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7 Deadly Sins of Towing a Trailer

There’s no such thing as a perfect driver when it comes to trailer towing. However, the seven deadly sins of trailer towing can make the task incredibly difficult and frustrating.

Today we’ll look at the seven deadly sins of trailer towing and how you can avoid committing them.

Let’s get started! 

Here’s What NOT to Do When Towing a Trailer

To avoid a towing disaster, avoid committing these seven deadly sins. We’ll give you an idea of what you should do instead. Let’s take a look!

1. Driving Too Fast

Driving too fast while towing a trailer can be extremely dangerous. You increase the chances of blowing out a tire and losing control of your RV. You’re putting your life and the lives of others at risk.

You may think that you’ll get to your destination quicker by driving faster, but it’s typically only a matter of minutes. The decision to speed can have some severe consequences.

Beyond accidents, you could get a citation, raising your insurance premiums and cost you more in the long run.

Pro Tip: Here are the 5 Best Small Trucks for Towing.

What to Do Instead:

To avoid driving too fast, you need to keep a closer eye on your speedometer. This means using your cruise control or even mobile phone apps that monitor your speed. These apps alert you when your speed exceeds a certain number. 

2. Improperly Loading or Overloading Your Trailer Cargo

You may not realize it, but the way you load your RV matters. Every item you add to your RV will add weight. If you have a large fifth wheel, you may have lots of storage space. That’s great, but the weight of all of those items can cause a few problems with your RV.

Having too much weight on the rear of your trailer can increase the chances that you’ll experience sway while towing. Excessive amounts of weight on one side of your RV will increase the weight on your axles and tires.

This can speed up the wear and tear of your suspension components and tires.

What to Do Instead:

Don’t overload your RV. You can ensure you’re not overloading your RV by taking your rig across a scale, whether it’s a CAT scale or other truck scale. Know the weight of your RV while it’s fully loaded to know if you can add more items to your packing list.

SmartWeigh programs allow you to know the weight on each of your tires. Using this, you can stay under your max carrying capacity and evenly disturb your RV’s weight.

3. Not Doing a Walk-Around Before

Not doing a walk-around before towing can be dangerous. You can leave items behind at your campsite and damage your RV. It’s easy to forget to close a window or storage compartment or to bring in your awning. The longer you RV, the more likely you’ll see someone who’s missed a step while packing up.

We’ve seen RVers pull away with storage bays open, hitches improperly attached, and even awnings fully extended. Not doing a walk-around is an easy way to end a fun camping adventure on a low point. 

What to Do Instead:

You should always do a walk-around before trailer towing. This means checking all storage compartments and your tires. Look around the campsite for any items you may have forgotten, and double-check your hitch. 

4. Not Doing a Walk-Around at Every Stop

Not doing a walk-around at every stop can be just as dangerous as not doing a walk-around before hitting the road. Your RV may experience failures while you’re traveling down the highway. You can catch these before they cause damage or an accident by doing a walk-around.

What to Do Instead:

The best way to catch an issue is to do so before it gets serious. By doing a walk-around every time you stop, you give yourself the chance to catch issues that may have occurred while traveling. Stopping small issues from growing into larger issues is key to safe trailer towing.

Keep in mind: If you want to map out a route perfect for your RV, check out RV Trip Wizard. It’ll help you stay away from steep mountain passes and low-hanging bridges.

5. Letting Your Chains Drag

When you’re towing a travel trailer, most states require tow chains. These chains are a safety measure to ensure the RV stays connected should it come unhitched. However, these safety chains dragging on the highway can be disastrous. This is especially true if you’re planning to RV in dry climates.

You may find yourself RVing in locations experiencing a drought or a dry season.

These conditions often result in burn bans due to the threat of wildfires. Letting your chains drag can ruin your chains and cause a spark that could ignite dry grasses and other things. A fire in a dry area could spread rapidly.

What to Do Instead:

You should make sure your safety chains are long enough to do the job, but not so long that they’re dragging. This may require measuring your chains. You should keep height in mind when trying to figure out if your chains are dragging.

6. Not Properly Matching Vehicle Tow Rating with Trailer Weight

If you ask the car salesperson if the truck you’re considering can tow a large RV, they may mislead you to make the sale. An RV salesperson will do the same thing. That’s why you should run the numbers yourself.

Having a tow vehicle and trailer that don’t match up can be very dangerous. You’ll not only increase the wear and tear on your tow vehicle but also put yourself and others in danger. If you lack power or towing capability, you could lose control of your RV and cause an accident.

What to Do Instead:

It’s your responsibility to make an informed decision for your tow vehicle and RV. Make sure you do adequate research before committing to any purchases.

It’s always better to have too much truck than not enough. Having more truck than necessary gives you room to upgrade your RV and can help ensure you have no issues regardless of the terrain.

7. Improper Tire Pressure

Having improper tire pressure in your RV or tow vehicle tires is another deadly sin of trailer towing. Low tire pressure can lead to heat building up while towing. This excessive heat can quickly cause tire failure. That means potentially thousands of dollars in damage to your rig.

You might even get stranded on the side of the road.

Low tire pressure can be dangerous, but excessive tire pressure can be equally as dangerous. When there’s too much air in a tire, it can increase the wear on your tires and create unusual wear patterns. A tire failure can also occur as a result of having excessive tire pressure.

What to Do Instead:

One of the best ways to avoid improper tire pressure is to keep an eye on your tire pressure by using a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). You should check your tires before each trip. The TPMS also allows you to keep an eye on your tire pressure while traveling. These pressure systems will alert you the second an issue occurs.

Are You Making Any of These 7 Deadly Sins of Trailer Towing? 

There’s a good chance you have committed or are committing at least one of these seven deadly sins of trailer towing. Whether you’re committing one or more of these deadly sins, you should do whatever you can to stop it.

You must create a safe environment for yourself and others on the road. Which of these deadly sins is the hardest for you to avoid?

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  1. Kerry Eblen says:

    good to know about Flying J

  2. Tim Brewster says:

    I don’t recommend ever towing a trailer with cruise control on! I did and my gas milage was terrible, my rpm was forever high, and most damaging was my the excessive heat on my transmission over 285° (not good). But again, that’s my opinion, and experience.

  3. Kenneth Gehl says:

    I have been waiting for ever for your free camping sites!!!

  4. Appreciated the 7 deadly sins article. Definitely I will be making a Check List as my father had before taking off in his plane every time even if we just landed to eat or whatever. Your list will be on it. Thanks again.

  5. Good tips for safe camping 👍

  6. Anonymous says:

    When your on a budget, free is always good!

  7. Anonymous says:

    As long as I can get help doing some things I would love to go again. Physical disability makes it hard

  8. Susan Gregory says:

    Thank you, for all your great advice and information. I’m in my 70’s and been towing travel trailers or driving a motorhome for over 40 years but I’m still learning new things from your e-mails.
    Thank you again.

  9. Andrew says:

    #8 not using tow haul mode (if equipped) my father was shipping a couple horses and his 2015 Silverado went into limp mode while going down the highway as the transmission was overheating which is not something you want to experience going 60mph. You or your cargo!! Needed a new transmission shortly thereafter

  10. Bruce Ordiway says:

    I’d love to see the free camp sites.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Being a retired truck driver my self. We had too do Pre Trip Inspection! Everytime before going down to road! If you see something that is not right? Get fixed right then and now. Just be safe out there.