If you’ve recently become a proud, travel trailer owner, then congratulations on your life investment! We’re excited for you to experience life from a new angle or to continue old traditions for a new family. Whatever your reason for purchasing a travel trailer, we know you’re ready to get going on your next adventure.
But not so fast. You have a responsibility to yourself, your passengers, and other drivers to be safe on the road. You’re going to need to be confident towing such a large vehicle behind you. This may seem a little intimidating, but proper preparation is the key.
Here at RV Four Seasons Colorado, we’ve provided you with the basics for safely towing your travel trailer. You’ll also want to make sure you get your travel trailer regularly checked by a professional, so stop by our location in Loveland, Colorado for all your RV servicing needs. We proudly serve Wheat Ridge, Denver, and Colorado Springs, Colorado, as well as all of Southern Wyoming.
Follow Government Weight Restrictions
If this is your first time with an RV or towing a vehicle, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with this phrase: gross combined weight rating or GCWR. This is the legally enforced weight limit for your tow vehicle and RV, combining everything that adds weight to your load, including the tow vehicle, the travel trailer, cargo, and all passengers. Vehicle manufacturers help create the limits to dictate how much weight your vehicle is capable of towing or holding. Once you’ve hit the road and completely packed your travel trailer, stop by the first weigh station you come across. This will let you know if you’re under your GCWR or if you’ll need to turn around and unload. We don’t recommend continuing your trip if you’re over your GCWR as not only is it dangerous, but you could be facing serious fines if you’re pulled over. Knowing your weight will also help you if you come to a road or bridge with weight restrictions.
In order to make sure your vehicle will tow your travel trailer properly, you’ll want to make sure all the preparation you do ahead of time is to maximize the ease to tow your RV. Start by making sure you get your travel trailer serviced regularly, like with your friendly neighborhood RV Four Seasons CO Loveland mechanics.
You’ll also want to install all the necessary safety features to make towing your travel trailer easier. This could include extended mirrors, brake lines and turn signals for your travel trailer, a tire pressure monitoring system, and anything else you feel will help you and other drivers on the road stay safe.
Make sure the weight inside your travel trailer is distributed properly. Everything should be evenly distributed from left to right. This is to help even wear on the tires and to prevent your RV from favoring one side of the road. You’ll also want to make sure 10-20% of your weight is up near the hitch and that the rest taper off into the back of the trailer. Too much weight towards the rear presents a sway risk. Finally, secure extra cargo on the outside of your travel trailer to the side of the RV and anything extending four feet beyond the vehicle must be marked with a brightly-colored flag.
Relearning the Basics
Before you get too excited about packing and weight distribution, you should make sure you’re going to be able to handle towing such a big rig, especially if you’ve never done so before. Towing an RV is very different from regular driving and certain basic driving techniques will require new habits and a little relearning. We recommend finding an empty parking lot to practice particularly tricky tasks like parking, reversing, and turning. Either use a concrete island that’s already there, or set up some orange cones to help you perfect your skills.
Highway driving also requires a slightly different skill set. You’ll want to give twice the amount of following distance than you normally would and you should avoid speeds of over 65 mph as they’re not good for your tires. For highway driving, we recommend utilizing a time of day with minimal traffic to help become more confident in a safer environment.
Distractions when towing a travel trailer can be just as dangerous as distractions when you’re behind the wheel without towing anything. In fact, it can be more dangerous as there’s more weight to throw around and potentially wipe out with. Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road at all times. If you’re hungry and need something to eat, pull over and take a break to do so. Also make sure all navigation systems are set up ahead of time or that you ask one of your passengers to be in charge of the map. Finally, make sure your phone is away and out of sight. As useful as they can be, they can also be a major distraction.
Hopefully, this gets you started on preparing for your travel trailer adventure, but if you’re still unsure or if you’d like additional advice, stop by the Loveland, Colorado location of RV Four Seasons Colorado to talk with our experienced staff. We welcome all RV owners from the areas of Wheat Ridge, Denver, and Colorado Springs, Colorado, as well as all of Southern Wyoming.