Trailer Loading and Unloading Guide
Properly loading and towing a trailer is essential to safe and proper vehicle handling. It also ensures that the valuables you are hauling arrive safely and in one piece to their intended destinations. There are several things to consider when loading and towing a trailer, many of which are beyond the scope of a novice trailer user. However, there are a few important points to remember as you load and tow your trailer, regardless of size.
Calculate the Overall Tow Weight
Determine the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating or GVWR by reading the documentation that came with the trailer. You should also find the Gross Axle Weight Rating or GAWR. Subtracting the weight of the empty trailer from the GVWR will provide you with the total amount of cargo that is safe to load and tow on your trailer. Each trailer is built to specific standards with regards to shocks, tires, axles, etc. and thus you do not want to overload the trailer as this could cause it to tip or handle improperly.
Properly Situate the Load
Place the heaviest amount of the load over the axles of the trailer. This does not necessarily mean the heaviest objects, as many small objects can outweigh a few heavy objects. Distribute the weight as evenly as possible across the trailer width over the axles. Place top-heavy objects as low as possible on the trailer deck and tie them down securely from multiple angles. Place valuable objects toward the front of the trailer near the tongue, as this is the best and safest ride.
Hook up the Trailer and Tow Correctly
Connect the trailer hitch securely to the vehicle's hitch ball. Slide the hitch over the ball and flip the connection lever down. Secure a cotter pin through the connection lever to hold it in place. Connect the tow chains from the trailer to the vehicle tow hooks, making sure to cross the chains left to right and right to left. Plug the trailer lights into the hitch connection and make sure the brake lights and turn signals work. Always maintain safe speeds when towing a trailer; understand that your turns will be wider and stopping will take longer. The main thing to remember when towing a trailer is to drive cautiously.