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Towing Essentials - A Guide for Beginners

Learn Key Towing Terms and Safe Practices 

By Jean-Paul McDonald
Farms.com

Towing a trailer is a common occurrence on a farm, so it is crucial to understand the basics for a safe experience. Here’s a straightforward guide to get you started. 

Know Your Vehicle's Limits 
Before hitching up any trailer, check your vehicle’s towing capacity in the owner's manual or contact your dealer. Staying well below the maximum limit, such as maintaining 75% of your vehicle's capacity, ensures safety and reduces wear. 

Understanding Towing Vocabulary 
Familiarize yourself with terms like 'tow rating' and 'tongue weight'. The tow rating indicates the maximum your vehicle can handle, while tongue weight refers to the load pressing down on the hitch. Both figures are vital for balancing and stability. 

Calculating Capacity 
Never exceed your vehicle's towing limits. To figure out how much you can tow, add the total weight of your vehicle, trailer, passengers, and cargo, ensuring it doesn’t surpass the gross combined weight rating (GCWR). 

Setting Up Your Trailer 
When loading, aim for a 60/40 weight distribution with the majority ahead of the trailer’s axle. This balance aids in stability. Always secure your cargo with strong straps or chains to prevent shifting during travel. 

Driving with a Trailer 
Modify your driving when towing. Reduce your speed, increase the following distance, and take corners wider than usual to accommodate the added length and weight. Also, keep an eye on clearance heights and practice reversing in a safe space to get comfortable with the trailer’s handling. 

Towing with an Electric Vehicle (EV) 
While EVs perform well due to their torque, towing significantly reduces their driving range. Plan for frequent charging stops, and you may need to detach your trailer to access some chargers. 

By adhering to these guidelines, you’ll ensure a safer towing experience, protecting both your vehicle and the loads you carry. Whether you’re headed to a lake or crossing the country, proper preparation is key. 


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