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Tow trailer: Everything you need to know

  GMC Sierra Towing


You want to buy a truck and toys and drag them to the lake or into the wilderness for a bit of fun. Here's everything you need to know to find the right towing vehicle, attach and tow a trailer, and the new technology that makes tracking easier than ever. Also pay attention to the local towage laws of your state.

Vehicle Weight and Configuration

The four most important letters are GCWR. This stands for combined gross weighting and does not only refer to the weight of the vehicle, passengers and cargo, but also to the trailer and its load. This figure is set by a car or truck manufacturer as the maximum safety weight that a vehicle can carry all-in. Therefore, it is important not to exceed this policy.

Towing depends on the powertrain, wheelbase and engine configuration, clutch and gear ratios all play their part. Here is some important information:

  • 4WD trucks and SUVs are heavier, which can reduce the trailer load. If you do not need four-wheel drive, stick to the rear wheel drive for maximum towing capability.
  • Trucks and SUVs with longer wheelbase can tow more than their shorter counterparts and generally offer better control when a trailer is connected.
  • Towing is all about the torque. For this reason, diesel-powered trucks tend to have higher towing powers than their petrol engines.
  • Many trucks and SUVs offer different axle ratios. A higher gear ratio means better pulling power, but can be at the expense of fuel consumption. A lower axle ratio works the other way round.

Example: A 201

9 Ram 1500 with two-wheel drive, a 144.5-inch wheelbase, a 5.7-liter V8 and a 3.92 axle ratio is rated at 11,540 To tow pound. The change to four-wheel drive reduces this number to 11,340 pounds. If you switch to four-wheel drive and select the 3.21 axle ratio, the numbers continue to drop to 8,240 lbs.

  Ford Expedition "data-original =" https://cnet2.cbsistatic.com/img/ekETnApswD3Ujwtl7vmiFMAwhNs=/2019/07/11/7ec52894-4d8f-44f2-bb07-94e907462d26 / expedition-towing.jpg


Selection of a trailer

Flat trailer: When pulling cars, off-road vehicles or general cargo, a flat trailer works perfectly. Single-axle trailers are better for light loads of up to 2,500 pounds, while two-axle trailers are best for heavier items. Closed trailers are better for transporting general cargo, but are heavier than open trailers.

Towing a Car without a Trailer: If you've ever traveled long distances on any of the American motorways, you've probably done it. I've seen a motorhome pull out a Jeep. Typically, you can attach and idle a trailer hitch to a rear-wheel drive vehicle with a manual transmission. In this way, a four-wheel drive vehicle with a two-speed transfer case can be towed idle. Check your vehicle owner's manual to see if it can be pulled flat on the road with all four wheels, or if you need a towed single-axle tow truck.

Travel Trailer: If you want to take home, a conventional caravan or RV may be your traffic jam. These can be tiny trifles weighing 2,500 pounds or 30 feet. Airstream trailers weigh in at 10,000 pounds or more. These are attached to a standard coupling. You may also want a fifth wheel or gooseneck trailer (see the next section for more information), which is more extensive but easier to tow because of its unique towbar.

  Towbar "data-original =" https://cnet1.cbsistatic.com/img/kIkwMYLtsn9HFP7avEna0tJqwUk=/2019/07/11/86c34f56-99b6-4c4f-bc5a-1cf0c00bb87d/img-186520.j Towbar

Steven Ewing / Roadshow

Traction Devices and Spheres

There are five different classes of conventional traction devices that can be used to draw different levels of weight:

  • Class 1: Up to 2,000 pounds
  • Class 2: Up to 3,500 pounds
  • Class 3 : Up to 8,000 pounds
  • . Class 4: Up to 10,000 pounds
  • . Class 5: Up to 12,000 pounds

equipped with Class 3, 4 or 5 couplings. Each conventional trailer hitch has a different sized intake pipe. Here put on ball and ball holder.

  • Class 1 and 2: 1.25 inch pick-up tubes
  • Class 3: 2-inch pick-up tubes
  • Class 4 and 5: 2- or 2.5-inch pick-up tubes, depending on configuration

It is important that your trailer is horizontal from front to back and that you can buy ball mounts that allow you to lower or raise the ball as needed.

One-fifth is required to tow a large motorhome like this one. Wheel or gooseneck clutch.


