A comprehensive list of pre-trip safety “must do’s”.
It is important that both the tow vehicle & trailer are up to date on any recommended maintenance. Towing puts additional stress on the tow vehicle, making it very important that it is current on maintenance.
Check & adjust the tire pressure if necessary on both the tow vehicle & trailer. Also check the condition of the tires, being sure to look for cracking & dry rot. Don’t forget the tow vehicle and trailer’s spare tire!
Make sure the lug nuts/bolts on the wheels of the tow vehicle & trailer are torqued properly.
Look to see that the grease caps & plugs are in place & not leaking.
Check that the hitch & coupler that connect the trailer to the tow vehicle are properly secured with safety pins in place. Don’t forget to make sure that the hitch & coupler are made to go together. For example, that the coupler & tow ball are of like sizing – 2″ coupler for a 2″ tow ball.
Verify that the safety chains are attached properly. They should be criss-crossed & have enough length to allow for turning, but should not be dragging the ground.
Make sure that the wiring is connected properly with enough length to allow for turning, but not be dragging the ground.
Ensure that the brakes are operating correctly on the tow vehicle & trailer (if equipped with brakes).
Verify that the breakaway system is connected properly & working correctly. The breakaway lanyard should be secured to the body of the tow vehicle should the hitch fail.
Ensure that the trailer jack is raised & locked into place.
Make sure that the trailer ramps are properly secured (if applicable).
Verify that the weight of the load does not exceed the manufacturer’s listed towing capacity of the trailer.
Make sure that all lights are working & meet DOT lighting requirements.
Check that the license plate is properly secured & illuminated.
Be sure to bring wheel chocks along with you for the trailer.
Check that all cargo is properly secured to the trailer.
Ensure that the weight load is properly distributed. The tow vehicle & trailer should be balanced from front to back as well as side to side.
Set the mirrors on the tow vehicle so that you have good visibility of the trailer & it’s cargo.
Check for any restrictions on bridges & tunnels on the routes that you will be traveling.