Whether you're hiring a tow truck to move your trailer around for a roadtrip getaway or you simply need to haul your boat to the coast, the vehicle that you select will determine how successful your journey will be. Before and after connecting your vehicle/cargo to the tow-truck, it's important to check for the following points in order to maximize your safety throughout the trip.
Know your cargo weight
Every vehicle has a specific towing capacity described as Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and Gross combined weight rating (GCWR) among others. Exceeding the maximum weight will make the vehicle more likely to lose control in emergencies, cause poor brake performance, and damage the truck's suspension, drive train and engine. The towing capacity of a vehicle is determined by many factors, including nature of cargo, bed lengths, body styles, equipment installed and cargo weight and volume. You should add a 20 percent weight allowance to the cargo in case your estimates are wrong – it is better to end up with a more capacity than with less capacity.
Remember that different versions of a single car can have different towing ratings, so confirm with the operating manual or service provider the exact weight allowed per vehicle. In addition to the bulk load (e.g. the car or boat being hauled), consider the additional weight of passengers, fuel and other luggage you have when calculating weight.
Pack items properly
This doesn't apply if you're simply towing a car or boat from one site to another. If, however, you need a towing truck or pickup to transport a trailer, it is important to ensure that cargo is positioned properly. For maximum stability, most of the heavy weight should be packed in the front half and towards the bottom of the trailer, which reduces overturning risk when driving through hilly areas. The weight should also be evenly distributed between the left and right sides of the trailer. Use ropes and other securing methods to keep cargo in place during the journey.
Your tyres should be properly inflated to avoid damaging them while on the journey. Under-inflated tyres increase fuel consumption by making the engine work harder. This can in turn increase tyre temperature, making them more likely to burst. The tyre pressure labels on the driver's doorjamb indicate the proper inflation levels for loaded and unloaded tow vehicles. In addition, confirm both tow-vehicle and trailer speed ratings and ensure that you don't exceed them during your journey. Greasing the trailer's hub bearings before a long trip will make towing much smoother.
Inspect the brakes
Trailer brakes are not necessary for small, light trailers, but heavier trailers have trailer brake system. These may be in form of electric brakes or hydraulic surge brakes. Regardless of the braking system installed, ensure that the 'breakaway' cable has been properly attached to the tow vehicle. This cable is designed to halt the trailer in the event that the trailer gets disconnected from the tow vehicle. Cross the chains under the tongue so that the toungue will rest on the chains rather than hit the road below if disconnected from the tow-truck. You should also confirm the brakes of the tow truck are in good working condition before setting out on your journey.