ABOVE: CHEVROLET; BELO W RIGH T: NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF TRAILER MANUFACTURERS
Carry that weight
MANY TOWING accidents
involve improperly weighted
trailers, as well as gas pumps
and making right turns.
Drivers don’t always allow
enough swing room for the
tail of the trailer when turning
away from the pumps. Use
your mirrors for every maneuver, and make sure you pull
out farther before making a
turn. And make sure to load
heavier items in front of the
trailer, with 60 percent of the
cargo weight in the front.—TB
Towing tips for safe fun this summer
BY TOM BEAMAN
AUTOMAKERS SOLD almost ;; million light-duty trucks across the United States in ;;;;. As
demand for these brawny machines grows, so
does people’s yearning to hitch up a trailer and
head with family or friends to the lake or campground, demonstrated by an increase in registrations for towable recreational vehicles and
boat, horse and livestock trailers.
The Costco Connection asked towing experts
for their top tips to help our readers have a safe
and enjoyable trailering experience.
Stay within your limits
From Todd Brinkman, a Chevrolet trailering
• Refer to your vehicle’s towing capacity in
the owner’s manual or trailering guide to ensure
that the vehicle can handle the weight of the
trailer and its cargo.
• Some vehicles offer a tow/haul mode that
optimizes shift patterns for towing heavy loads
and climbing hills. If your vehicle doesn’t have
this feature, shifting the automatic transmission to manual mode allows you to downshift.
Consult your vehicle’s owners manual for specific information about which gears are appropriate for various towing situations.
• Make sure the vehicle’s curb weight [its
empty weight with a full tank of gas], the weight
of all passengers and cargo, and the tongue
weight of the trailer do not exceed its gross vehi-
cle weight rating [the total weight on the vehi-
Tongue weight is the downward force of the
trailer’s tongue on the hitch, and should be
around ;; to ;; percent of the total weight of the
loaded trailer to reduce trailer sway. For example, a ;,;;;-pound trailer should exert a tongue
weight between ;;; and ;;; pounds.
• Choose the right trailer hitch. Depending
on the type of trailer and its weight, you might
need a ball [weight-carrying hitch], a fifth
wheel, a gooseneck or a weight-distributing
hitch with sway control. The vehicle’s owner’s
manual, trailering guide or your dealer can help
you choose the correct hitch.
A pop-up camper or snowmobile trailer
rated at a ;,;;;-pound gross vehicle weight
(GVW) typically uses a weight-carrying hitch. A
;;,;;;-pound horse trailer can require a fifth
wheel or gooseneck hitch.
• With the extra weight behind you, you can’t
accelerate as fast, you need more room to merge
and you must allow for increased stopping distance. And be especially aware that your trailer
does not sway into an adjoining lane.