Common Trailer Mistakes to Watch Out For

In order to ensure that you and your trailer (and everyone else on the road) get to your final destination safely, it’s important to be proactive and responsible. There are many ways that towing a trailer can end in a costly mistake – or even endanger yourself or others on the road. Here are five of the most common trailer mistakes to watch out for.

1. Not Checking Local Trailer Regulations

Staying up-to-date on the latest trailer regulations is essential to avoiding fines and staying safe. Regulations can vary across different cities and states and they can also change over time. They’re usually updated for a reason and neglecting to follow them could result in hefty fines or, even worse, an accident.

2. Loading Cargo Improperly

People often forget when loading cargo that there is a system in place that should be followed. The way you load things onto a trailer can be hazardous if done sloppily. It is important to protect your cargo from damaging itself or the trailer or even falling off and causing more hazardous outcomes.

3. Forgetting to Regularly Check Tire Pressure

This might seem like a small detail, but tire pressure checks are an important part of regular trailer maintenance. A trailer with low tire pressure has a higher possibility to blow a tire. Also, having different tire pressure in each tire could lead to an unbalanced trailer, which can damage the foundation.

4. Forgetting to Hook Up the Lights

Having proper lighting on your trailer is imperative to trailer safety. Forgetting to hook up a trailer’s lights can quickly lead to getting a ticket. But, more importantly, not having lights makes a trailer more susceptible to being hit. Trailer lights are important at all hours of the day, but are essential to driving at night.

5. Not Knowing Trailer Terminology

In order to be a responsible and knowledgeable trailer owner, there are a few key terms that you should know and understand:

  • Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR): the weight limit for your vehicle, including the vehicle itself plus passengers, cargo, and accessories.
  • Gross combination weight rating (GCWR): the maximum weight of the tow vehicle plus the loaded trailer, equipment, passengers, fuel, and any cargo.
  • Gross axle weight rating (GAWR): the amount of weight a single axle can safely bear. It’s important to know this value for both your tow vehicle and your trailer.
  • Towing capacity: the amount of weight your vehicle can pull.
  • Tongue weight: the amount of the trailer’s weight that is borne by the trailer hitch.

Owning a trailer has a certain level of responsibility. By hitching a trailer, you’re doubling or tripling the size of your vehicle. A trailer that is improperly hitched, wired, loaded, or controlled is a huge hazard to you and everyone around you. These mistakes can be easily avoided and doing so will help lengthen the life of your trailer (and possibly you!).