Car and Trailer B+E Towing and Hitching up Advice Taunton Bridgewater, Weston Super-mare & Bristol.
Hitching up a Trailer - Towing Course Advise.
Hitching up can take a bit of practice. Here is some advice on hitching and unhitching your trailer.
Firstly inspect the trailer to ensure the handbrake is on. Pull the car forward, in front of your trailer, so that you have a straight, clear, line to reverse up to your trailer. Reverse slowly and steadily until you are close enough to coupling on your trailer so that you can hitch up without having to move the trailer. Attach your breakaway cable. Either to the special tow-bar rings or looped around the bar. Begin winding the jockey wheel to lower the hitch over the tow-bar. Some will latch automatically but if you have a locking hitch hold the handle up and release it when you have it in place over the tow-ball. To ensure the hitch is coupled properly wind the jockey wheel downwards to apply some upward pressure on the coupling. Raise the jockey wheel and securely stow it. Now you can plug in the electrics. When doing so check that the cables have sufficient slack but do not touch the ground. Release your trailers handbrake.
You are ready to go!
Unhitching Your Trailer
Park your vehicle and trailer in a straight line applying the cars handbrake and turning off the engine. Apply your trailers' handbrake. Unplug your electrics and stow the cable. Slide your jockey wheel down, tighten the clamp and wind the handle to raise your trailer up. While holding the hitchs' locking handle up wind the jockey wheel until your hitch is clear of the tow-ball. Disconnect your breakaway cable and stow it. Once unhitched check that the trailers' handbrake is working by giving the trailer a push. Drive your vehicle away from the trailer. When storing your trailer we advise you to use wheel chocks to secure the trailer instead of the handbrake. This is because the brake shoes may stick to the drum if you have the handbrake on for long periods of time.
Trailer Loading Loads must be securely tied down or restrained. There must be no load projections outside the trailer that might cause danger to other road users. Wherever possible, loads should be evenly distributed across the trailer and positioned in such a way as to keep the nose weight within the recommended limits. Refer to the manufacturer's recommendation and/or the nose weight limit of your vehicle. See also "Attaching the Trailer". If uneven loads have to be carried, ensure that individual wheels/axles are not overloaded. It may be necessary to reduce the overall load to achieve this.
NOTE: Good Towing practice should always take into account the inevitable effects on vehicle handling, braking and general stability of towing a trailer behind the vehicle. Dangerous loss of stability when loads are loose and move around. Danger of loads parting from the trailer.
Load shooting forward when the outfit brakes. This is particularly acute if the load consists of planks, bars, etc, laid in line front to back.
There is a very significant danger of light items being lifted out of a trailer by the slipstream. All items should be secure. Loading practice should, therefore, take into account: Secure restraint | Recommended nose weight | Balance | Weight Distribution
Trailer Checks before each journey
The trailer operator or the driver of the towing vehicle, if different, has the responsibility for the safe operation of the trailer and needs to carry out the following checks: If the trailer is laden is the load correctly distributed i.e. Not too much or too little nose weight? Is the load within the trailer's official payload? - i.e. Not overloaded. Is the actual gross weight being towed within the towing vehicle manufacturer's recommended maximum towing limit (whether braked or unbraked.)? Is the load correctly secured? Are all the lights undamaged and working correctly? Are the 7 core cable and plug undamaged? Is the correct number plate fitted? (both registration number and style)
Is the breakaway cable or secondary coupling undamaged and correctly connected, to a suitable point on the tow bar or towing vehicle? Are the tyre pressures correct and all tyres free from cuts, bulges and with adequate tread, (including the spare)? Tyres must have a continuous tread depth of at least 1.60 mm on cars, light vans and trailers, across the centre three-quarters of the width (1mm for other vehicles) Are you satisfied that the wheel nuts/bolts are tightened to the correct torque? If required are the mudguards in satisfactory condition and secure? Is the trailer correctly coupled to the tow-ball or pin? Is the coupling height correct? I.e. Not excessively nose down or nose up.
Follow the golden rules of towing:
Make sure the trailer is level when coupled to the towing vehicle. Make sure the nose weight is between 50 and 100kg (unless trailer is very light.) Make sure the tyre pressures are correct. Are the jockey wheel and any corner steadies or prop stands fully wound up and secure? Driving With a Trailer.
Always keep to the legal speed limit for the road you are using. Speed limits for cars towing caravans or trailers. 30mph limit applies on all roads with street lighting unless signs show otherwise. 50mph applies on single carriageways unless signs show otherwise. 60mph applies on dual carriageways and motorways. It should be remembered that you must not travel in the right-hand lane of a motorway, with three lanes or more, if you are driving a vehicle drawing a trailer.
Drive within your outfit's capabilities:
Always drive at a speed that is well within your capabilities, and to the road and weather conditions that prevail at the time. If your trailer begins to snake or swerve, ease off the accelerator and reduce speed gently. (This can happen if you are driving too fast or the load in the trailer is wrongly positioned). Do not brake sharply on a bend, (this could cause a possible jack-knife situation). Reduce speed before the bend and take the appropriate gear for the speed you are doing. Then gently accelerate out of the bend.
Reversing with a Trailer: Before reversing, get out of the vehicle and check that all is clear to the rear before making the manoeuvre. Be on the look out for children and pedestrians. If possible, get someone to watch while the manoeuvre is made.