It doesn’t matter if your trailer is big or small, there are everyday safety steps that should be taken to avoid tragedies while on the road.
1. Stay up-to-date on regular maintenance.
Keeping your trailer in top shape is a critical step in trailer safety. Before towing, ensure that:
- The bearings have been greased
- The tire pressure is correct, and the tires (including the spare) have been inspected for overall maintenance
- Wheel lug nuts should be tightened to the correct torque
- The brakes and electronic brake controller should be checked, including the emergency break-away switch
- The trailer jack and ball should be greased and functional
As well as the trailer, the vehicle doing the towing should be properly maintained since towing puts additional stress on the tow vehicle.
2. Correctly attach the trailer to the tow vehicle.
The trailer should be snugly set on the tow ball and secured with the trailer latch. The safety chains should be crisscrossed between the trailer and the tow vehicle, and connected to the ball mount with enough slack to make turns, but not to drag on the road surface.
The breakaway system lanyard should be connected to the tow vehicle but not to the safety chains or ball mount. Make sure all running lights, tail lights, brake lights, turn signals, and hazard lights are connected and working.
3. Make sure your weight is properly distributed.
When loading the trailer, be sure you have proper weight distribution from left to right, and front to back. A properly balanced trailer reduces the overall wear on the tow vehicle and the trailer. Do not overload your trailer beyond its maximum capacity load (or else something like this can happen).
About 60% of the load should be placed in the front half of the trailer so that the tongue weight of the trailer hitch is about 10% of the total weight.
The trailer tongue should sit about level with the tow hitch; not tilted up or downward. The load should be evenly divided between the left and right sides, and then secured so that it doesn’t shift during transport.
4. Do a 360 walk-around before you take off.
Before any driving, do a full visual inspection of the trailer and tow vehicle from all angles to be sure that everything is secure, functioning, and ready for the road.
Make sure your trailer jack and stabilizers are up and locked in place. Ensure that items in the trailer are securely fastened and that any straps are tight and the ends tucked away securely. Make sure you have your wheel chocks and jack stands. Ensure you have good visibility in your tow vehicle mirrors.
Keeping trailer safety in mind every time you tow can help prevent dangerous and costly accidents, as well as unwanted wear and tear on your rig.