Towing Equipment and Accessories

Towing can require a variety of equipment, depending on the size of your trailer, how it will be used, how much load you are towing, and where you tow.

Discuss your needs with your trailer sales or rental agency, and follow the guidelines in this section. Also make sure that all equipment is properly installed and maintained, and that it meets federal, state, province, territory, and local regulations.

Hitches

Any hitch used on your vehicle must be properly bolted to the underbody.

Safety Chains

Always use safety chains when you tow a trailer.Make sure the chains are secured to the trailer and hitch, and that they cross under the tongue and can catch the trailer if it becomes unhitched. Leave enough slack to allow the trailer to turn corners easily, but do not let the chains drag on the ground.

Trailer Brakes

There are two common types of trailer brakes: surge and electric.

Surge brakes are common for boat trailers, since the brakes will get wet.

If you choose electric brakes, be sure they are electronically actuated.

Do not attempt to tap into your vehicle’s hydraulic system. No matter how successful it may seem, any attempt to attach trailer brakes to your vehicle’s hydraulic system will lower braking effectiveness and create a potential hazard.

See your trailer dealer or rental agency for more information on installing electric brakes.

Trailer Lights

Trailer lights and equipment must comply with federal, state, province, territory, and local regulations.

Check with your local trailer sales or rental agencies for the requirements in the area where you plan to tow, and use only equipment designed for your vehicle.

Since lighting and wiring vary by trailer type and brand, you should have a qualified technician install a suitable connector between the vehicle and the trailer. Improper equipment or installation can cause damage to your vehicle’s electrical system and affect your vehicle warranty.

Additional Towing Equipment

Many states and Canadian provinces/territories require special outside mirrors when towing a trailer.

Even if they don’t, you should install special mirrors if you cannot clearly see behind you, or if the trailer creates a blind spot.

Ask your trailer sales or rental agency if any other items are recommended or required for your towing situation.

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