Imagine the feeling of going to your car, expecting it to crank right up so that you can be on your way, and you discover it will not start. It can be a scary and dreadful feeling. Or perhaps you are experiencing that as you read this looking for an answer. Well, I intend on giving you some things that you can check on before you call a tow truck or a mechanic in the information that follows:
If you are trying to start your car and you hear a clicking noise, this indicates that your battery is dead. Make sure your headlights, interior lights, radio, and air conditioning are turned off. Next, make sure your battery terminals are tight on the battery. Let the car sit for a minute or so and try it again. If it doesn;t start and is still clicking you will need to get a jump-start or a new battery. If you have a manual transmission and are on a hill, you can carefully attempt to roll it and pop out the clutch to push start it.
If your engine turns over but does not start, make sure your air filter is clean and make sure you have gasoline in your tank. It is possible you are not getting a spark to your plugs. If you are able, you can check your spark plugs for a spark. If you are still unable to get it to start you will need professional advice.
If you have an older model car that has a carburetor, you can check the choke on the carburetor to ensure it is opening and closing. If your car is fuel injected you will need professional advice.
Like the last situation, if you have trouble starting your car in cold weather if you have a carburetor again make sure the choke on the carburetor is opening and closing. But if you have a fuel-injected automobile you will likely need to have a mechanic look at it.
If you have trouble starting your car on rainy days you may need to check the inside of the distributor cap for moisture. If you do find moisture, turn it upside down sprat it with WD-40 or some type of solvent and wipe it out. Then replace the cap and attempt to start the car again.
It’s usually pretty easy to tow a travel trailer. This blog will give you the basics you will need to know for your first trip. Towing a travel trailer is scary to begin with. The more trips you take the more comfortable and confident you will get.
There are a few things you can do to make sure you have a good trip before you ever leave home. Being prepared will make sure you have very little challenges on the road. This should give you peace of mind while traveling.
Hitch Your Vehicle Correctly
Always make sure you are safely hitched. For details on getting a safe and secure connection check out our guide to safe hitching and unhitching. There are a few basics which include making sure your hitch is on, locked in, and the cables are connected and working. Weight distribution is also something you want to pay attention to. When looking at your trailer and tow vehicle make sure there is a flat plane between the two.
If either is tipping towards or away from the hitch you are not balanced well. If you are not balanced this can cause the trailer to sway. We will discuss this further in the driving section of this article. You can go to a truck scale and have them measure the weight on your tires for the most accurate weight distribution check. You can still generally get a good feel of the weight distribution by eyeballing it as long as you are parked on a flat surface.
Check Your Visibility
Your rear view will always be limited to your side mirrors of your tow vehicle unless you have a rearview camera. You always need to be able to see the rear end of your trailer through both side mirrors. If this view is too limited for you, you can always purchase side mirror extensions. These will not only give you a wide angle view, but also your normal view. These are made for towing.
Check Your Brakes and Brake Controller
The brake controller turns on the trailer brakes when you use your tow vehicle brakes. Always make sure your brake controller is configured correctly before you leave on your trip. There are settings that control how hard the trailer brakes are applied. You can test it by accelerating to 10 mph and applying the brakes normally. You should be able to feel a tiny tug from the trailer as you come to a full stop. If you don’t feel the tug or feel the trailer pushing you then you need to set the brake controller higher. Turn the controller down lower if your stop is jerky.
The Ideal setting is having the trailer brake a little more than your tow vehicle. This will give you the fastest and smoothest stop by keeping the trailer from pushing forward during braking. The trailer pushing forward while braking can cause you to jackknife.
Know Your Height
Always know the height of your trailer. Once you know your height add a foot to it to be on the safe side. You don’t want to hit a low clearance bridge
Know Your Route
Always have your route mapped out before you leave to avoid any confusion. While towing a trailer it is harder to make course corrections or maneuver in traffic. It is especially harder on narrow roads or urban areas.
It is recommended to have a navigation system that has a trailer or RV option. Having this option helps with avoiding low bridges and keeping you off narrow one-way roads. It will also give you the proper speed for your type of vehicle. The navigation system will also help in mapping out a good route to travel.
