How To Use Pop Up Hitches Safely

August 14, 2014

Towing is a useful addition to the load capacity of a vehicle. Whether the vehicle is towing an RV (recreational vehicle) or merely freight in a trailer, its capacity to move goods is greatly increased. Then there is also the excitement and convenience of taking a part of one’s home on holiday, in the form of an RV. People should realize, though, that there are precautions to be taken in towing, especially concerning the use of pop up hitches.

The dynamics of a towing setup may appear as alarming to some people. If you consider that the average SUV or smaller truck has a mass in excess of one metric ton (more than 2 000lb), the added mass of the RV or loaded trailer creates a very heavy vehicular unit on the road. Now think about the stress on the hitch as the vehicle takes a corner or slows down unexpectedly, even during a routine trip. The hitch has to have the capacity to tolerate that level of constantly shifting force.

The hitch should be able to endure a gross trailer mass of 30 000lb. That might seem like an enormous weight, but it illustrates just how dangerous towing can be, especially if the trailer swerves independently or comes loose.

For this reason, people who tow trailers or RVs should take note of the following guidelines. These are all easy to implement and will ensure better safety in towing.

To begin with, and this may seem so mundane as to be irritating, the weight restrictions published by the manufacturer should always be adhered to. No matter how experienced or intelligent the driver may think he or she is, this is not negotiable. Trained engineers design the hitches, and they base their weight restrictions on issues such as metallurgical strength and load dynamics. It is not wise to try to argue with the estimate of a graduate engineer.

One more obvious consideration is how much space the trailer has to move in. This is known as the clearance between the towing vehicle and its towed companion. When checking the clearance, the driver should try to anticipate how the trailer will move through turns or other manoeuvres, since it is a member of an articulated unit and won’t move simultaneously with the vehicle.

Safety chains are important. Securing them properly is equally so. The chains should not be so slack that they will be ineffective if the main connection fails. They should also not be tight enough to restrict the movement of the trailer, especially during turning.

Putting the cargo in the trailer is another aspect of towing that should be handled appropriately. If the trailer’s maker has provided guidelines, they should be followed. Otherwise, try to keep the load balanced or centralized in the load space. If it isn’t, steering will be more difficult.

The mirrors, indicators and other lights on the trailer might seem like a discretionary detail, but they are not. They are legislated features of the vehicle and making sure that they work properly is mandated by law. The law tries to protect other motorists through this stipulation, and so should the driver of the towed vehicle.

Towing has the potential to be used in both commercial and private circumstances, providing greater cargo capacity and also holiday accommodation. But it needs to be done sensibly, so as to guarantee the safety of both the tower and other motorists.

Read more about How To Use Pop Up Hitches Safely.

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posted in Autos by Linda Ruiz

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