Towing is very different from normal driving and requires safety precaution and additional driving skills. Regardless of whether you are towing a caravan, a boat or a trailer, you have a legal responsibility to other road users. Most modern cars may not be equipped to handle towing, and that is why the vehicle manufacturer outlines the weight limits and other trailer towing features. You should note these features to make sure you correctly equip your vehicle and trailer. Towing can affect braking performance and vehicle control, and that is why you need to take caution. Here are a few safety tips for when you want to tow.
As mentioned above, you need to equip your vehicle correctly to handle towing. Various things you need to consider are couplings and towbars of the correct size and type, brake connections, extra mirrors if required, electrical sockets for lighting, transmission option, special suspensions and load distribution devices. When purchasing such equipment, you will find a knowledgeable salesperson or dealer who will guide you on the right towing equipment that is suitable for your particular vehicle and what you will be towing.
If you have a trailer with a rigid drawbar, you need to fit safety chains. These chains have to meet the relevant Australian standards, and their length should prevent the drawbar from hitting the ground when the trailer is detached from the towing vehicle.
When attaching the safety chains, do not use padlocks! Attach them to the tow bar using connectors that can withstand the particular breaking load of the safety chain.
Make sure your towbar is appropriately designed and fitted to ensure safe towing. The full mass of the trailer should be equal to the capacity of the towbar. Towbars are usually marked with their capacity and also indicate what type of vehicle should use them.
The safety chains mentioned above should also be connected to the towbar adjacent to the tow coupling so as to withstand its load capacity, and if there is an accidental disconnection or coupling failure, the towbar will not hit the ground.
Weight Distribution Hitch
A weight distribution hitch is used when you want to retain the height of your vehicle and have steering control. Its work is to transfer some of the load weight on the towbar to the rear and front suspension of the towing vehicle. It is, however, important to seek approval for this hitch from your trailer dealer since in some scenarios it can overload your towbar.