How to Stay Safe When Driving with a Trailer

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Driving with a trailer in a skillful manner is necessary in many situations. When buying new furniture and hauling an RV, you need to know how to drive a trailer safely. Here are some tips that will help you to drive safely with a trailer:

Consult the Owner’s Manual

You need to look at the owner’s manual to figure out how much weight your car can haul safely. If you own a regular size sedan, you can haul up to 2,000 pounds safely. SUVs and big trucks can handle much more weight.

When you consult the manual of your vehicle, you will not carry more weight than your car can handle. Doing so can make it more difficult to maneuver the car and increase the likelihood of getting into an accident. Before you attach a trailer to your vehicle, you need to understand the importance of loading it properly. Make sure that you invest in the best trailer lock to avoid having a runaway trailer on your hands.

General Handling

Make sure that you use the gear that your manufacturer recommends to avoid problems. Moreover, you should drive at reasonable speeds to keep the strain off your trailer and vehicle. As the speed increases, the probability of an accident increases because the trailer is more likely to sway.

When driving with a trailer, you should avoid sudden starts and stops because they might cause jackknifing and skidding. Be careful not to steer suddenly to prevent swaying. When you get to curves and corners, you should make a wide turn to keep the trailer wheels from hitting curbs or riding over them.

To manage swaying that results from changes in air pressure when a large vehicle passes by, you should decelerate and hold the steering while firmly.

Braking While Driving With a Trailer

Make sure that you allow for a significant distance before stopping. If your trailer’s brake controller is electric, you can activate it with your hands whenever extra swaying occurs. However, you should never try to control the sway by applying brakes on the tow vehicle.

Make sure that you anticipate the need for slowing down by reducing speed, shifting to low gear, and lightly hitting the breaks.

Upgrades and Downgrades

Add power when climbing hills and downshift when braking on a downgrade. When on a long downgrade, you should hit the brakes at intervals.

Passing and Acceleration

Whenever you change lanes or try to pass a slower car, you need to signal ahead of time. Moreover, you should leave enough space to clear the car that you are passing before you return to the lane. When passing another vehicle, leave plenty of clearance and do it on level terrain.

You should not try to pass on a steep downgrade or upgrade when driving with a trailer. If you have to pass other vehicles on a narrow road, you should avoid going to a soft shoulder. Doing so might cause the trailer to sway out of control.

Backing up

When backing up, you should move your hand in the direction that you are turning: move your hand left when turning left and right to turn right. Your mirrors might not offer enough visibility, so you should ask another person to guide you.

You should move the steering wheel only slightly to change direction. When you make exaggerated movements, you might end up losing control of the trailer.


Whenever possible, you should ask somebody to guide you from outside as you park. You should follow the proper parking sequence to keep your car from locking in park due to the extra transmission load. If you want to uncouple the trailer, you should put blocks at the back and front its tires to make sure that it does not roll away as soon as you uncouple.

Make sure that you place a jack stand under the back of your trailer to avoid injuries. If the load in the trailer is unbalanced, the tongue might end up rotating upwards, which can be dangerous for the people nearby.


Hauling a trailer is not child’s play and you should be very careful. The above tips will come in handy if you want tips that will help you to drive a trailer safely.

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Jim Thompson