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Old 01-26-2013, 05:42 PM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Hamburg, NY
Posts: 45
Wink Any Tips for first time towing a travel trailer

Hey everyone!! I will be picking up my very first TT on saturday and I was looking for some veteran advice from the pros on towing the TT. I have limited experience with towing anything. With all the great advice on my first thread I figured everyone could give me there own tips from just driving down the road to the dreaded backing up of a TT. Give me the goods please! LOL


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Old 01-26-2013, 06:01 PM   #2
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Seattle, WA
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Any Tips for first time towing a travel trailer

I'm by no means a towing master and only have about 3500 miles under my belt towing a tt, but here are a few thoughts.

- take turns wide . You can often watch in your mirrors to watch the curb side wheels and ensure clearance.
- allow plenty of distance in front of you to stop. It's going to be frustrating as people swoop in front of you on the freeway because you're leaving so much space, but you've got more weight to stop now.
- be aware your tt is likely wider than your tow vehicle so be sure not to cut it too close to objects on the side of the road.
- when backing I find the easiest way for me to remember which way to turn the wheel is to put your hand at the bottom of the steering wheel and move it in the direction you want the trailer to go. Move left to make the trailer go left etc.

Best advice is to just drive and practice. It won't be long till you start feeling comfortable. Good luck!

2012 Ford F150 FX4 5.0 3.73 SuperCrew Short Bed
2013 Jayco JayFlight 24FBS, Equal-i-zer 1k hitch
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Old 01-26-2013, 06:13 PM   #3
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 38
Make sure the windows and doors are shut and locked...check the hitch lock pin and the ball lock pin twice....yes I said twice....hook up the safety chains and e-brake line. make sure the hitch is at the right level before you move it and the tire pressure is what the manual calls for not the max on the tires. Check all your lights before you leave and the spare has the correct tire pressure as well. Tell your backup guide to give you the hand signal directions to move the trailer..... not the truck and always be aware of the highest point on the TT when you are towing it....Many AC units end up on the road and not the roof because people forget they are up there! Make sure you do not overload the camper with the weight of additional gear and that things inside are secure. Oh and if you are using sway control bars make sure someone shows you how to set the level properly. Make wide turns and leave early so you do not rush! Have a great safe travel!
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Old 01-26-2013, 06:29 PM   #4
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Watch your mirrors and drive with more attention. Remember to allow extra distance between other vehicles and anticipate slowing or stopping traffic by looking further ahead. Drive like you have a full cup of hot coffee on the dash in front of you with no cup holder. Smooth and steady.

Remember every traffic light while towing will turn yellow as you approach. Be prepared for the idiots who will dive in front of you then slam on the brakes to make a right turn.

Keep your hands on the wheel in the 3 and 9 o'clock positions or lower. Don't try to correct for sway. If you're holding the wheel straight and you feel sway, you'll still be going straight. Try to correct for it and you either be in deep voodoo or feel like you are. If you old school it like Richard Petty and have that hand in the 12 or 1 o'clock position you can easily overcorrect and upset the whole apple cart.

Using your side view mirror you can sight down the side of the unit to determine your proper position on the roadway. If the left side is where it is supposed to be the right side will be too.

Don't brake in the curve. Brake prior to the curve if necessary and accelarate through to plant the front wheels of the tow vehicle.

When backing I still use the old rule of placing my hand at the bottom of the wheel and pushing the wheel in the direction I want the trailer to go. Try to make the cut on the driver's side for better visibility. Again if the left side is where it should be the right will be where it needs to be.

Practice with your helper in watching out for you while backing. My helpers always try to find the one or two spots where I can't see them or they typically watch the side I can see. It takes time to train them I guess.

It never fails, if you make the first cut backing perfectly, you have it made. If you don't you'll be aware of the audience in the campground and you'll start breaking out in those little beeds of sweat!
2010 Jayco 17Z
99 Ford E-350 Chateau Super Duty V-10

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Old 01-26-2013, 06:42 PM   #5
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All the above advice is excellent. I have two other things I have learned over the years.

One is that if you are going along a fairly straight road and the trailer starts to sway, you can sometimes straighten it out by briefly gunning your engine, assuming that you have the room ahead. That usually will pull the trailer out of its sway. Hitting the brakes in that situation, however, will usually amplify the sway, and make it worse.

Secondly, if an animal, such as a deer, suddenly runs out in front of you, it is much better to remain straight and hit the deer than to swerve to avoid it and end up jacknifing and in the ditch or overturned.
2003 Ford F-350 V-10 Crew Cab 4WD Long Bed
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Old 01-26-2013, 07:02 PM   #6
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You know your in friendly territory at the campground. Others will always help you if you have trouble. Maybe some might jump in to fast to assist but remember they have good intentions and just want to help. We've all been there.
2012 Jayfeather 228
2012 F150 FX2 ecoscrew reg. tow pkg.
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Old 01-26-2013, 07:17 PM   #7
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Hamburg, NY
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Thanks everyone for your great advice I am taking it all in!!
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Old 01-26-2013, 07:23 PM   #8
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Practice using the braking lever on your trailer brake controller. It comes in handy if your trailer starts to sway or fishtail. And if you do have trailer instability problems (a lot of back and forth sway or a bouncing feeling) the tongue weight may be too light or too heavy. On a travel trailer it should be 10-15% of the total weight of the loaded trailer.

Mainly, just take it easy when you start out. Go only as fast as you feel comfortable, and don't go too fast when you get the hang of it. I usually keep it to 60 mph, even on busy interstates. Sometimes I'll go 65 if the road is in great shape and there's little traffic, but that's the exception. And often I'll go 55 because slower speeds really help with fuel economy. Whatever the speed limit is, I usually go slower.

Oh yeah, make sure your steps are tucked back into place when driving. I've left mine out a couple of times, once on a very congested multi laned (with narrow lanes) interstate. Man, that was tense!
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Old 01-26-2013, 08:10 PM   #9
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For backing up we have started using small handheld 2 way radios. Makes instructions much clearer than handsignals.
Ont. Canada
2012 Chev 4x4 Crew Cab 5.3l 3.42 trailer package
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gone 2003 Chev 4x4 5.3 Extended cab
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Old 01-26-2013, 08:16 PM   #10
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Location: Livermore,California
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Don't wait until you are at a campground to learn to back up your tt. Find a large parking lot near you, and practice there. Practice pulling by a spot and then backing into it.Learn to do the swoop, pull up to your spot and as your tt is parallel to the spot swing your tv out at a 45 degree angle. This will angle the tt toward the parking spot reducing the amount of jackknifing you will have to do. Most important, back SLOWLY, it is far easier to correct while backing slowly. Remember, nobody backs it in perfectly every time, so relax all will be fine............happy camping!!!

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