A Trailer: Your Essential Holiday Accessory

No one and nothing needs to get left behind when you can tow a trailer.

A trailer is your key to an affordable summer holiday that’s filled with all the fun stuff you and your family have dreamt of doing all year. Rather than buy expensive tickets to a distant land, you can simply pile in everything you need and explore the backyard of your country.

No one and nothing needs to get left behind when you can tow a trailer.

However, you can’t just head off to your nearest stockist and pick out the first trailer you see. There are a few considerations to make to ensure your holiday’s towing goes off without a hitch.

First of all – Towing Capacity

The most obvious point to bear in mind is that your car can only pull so much. The maximum weight of the trailer your car can tow is its towing capacity. Failing to adhere to this limitation can result in damage to the car’s engine or transmission, which would put a serious dampener on your holiday.

Your car’s towing capacity should be indicated on a sticker either under the bonnet or on the insides of the doors. If not, check the owner’s manual or browse the manufacturer’s website.

A Toyota Auris 1.6Xi may boast an impressive towing capacity of 1300kg, but that doesn’t mean you can just hook any trailer or boat to the back. For this and other cars with similar towing capacities, like the Opel Astra or VW Golf 6, a medium-sized trailer with no add-ons is ideal. 4x4s would of course be able to tow more.

Your towbar

Your car’s towbar is the only link keeping your trailer and car attached to each other, so spare it a thought. According to Caravan SA, there are three figures to keep in mind.

Firstly, the towbar maximum drawing capacity tells you how much weight your towbar can handle. Secondly, the towbar static load is the maximum downward force that can be applied to a towbar. Finally, the noseweight is the mass of the trailer measured at the tow hitch, a figure that’s regulated by law in South Africa. It’s advisable to talk to your car or trailer’s manufacturer about this number before setting off. 

Driving tips

Having a trailer in tow requires a few changes to your driving:

Your vehicle will be heavier, so it’ll need more acceleration to get going and more braking to come to a stop. Keep this mind when going up or downhill, or when you need to slow down.

Going around bends with a trailer can be tricky, so practice extreme caution. Rather go too slow and hold people up, than swerve around a bend, putting your family and others in danger.

Something that can be easily forgotten is that because your vehicle is now longer, you have to go further when passing a vehicle.

Don’t even attempt passing on an uphill if your car isn’t powerful enough or if it’s heavily loaded.

Here are just a couple last tips. Distribute the weight of the luggage in the trailer evenly to keep things balanced. It’s commonly advised to put heavier objects to the front of the trailer, while the lighter items go towards the back. And finally, be realistic about what your car can tow and rather err on the side of caution, so you don’t experience unfortunate hiccups on your holiday trip.

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