Traveling cross-country in a car, truck, or SUV can be a great adventure. When traveling solo, you'll also have the advantage of long hours of quiet meditation with your own thoughts (or the radio). You may even be able to make your own fun along the way by towing along a utility trailer holding a motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle, or other motorized pastime. However, towing a utility trailer a significant distance by yourself can be more of a challenge than you might expect. Read on for several tips and tricks to make your trip as complication-free as it can be.
Check your route (including stops)
While a small utility trailer shouldn't pose any issues on the open road, when traveling through crowded cities (or even small towns with multiple one-way streets), you don't want to be forced to do a U-turn or parallel park between two close vehicles. Mapping out the roads you plan to take before setting out on your journey can help give you confidence, as well as check for construction, detours, or other potential delays you'll need to take into account.
Not only can mapping out your route help determine which roads (or areas) you'll want to avoid while towing a trailer, you'll even be able to pre-plan your meals and other stops, helping avoid the disappointment of having to settle for the nearest fast food joint with ample parking when you find yourself too hungry to continue driving.
Make sure you're properly loaded and weighted
The last thing you want is to be forced to make an unplanned stop because your cargo is beginning to sway from side to side or impede your ability to quickly stop. Ensuring that your trailer is smartly loaded each time you get behind the wheel will improve safety and can even make your vehicle more aerodynamic.
There are several preparation measures you'll want to take to ensure your trailer is secure. First, you'll want to cross the chains beneath the hitch and tongue coupling to help prevent your trailer from flying across the highway if a malfunction causes it to detach from the hitch. These chains also provide stability to your trailer at higher speeds.
Next, you'll want to ensure the cargo on your trailer is placed in a way that creates sufficient tongue weight to provide stability. By adding enough tongue weight to shift the trailer's center of gravity before the trailer's front wheels, rather than between the front and rear wheels. However, you also don't want to overload the front of your trailer, as doing so could cause it to pitch forward and strain the hitch (and, by extension, the rear suspension of the towing vehicle). Generally, having between 10 and 12 percent of the total trailer's weight on or near the tongue is enough to put the center of gravity in an ideal place.
Investigate your security options
An open-top utility trailer is light and easy to transport, but doesn't provide a lot of natural security for items being towed. If you're planning to leave your trailer parked in surface parking lots overnight, you may want to investigate the various mechanisms you may need to keep your towed items secured and free from purposeful or inadvertent damage.
If you own a tarp large enough to tie down over your trailer, doing so can help protect your equipment from the elements while avoiding making your trailer and its contents an easy target for vandals. You'll also want to use a heavy-duty chain or padlock to attach your equipment to the side of your trailer so that it can't be easily removed. Always park in a well-lit area, and if you can find a space within easy view of your room you'll be able to keep a closer eye on your trailer throughout the night.
For more information about utility trailers, contact a company like Colorado Trailers Inc.