Travel Trailers- Prepairing for Your TripMaddy Scheinost
Preparing Your Travel Trailer for the Road
No matter how experienced you are, towing a travel trailer, even a small camper trailer, can be nerve-wracking, with a lot of potential pain points. First, there’s all the things that can go wrong with even the best travel trailers—or your towing vehicle—while you’re on the road. Then there’s everything you need to keep top of mind when you’re traveling because travel trailer towing is a far cry from jumping into your truck for a quick trip to the hardware store. The length and height of your rig impacts every part of driving—turning, backing up, parking, the route you take, you name it. The fact is, it takes a whole new set of skills. And then there’s the do’s and don’ts of road etiquette with a pull behind travel trailer, which is significantly different. But—no worries! The tire experts at Treadworld are here to help eliminate any stress by providing you with tips for preparing to hit the road with your travel trailer. Whether you’re hauling a teardrop camper, a fifth wheel camper, a toy hauler camper, a Winnebago travel trailer or a popup camper, here’s what you need to know.
Getting Your Travel Trailer Ready for Safe Towing
Not to get too dramatic—but in a nutshell, your level of preparation will spell the difference between a hassle-free family vacation or hunting trip, and a nightmare with potentially disastrous consequences. Assuming you’ve already done the math required to be certain that your towing vehicle is capable of pulling your camper trailer, the next step is to make sure your tow vehicle’s maintenance is up-to-date because towing even lightweight popup campers puts extra stress on the tow vehicle. Be certain the engine is in tip-top shape, plus do all the little things. Be sure: your truck has had a recent oil and filter change, the brake pads have plenty of life remaining, the engine coolant is filled to the proper level in the reservoir, and the transmission fluid is topped off. Double-check all of your turn signals, running lights, brake lights, and hazard signals.
Check the trailer tires to be sure they’re properly inflated because optimal inflation (PSI—pounds per square inch)—is essential in order to avoiding blowouts, but also for smooth handling. Be sure to look for dry rot and cracking, because even the best travel trailer tires can degrade if the trailer is stored outside, or hasn’t been used for months. While you’re at it, check to be sure you have a spare trailer tire in good shape, as well as a lug nut wrench that fits it, so you don’t get stalled on the side of the road.
Be Certain Your Hitch Is Attached Properly
Securely connect the trailer’s tongue to your vehicle’s hitch ball. Make sure your hitch is locked in, and your cables are connected and working. Then you need to take a look at weight distribution while you’re parked on a flat surface. Make sure there is a nice, flat plane between your towing vehicle and your tow behind trailer with no tipping toward or away, which indicates a balance issue that can make your camping trailer more vulnerable to sway when you’re on the road.
Check Your Visibility
You will want all the visibility you can get when you’re driving your rig and there’s a good chance that the original mirrors on your truck will be largely useless with even the best tow behind campers, so you will want to consider getting extendable mirrors or side mirror extensions. Make sure you can see the sides and rear end of your trailer through both side mirrors, and eliminate any blind spots. Just physically maneuvering your towing vehicle with the load behind will be challenge enough without adding in concerns about other drivers changing lanes and making turns.
Practice Driving with Your Tow Camper
If you’re new to towing anything from an RV trailer to a small travel trailer, take the time to acquaint yourself with the new challenges you’ll be presented with on the highway by practicing, away from others. Ideally, you can find a wide-open space that has a few obstructions, like telephone poles or parking lot signs, that you can navigate around and between. Take it slowly and study how your trailer follows your tow vehicle. Practice accelerating, braking and using your side mirrors. And practice your turns. Determine how wide you need to swing when turning around obstacles or turning corners because you’ll need to swing much wider than you’re used to when making turns with a trailer behind you—the arc followed by the rear of your trailer will be smaller than the arc taken by the nose of your tow vehicle. Be aware of the lean of your trailer when you turn. Also, practice backing up—you’ll be glad you did the first time you have to back up at an RV park or gas station in front of a bunch of looky-lous.
Get Comfortable with the Size of Your Travel Trailer
Get familiar with the height of your tow behind trailer. Memorize how high it is, write it on a note on your dashboard or write it on your hand if you have to. The last thing you need is to destroy your travel trailer—and your vacation—by not having enough clearance going under a low bridge or overpass, for instance. You may also come across instances where street signs and traffic signals hang over the roadway.
Pre-Determine Your Route
To avoid height-related collision issues altogether, map out your route before you leave your driveway. Consider using a travel trailer-specific GPS system to make sure there aren’t any height restrictions along your route. Also, some roads don’t allow trailers, or have height, weight and width limits. Try to anticipate things that can make your drive more challenging, and plan around them when possible. Avoid tight turns. And drive-throughs. Consider your timing. For example, you may regret trying to get through rush hour traffic in a large city. And, while you have less control when it comes to weather issues, stay tuned to forecasts and try to avoid bad weather, and wind situations. Give some thought to where you will gas up because not all gas station layouts will accommodate your rig.
Double-Check Your Travel Trailer Wheels and Tires—Often
You can’t check the condition of your camper trailer tires too often—something you’re sure to agree with if you’ve ever experienced a blowout, or worse, a tire-related accident. Check tire pressures regularly because incorrect inflation can cause sidewall cracking, unusual tread deterioration and blowouts. It’s best to perform your check when the tires are cold because hot air expands, which can cause you to get a higher reading than normal. As you drive, do what you can to avoid potholes, logs, curbs, and rocks, as the persistent scraping and impact will wear rubber down.
Challenges? Yes. But Don’t Get Discouraged.
It may sound daunting, but all you really need for a successful—and safe—and relatively stress-free road trip with your travel trailer is pre-planning, focus and patience. Take it easy. Take it slow. After all, you don’t win anything for getting to your destination faster. The win is in getting there safely, with your investment secured. Stay in the moment and think ahead. Lots of cliches, but still good advice whether you’re experienced or it’s your first time.
When You Need Travel Trailer Tires, Look No Further than Treadworld
If you’re not sure you have the best trailer tires for you, or you’re looking for replacement trailer tires or trailer wheels and tires, count on us here at Treadworld to provide you with exactly you want, in a wide range of styles and a huge selection of sizes. All our RubberMaster Trailer Tires are manufactured to strict tolerances from top rubber compounds, then triple-tested for quality, balance and uniformity before being X-rayed to be sure they’re perfect. Easy ordering, fast shipping plus your satisfaction is guaranteed with our no-hassle Ultimate Advantage Warranty. Don’t hesitate to contact our tire experts via live chat or email with any questions you may have, and to get the ideal trailer tires —or the perfect ATV tires, UTV tires, lawn and garden tires, and many others—from our extensive selection.