Life is complicated, insurance doesn't have to be.
Safe towing starts before you hitch up and hit the road. The hitch
itself, your vehicle and even how you load your cargo all play a big
part in travelling safely while towing.
To get you started on the right track, here’s
eight critical mistakes to avoid on your next trip:
1. You only look at your hitch’s towing capacity.
You may be excited that your new hitch is rated to tow
2,000 pounds, but that may be more weight than your vehicle
manufacturer recommends for your specific car. Check your owner’s
manual to determine your vehicle’s towing capacity. You will likely
find that the hitch’s rated towing capacity and your vehicle’s towing
capacity from the manufacturer are different. It’s safest to go with
the lower of the two capacities. So, whether your car or hitch is the
lower, stay within the lower capacity.
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2. Your hitch is the wrong class for your vehicle.
Trailer hitch class is important to consider when shopping
for your hitch. Each hitch class has recommended vehicle types and
certain towing capacities they can safely tow. If you purchase a
class three hitch for your car, you won’t magically be able to tow
4,500 pounds and if you try, it will likely damage your vehicle.
Just because a hitch is made to fit your specific vehicle, it
doesn’t mean that the vehicle can tow the weight the hitch’s class
is rated for. Always use the recommended class of hitch for your
vehicle. The best place to find the recommended hitch class is your
vehicle’s owner’s manual.
3. You underestimate the weight of the unit you’re towing.
Research the weight of the unit being towed or carried via
the trailer hitch. All trailer manufacturers publish the weight of
their units in their manuals or possibly their website. This is also
true with most bicycles, motorcycles and handicap-assisting
vehicles. If you’re hauling landscape supplies, especially rock or
dirt, make sure you know the weight of the material you’re hauling
to ensure you don’t exceed your towing capacity.
4. You underestimate the toll of pulling extra weight often.
When you are consistently transporting heavy items, your
vehicle will experience quicker wear and tear. Extra weight is
harder on the vehicle’s driveline and may require more frequent
fluid changes. It may also cause more wear on the brakes, tires and
suspension. An example of a situation where constant extra weight
can take a toll is when a vehicle has a hitch-mounted lift installed
for transporting a power wheelchair/scooter. The constant extra
weight can cause damage to the vehicle over time.
5. You load all the items you’re carrying in the back.
When you load most of the weight you’re towing
towards the back of the trailer, your vehicle will likely
fishtail. Obviously, this isn’t safe on the road. To avoid this,
do your best to evenly distribute the weight you’re towing. This
may mean spacing out your items. Don’t forget to make sure these
items are properly secured. A general rule
for weight distribution is that the tongue weight (the
weight the trailer puts on the hitch ball) should be 10-15%
of the total weight, but of course, this weight should never
exceed any manufacturer’s recommendations.
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6. You try to install the hitch yoursel f.
Installing a hitch may seem straightforward, but it’s best
left to the professionals. Find a credible service provider to
install your hitch.
7. You don’t allow enough time to brake.
Possibly the most dangerous mistake you can make when towing
is to assume you can stop your vehicle quickly. When you’re towing
something, you need to allow ample distance and time to come to a
complete stop. Allow more distance between you and the vehicle in
front of you. Even slowing down takes more caution. As you drive, be
vigilant about anticipating slowdowns and stops.
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to do When Your Car Overheats
8. You forget to check your tire pressure
Your towing package may be set up properly, but your tires
may be underinflated or not of the proper load range. Check your
owner’s manual to determine if your tires will support the weight
you’re towing. Lastly, check the tire pressure on both the vehicle
that is towing and the item being towed, before you hit the road.
As you load up for your next trip, make sure you’re not
making these mistakes. For more information like this, follow us on
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approved/available in all states. Limitations and conditions
may apply. Premium will be based on benefits chosen and
policy rates available at time of application.
Disclaimer: This article is not expert advice. The
analysis of coverage is in general terms and is superseded
in all respects by the Insuring Agreements, Endorsements,
Exclusions, Terms and Conditions of the Policy. Some of the
coverage mentioned in this material may not be applicable in
all states or may have to be modified to conform to
applicable state law. Some coverages may have been
eliminated or modified since the publishing of this
material. Discounts may not be available in all states.
Limitations and conditions may apply. Premiums will be based on
benefits chosen. Please check with your local Independent
Auto-Owners Insurance Agent for details."
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