trailer has been sitting a while you may find they tend to seize or dry out, a quick 30 minute job to check, repack with grease and or replace.
4. Check for signs of wear and tear especially rust and make sure all suspension components are tight and secure.
5. Don’t overload, there are rules governing towing and drivers are responsible for towing and the consequences should they have an incident. Check your vehicles towing capacity and make sure you stay under the limits. Any trailer carrying more than 750KG requires brakes by law. It’s easy to overload and place extra stress on your vehicles braking efficiency.
6. Leave bigger gaps on the road and pay attention to what’s going on ahead, anticipate changes and use smooth braking and acceleration as much as possible.
7. Secure your load correctly with tie down straps, avoid using ropes as theses with loosen and also avoid using elastic straps as they can come off.
8. Make sure it’s connected correctly to the vehicle, safety chains should be crossed over and made as short as practical in the unlikely event that the trailer disconnects from the towbar. Only use rated shackles to connect chains to towbars.
9. Towing speeds should be slightly lower than maximum speed limits and also reduce speed in wet conditions.
10. Never accelerate if you get trailer sway, ease off accelerator and allow vehicle to slow and also avoid sudden braking. Trailer sway usually occurs because of under inflated tyres, bad load distribution and in some occasions in high winds.
Finally remember that you are responsible for your trailer and its contents, and towing does require extra care and attention.