photo by kevinjeon00 via iStock
Towing on the street might get straightforward after a while; however, towing off-road is a completely different beast. Changes in terrain like driving on hard packed gravel roads to sandy surfaces can drastically change the way your trailer affects the vehicle’s performance.
In today’s article, we are going over some crucial tips you should follow to ensure you stay safe while towing off-road.
Never Be the Last Vehicle in the Convoy
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The person behind you will be able to see if anything is missing, open, or falling off the trailer. It is many times impossible to see what the trailer is doing from the driver’s seat – especially on a fully-loaded vehicle.
Towing Off-Road: Use Low Range When Maneuvering the Trailer
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The main reason we use low range is to drive slow and controlled. Maneuvering a trailer isn’t an easy thing; therefore, when off-road or on loose surfaces pop the vehicle into low range. This will enable you to position the trailer slowly without having to worry about the clutch or throttle – just let the engine idle.
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Don’t just lower the tires on your vehicle and assume that the trailer should stay on-road pressures. The reason we lower our tires isn’t just to get more traction. The wider footprint provides flotation; so, on sand tracks, a trailer running street pressure will act like an anker and may also bounce excessively on corrugations.
Tire pressures vary based on the trailer you have but you should go even lower than what you are running on the vehicle as camper trailers are lighter than cars.
Where possible, run the same tire size, same lug pattern and same rim offset both on your car and trailer. If you do this, you can then use the spare tires from the trailer on your vehicle. Therefore, if you ever find yourself on a track that takes out tire after tire, you can leave the trailer behind, get yourself to civilization safely and then come back in to pick up your trailer.
Towing Off-Road: Understand Jackknife Points
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It is important to get someone behind before heading out off-roading for the first time to keep a look while you reverse to help determine your trailer’s jackknife points. Keep in mind that the jackknife point may be different from side to side due to the cables not being long enough; therefore, you should test both ways.
Knowing your trailer’s jackknife points will help you maneuver the trailer far more efficiently when off-road – you may also avoid damage.
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If someone else is helping you hook up the trailer, get out and check – they might have done something differently to the way you like it. Remember, you are the one who is towing; so, if something happens you are the one responsible.
Towing Off-Road: Know the Trailer Spares
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Always carry a spare trailer connector, a trailer connector adapter, and a spare pin. Why have I mentioned the adaptor even though your vehicle may not need it? Well, in an off-road situation your vehicle might suffer damage and may not be able to tow. Having an adaptor increases the likelihood of finding another vehicle that can tow your trailer out.
These were some important tips to keep in mind when towing off-road. Remember, as you get more and more experienced you will develop your own habits to ensure towing is done efficiently and safely.