Towing Tips & Safety
Checks you should carry out every time you tow a trailer, with a car, to make sure you're towing safely and legally.
Tow Ball & Connections
The trailer is correctly coupled to the tow ball or pin - follow the manufacturer’s advice.
The coupling height is correct.
The 7 or 13 core cable and plug isn’t damaged.
Use a breakaway cable or secondary coupling. This engages the trailer’s brakes (if fitted) or stops the trailer if it becomes detached from the car.
Wheels & Tyres
Check that the tyres on both the car and trailer:
Don’t have any cuts or bulges.
Are inflated to the manufacturer’s specification for the load being carried.
Check that each tyre has a tread depth of at least 1.6mm:
Across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tread.
Around the entire circumference of the tyre.
Check that the wheel nuts and bolts are tightened to the correct torque.
Check that mudguards are fitted to the trailer and they’re secure.
Lights & Indicators
Check that there’s no damage to the lights, and that they’re all working correctly.
Load & Weight Limit
The trailer isn’t overloaded.
The load is distributed evenly.
The load is secure.
Find your car’s weight limit.
The vehicle manufacturer’s plate gives information about weight limits for your car. Check the car’s handbook if a plate isn’t fitted.
When You're Driving
You must not drive faster than the speed limit for the type of road.
If the trailer starts to snake or swerve, ease off the accelerator and reduce your speed gently. It’s a sign that either:
You’re going too fast.
The trailer is loaded incorrectly.
Don’t brake harshly on a bend, as it makes the trailer unstable. Reduce your speed in plenty of time when approaching any hazard.
You must not drive in the right-hand lane of a motorway with 3 or more lanes.
Below is a great video on the importance of ensuring your weight is correctly distributed when driving.
•If the trailer will be standing for a length of time never leave the handbrake on – chock the wheels.
• Rocking/revolving the wheels a couple of inches will help prevent the trailer from seizing up.
• Don’t over grease the bearings as over greasing can push the rubber seal out or it could burst.
• Use a good quality grease.
• Check the expiry dates on your tyres as they have a life span of up to 7 years.
• Be careful when driving over potholes as you can get bent axels.
• Check your tyres aren’t worn.
• Mud guards can be damaged from hitting the kerb.
• Check the floor.
• Lift the rubber mats, if the floor is wooden check for rotting, if the floor is aluminuim check for cracks.
• Take the rubber mat out when washing the inside.
• Check the running gear/brakes.
• Check the side panels for rotting at the bottom.
• Ensure the ramp doors haven’t worn.
• Investigate wearing on the rear side of the trailer.
• If taking the boat to the water let the trailer cool for ½ hour before emerging it into the water.
• After a trailer being submerged in the sea it is advised to flush the brakes/running with fresh water, this will prevent the trailer from rusting.
• An option is to fit a flushing kit to the brakes if it’s a boat trailer.
• If the trailer will be standing for a length of time, it’s advised to raise the trailer so that the tyres are off the ground. Use wooden blocks – not concrete or bricks as these can shatter/crumble.
With both braked and un-braked trailers the use of secondary couplings between the car towing bracket and the trailer frame is a legal requirement. In the case of braked trailers the breakaway cable will activate the trailer handbrake in the event of the trailer becoming uncoupled. If the trailer tends to snake at speed the problem could well be insufficient nose weight, low Tyre pressures, incorrect weight distribution of the boat and contents, or a combination of all. Do not proceed to tow until the problem has been recognised and rectified.
The maximum towing limit in the UK is 60 M.P.H. on Dual Carriageways and Motorways but remains at 50 M.P.H. on Single Carriageways (Provided that no lower speed limit is in force).
Un-braked Trailers Maximum gross weight allowed is 750 Kg. However the gross trailer weight should NOT exceed 50% of the Kerb weight of the Towing Vehicle. Always check the rating plate on the trailer and check your vehicle handbook to ensure you do not exceed its towing capacity.
Braked Trailers may be towed up to the maximum weight recommended by the manufacturer of the Towing Vehicle. Please note that the weights on the type label are adhered to and not the actual weight.
REMEMBER THAT A ROAD TRAILER IS A VEHICLE SUBJECT TO THE LAW WHO HAVE POWERS TO INSPECT IT AT ANY TIME ON THE ROAD AND MAY PROSECUTE A USER WHERE THE TRAILER IS NOT IN CONFORMITY WITH THE LAW OR WHERE IT IS NOT IN A ROADWORTHY CONDITION. IT IS THE OWNERS RESPONSIBILITY TO CHECK AND MAINTAIN THE TRAILER TO ENSURE IT IS ROADWORTHY. FAILURE TO DO SO CAN RESULT IN EXPENSIVE REPAIRS OR PROSECUTION.
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