Driving Your Trailer
Diving a trailer is pretty easy. Your trailer will naturally follow you, as long as your tow vehicle is rated to tow your trailer. It will not be hard to travel up hills, brake, or anything else you do while driving. There are always some challenges or dangers while towing a travel trailer. Some of those are listed below.
Turning is easier than you would think. Your trailer will follow your path naturally. The one rule is the longer your trailer the wider your turn. If you don’t turn wide enough a longer trailer can cut a corner that was close by the vehicle. With almost any right angle if you keep your turn as wide as the roadway allows you should be fine. As far as curves and round-a-bouts they are normally easy to navigate. If a turn is sharper than 90 degrees it can be an issue. Always try to avoid these turns if possible. If the turn can’t be avoided make sure to turn as wide as possible. Trying to back up to get more room to turn will most likely not work with a trailer. It is pretty difficult to back a trailer. Also never take a turn too fast. A trailer has a higher center of gravity than a regular vehicle. A higher center of gravity means a turn at a high rate of speed could tip a trailer but be perfectly fine for other vehicles. Just make sure to obey speed limits and take your turns slow and steady.
Backing up is not very easy. It becomes even harder the bigger the trailer is. I recommend practicing where there is nothing to back into before trying it out for real. It takes practice backing a trailer before it starts to feel natural. Nothing about backing a trailer is intuitive. I would recommend you read our article on pro tips for backing up a trailer complete with diagrams, techniques, and advice. I would try my best to avoid any situation that you have to back up under pressure. The pressure and stress will make it harder to back up with making an error.
Mountain passes and steep hills can be hard for some trailers. If you are close to your maximum tow rating, it can get a little difficult. But if you know what you are doing it is usually not an issue. Just make sure that if you are going slow uphill you keep to the far right. You might want to turn your hazard lights on if you are going under the speed limit. It is more dangerous going downhill. As long as you are safe there should not be a problem going downhill. It is good to practice your engine braking if you tow vehicle is capable. To try engine braking put your vehicle in low gear and take your foot off of the accelerator. Mechanical resistance will slow your roll downhill while the drivetrain will run your engine. This will help the wear and tear on your brakes and help control your speed. If you are on a steep grade you may still need to use your brakes. Make sure not to brake too hard while in a turn going down a hill. Braking too hard can cause your trailer to jackknife. Make sure you are going into your turn at a slow rate of speed than either maintain that speed or gently decelerate. The key to safety in this situation is steady controlled speed.
Always remember that when towing a trailer your stopping distance is longer. You will want to make sure you leave a good distance between you and the car in front of you. You want to have lots of room to stop. Never trust the intuition you have driving a smaller vehicle.
When towing a travel trailer, trailer sway is one of the dangers. A tow vehicle and a trailer wiggling back and forth is called trailer sway. The happens when something pushes on the trailer then the trailer pushes on the tow vehicle. The swaying motion will get stronger and stronger until it causes a crash.
The best way to avoid trailer sway is to avoid it ever happening to begin with. As discussed earlier to avoid swaying is to make sure your combined weight is distributed evenly. When weight distribution is off it lowers traction and amplifies the swaying. You also do not want to drive in high winds. The trailer is bigger than your tow vehicle so the wind doesn’t push evenly on them. Because of this the trailer will move more and start to sway. The bigger your trailer the more it will be moved by the wind. Never drive too fast. The faster you drive the more your trailer will sway and the harder it will be to control the sway.
The hardest sway to avoid is other vehicles passing your trailer at a high rate of speed. If this happens do not try to correct it by counter steering. This makes the sway faster. Just stay calm and get your tow vehicle and trailer going in a straight line.
The best way to stop swaying is to use the manual trailer brake on your brake controller. This will force them into a straight line by engaging the brakes and pulling back on the tow vehicle. I would practice this type of braking in a parking lot. Practice will help you execute it calmly and you’ll know what it feels like. This is actually very jarring. You can use regular brakes with success if you have your brake controller set so it applies brakes a little stronger than your tow vehicles brakes. If someone is close behind you and you can't brake you can temporarily hit the gas while steering straight ahead. Doing this will cause the tow vehicle to yank the trailer straight. The only problem with this method is the faster you go the stronger the swaying can become making the situation worse. Just keep this option available in case you need it. Travel Trailers are great to have because you can take the tow vehicle where you can't take the trailer.
