What to Know Before Driving with a Trailer

Everything seems to be in order. All the equipment seems to be in place. You’ve got your trailer and everything you’d need – you are ready to go. You feel ready to turn the key and hit the road. 

Before you put your foot on the gas, there might be a few things to make sure that you know. Even if this is just a refresher, here’s some good tips before you start driving with a trailer attached to your vehicle.

Read All Provided Material

While it might sound obvious, we all know how easy it is to toss the instruction manuals aside when we’ve opening any kind of new product. Say you’ve got new equipment, like a Jiffy Jack, it’s extremely important to read all provided material so you are familiar with max towing weight and that everything was installed and loaded correctly. 

This also extends to the vehicle you are connecting to the trailer. Not every vehicle is going to have a trailer hitch from the factory but many can have one installed. If yours came with one, make sure you read all the towing information included in the operator’s manual. If it was installed after your vehicle purchase, make sure you thoroughly read through all the manufacturer’s provided documentation.

Double Checking Is Your Friend

If there’s time between when you load and when you take off, make sure you check everything both times. Getting everything set the night before for a morning haul? Check both times. Taking a break at a rest stop? Check again. Things can happen on the road and issues can put up with your trailer that might have seemed fine last time you looked at it. Weight and speed add a lot of variables to what you’re doing. Better stay ahead of any issues that could cause a lot of damage later in your route.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Get everything set up, and if you can, keep the trailer empty. At first, make sure you are comfortable with the new size of what you are operating. Maybe get out on the road at an off time, so traffic isn’t as heavy, and try to find a quiet back road just to get used to driving on the slight bends and turns you’ll encounter once you are actually hauling your load.

While you are practicing that, don’t forget to hone your skills getting in and out where you’ll be parking. Good ideas for this include getting in and out of tight driveways and making sure to navigate parking lots to make sure you are able to put your vehicle and trailer exactly where you want them.

Relearn To Reverse

Sounds odd to someone that is yet to drive around with a trailer attached but it is extremely important to know what you learned in driver’s ed is not going to help you here. You’ve got to know that the trailer is going to want to do the opposite of what you are while you’re trying to reverse. 

Speed is going to make this all the harder. Find that empty parking lot and don’t leave until you’ve got this down. If possible, bring a partner who can be your spotter and have them stand outside of the vehicle to make sure you aren’t hitting anything and to give play-by-play of everything you might not be able to see.

Will Hopstetter
Will is an automotive market enthusiast living in the United Kingdom. He holds a diverse background in automotive and enjoys utilizing that to produce insights into the inner workings of the industry.