Five Common Towing Mistakes to Avoid

As the weather changes, Spring hunters and fishermen begin preparing their campers, four-wheelers and boats.  Before hooking up your trailers, all drivers are invited to read the tips below to learn how to avoid the five most common towing mistakes, and increase their confidence behind the wheel.

According to Robert Krouse, Chevrolet’s lead trailering engineer and overall expert in all things-towing, “There are several common mistakes that people often make when towing and these mistakes can not only damage their trailer, but also their tow vehicle.”

“The new Silverado heavy-duty pickup is designed for towing, and provides drivers with the ability to tow 21,700 pounds and carry 6,635 pounds”, Mark Kostboth, Sale Manager

Mistake 1: Not knowing the actual weight of the trailer

“I often see that customers have incorrect trailer weights and they will then underestimate the weight of the items they are putting on the trailer,” said Krouse. For example, many people will misjudge the weight of the gear or supplies, such as building materials that are actually much heavier than people may think.

Mistake 2:  Not knowing the actual capacity of the tow vehicle as equipped

Far too often, an individual will mismatch the vehicle to the trailer load, which must always be properly matched for optimal efficiency. Many websites provide only maximum trailer weight ratings (TWR), which means consumers would need additional equipment to achieve the greatest performance for a vehicle that is not equipped with the maximum TWR.

Mistake 3:  Overloading the trailer or tow vehicle

Consumers often make the mistake of overloading and exceeding the TWR and GCWR as discussed in mistakes one and two, but it is also vital not to overload the trailer tongue weight, tow vehicle and trailer gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWRs), individual tow vehicle and trailer gross axle weight ratings (GAWRs) and individual tire ratings. “By putting too much weight on a trailer it can not only damage the trailer, but also the tow vehicle. Results can range from broken axles to bearing damage and excessive tire wear,” Krouse said.

Mistake 4:  Improper combination setup – including weight distribution hitch

After you have confirmed TWR and GCWR, it is important to make sure that the hitch ball, brake controller, sway controls and weight-distributing spring bars (if used) are properly installed and adjusted. “Too often I see that the hitch ball is too high or too low, the sway controls or weight-distributing spring bars are improperly adjusted and the brake controller may not be properly set up,” said Krouse. “It is common to see trailers with spring bars that are visibly curved upward and applying large amounts of torque to the hitch. “

Mistake 5:  General driving practices

One of the easiest ways to avoid mistakes while towing is to always practice safe driving techniques. The tow vehicle and trailer combination is often considerably heavier, longer and higher than the vehicle that is doing the towing. This combination makes it more difficult to maneuver, drive and stop the vehicle doing the towing.

Finally, Krouse notes that consumers need to pay close attention to vehicle and trailer maintenance. When trailering, it is important to remember that the tow vehicle is working harder than it does alone, generally operating under higher loads and higher temperatures that require additional attention. Also, trailers often sit for long periods of time and require maintenance due to long periods of inactivity. “Either way, stay on top of maintenance, particularly paying attention to fluids, tires and brakes in the tow vehicle and brakes, bearings, tires and electrical systems in the trailer,” said Krouse.

2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD Towing Features:

The Silverado HD was engineered from the ground up to offer drivers more capability, including:

  • The maximum conventional (ball hitch) towing rating is now a segment-best 17,000 pounds (7,727 kg)
  • The maximum fifth-wheel hitch rating is now 21,700 pounds (9,843 kg) for the Silverado 3500HD crew cab/long box
  • The maximum payload for the Silverado 3500HD is 6,635 pounds (3,009 kg)

In addition, the new Silverado HD is available with confidence- and control-related features specifically for towing, including:

  • Electronic trailer sway control senses conditions of trailer sway and automatically intervenes with braking and or reduced engine power to bring the trailer under control
  • Hill start assist helps prevent rollbacks on steep grades by holding the brakes for about 1.5 seconds, giving the driver time to switch from the brake pedal to the gas pedal without rolling
  • Automatic grade braking and intelligent brake assist uses the compression of the engine to slow the vehicle without applying the brakes, prolonging brake life and helping maintain control over long, downhill grades
  • The rear backup camera helps make connecting the Silverado HD to a trailer quicker and easier