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Safety Tips for Towing Trailers
Towing a Trailer, Trailer Safety

Towing a trailer pressure power washer is a convenient and fairly cheap way to move large pieces of pressure washing equipment to a job site, but ignoring simple trailer safety guidelines may result in a trip which is neither convenient nor cheap. This article can serve as a general guide to trailer safety: most of the detailed instructions can be found in your vehicle owner’s manuals, so please reference them often.

Keep Your Vehicles in Good Condition

General Maintenance - Keep both the tow vehicle’s and trailer’s maintenance up to date. Towing a trailer can put additional stress on a vehicle, so if something is about to break, wear out, or run dry, towing will speed up that process. Pay particular attention to the tow vehicle’s mirrors and brakes.

Tires - Use the correct tires for your vehicle and pressure washer trailer, and before you go, make sure they are properly inflated. Tires which are not properly inflated will cause handling problems. Under inflation can cause possible blowouts, while over inflation can cause premature tire wear. The tow vehicle may require a higher tire pressure for heavy loads. Your owner’s manual will have that information. Check the lug nuts on both the trailer and the tow vehicle for the correct torque.

Connections - The connection point between the coupler and the hitch may require occasional lubrication to permit free movements on turns. If you are using a load leveling hitch, use the owner’s manual to find out how to install it. Any electrical outlet or plug should be clean and shielded from dirt and moisture. You may want to coat all your electrical terminals with non-conducting (dielectric} waterproof grease.

Research the Logistics and Legalities

Local laws - Know the local and state rules for trailer safety; not just for your state, but every state you may be traveling in. Your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles should have the information you need. Special permits may be required, depending on the size of your trailer and the weight of your load. There may also be some restrictions on the cargo you are carrying: some gasses and fuels are illegal to take through tunnels, and you may need additional permits to transport them at all. If you are traveling out of state with your trailer, contacting your insurance company would be a good idea, to make sure you have the proper coverage.

Road Conditions - Most states have toll free numbers to call for road conditions and road construction updates. Plan your route before you leave, and have some alternate routes planned out as well. Always check for size and load restrictions on bridges and tunnels.

Loading Up

Connecting the Vehicles - Make sure that the hitch, coupler, draw bar, and other connection devices are secure, working, properly adjusted, and rated for the tow vehicle and load. The wiring should be securely connected and slack enough that turns will not damage or disconnect the wires. Once the wiring is connected, function check all running lights, brake lights, directional signals and hazard lights on both vehicles. Also check the brakes on the pressure washer trailer and tow vehicle to be sure they are working correctly. Finally, ensure that the jack, tongue support, and any other stabilizers are raised and locked into place.

Load Distribution - When towing a trailer, the way that your load is distributed and secured will affect your ability to control both vehicles. The load should be evenly balanced and secured, and the trailer and tow vehicle should be parallel to the road during travel.

Equipment - Make sure you have spare tires for both vehicles, along with wheel chocks and jack stands. Owner’s manuals for the trailer, tow vehicle and hitch, if applicable, may come in handy, along with some basic tools for minor repairs.

Towing a trailer is not quite rocket science, but it does require some knowledge of and respect for basic physics. Trailer safety applies to more than just towing and backing the trailer; it applies to the tow vehicle, the couplings and connections, the load distribution and the road conditions. As with any job, an ounce of prevention is better than replacing your rig, or worse yet, someone else’s.


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