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Proper trailer setup and maintenance are the keys to a successful tow trip

Proper trailer setup and maintenance are the keys to a successful tow trip. So before you head out to the road, make sure your truck and trailer are roadworthy. Where did I learn to tow a trailer? Or how to set one up? I learned the hard way, by towing a succession of second-hand rigs with whatever I had that had the power to pull. Some of these truck and trailer setups were really evil-handling beasts, and I was lucky to bring them (and myself) home in one piece. Don't confuse driving your car or truck with towing a trailer. The skill set overlaps only slightly. Everything takes longer when you are towing--speeding up, slowing down and cornering. Remember, you've got a second center of mass 10 or 20 ft behind you, and it's easy for the tail wag the dog. Aside from just physically getting the trailer hitched to the truck, here's a list of a few things to watch. We sure needed them for the heavy lifting during our exclusive comparison test pitting the new Ford F-150 and Dodge Ram against the competition. 1. Proper Tongue Weight Set tongue weight to 10 to 15 percent of the trailer's total weight for good stability. If the tow vehicle doesn't have enough rear suspension spring rate to accept this, get an equalizing hitch. The equalizing hitch will transfer some of the tongue weight forward to the front axle. 2. Safety Chains Cross the safety chains under the hitch side-to-side, in an X pattern. If, for whatever reason, the hitch comes adrift, the trailer tongue will drop onto the chains instead of onto the ground. And that will maximize your control and minimize the damage to you and your rig. Bonus: With the chains crossed, you can turn in a tighter circle without them binding. 3. Tire Pressure Check the tire pressures often. Run the tires at their maximum recommended pressure. They'll run cooler, and you'll consume less gas to boot. 4. Inspection Every time you pull over and stop on a long tow mission, do a walk-around inspection of the hitch, wiring and tires. Be sure the trailer harness connector and breakaway cable are still connected. Check the nut on the bottom of the hitch ball, and make sure that the hitch pin and its hairpin are still holding the drawbar on. You can probably skip checking the tire pressures at every pull-over, but a good thump of all four tires will let you know if one is low just by the sound. Now check the tire and brake drum and wheel-bearing temperatures. A noncontact infrared thermometer gun is cool, and will keep your hands clean, but just using the palm of your hand is fine. If one tire or bearing is noticeably hotter, you've got a problem. Towing Brooklyn Towing Manhattan NYC

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