With how powerful today's pickup trucks are, it's common to be pulling a trailer that weighs well over double what the truck weighs. Of course, the trucks are rated to handle this tow capacity but this also means that you must keep this top of mind as you pull your rig to your favorite campsite. It's easy to forget you are pulling something with how smooth the trucks drive and in most cases, the weight is capable of easily pushing you where you don't want to go if you're not careful.
Things to Consider with your Tow Vehicle
Many people put fuel economy at the top of the list when considering a truck to pull their recreational trailer. However, it's not uncommon to find that your trailer weight is well over the rated towing capacity of your truck. It's critical that the trailer is within the limitations of the tow vehicle. This has a huge effect on how it performs on the road, most critically stopping.
When you're cruising down the road you'll have to keep in mind that you WILL need more room to stop than if not towing a trailer. Most electric brakes work on the principal that they increase the tension on the brakes the longer you hold your foot on the brake pedal. This way, the brakes will gradually slow you down without locking up the trailers wheels.
This is great as long as you give yourself plenty of time to slow down and stop for traffic that pulls out, stop signs and changing stop lights. When you have extra room you allow a smooth and gradual controlled stop.
The downside is that when an emergency happens and you have to stop immediately, your trailer brakes won't fully apply which means you have to rely on your tow vehicle to provide most of the stopping power.
Towing an RV Trailer on the Highway
There are a few things to consider when cruising down the highway with your Tow Trailer. The larger the unit, the more wind and passing traffic is going to affect your travel trailer. Although you might be use to cruising at 70 mph, with a tow vehicle play it safe and keep a safe slower speed. Remember that it's only a good camping trip if everyone stays safe.
How you load your Travel Trailer will greatly affect how it performs down the road. It's recommended that a minimum of 10% of the total weight needs to be tongue weight for travel trailers to avoid swaying. A trailer that's loaded rear heavy can drag the tow vehicle back and forth crossing lanes on the highway. Most of the weight should be directly on top of your axels.
Tow Vehicle Checklist
- Check that your tires are properly inflated and in good condition
- Check your brake lights, turning signals, and reverse lights
- Check your brakes to make sure they are working as they should
- Check your mirror visibility
- Check tire inflation and general condition of the tires
- Be sure all lights are working and that they are fully connected
- Test your trailer brakes (if you have them and we recommend you do)
5th Wheels significantly outperform travel trailers for towing safety although if you take the correct precautions, a travel trailer can handle almost as well.
It's a good idea to stop after around 35-50 miles to check your towing connections, tires, etc.
Don't get caught up with the crowd of traffic driving at their speeds and closely behind the vehicle in front of you. Be calm, drive slow and enjoy your camping vacation!