In almost every state larger and slower moving vehicles are required to travel in the right lanes of the highway. One problem this can cause is it is harder to merge with traffic when it is necessary. Many drivers that don’t tow trailers do not understand you’re limited with your acceleration and deceleration. You can use the next lane to the left to keep from having to merge so often.
You can watch the commercial truck drivers around you and follow their lead. Commercial truck drivers travel these roads daily and know the smoothest travel lanes and laws.
Take It Easy
It is always more important to arrive alive than on time. I tell all drivers this but it needs to be stressed when towing a trailer. Excessive speed can be bad in any vehicle but it is especially bad while towing a trailer. Speed can cause trailer sway and make any situation even more difficult. All trailers have a speed at which it becomes unsafe. Always stay safe and drive at a safe speed. Even if you feel like you are driving too slow and holding up traffic, do not drive faster then you feel is safe.You can always pull over and let the other motorist pass. If you have a long line of vehicles behind you it is usually the law for you to pull over. It is usually a 5 car rule. If there are five or more cars behind you you should pull over.
When it is time for you to change lanes or make a turn make sure you give the other drivers enough time to react to you by using your signals early. You can now tow a travel trailer with ease. Have a safe trip.
No Matter what you are hauling, boats, travel trailers, or even horses, there are common towing mistakes you need to avoid. Not only will you enjoy your trip a lot more but so will other motorists traveling around you.
1. Not knowing your ratings
Know the maximum weight of your tow vehicle. A tow vehicle or the vehicle you are towing with can only carry and haul a certain amount of weight. Overloading your tow vehicle, trailer, or both can cause a great amount of problems. Some of the problems can be blown-out tires, broken suspension, brakes failing, or you transmission overheating. Some of these can be very dangerous and none of these make happy travelers.
Always remember to check your tow ratings for your tow vehicle before you tow anything. Also make sure you have the correct hitch system for your vehicle's towing specifics. Make sure all numbers are checked and complied with. You can find your vehicle’s towing specifics either in your owner's manual or the sill of your drivers side door. You can find your trailers base weight and weight ratings on your VIN plate.
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)
Maximum weight for your vehicle. This includes the vehicle, cargo, all accessories, and passengers.
Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR)
The combined weight limit of your tow vehicle, loaded trailer, fuel, equipment, passengers, and anything else you are hauling.
Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR)
The maximum weight an axle can safely hold. It is very important to know the GAWR for your tow vehicle and trailer.
Total weight your vehicle can pull.
The trailer's weight that is held by the trailer hitch. The tongue weight should ideally be 10% of the total trailer weight. If the tongue weight is too high your vehicle's steering will be less responsive. If the tongue weight is too little your trailer could sway. You can measure tongue weight with a specialized scale. You can purchase this scale at a trailer supply shop. You can also take your loaded vehicle to a weigh station or truck stop close by if you are having trouble estimating the combined weight of your trailer with the cargo.
2. Not checking the local regulations
Towing laws and restrictions differ from state to state. Some states require special breaking equipment and/or more side and rear view mirrors.
State regulation and laws also differ on things such as maximum towing speeds, the number of vehicles you can tow, or the width of your trailer. Always check your route and know the laws for all states you are traveling through.
3. Forgetting to put on the brakes ( and the wires)
Because of the extra weight on your trailer it takes longer to stop. Because of this most states require the trailer to be equipped with a seperate braking system when the trailer is over 1,500 pounds. When a trailer has a separate braking system it improves control and will stop the trailer if it gets separated from the tow vehicle. There are 2 types of trailer brakes. Electric that are attached to a controller in the tow vehicle and surge which are independent hydraulic brakes activated by momentum. Check your local laws because not all states allow surge brakes.
Federal law requires all trailers to be equipped with reflectors, turn signals, tail lights, and brake lights. All of these are powered by connecting to your tow vehicles electrical system. When connecting the wires make sure they are tight enough not to drag on the road and loose enough not to disconnect when you turn.
4. Loading your cargo improperly
Your trailer will be difficult to control if it is off balance. 60% of your total weight should be in front of the axle (not too far forward). Make sure to secure your cargo so it doesn't shift. Make sure to keep the overall center of gravity low.
