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Old 03-30-2016, 02:20 AM   #1
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Tips for towing in the snow?

Surprise spring storm caught us unexpectedly on our way home and I had to pick up cables for the TT. Fortunately chain requirements were lifted about 20 minutes before we got to Donner Pass.

Any tips on towing in the snow in the event we get caught in another storm at some point? Obviously slow down and leave more space are important but what about adjustments to the trailer brakes? Any issues having the tow vehicle in 4wd while towing?

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Old 03-30-2016, 07:32 AM   #2
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I've never had to tow a camper in snow, but have with a snowmobile trailer countless times. The main thing is stopping distance, so slow down of course, especially through corners. And I have no issue with 4WD up to 65mph. As for trailer brakes, you still want everything pretty even, maybe even dial the controller down a click or two, because the trailer locking up before the truck could get tricky real fast!
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Old 03-30-2016, 08:32 AM   #3
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FISH TAILING!! Its one thing to pull straight and for sure stopping distance and skidding are a very real potential but we have all seen what happens to an 18 wheeler when it swaps ends and the whole thing folds up like a jackknife. I would never, make that never ever, try to tow up or down a mountain pass with snow or ice on the road. Two years ago when returning from Fla in early March we got caught by an early Spring snow storm. I got behind 2 18 wheelers and drove in their tracks keeping as far back as I could and keep their tail lights in view. We drove that way in relatively flat or gently rolling hills for about 75 miles at speeds of 25 to 40 mph. Made it south of Nashville and drove out of the snow about 25 miles east on I40. Was it a good idea? NO and in hind site we should have stayed in that last rest area in Northern Ala and boondocked for the storm to clear the next day. We were lucky and I would never do it again.

Back to your ??, no there are no ways to make towing safe on a snowy mountain pass. Learn from my mistake and take my word, the knuckle marks on my steering wheel were not there when we left Montgomery earlier that day.
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Old 03-30-2016, 09:14 AM   #4
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I tow on snow and ice quite often. I grew up in the Reno, Carson City, NV area so I got my toes wet on Donner Pass. Of course, living in Alaska brings a whole new dynamic; especially since I enjoy my semi annual December Caribou hunts.

Force pretty much nailed it. You may want to consider dialing back on the trailer brake. Anti-Lock brakes are common now on vehicles, but trailers will lock up. This can lead to fishtailing.

You already did the other thing I would suggest, and that is getting a set of cable chains for the TT. This actually helps in the side to side sliding/fishtailing issue.

As for towing in 4wd. By all means, do it, that is what it's there for. Just remember, 4wd gives you better traction in pulling and turning, but not braking. Keep it all slow.

I am sure you already know this, but if you ever do have to chain up, a good rule is to never exceed 35mph.

The worst conditions I have ever towed in was one year coming out of Ely, NV. I had chains on all four wheels on the truck and all four wheels on the 5er.
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Old 03-30-2016, 09:18 AM   #5
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Re: towing in snow

Sure you can tow in the snow! Slow down, and double your following distance. As was mentioned in an earlier reply, dial back the trailer brake. If you find yourself absolutely white knuckle, do EVERYBODY a favor, and at a safe spot pull in and boondock. High mountain passes are intimidating! Running a "drag chain" or even a cable, to me, could cause damage to the TT due to heavy vibration.
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Old 03-30-2016, 10:16 AM   #6
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I pulled my travel trailer back from Florida this year and got caught in ice and snow, and nowhere to stop. From before Murfreesboro, TN and through Nashville, all the way to Paducah KY and then home to Marion, IL. I found myself going 35 mph at times and was scared I'd get run over from behind. I let off the gas and coasted across every bridge because they were ice. Saw 3 vehicles that had lost it on the icy bridges, a semi that lost it in the median, and a car hauler semi on fire burning to the ground.
Rest areas were full, nowhere to park to spend the night.

I kept my silverado in awd, not 4wd.

I'd never heard of putting chains on a trailer until I read this thread.
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Old 03-30-2016, 10:35 AM   #7
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Drag chain

FishAr, I'm somewhat jealous! Growing up and living in the Rockies, I've become very familiar with tire chains! Do you remember, as a kid looking down the tall, steep slide? When your towing, and get that feeling, it's time for drag chains! The basic premise of towing is the TV, MUST stay in the lead. Drag chains or putting on alternate traction devices (ATD) is a way to use the brakes on the rear vehicle to slow, and or help keep the tow vehicle out front. If you don't use the trailer brake properly, as I'm sure you've seen, is a great way to ditch the entire rig....
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Old 03-30-2016, 12:08 PM   #8
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Definitely not an expert on the subject but I was working for a fishing lodge and we had to pull a goose neck trailer to the lodge in the winter, crossing lakes on ice roads and such, and I saw my boss do one of the coolest things ever. The trailer started to swing out and when we noticed it sure seemed to me like we where about to be in a wreck but he calmly engaged the trailer brake and stepped on the gas at the same time. I was very impressed. I often now put my hands on the trailer brake just so if ever I need to I'm used to its location.
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Old 03-30-2016, 01:31 PM   #9
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I learned the hard way how quickly things can go south. I was driving a two ton flatbed truck up a very slight incline on a snow covered gravel road when all of a sudden I felt a little "whoops" and there I was facing in the direction I'd just came from. That truck did a perfect pirouette in the same tracks in about a heartbeat. I didn't think I'd been going too fast but I must have been.
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Old 03-30-2016, 01:44 PM   #10
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Well maybe that was actually an easy way to learn - nothing bad happened.
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