Ten Tips for Safe Towing

Overtake whilst towing with great care - Pic: AL-KO
Overtake whilst towing with great care

Pic: AL-KO

Tip One: Speed

Never tow above the speed limit (especially if overtaking).

Tip Two: Maximum Weights

Never load a tow vehicle or trailer above maximum weight limits stipulated by the manufacturers. Doing so is illegal, dangerous and will invalidate your insurance. Knowing the weight of your tow vehicle and trailer is as important as carrying your passport overseas.

Find out more about trailer weight definitions here.

Tip Three: Weight Ratio

Ideally, a laden trailer’s weight should not exceed 80% of a laden tow vehicle’s weight. If you follow this recommendation, in our opinion, you will have no need for a Weight Distributing Hitch.

Tip Four: Tow Ball Mass

Make sure your trailer’s front end is heavier than its rear. For camper trailers, not less than 5% of the trailer’s laden weight should be on the tow ball. For Australian caravans the percentage should be 7% to 10% (the longer and heavier the caravan, the higher the percentage needed). UK/EU-made caravans need 6% to 7%.

This mass must remain reasonably constant, not varying as water tank content varies. Tow ball mass has been long proven to be related to critical speed – the lower the percentage of trailer weight on the tow ball, the lower the critical speed. Any trailer with less than 4% tow ball mass is virtually an accident waiting its opportunity to happen, as its critical speed may be as low as 50 km/h. Find out more about critical speed here

Tip Five: Weight Distribution

Heavy items in a trailer should be stowed low down and close to the axle(s). Only store lighter items higher up and away from the axle(s). Never store heavy items at the front or rear of the trailer.

Tip Six: Height

Keep everything as low as feasible across your entire rig consistent with adequate ground clearance. The lowest part of a rig is usually the tow vehicle’s differential housing/s or exhaust.

Tip Seven: Tow Vehicle Choice

Choose a tow vehicle that:

  • Has a maximum towing capacity far greater than the laden weight of your trailer
  • Has an adequate maximum tow ball allowance for your trailer
  • Has the shortest possible distance from rear axle to tow ball

Find out more about choosing the right tow vehicle here.

Tip Eight: Trailer Choice

Choose a trailer that:

  • Is as light as possible
  • Is as short as possible
  • Has the longest possible distance between the tow ball and its centre of mass (extended A-Frames help at the expense of increased turning circles)

Tip Nine: Tyres

Use ‘Light Truck’ tyres to assist trailer and tow vehicle handling. Their stiffer sidewalls enable them to carry their maximum weight at all times, and they are better able to resist yaw and snaking. But they are a little noisier and have a slightly harder ride compared to normal tyres.

Tip Ten: Towing Technology

Address any weight problems at source rather than fitting technology that could mask existing issues or introduce new ones.

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