Tips for towing

September 28, 2011 12:00 AM

You might have a pickup truck or SUV sitting in your driveway with a trailer hitch that you've never used. Some drivers are intimidated by towing, but it can really add to a road trip if you've got a trailer, boat or other add-on along for the ride.

Most vehicles that are rated for towing come with a Class III trailer hitch, which handles up to 5,000 pounds. If your vehicle doesn't have a hitch, you can always go out and buy one - but make sure your car can actually handle the towing. In that same vein, check the weight of the object you plan to bring and ensure that both the vehicle and hitch are up to snuff, recommends Edmunds.

When buying a trailer, go for a double-axle model. These are typically easier to maneuver out on the road, and if you lose one of the tires on the trailer while traveling, it'll be a bit easier to maneuver over to the side on three wheels compared to just one. If you plan on going up and down hills or are towing a heavier load, it also pays to invest in a pair of trailer brakes, which come in both surge (hydraulic) and electric varieties.

You'll also need to change your driving habits. Try to stick to the open road and avoid tight city streets. Keep in mind that you need more room to pull off any maneuver and that your vehicle in general will be less agile while towing.

As always, make sure your vehicle is properly cared for before you go. Take the model into an auto maintenance shop before you hit the road, paying special attention to tires and brakes. 

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