In this blog post, we list our Top 10 trailer towing tips. This list is to be a guide and informational. There are a lot of other tips, ideas and strategies to consider outside of this list. Please drive carefully.
If you are new to towing a trailer, it can be a daunting experience. There is a lot more to consider than just hooking up the trailer to your tow vehicle and hitting the road. Whenever you are towing a trailer – whether it’s a camper, a boat, snowmobiles, or whatever – it’s important to tow safely. After all, you’re responsible not only for your safety but also for the safety of others, plus whatever you’re hauling. By following these trailer towing tips, you can avoid any potential problems and make sure your trip is enjoyable!
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Our Top 10 Tips for RV Towing:
1. Maintain Proper Speed and Distance
My number 1 for trailer towing tips! Take it slow and give extra distance! So many accidents and mistakes can be avoided by following these two simple rules! Anyone who has ever towed a trailer or camper knows that it is important to maintain a proper speed and to allow for greater distance between you and the vehicle in front of you while towing. Leaving extra room between your vehicle and the one in front of you can prevent excessive wear on your brakes and prevent accidents. Making quick stops with a trailer in tow is a recipe for disaster.
Do not exceed the speed limit and follow the suggested speed limits listed for trucks. Also, be aware of what speed your tow vehicle and camper is comfortable cruising at. This speed may be less than the speed limit and that is ok! If it doesn’t feel safe at the suggested speed limit, don’t drive it.
Also, be aware of crosswinds and passing vehicles. This can also have an affect how fast you drive. It’s a good idea to always keep two hands on the steering wheel because you never know when that gust of wind will come or that semi comes flying past you. Both of those can cause your trailer to sway. So, if you don’t ready anymore of our trailer towing tips, please remember and follow this one! It can really help.
2. Trailer Backup Camera
This is one of my favorite RV must haves for towing a camper safely. A backup camera can help you to avoid obstacles when backing up, and also be a great assist when you are trying to back into that campsite while everyone watching and the pressure is on! A bonus of the backup camera is that it can also give you a clear view of what is behind you while you are driving on the road. Some backup cameras even have a kit where you can mount side cameras to your camper trailer lights to really see the blind spots. This makes lane changes easier and allows you to have a clear view of what is behind you while driving down the road. As a result, it is an essential tool for anyone who wants to tow their camper safely.
3. Tire Pressure Monitoring System
One of the most important aspects of towing a trailer safely is making sure that your tires are properly inflated. I check tire pressures at the start of every trip, and at most stops. It’s that important. Tire pressure is critical for several reasons. If the trailer tires are not inflated to the correct pressure, they can overheat and blow out. In addition, an under-inflated trailer tire is more likely to reduce gas mileage and give you uneven tire wear. If your tires are not inflated to the proper pressure, they will not be able to support the weight of your loaded trailer either. This is another reason why it’s important to know your trailer weight. To avoid these problems, be sure to check the trailer tires’ pressure before each trip, and inflate them (or deflate them) to the correct pressure.
As you are traveling, your tire pressures change. When speed increases, it causes the temperature to increase, which will raise your tire pressure. Or what if it’s an extremely hot day while you’re traveling the open road? That can cause your tire pressure to raise. A tire pressure monitoring system will allow you to see in real-time what the trailer tire pressures are while you are on the road driving. This is particularly important since tire pressures increase as they get hotter from moving or even just on a hot day. Also, you can see if you have a slow leak in one of your tires if pressure is continually decreasing in one of them. If you’re planning on doing any towing, a TPMS is a great device for your safety and gives you peace of mind.
But no matter what, It is always a good idea to keep a spare tire in your vehicle, just in case you have a flat.
4. RV GPS
Most people are familiar with the standard GPS units that are used in cars. However, when towing a trailer or camper, it is important to use an RV Specific GPS. We recommend the Garmin 890 RV GPS. These units are designed to take into account the size and weight of your vehicle, as well as the length and weight of your trailer. This information is used to calculate the best route for your journey, taking into account things like sharp turns and low bridges.
