Driving Safely With a Trailer

The added weight, length, and height of a trailer will affect your vehicle’s handling and performance, so driving with a trailer requires some special driving skills and techniques.

For your safety and the safety of others, take time to practice driving maneuvers before heading for the open road, and follow the guidelines in this section.

Towing Speeds and Gears

Drive slower than normal in all driving situations, and obey posted speed limits for vehicles with trailers.

Use the D position when towing a trailer on level roads. D3 is the proper shift lever position to use when towing a trailer in hilly terrain.

(See ‘‘Driving on Hills’’ in the following column for additional gear information.)

Making Turns and Braking

Make turns more slowly andwider than normal. The trailer tracks a smaller arc than your vehicle, and it can hit or run over something the vehicle misses. Allow more time and distance for braking. Do not brake or turn suddenly as this could cause the trailer to jackknife or turn over.

Driving on Hills

When climbing hills, closely watch your temperature gauge. If it nears the red (Hot) mark, turn the air conditioning off, reduce speed and, if necessary, pull to the side of the road to let the engine cool.

When driving down hills, reduce your speed and use the D3 position.

Do not ‘‘ride’’ the brakes, and remember it will take longer to slow down and stop when towing a trailer.

If you must stop when facing uphill, use the foot brake or parking brake.

Do not try to hold the vehicle in place by pressing on the accelerator, as this can cause the automatic transmission to overheat.

Handling Crosswinds and Buffeting

Crosswinds and air turbulence caused by passing trucks can disrupt your steering and cause the trailer to sway. When being passed by a large vehicle, keep a constant speed, and steer straight ahead. Do not try to make quick steering or braking corrections.

Backing Up

Always drive slowly and have someone guide you when backing up.

Grip the of the steering wheel, then turn the wheel to the left to get the trailer to move to the left, and turn the wheel right to move the trailer to the right.

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Parking

Follow all normal precautions when parking, including firmly setting the parking brake and putting the transmission in Park. Also, place wheel chocks at each of the trailer’s tires.

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