Well, winter is here and if you are towing a trailer behind your vehicle, you know that there may be treacherous conditions on the roads. In order to ensure your safety and others, there are some helpful tips to make sure that you get to your destination safely.
The very first thing you can do is make sure that the vehicle you are using to tow the trailer is in good condition and prepared for winter driving. Telling your mechanic that you will be towing a trailer is a great start, they can check over your vehicle and make sure the brakes are in good shape, that the tires are filled to the proper level, etc.
Checking your trailer over in a pre-trip inspection is always a good idea, but when you are going to be traveling in winter weather this is vital to making sure that your trip is a safe one. Some of the simple steps you can take to complete this are:
- Check wiring & lights
- Ensure all lug nuts and hubs are tightened to the particular specs
- Assess the tires and the wear
Regardless of the weather, the way that your load is distributed on the trailer is very important, making sure that the load is heavier at the front and lighter at the back. Placing 60% of the weight at the front and 40% at the back to ensure proper weight distribution and then securing it appropriately is first step to towing your trailer safely.
Of course, most of these tips are helpful year-round, but in winter some of these become increasingly important. Such as, braking and safe spacing, this changes in the winter due to weather and road conditions. Giving yourself enough space to brake and stop if needed is vital, consider how long it would take for your vehicle and trailer to stop without the use of brakes because on ice, you will experience this. Understanding how to cope if your trailer starts to jack knife, and how to prevent a jackknifed trailer is critical to your trip ending safely.
- Before you take a turn, brake slowly in a straight line.
- Coming out of a turn, accelerate in a straight line. If your trailer does start to jackknife, the best course of action is to accelerate to get the trailer back in line, then gently brake to regain control.
It’s a skill that it is very much worth practicing, if you can, as it could be absolutely lifesaving for you and others on the road in the event of a jackknife emergency.
Maintaining a forward momentum, reducing your speed and planning ahead are all elements to completing a safe journey. By maintaining your momentum, you are more likely to make it through the spots of snow that may get you stuck if you slow right down. By keeping the forward velocity, you are less likely to get caught up in a snow drift. Slowing down to drive for the conditions of the road is not something that many people think of. Winter roads can look deceiving and can appear clear, always be aware there may be black ice or spots of ice that are enough to cause you to start sliding. Do not use cruise control in these conditions, you need to maintain control and be totally alert when driving. Cruise control can cause you to become more lenient and relaxed, and you could miss a spot of black ice that is coming up and not see it in time to prevent going into a slide.
When you are winter driving always make sure that you have some emergency equipment with you, just in case you need it. Hoping for the best but preparing for the worst is a better idea than getting stuck or having a malfunction and not being able to remedy it. Having extra tie-down straps, spare tires, a roadside kit with flares or reflectors, flashlights and water are all examples of necessities for winter travel, especially with a trailer. We hope you are able to travel safe this winter and if you have any questions or you are just needing to make sure you have the proper items for towing in the winter, feel free to call us at National Trailer Parts Warehouse and we will assist you in any way we can in order to ensure that you have a safe winter driving experience.