Speaking of low bridges, make sure you know the height of your camper while towing and watch for low clearance signs! I’ve seen too many AC units get ripped off the top of the camper by drivers who missed the low clearance sign or didn’t know their trailer height! Additionally, RV Specific GPS units often come with trailer towing tips and alerts, which can be very helpful when you’re on the road. They can also help you find RV parks and campgrounds, which is especially handy if you’re traveling to a new area.
So if you’re planning on hitting the open road this summer, be sure to pick up an RV Specific GPS before you go.
5. Anti Sway Bar
An anti sway bar is a device that helps to reduce trailer sway. This is particularly important if you are towing a travel trailer. Trailer sway is when the trailer begins to move independently from the vehicle, and can be very dangerous. An anti sway bar connects from the trailer to the tow vehicle trailer hitch, and helps to keep the trailer in line. When the trailer begins to sway, the sway bar will push it back into place. This helps to keep the trailer from jackknifing, and makes for a much safer trip.
If you are towing a trailer, it is highly recommended that you install an anti sway bar to help prevent trailer sway. It not only makes towing safer, but it also helps to prevent damage to your camper or your tow vehicle. Sway bars are relatively inexpensive and easy to install, so there’s no excuse not to use them.
Pro tip: if you are making a very tight turn or going in reverse it’s important to remove the sway bar!
6. Weight Distribution Hitch
The hitch is what connects your trailer to your vehicle, and it is important to choose the right trailer hitch. Weight distribution hitches help to distribute the trailer’s weight evenly making for a much safer trip. It’s important to know the gross trailer weight and the gross vehicle weight rating. Without weight distribution bars, all the weight of your trailer is borne by the trailer hitch. This can lead to problems like damaged brakes, tires, and axles, not to mention a very jarring ride.
Weight distribution bars distribute the weight of the trailer more evenly across the length of the tow vehicle, making for a smoother ride and less wear and tear on your vehicle. In short: if you’re towing a trailer or camper, make sure to use weight distribution bars. Your vehicle will thank you for it.
7. Extended Towing Mirrors
If you’ve ever been on the highway with a large trailer or camper in tow, then you know how important it is to have good towing mirrors for visibility. If you’re towing a trailer or camper, extended towing mirrors are a must-have for safety. Some trucks come with extended mirrors and some now come with mirrors that extend automatically when you push a button. We loved this feature on our truck! However, most SUVs have regular mirrors. The good news is that there is a variety of clip on extended mirrors that are cheap and easy to install.
Extended towing mirrors are the best type of mirror to use when towing a large trailer or camper, as they provide the widest field of view. With regular mirrors, you may not be able to see around the trailer, that curb as you are making a turn, or the campsite as you are trying to back into it. But with extended towing mirrors, you can see beyond the trailer as well. This is important, as it allows you to see oncoming cars, see if the trailer is veering off course, and helps to prevent accidents. If you’re towing a trailer or camper, make sure to use extended towing mirrors. They are cheap and easily attach to your current vehicle’s mirrors. They could make all the difference on your next trip!
8. Electronic Brake Controller
One way to stay safe when towing is to install an electronic brake kit if your tow vehicle didn’t come with one already. An electronic brake kit is a device that helps to reduce braking distances by automatically applying your trailer brakes when the vehicle’s brakes are applied. Some trucks come equipped with brake kits from the factory. Others do not, particularly if you are using your SUV as your tow vehicle. Fortunately, it’s easy to add an aftermarket electronic brake kit.
If you are towing a camper or something large and heavy that has electric brakes, I would make sure your tow vehicle has an electronic brake kit. Even if your tow vehicle has the towing capacity to tow the loaded trailer weight, stopping both your tow vehicle along with the camper is another thing. The brake kits are adjustable to allow you to determine how much brake pressure you want going to the trailer when you apply your tow vehicle brakes. They also have a manual slide activation switch to help you if your trailer starts to sway or jackknife. This can be incredibly helpful in emergency situations when every second counts. The electronic brake kit can also help to reduce wear and tear on both your tow vehicle and trailer brakes.
If you’re going to be towing a trailer, it’s highly recommended that you invest in an electronic brake kit. And while you’re at it, make sure those brake lights work!
