Many of us take towing for granted. Towing is commonly done by attaching a weight-distribution hitch to the back of a vehicle and then attaching whatever you’re hauling to the hitch. You could be hauling a boat, caravan, trailer with landscaping equipment, luggage or anything that is too heavy or complex to put in your vehicle. Executive Towing Services provide a tow truck Perth residents can call when they need assistance.
There are a lot of myths out there about towing, especially when it comes to what you can tow and the towing capacity of the vehicle. Let’s explore the top 11 myths about towing right now.
1) Towing Capacity Means Vehicle and Trailer’s Weight
If you look at the owner’s manual of your vehicle, it will give you the towing weight capacity for it. The standard towing capacity is 3.5 tonnes, which comes out to roughly 3,500 kilograms. Most people assume this means the maximum weight of the trailer that you’re towing in the back. However, what it actually means is the total gross combined mass, which is the maximum weight of the vehicle and trailer added together.
For example, if you’re towing a trailer with cargo that weighs 3,500 kilograms, you might need to reduce the weight by as much as 500 kilograms. This will keep you within the limit of the gross combined mass. Again, the owner’s manual will give you more information on this.
2) Shift Load to the Rear to Reduce the Tow-Ball Download
This is what you do before you start towing. If you tow a trailer and you’re forced to swerve for whatever reason, the weight of the trailer will cause its rear to swing like a pendulum from side to side if most of the weight is in back of the axle line.
The more it swings along a horizontal plane, the wider the arcs will become. This creates an extremely dangerous situation. To combat this situation, try to put more of the weighted load toward the axle line rather than behind it. Also, try to reduce the centre of gravity by getting the load as low as possible.
3) A Weight Distribution Hitch Can Reduce the Tow-Ball Download
If you use a weight-distribution hitch to haul or tow your load, it will allow the weight of the load to be dispersed to all the axles evenly. That means the trailer and the vehicle will be at a level riding height, which makes it easier to steer the vehicle and to put on the front wheel brakes. On the other hand, the leveraging effect of the weight distribution hitch won’t change how much weight is placed on the tow-ball.
4) Stiff Rear Suspension Offers the Same Outcome Weight Distribution Hitch
Some vehicle owners get confused about the difference between gross vehicle mass and gross combined mass when it comes to fitting a rear suspension onto their vehicles. Several different aftermarket suspension companies sell specially engineered suspension upgrades to boost the payload capacity of a vehicle. This, in turn, increases the gross vehicle mass.
If you have a stiff rear suspension, it may lower some of the rear-end squat that is beneath the load. On the other hand, if you want to get rid of the nose-lifting effect that is often seen in heavier trailers and loads, then you need a weight-distribution hitch.
5) The Posted Speed Limit is a Safe Towing Speed
When you tow a trailer with your vehicle, it is going to make your vehicle more unstable on the road. It is best to drive on straight roads so that you have less resistance to worry about. If you need to swerve quickly or go around a corner that is coming up ahead, then it becomes more of an issue. It is also more dangerous to have to brake suddenly with a heavy load behind you. Therefore, if you travel too quickly while towing a heavy load, then you’re more likely to lose control of your vehicle and cause a major accident.
The posted speed limit on the road does not apply to tow vehicles. Look at your owner’s manual to find out the best towing speed. If you’re not sure about the speed, then always go slower than the posted speed limit to ensure everyone’s safety on the road.
6) Acceleration Will Stop the Swaying of a Trailer
If you have an electronic trailer sway control system, then it manages the speed of your tow vehicle in a safe manner. Failure to monitor the speed of your tow vehicle could result in instability on the road. Trailer sway is the result of driving too fast with a heavy load behind your vehicle. If your weight distribution hitch doesn’t contain some kind of mechanical or electronic trailer sway device, then you need to gently remove your foot from the accelerator pedal to prevent any more transfer of weight. After that, slowly put your foot on the brake pedal to bring your vehicle to a controlled state. This is the correct way to stop a trailer from swaying. Just remember to always drive carefully and slowly when towing a trailer.
7) Wait Until the Depth of Your Tyre Treads is 1.5mm Before Replacing the Tyres
The age of your tyres is an important consideration to make. If your tyres are more than 5 years old, then a heavy load might be too much for them to bear. Older tyres lose their heat-dispersing properties and strength after the 5-year mark. They start to deteriorate at an accelerated rate, especially if they’re not used often.
Don’t forget that trailers have tyres too. Most people leave their trailers inside of their garages for several months or even for several years. If the tyres are not used or replaced on those trailers, then they become a safety concern once they’re finally moving on the road. Check the manufacturing date of your trailer’s tyres to determine when they were made. If it has been longer than 5 years since they were made, then it is time to replace them.
8) Trailer Brakes Are Unnecessary if the Trailer Weighs Under 750kg
Most vehicle manufacturers will put two sets of information about towing capacity in the owner’s manual. The first set of information pertains to trailers without brakes, and the other set of information is for trailers with brakes. Trailers that weigh over 750kg must be fitted with brakes, but that doesn’t mean trailers weighing less than 750kg don’t need brakes too.
If your vehicle is smaller than a large sports utility vehicle (SUV), then its towing capacity is probably under 750kg. If you don’t have trailer brakes when your tow vehicle is this small, then it becomes a danger on the road. It would be just as bad as a large sports utility vehicle towing over a tonne of weight and not having any brakes on the trailer. That is why trailer brakes are actually quite important regardless of the trailer’s size.
9) A Weight Distribution Hitch Eliminates All Towing Problems
You can tow a trailer more safely with a weight-distribution hitch, but it won’t prevent all towing problems from occurring. For instance, as you tow a load with your vehicle, the extra weight will raise the vehicle’s nose. This will have a negative impact on how well you can control the vehicle in terms of steering and braking. A weight distribution hitch is made to fix the weight imbalance issue so that weight is evenly distributed onto all the axles that exist on the trailer and tow vehicle.
10) It is More Difficult to Reverse a Big Trailer Than a Small Trailer
Actually, it is more difficult to reverse a small trailer. This always surprises a lot of people because a smaller trailer weighs less and has less mass. However, smaller trailers tend to have more movement. They make sharp turns at various angles as you steer the vehicle, unlike larger trailers.
The safest thing you can do is slowly reverse if you have a small trailer. Then you can correct your steering a lot more easily and guide the trailer in the right direction.
11) Towing Mirrors Are Unnecessary
On the contrary, towing mirrors are very helpful when you tow a trailer. You can’t depend on the side mirrors of your vehicle alone. Side mirrors are not meant to guide a vehicle that tows a trailer, but rather for the vehicle itself. You need to have special towing mirrors if you plan to tow a trailer with your vehicle. Towing mirrors give you even more rearward visibility than what your side mirrors provide to you. This helps you tow a trailer much more safely.
Towing is a totally different experience than simply driving a vehicle. You need to understand all the extra safety measures and driving tactics that are necessary so that you don’t cause any accidents on the road. Now that we’ve debunked these towing myths, you should have a better understanding of what to do and what not to do when you tow a trailer with your vehicle.