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Follow these road ready tips to be prepared for your next RV towing trip.
This summer we took a 3-week camping trip around Lake Michigan. We have a pop-up trailer which we tow with our Toyota 4Runner. Our trip did not start out very smooth. The first day was quite stressful. We were only 30 minutes from home and the girls had to use the restroom so we stopped at a rest area. I walked around the car and trailer and checked the hitch like I do every time we get back on the road. Looking down, I noticed this flat tire on the trailer.
I pumped it up with the bike pump and we got back on the interstate. We stopped at the next exit that had a town and noticed the tire was losing air again. It was time to change it. After a little stress and drama, I had the spare on the trailer and we continued on our way to Michigan.
Diana just gave me that ‘I told you so’ look. She thought we needed new tires before the trip and I thought we’d be OK. I am thankful we just had a slow leak and not a blowout. Experience has led me to these tips for being road ready when you tow.
5 Road Ready Tips for Your Next RV Trip
Inspect Tires on Vehicles It is important to make sure the tires on your tow vehicle and trailer are in good shape. Check tread depth with a penny on the tow vehicle. The tread depth should cover Lincoln’s head. Check sidewalls on the inside and outside of the tire for cracks or damage on both vehicles. Make sure all tires are inflated to the proper psi as indicated on the tire on both vehicles.
Please note that trailer tire tread is engineered to not wear out, so it’s vital to check in between the tread for cracks or damage. Trailer tires are made to last 5 years. Even if the tread looks OK, you should change tires by the 5-year mark. We ended up buying two new tires for the trailer at our first destination and put the spare back in place. We will be getting new tires again by 2022.
Check Trailer Weight and Weight Distribution on the Hitch A lot of people don’t consider weight when they tow. The maximum axle weight is approached quickly. Everything you put on and in your trailer contributes to the overall weight. Know the weight limits of your trailer by reading the manufactures decal.
Do not over pack your trailer. Distribute items in the trailer to make sure the weight is over the axle. Too many items in the front of the trailer will put excess weight on the hitch. Fill water tanks when you arrive at your destination because water adds 7 pounds per gallon to your weight.
Test Trailer Brakes Trailers that are over 1500 pounds require brakes. It’s important to have a brake controller in your tow vehicle. The brake controller senses when you apply the brakes and sends a signal to the trailer to apply its brakes.
Brake controllers are purchased separately from the trailer. The model you purchase will depend on your tow vehicle. Plug the brake controller into your vehicle wiring harness. Then plug the trailer wiring harness into the tow vehicle. Apply brakes and listen for a clicking of the trailer brakes engaging. Once you are driving, adjust the strength and impulse setting for your driving conditions.
Test Trailer Lights The wiring harness that you plugged into your tow vehicle also controls the trailer lights. Have someone stand behind the trailer while the driver turns the lights on and off, presses the brakes, and checks the turn signals. If something isn’t working, check the connections and bulbs.
Change Your Tow Vehicle’s Oil Towing puts extra stress on your tow vehicle’s motor. It’s a great idea to start your trip with fresh oil. You can take your vehicle in for maintenance or save time and money by changing your own oil. Walmart.com made it easy for me to change my own oil. Our 4Runner takes 0W-20, so I got online and purchased two 5 quart containers of Pennzoil Full Synthetic oW-20 Motor Oil. We pick Pennzoil because it is designed for complete protection and it allows you to drive an extra of 550 miles per year vs. a dirty engine. Pennzoil products help clean out sludge lesser oils leave behind. Check your owner’s manual for the proper weight motor oil for your vehicle.
Walmart.com has improved their online shopping experience, giving customers three options for getting all their items. You can get home delivery, pick it up at in-store pickup, or use the curbside pickup. Since we got free shipping, I opted for the home delivery because I prefer avoiding crowds at the store. The oil showed up quickly.
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Are you ready for your next RV trip? We have a few fall camping trips planned and we will be prepared by following our own road ready tips!