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If you have to pass another vehicle by changing lanes, please anticipate much longer time needed for most vehicles when towing. Signal well in advance. Avoid passing on steep grades.You will need to start acceleration earlier and realize your tow vehicle will need much more time to pass when carrying a load. Make sure there is plenty of time to avoid oncoming traffic and leave plenty of clearance before moving back into your lane. You don't want to hit vehicle your passing with your trailer.
When traveling on roads with soft shoulders, avoid getting trailer wheels off pavement. Contacting soft shoulder can cause trailer to start to sway. If it happens, don't panic. Do not try to steer right back onto pavement or hard surface. Take your foot off gas pedal but don't hit tow vehicles brakes. Activate trailer brakes by hand and easily tap your vehicle brakes. Downshift if possible. When you have reached a much slower speed and your trailer is under control, gradually ease wheels back onto road.
When encountering steep grades you will notice different handling characteristics when towing. On a steep downhill grade trailer can actually push your vehicle. Anticipate this and downshift and let off gas a little. You may have to use your trailer brakes hand control to slow you but don't ride them. Only tap them intermittently to avoid overheating of brakes and ultimately, brake failure.. When facing a steep upgrade you should start accelerating early if possible. Again, you may have to downshift and keep increasing your gas pedal to compensate for drag on you going uphill. As you reach crest of grade start backing off pedal. A steep grade will test your tow vehicles limits.
Once you have reached your destination you have to find a place to park your "rig". It's best to avoid parking on a grade. The more level parking area better. If you have to park on a grade, it is best to chock wheels. Hopefully, you have some with you. If you have someone to help, have them guide you into spot. You can't always rely on mirrors as trailer may block your view. Once stopped, keep your foot on brake, turn your wheels toward curb (pointed in on a down hill, out on an uphill), apply parking brake and then shift into park, or with a manual, your lowest gear. This method helps avoid locking your transmission due to extra load.
If you are on even a small grade and you plan to unhitch your trailer, you must apply chocks to trailers wheels to avoid trailer from rolling away when uncoupled. Just having lift down will not make it stable. Jack stands also come in handy to level your load.I hope this article has provided you with useful information but it is not intended to be " be all and end all" of trailering safety. Read everything you can and talk to other more experienced trailer owners for tips on do's and don'ts. Contact your state governments transportation department and familiarize yourself with laws, regulations and even local ordinances regarding trailers and towing.
W. H. Ingle is the webmaster for http://www.longhornsales.com and a published author specializing in articles on the subject of trailering and transporting cargo and livestock.