Renting a trailer, whether for a move or to tow a car, can be a cost effective alternative to paying professional movers or buying a trailer outright. While the process of renting is relatively straight forward, there are some things you need to know if you have never hauled a trailer before. The following tips will help you do it like a pro.
Tip #1: Know your towing capacity
The actual towing capacity of your vehicle and hitch setup can be tricky to determine if you don't know where to look. Fortunately, you can usually find the information on your vehicle's towing capacity inside the owner's manual. Otherwise, a quick call to a dealership should give you the information. Hitches come in classes, which are marked on the hitch. The weight loads should also be marked, but if not your rental company will inform you of the maximum load your hitch can handle. Remember, the weight of the trailer is part of the total load weight.
Tip #2: Learn proper loading style
The tongue of the trailer is the part that angles inward to the hitch attachment. You don't want to put much, if any, weight on the tongue. Instead, keep the load balanced to the actual trailer body. In general, you want just over half of the main weight positioned toward hitch-end of the trailer and evenly distributed across the width of the trailer. For this reason, you shouldn't place a car on a trailer backward because the engine compartment is the heaviest part.
Tip #3: Use your safety chains
Safety chains serve two major purposes. First and foremost, they keep the trailer from fully detaching from the vehicle if the hitch fails, which can prevent an accident and save lives. The second task is to save the load from tipping off the trailer if the hitch fails. When installing chains, cross them under the tongue of the trailer. Leave enough slack so that the trailer can turn corners, but not so much that the chains drag on the ground. If the hitch fails, the crossed chains will support the tongue so the trailer doesn't tilt forward.
Tip #4: Perform a safety check every time you stop
Safety checks are very important and need to be done before you begin towing the load. You should also run through a quick check each time you stop, such as to get gas, on longer trips. The following are some basic checks to do:
- Check that the hitch and chains are properly secured.
- Verify that the brake lights and turn signals are working.
- Inspect the load and make sure it is secured.
- Test the brakes, if the trailer is equipped with its own brake controller, by slowly depressing them as you pull out.
For more help with your trailer rental, contact a rental company near you, such as Back Roads RV Rentals.