Open up a whole new world of exploration and practicality.
There is a lot to think about when you first come to tow. You could be planning to pull a caravan, a trailer, a horse box, a boat or a hundred other loads but the considerations are largely the same: You need to do it safely and legally.
It's almost always necessary to do your homework before setting off to tow something. You must ensure your vehicle is up to the task, know the law and how not to break it and take the time to practice driving with your load.
Getting Started with Towing
Ensure your vehicle can handle the trailer
Every vehicle has a towing capacity that you must not exceed. Check the Gross Trailer Weight (that's the trailer + the load) against the manufacturer's stated Maximum Towing Capacity for your vehicle. The engine of your vehicle also needs to be powerful enough to cope with the extra load, particularly when climbing hills.
The 85% rule
In addition to the manufacturer’s stated Max. Towing Capacity figures it is recommended that the weight to be towed should not exceed 85% of the "kerb weight" of the towing vehicle.
The "kerb weight" is defined as the weight of the vehicle plus a full tank of petrol and 75kg.
The load must not project outside of the trailer as this can be very dangerous to other drivers and the stability of the trailer. We've all seen people pulling a tiny trailer with a king-size mattress sagging over the sides of it or a horse box with five-meter planks of wood sticking out the back windows threatening to attack the car behind if the brakes are applied too hard. Be smarter than that. It’s dangerous and illegal for the load to stick out beyond the edges of the trailer.
Distribute weight evenly as much as possible. Overloading one side or having excess weight toward the nose or tail of the trailer can seriously impact the stability of trailers. Most trailers will have a stated "Recommended Nose Weight" which should be followed.
Secure your loads - Unsecured loads can slide around causing a loss of stability, are likely to shoot forward when the brakes are applied and lighter items can even be lifted out of the trailer at higher speeds so make sure everything is as secure as possible.
Wheels and Axles – Ensure that wheel axles are not overloaded.
Livestock – There are strict guidelines on the transport of livestock that cover condition of the trailer that cover everything from condition to the number of available tethering points. You can find the full guide here
Attaching the trailer to the vehicle
The best advice is to have help. Two people can hitch a trailer easier than one, though you can do it by yourself. Trailers vary from model to model though most will attach in a standard way. Thoroughly read the manufacturers instructions prior to attempting to attach for the first time.
Next: Driving while towing