With winter fast approaching, fall can be the perfect time to pack the family up, get away and spend some much-needed time outdoors. This means campers, and trailers new and old will be hitting the road to find the perfect getaway location. We have compiled some of our top tips for hauling heavy trailers; to ensure that whatever you’re pulling, you get to your destination safely.
Why do I need an electric brake controller?
Electric trailer brake controllers are a critical part of the hauling setup. The importance of a brake controller comes when attempting to slow down. The added weight and momentum of your trailer can make slowing down the tow vehicle dangerous by causing it to keep going or crashing into the back of the vehicle.
An electric brake controller eliminates the chances of the trailer crashing into the vehicle by activating the trailer’s brakes when the vehicle brakes are applied. The controller then judges how much braking is needed to safely slow down and stop the trailer.
Electric trailer brake controllers are required when hauling trailers over a certain weight. This weight differs from state to state so always be sure to check your specific state’s hauling regulations before setting out on your trip.
Slow and steady wins the race
Whilst individual state rules on hauling speed limits differ it is always best to play it safe and drive slowly while hauling. Depending on where you’re going it does pay to check the individual state rules on hauling speeds and restrictions, better to be safe than sorry.
It’s also best to check with the trailer compliance plate and hauling vehicle manufacturer also, to make sure that you are complying with the trailer or hauling vehicle’s max hauling speed. Slowing down not only benefits your trailer but can help avoid windscreen damage caused by rocks from passing vehicles and means you can react quickly and safely in case of an emergency.
Electric brakes make overtaking easier
If you must overtake there are several things you should consider ensuring that you’re being as safe and courteous as possible to the vehicle you’re passing. Ensure that there is a mile or so of road visibility ahead, so you can plan for the upcoming road conditions. If you have a radio, always attempt to contact the vehicle you’re passing. Most people will be courteous and slow down for you. Overtaking on the flat or a down hill slope is always best, as gravity will assist you in keeping the trailer steady.
The REDARC Tow-Pro Elite brake controller features not only a proportional mode, which senses the vehicle braking and applies trailer brakes to a proportional level, but also a user-controlled mode which gives the driver complete control of the braking strength. Using electric trailer brakes in this mode is also helpful to keep you hauling in a straight line. It’s important to know the capabilities and limits of your tow vehicle and trailer, because if you aren’t 100% confident you can overtake a slower vehicle, you should not attempt to.
If you only plan to be hauling on the highway the Tow-Pro Liberty brake controller might be more your speed. With only a proportional mode, it removes the need for having to set and adjust breaking speeds whilst driving, making it easier to use with less input from the driver. For more information on the Elite vs. Liberty check out our recent Tow-Pro comparison blog.
Tire pressure is critical when hauling
Tires are critical when hauling, for both the hauling vehicle and the trailer. Light truck tires are recommended as they are designed to carry loads more evenly and are more stable on trailers when cornering. It’s also important to keep an eye on the age of the tires. Rubber ages, and the life expectancy for a tire is approximately 5 years from the manufacturers date. At this point it is important to invest in new tires.
Checking tire pressure regularly is another way to make sure you’re getting the most out of your tires. Always adjust your tire pressure to the weight of the load and if you’re driving off-road reduce the pressure by 28kpa or 4psi. Under inflated tires can lead to the overheating and blowing out of tire wells, while over inflated tires can cause vibration and stress on the caravan.
How to turn while hauling
When cornering it’s critical to take it slow and turn as if you have an eighteen-wheeler behind you. Wipe off speed before you reach the corner then accelerate out. Aim the vehicle to the outside of each corner and use as much of the lane as possible. When cornering with a trailer there is no such thing as too slow.
Regular maintenance means no issues down the road
Trailers need servicing too, so it’s always good to double check connections before a trip to ensure that everything will run according to plan. Checking trailer connections regularly can ensure that there are no nasty surprises as you’re about to leave; hitches are often left without being locked in, hand brakes can be left on, jockey wheels can be left half stowed, and plugs with wiring to control brakes and lights can come loose.
We hope some of these tips will come in hand the next time you’re taking your caravan or camper trailer out. It always pays to be aware of the road and the other drivers around you and be safe rather than sorry.