Buying an ultra lite travel trailer is not an easy task. Defining what IS an “ultra light” trailer is as important as the sticker on the side of the trailer calling it an ultra light travel trailer. Today’s RV manufacturers are quick to label a trailer with graphics calling it “ultra light” or the words “half ton towable.” However, you can never assume that if the manufacturers call the unit an “ultra light” that it is suitable for your vehicle to tow.
Here at Folsom Lake RV, we take seriously the professionalism required to determine whether your vehicle can tow safely the vehicle you are considering purchasing.
We found these 8 tips by Jim Gorzelany (CTW Features; link here) to help determine what you can tow and if you can do so safely:
- Know your limits. Read your car or truck’s owner’s manual to determine its recommended towing capacity as equipped (this can vary depending on the engine, transmission and other components) and be sure to stay well within the stated limits. This includes the weight of a boat, trailer and cargo. Overloading a vehicle can cause significant mechanical issues, and a too-heavy trailer can sway excessively behind the tow vehicle, causing control issues and encroaching on adjacent lanes of traffic.
- Check the hitch. Be sure your vehicle’s hitch is up to the challenge – if you’re hauling something that weighs more than 5,000 pounds, you’ll need a weight distributing or fifth-wheel hitch to safely handle the load. Once hitched and with the wiring harness connected, verify that the trailer’s brakes, brake lights, and turn signals are synchronized with the towing vehicle.
- Spare me. Ensure both the tow vehicle and the trailer are equipped with spare tires and that they’re properly inflated.
- Pack accordingly. If you’re pulling a camper, make sure the load to be carried within it is evenly distributed for optimal stability. Aim to place 60 percent of the cargo weight in the front half of the trailer, and distribute items evenly on the left and right sides of the unit. Be sure to tie down everything securely.
- Tend to the tow vehicle. Always have your car or truck checked out by a mechanic before hitting the road, especially fluid levels, brakes and tires; it’s a good idea to have the oil changed before embarking on a long trip. Be sure to inflate the tires to the proper air pressure specified for towing (again, check the owners’ manual for this information).
- Take a test drive. Even experienced haulers should practice pulling a load around town or – even better – within a large empty parking lot to get a good feel for how everything behaves before hitting the highway. Be sure to rehearse accelerating, turning corners, stopping, backing up and parking.
Folsom Lake RV has the ability to test tow before you buy an ultra light trailer. This is not offered at other dealerships. Folsom Lake RV has invested in tow vehicles to test trailer towing for both Teardrop and folding camper trailer. We also have a heavy duty truck with a Fifth Wheel hitch already installed. Or we can install a brake control in your vehicle and we will test tow in your Truck or S.U.V. or S.U.T!
- Know the laws. Towing regulations vary from state to state, and you may require a special permit or license depending on what you’re hauling, or special equipment including larger side- and rear-view mirrors. Those taking longer trips should consult bordering states’ towing laws to make sure the rig won’t be violating specific towing restrictions.
- Take it easy. Once you’ve departed, proceed at a moderate pace and allow sufficient distance for safe stopping. A sudden stop at excessive speeds can cause the trailer to skid out of control or flip over. If you feel the trailer swaying at highway speeds, take your foot off the accelerator to reduce momentum, but do not apply the brakes. It’s a good idea to pull over every hour or so to ensure the trailer’s lights and brakes are working, the tires are at the proper inflation level and that the load within the trailer remains secure.