9. Even Weight Distribution When Loading
If you’ve ever loaded a camper or trailer, you know that weight distribution is key to towing safely. An uneven load can cause the trailer to swing from side to side, making it difficult to control on the road. It can also put stress on the trailer hitch and tow vehicle, leading to problems down the road. You all have seen those trucks and campers before out on the road that look like they are totally sagging at the hitch right? Not properly loaded!
Even weight distribution is especially important when loading heavier items into your camper. Make sure you know what your trailer weight is unloaded, and also what the weight is of the loaded trailer. By taking the time to distribute the weight evenly, you’ll be able to enjoy your camping trip without any worries. Trust us, it’s worth the extra effort!
10. Roadside Assistance
Even with following all our tips, things happen. It is important to be prepared for the unexpected. That’s why having a good roadside assistance program is essential when towing your camper. If you break down, you may not be able to fix the problem yourself. Having a tow truck come and help you is essential.
Roadside assistance can help you if you have a flat tire, run out of gas, or need to tow your camper to a service station. In addition, many roadside assistance programs offer discounts on hotels and campgrounds.
So, if you’re planning on hitting the open road this summer, be sure to sign up for a roadside assistance program before you go.
What is the difference between a travel trailer and a fifth wheel?
If you’re in the market for a new RV or even just looking to rent, you may be wondering what the difference is between a travel trailer and a fifth wheel. Both options have their own unique set of benefits, so it’s important to do your research before making a decision. Here are some key things to keep in mind when deciding between a travel trailer and a fifth wheel:
Travel trailers are usually easier to tow than fifth wheels because of their size. This makes them a good choice for those who don’t have a lot of towing experience. They’re also more versatile in terms of where you can take them since again, they are usually smaller than fifth wheels. However, travel trailers can be more difficult to set up and take down, and they’re not as spacious as fifth wheels.
Fifth wheels are larger and more luxurious than travel trailers, making them a good choice for those who want to enjoy all the comforts of home while on the road. They’re also typically easier to set up and take down than travel trailers, and they typically offer more storage space. However, fifth wheels can be more difficult to tow than travel trailers because of their size and weight and can only be towed by certain types of pickup trucks. But once you get the hang of the size and weight, towing with them is usually much safer as it prevents a lot of trailer sway.
So, which is the right option for you?
It depends on your individual needs, preferences and tow vehicle. If you want a trailer that’s smaller and can be taken anywhere, a travel trailer is a good choice. If you’re looking for something larger and more luxurious and you have a pickup truck that can pull it, a fifth wheel might be the better option. Make sure to check the maximum towing capacity of that truck first! Whatever you decide, be sure to do your research before purchasing so you can find the RV that’s perfect for your needs. Remember, you can also rent before you buy with websites like RVshare. RVshare is the world’s first and largest peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace, connecting RV owners with renters safely and easily. With over 100,000 RVs available for rent nationwide, RVshare makes it easy to find the perfect RV for your next adventure. Search for an RV to rent here.
So there you have it! Our top 10 tips. Remember, there is so much more to consider than just this list. Getting the right trailer hitch for your tow vehicle. Putting on the safety chains properly. Trailer tongue weight and others are all so important. Be sure to reference your owner’s manual as well.
It’s important to do your research, take your time, and go slow! These simple guidelines will help keep you and your family safe while enjoying all that RV life has to offer. Remember, practice makes perfect. Be sure to take some time before your trip to get familiar with how your camper tows with your tow vehicle. Once you are ready to go, make sure to review our list of RV must haves so you have everything you need for your trip!
Are there any other tips we missed? Let us know in the comments below! By following these tips, you can be sure that your next trip is a safe and enjoyable one. Happy trailer towing!
Peter's passion is the great outdoors. From hiking through the mountains, climbing up tall peaks, skiing down pristine slopes, camping in serene forests, and fishing in tranquil rivers – he's done it all! Nowadays, his mission is to share his passion for the great outdoors with everyone he meets. Click the links to the left to follow him and all our updates on social media!