Safe towing also means getting to know your equipment, learning how to install it, and understanding how to operate and maintain it. You’ll get more comfortable with your equipment over time, but here’s a helpful checklist to go over each time you hit the road:
Towing Trip Checklist:
Go over your calculations and formulas one more time. In the event of an accident, or being inspected – if you have not adhered to the safety recommendations, specifications, and ratings of your truck, hitch, and trailer – it’s a violation and a ticket.
Check your truck and trailer tires.
Your truck tires may require higher pressure for towing, as recommended in the owner’s manual.
Your trailer tires may have dry rot or cracking, especially, if your trailer has been stored outside and/or hasn’t been used for a season.
Don’t forget to check the wheel lug nuts on your trailer and truck are tightened to the specified torque.
Check your oil, fluids, and brakes. Towing puts additional stress on your truck. So before heading out on a towing road trip, be sure your truck has:
had a recent oil and filter change
brake pads with plenty of life remaining
its engine coolant filled to the proper level in the reservoir
plenty of transmission fluid
If your trailer has brakes, it’s also a good idea to have those checked, as well, and to keep the wheel bearings greased.
Take a spare tire kit for your trailer. Make sure you have at least one spare tire for your trailer. You’ll also want a lug nut wrench specific to your trailer’s wheels, as well as a jack that will work properly with your trailer.
Cross your trailer’s safety chains. Don’t just run them straight. Crossed chains are meant to form a ‘cradle’. If the hitch was ever to fail, the tongue of the trailer would fall down into the crossed chains, rather than digging into the pavement. The chains should have enough slack to permit sharp turns, but not drag on the road.
Check trailer lights. Inspect the wires by hand; they should be loose enough to permit turns without getting disconnected, but tight enough that they won’t touch the road. Be sure the trailer’s running lights, brake lights, turn signals, and hazard lights are all working properly.
Consider towing mirrors. If your trailer is wider than your truck, look into getting wide aftermarket tow mirrors to help you see your trailer’s blind spots while driving and to aid rear visibility when backing up.
Plan Ahead for Fuel Stops. You’ll generally use more fuel while towing, and stopping at a small, remote gas station is not so easy with a large truck and trailer.
Use wheel chocks. When unhooking the trailer from your truck, place wheel chocks (sturdy, wedge-shaped blocks) in front of and behind the trailer’s tires to ensure the trailer doesn’t roll away when you release the hitch.