In the country, we like towing things as much as we enjoy getting towed. Whether we’re the ones being towed out of the woods after getting stuck during a night of mud bogging, or we’re towing a gooseneck stacked high and tight with 200 hay bales, it doesn’t matter. For work or just plain fun, we tow it all.
When there’s minor flooding or a good snowstorm around here, the lifted, four-wheel-drive pickups come out to play, and to help. You’ll see us driving back and forth over these mud- or snow-covered country roads, but not because we’re going anywhere in particular. No, we’re looking for someone who’s slid off the road into a ditch or needs a little assistance climbing a slippery hill. With a tow-strap or even dad’s old logging chains that are always in the pickup, we’ll get you out and back on your way, and we’ll love every minute of it. And if there isn’t someone to tow, we’ll tow something instead.
When it comes to rural living, towing is just a fact of life. Since we are always towing, it only makes sense that early on in our driving careers we get into the habit of doing what needs to be done to help ensure a trouble-free, time-saving experience hauling the heavy stuff.
Your first consideration should be your vehicle’s towing capacity – how much weight it is designed to tow without overloading mechanical systems and causing damage. Towing capacity can be found in your vehicle owner’s manual. Your vehicle also needs to be equipped with a hitch that’s rated for the amount of weight you’re towing.
If trailer towing is in your future, and you’re an inexperienced hauler, spend some time in the driveway practicing backing up the trailer. It’s is a lot tougher than the big-rig drivers make it look, particularly when you’re holding up a line of traffic and all eyes are on you. Here’s an old tip truckers use when backing a trailer – grab the bottom of the steering wheel, and turn the steering wheel in the direction you want the trailer to go.
What’s your best towing tip or worst towing horror story? Let’s see hear about it and see some photos when you share in the comments section below.
Because we typically don’t put as many miles on a trailer as we do the vehicles towing them, trailer tires often wear out from dry rot and age instead of highway miles. Every tire manufactured since 2000 has a DOT alphanumeric code on its sidewall. The last four numbers tell the date of manufacturer. For example, 5107 tells you tire was manufactured in the 51st week of 2007. Tires that are five or more years old need to be inspected for signs of possible age-related failure.
Before your trailer towing begins, have a helper stand behind the trailer while you run through a test of the brake, turn signal and marker lights. You might want to consider switching to LED trailer lights as they’re more durable, maintenance-free, and waterproof and feature a quicker response time.
If, however, you find yourself on the receiving end of the tow, just remember to give us a smile when our pickup or tractor pulls you out, and maybe a little beer money.
What types of towing endeavors have you been involved with recently?
Editor’s note: Need some trailer accessories before your next big adventure? Tow it on over to Advance Auto Parts for parts and advice. Just make sure you know how to back it up before you get here!