Towing A Trailer - Tips And Advice

Connecting A Trailer

Make sure lights are working before leaving the site and check the tyres for roadworthiness. You must check the towing capacity of your car before towing large trailers. 

Incorrect Connection Correct Connection Correct With Cable
Incorrect Connection Correct Connection Correct Connection With Cable

Driving Tips

  • Allow for the extra length and width of trailers and their tendency to "cut-in" on corners and curves;
  • Allow greater stopping distances.
  • Brakes should never be applied more than very lightly when cornering or traveling around a curve, particularly when the road may be wet or slippery.
  • Reversing with a trailer can be quite difficult and takes practice. With large trailers and caravans it is a good idea to always have someone outside the vehicle giving directions.
  • The ride and handling of the combination of a vehicle and a large trailers are affected by wind, road roughness and passing vehicles to a greater extent than the vehicle alone.
  • Trailers tend to jerk the back of the tow vehicle around and can cause sway (snaking). If a trailer starts to sway, the tow vehicle's brakes should not be applied, except as an absolute last resort. If the trailer's brakes can be operated by themselves they should be applied gently, otherwise a steady speed or slight acceleration should be held if possible until the sway stops.
  • As trailers reduce the towing vehicle's performance, much greater care is needed when overtaking because it takes much more time and distance and you will need to avoid "cutting off" the vehicle just overtaken, when returning to the left lane.
  • Longer distances must be allowed for joining a traffic stream, crossing intersections and when braking. A bigger gap must be left ahead to allow for the reduced braking ability and for overtaking vehicles to rejoin the left lane.
  • Sudden lane changes and changes of direction must be avoided to minimize the chances of causing sway.
  • When you are driving, you should look even further ahead than normal so that you can react to any changes in traffic or road conditions before they become a problem.
  • Accelerator, brake and steering must be operated smoothly and gently at all times. Unnecessary movements of the steering wheel must be avoided because of the ease with which trailer sway can occur.
  • A lower gear should be used when traveling downhill to increase vehicle control and reduce strain on brakes.

Loading Tips

  • With large trailers, fuel consumption increases greatly at higher speeds. The size of loads should be limited to what can be carried completely within the trailer;
  • Winches on car trailers are to winch your car onto the trailer only. DO NOT use the winch for securing the car onto the trailer or unloading the car from the trailer. Proper ropes or chains must be used at all times.
  • Where a load must project it must not extend more than 150mm beyond the trailer's width or to more than 2.5m overall width, whichever is less.
  • Loads that project more than 1.2m behind a trailer must have a red flag attached to the end of the load. This flag must be at least 300mm square and clearly visible to vehicles behind the trailer.
  • The overall length of the combination of vehicle and trailer including its load must not be more than 19m.
  • Loads should be kept as low as possible and should be positioned as close as possible to the axle or axles with about 60% of the total weight forward of the centre of the axle or axles;