Safer and More Effective Towing Methods

By on May 4, 2019

For both recreational and business purposes, many Americans are using pickup trucks to tow items behind them on the roads. This often includes RVs (excluding self-driven motor homes), as well as moving trailers or even trailers or livestock such as horses. In other cases, someone is hauling a trailer filled with work or hobby items from one location to another when such loads are too large or heavy to place directly in the vehicle. Drivers of these pickup trucks will need to remember some basic towing safety facts and how to use brake controllers to keep their payload safe during transit. Electric trailer brake controls ensure that a heavy RV’s brakes and those of the towing truck are safely working in tandem to prevent an accident, and some basic towing safety facts may be kept in mind for a safer towing job. How can this be done?

Basic Towing Safety Facts

Pickups trucks often have the power and the trailer hitches alike necessary to haul trailers and other items behind them, but if done wrong, a towing job may involve property damage or something getting flipped over. Even traffic accidents become likely if a trailer is going out of control. Instead, someone operating the pickup truck may use some towing safety facts to keep everything in fine working order.

For one thing, towing safety facts show that around 12-15% of the trailer’s total weight should be resting on the vehicle’s tow hitch, and weight distribution is important here. If too much of a trailer’s weight is near the back, this allows the trailer to dangerously sway back and forth during travel, and that could mean trouble. If the pickup truck driver notes distinct trailer sway, they can follow some simple steps to get everything back under control. For one thing, the pickup truck driver should ease off the gas pedal and allow the truck to coast to gradually reach a lower speed. Hitting the brakes, however, could cause everything to get out of control, so the brakes should be avoided. Instead, the truck driver should allow the truck to reach a speed at least 10 MPH slower than the speed when the sway started happening. This may solve the swaying problem. If it does not, the driver may slowly coast to a stop, then redistribute the weight on the trailer so that more weight is closer to the truck rather than at the trailer’s other end.

Trailer and RV Brakes

Meanwhile, a pickup truck driver will also want the right electronic brakes installed on their trailer/RV and connected to their truck. Otherwise, the trailer would keep moving when the truck braked, and momentum would cause it to slam right into the truck. That would be unacceptable, so instead, a trailer or RV will be outfitted with its own brakes that are electrically connected to the truck’s own brake system, and work in tandem. Hitching an RV to a truck involves not only the physical connection, but also plugging in the brake controls and also plugging in the trailer’s brake lights. The RV will block other cars’ view of the truck’s own brake lights, so the RV will have lights to display in their stead.

Manual surge brakes are sometimes used, but in many cases, electronic brakes are used. They may be the timing or intertia-based models. Timing brakes are generally cheaper and simpler to use, and they gradually apply the RV’s brakes based on smooth, regular timing that is programmed into the system. This system is activated when the truck’s own brakes are used. This system is not as precise as inertia brakes, but for lighter RV or trailer loads and low-speed travel, this may be sufficient. Otherwise, inertia brakes are the best choice.

The inertia electrical brake model, meanwhile, will sense the truck’s own inertia and brake use and control the RV’s brakes to work in sync. This is useful for heavy loads traveling at high speeds, when even small imperfections in performance may lead to disaster. This allows the trailer or RV to brake exactly the same way the truck is, and they can even compensate for inclined planes. This may be done if the truck is going up or down a hill, and the brakes will adjust accordingly.

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