Safely Towing a Trailer in Winter
Towing a trailer at the best of times can be challenging, but towing in the winter can be dangerous and you need to keep yourself acutely aware of your surroundings. It is best not to tow in poor weather conditions, especially if there is a lot of snow and ice on the road, but sometimes it is unavoidable and then you need to take the following precautions.
Maintain your trailer
Always ensure that your trailer is properly maintained. This is important whenever you are going to make a long trip, but it is doubly so when you are driving in adverse weather conditions.
Check your roadside emergency kit before you start your journey. Make sure your kit is always stocked with flares, water, and first-aid essentials. In winter add a spare pair of warm gloves, a hat, ice scrapers, and tire traction mats.
If you are making a long trip and are not sure if there will be snow on the roads, it is a good idea to have a set of snow-ready tires in your trailer. Snow tires and chains can keep you on the road when the weather turns nasty, and are especially useful for slowing down safely or breaking on icy roads.
Lose the excess weight
Try to keep your trailer as light as possible. The more weight you have to haul the longer it will take you to stop in an emergency, and this can be compounded by ice on the road. Take a close look at your cargo and see what you can leave behind or save for another trip.
Watch your speed
Visibility is severely reduced in bad weather conditions and you need to drive slowly. Keep at least 8 seconds between your vehicle and the one in front of you. Driving slowly may mean you take longer to get to your destination but at least you will get there.
Braking hard on icy roads can cause you to jack-knife or skid. When you need to slow down or stop, make sure you brake in a straight line. It is also important to familiarize yourself with your brake control’s manual override. Your trailer brake will have a manual override that lets you hit the trailer brakes directly from the controller, bypassing the tow vehicle brakes. If you go into a skid or slide on an icy road the manual override can help you get out of it safely. When going uphill, try not to use your brakes and rather back off your accelerator and maintain your momentum.
Clear the snow
Before you set off on your trip, take a broom and clear the snow off the top of your trailer. This will prevent large chunks from dropping onto your tow vehicle when you brake. It will also mean that you won’t be dropping snow and ice onto the road as you drive and this will make it safer for other drivers on the road behind you.
Plan your route
Make sure you plan your route before you leave home, and identify a few places where you can safely pull over and wait for the weather to clear if things get too bad. If the route is unfamiliar to you, there are apps that you can use to help you find suitable stopping points along your planned route.
Whether you are looking to buy a cargo trailer or service your current one, McFarlane’s can help you. We have one of the widest selections of cargo trailers for sale in Ontario and will ensure that your trailer is well maintained and ready to take on the winter weather.