Ball sizes are determined by the weight of the trailer. Many manufacturers identify the ball size directly on the coupling. Usual ball sizes are 1 7/8, 2 or 2 5/16 inches. Always use a ball with a load capacity that exceeds that of your loaded trailer.

If you have to haul more than 12,000 pounds, you probably need a heavy duty truck with a gooseneck or fifth wheel. The trailer hitch and the ball are placed in the loading area of ​​the vans directly above or in front of the rear axle.

  • Gooseneck: This ball-shaped version can handle up to 30,000 pounds.
  • Fifth wheel: Here a horseshoe-shaped bracket is used – imagine this as a smaller version of a semi-trailer – and it can generally carry up to 25,000 pounds.
  Towbar "data-original =" https: // cnet4 .cbsistatic.com/img/vfu5OA9B7MRtwIkKbTP0uNs0qSw = / 2019/07/11 / 514c31dc-61d7-4493-8eaf-10773d623000 / trailer.jpg

Loading the trailer

The most important thing when loading a trailer is the weight distribution. Too much weight at the rear of a trailer can lead to a fishtail. Too much weight in the front can cause the vehicle to sag, resulting in poor handling and reduced braking performance.

Watch this demonstration video to spot the dangers of a poorly balanced trailer.

In general, the "tongue weight", the weight at the front of the trailer, should be approximately 9 to 15% of the total weight. You can use a tongue weight scale to determine this, and some ball holders even have a built-in scale to let you know right away if they're loaded correctly.

A Few Other Things to Remember:

  • Use ratchet straps or lashing straps to make sure your load is secure.
  • Adjust your mirrors. If you pull a wide trailer and can not see it, you can add extendable trailer mirrors to your vehicle.
  • Make sure the trailer has real trailer tires – not car tires – – and that they are properly inflated and in good condition (lots of tread, no dry rot, etc.). Also check the tires of your vehicle while you're at it.
  • Grease the wheel bearings of your trailer so as not to damage the axles.

Emme Hall / Roadshow

Towing on the Road

Now that you are driving a vehicle that is longer and heavier than before, you need to take extra precautions. If your vehicle has a tow hitch mode, set the engine and transmission to an optimal setting. Also, keep in mind the following best practices:

  • Carefully plan your route to avoid even more frustrating obstacles for a trailer: heavy city traffic, construction work, and steep hills and mountains should be considered.
  • Vehicle tank before attaching the trailer and before towing – it is easier to fill the tank without having a trailer in tow.
  • Make sure you have a roadside safety kit, such as Relief supplies, etc.
  • Drive as slowly as possible. Most trailers have a recommended maximum speed of 55 miles per hour.
  • Early braking. They have much more mass to stop.
  • Stay in the right lane or on the slow lane.
  • Start a lane change early and be patient. Always use your turn signals.
  • Turn wider than you think.
  • When parking, pay attention to the length and maneuverability of your vehicle-trailer bodywork to avoid jamming.
  • When driving downhill, downshift your transmission to slow speed instead of applying the brakes and risking overheating.
  • If your vehicle starts with the tail tail, lower the throttle slightly, but do not step on the brakes.

Reversing can be daunting, but there is an easy way to do it. It is best to grip the steering wheel from below. If you want the trailer to move to the right, move your hand to the right. Move your left hand to the left. Keep in mind that steering takes a little bit of effort a long way. Luckily, many modern trucks and SUVs have special trailer steering technology to support this process.

General Motors' new heavy-duty pickups offer "transparent" trailer technology.



Modern trucks and SUVs have many features that make towing easier than ever. Many automakers even offer towbars that allow you to automatically add the right trailer hitch, trailer brakes, larger mirrors, and enhanced cooling systems to your vehicle. (This varies by manufacturer.)

Some specific examples of new towing technologies are: [194559007] 2019 Ford F-Series : Pro Trailer Back-Up Assist can be helpful when reversing be when a trailer is attached. Ford also offers systems for monitoring tire pressure and blind spot that cover the vehicle and the length of the trailer. 2019 Ram Trucks : Self-leveling air suspension helps keep the truck and trailer stable. Ram also offers blind spot monitoring along the trailer's length and a trailer tire pressure monitoring system.

  • 2020 GM Heavy Duty Truck : The latest models Silverado HD and Sierra HD have "sea" through "Transparent Trailer View technology that puts camera views together for you to see If your trailer is ever stolen, GM's OnStar system will help you restore it.
  • Be sure to ask your dealer what type of towing technology you are looking for when buying a new vehicle stands.

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