car hitch

Before you set out on a trip with a trailer in tow, it’s important to make sure that you understand the basics and have the right equipment. Towing a trailer isn’t too complicated, but mistakes can lead to a serious accident. Here are some important things you should know.

Choose the Right Type of Hitch

Hitches have a five-class rating system based on a truck’s gross vehicle weight rating and towing capacity. Most vehicles have a receiver-type hitch that is bolted to the chassis and square slots that receive the hitch mount. Some older trucks have a bumper with a hitch ball mount. 

Pickup trucks usually have a fifth-wheel or gooseneck hitch that positions the tongue weight of the trailer over the rear axle. That design increases the vehicle’s towing capacity and makes it possible to tow a trailer that is extra heavy and long. A fifth-wheel hitch helps the truck manage shifts in the trailer’s weight.

Hitches have a variety of locking mechanisms. No matter which type of hitch you use, you should use chains with it so the towing vehicle can control and stop the trailer. Too much slack in the chains can allow the trailer to sway. Twist the chains to shorten their length. 

Prevent Common Problems

When loading a trailer, place objects so that weight will be balanced in front of the trailer axles or centered on them. If weight is too far back, that can cause the trailer to sway.

Invest in quality straps. You can use tension or cam-lock straps for a small load and ratchet straps for a larger load. Choose straps with a working load that is greater than the weight of what you plan to haul. It’s generally best to strap the vehicle to the trailer at four points on the corners, without crossing the straps in an X pattern.

Inspect Your Trailer Before You Begin a Journey

Before you set out on a trip, give your trailer a thorough inspection and make any necessary repairs. It’s also a good idea to bring along spare parts, especially on a long trip, so you don’t have to search for a store that carries them. 

Make Sure You Have the Right Insurance Coverage

Your auto insurance policy may or may not cover you if you get involved in an accident while towing a trailer. Your car or truck insurance may cover liability, but it may not provide collision or comprehensive coverage unless you add that coverage to your policy.

If you have questions about insurance coverage for a trailer, contact Petruzelo Insurance. We can explain how insurance applies to a trailer, discuss your situation and needs, and make sure you have the coverage that best suits you.