5. Forgetting you’re towing a trailer
Always remember your tow vehicle will be less responsive while towing a trailer. You will want to make sure you give yourself extra time and space to slow down or change lanes. Also remember you want to be able to brake, turn, or accelerate as fast as usual. Maybe do a few short practice drives before leaving on your trip.
6. Not checking tire pressure
When you haven’t taken your trailer out in a while it probably needs air in the tires. Underinflated tires with a fully loaded trailer is very dangerous. Tire blowouts and rollovers can be caused by underinflated tires. Before you take your trip make sure to check your tire pressure on your tow vehicle and trailer. You also want to check your tires for wear and tear.
Check Your Coverage Capacity
Always make sure you have adequate insurance. You can get basic liability coverage through your auto insurance policy. You can also get travel trailer insurance which offers a much broader coverage. The coverage can include total loss recovery, funds for lodging if your trailer is damaged, personal effects replacement, and/or a full timers package.
Towing a vehicle isn’t as simple as some people might think. But, it is actually a complex process and shouldn’t be attempted by an untrained amateur. The first step to towing a vehicle correctly and safely is making sure that the safest towing method is used for the situation and type of vehicle that is needing to be towed. Below are the main types of towing that towing companies utilize to tow a vehicle safely.
Flatbed towing is the most common type of towing for most towing companies.It;s veristle enough to be able to tow cars, motorcycles, SUVs and other types of medium duty vehicles. A flatbed towing truck has a long flat bed that is lowered and raised by hydraulics. A vehicle can be driven up onto the bed or can easily be winched up the bed. Flatbed Tow trucks are often the Towing type of choice because it is veristale enough for a wide range of vehicle types without causing additional damage to the vehicle.
Hook & Chain Towing
Hook & chain towing was the most common type of Tow truck years ago. But because it puts a lot of pressure on the vehicle that is being towed it is mainly used for towing junk cars. Also, hook and chain towing cannot be used with 4x4 vehicles because it can damage the drive-train.
Wheel Lift Towing
Wheel lift towing uses a tow truck with a hydraulic boom and a cross bar at the end. The bar is slipped under the wheels in the front or the rear of the vehicle, depending on the cars transmission, and lifts two of the wheels off the ground so that it can be towed. This system is used with smaller vehicles that are lighter and are 2 wheel drive. This setup is useful in tight spaces where a flatbed truck would have a harder time loading the vehicle.
Towing with a Dolly
A towing Dolly is attached to the back of a truck and can be used fro light and medium duty vehicles. It is important that the driver of the truck with the dolly is familiar with towing trailers wheel towing with a dolly. The vehicle is carried in the dolly with 2 of the wheels a few inches off the ground.
For your towing needs in and around Evansville, Indiana call Embry’s Towing at (930) 201-8645
ITEMS YOU'LL NEED TO CHANGE A FLAT TIRE
You should be able to find these items in your vehicle
If for some reason you cannot find these items in your car they should be purchased immediately. Also from time to time, you should check the tire pressure to your spare time, to make sure it is properly inflated. Ideally, you should check all of your tires Air pressure about once a month, including the spare, or before you take an extended car trip or attempt to carry an extra heavy load.
There are a few more items you should consider keeping in your vehicle at all times in case of an emergency situation
HOW TO CHANGE A FLAT TIRE
1. PICK A SAFE LOCATION
The moment you realize you may have a flat tire, do not panic and make any abrupt turns or harsh braking. Slowly reduce your speed and start looking for a safe place to pull over with level ground or a parking lot. Do not attempt to pull over in a curvy road or a road without an adequate shoulder for you to get out of the way of traffic. Even though driving on a flat tire could potentially harm your rim, it is worth it to not get hit by a car that is not paying attention.
2. TURN ON YOUR HAZARD LIGHTS
Turn on your hazard light as soon as you think there may be a problem and leave them on for the duration of the time that you are on the side of the road to alert drivers passing by of your location.
3. USE THE PARKING BRAKE
This is a step that can easily be overlooked but is extremely important. The parking brake helps ensure that after the vehicle is lifted in the air, it does not roll off the jack. Even on level ground if you apply enough pressure to the tire jack you could inadvertently apply pressure to the vehicle that would cause it to roll.
4. CHOCK THE TIRES
Wheel chocks are an additional step towards preventing the vehicle from rolling. They should be positioned on the front and back of a tire on the opposite side of the car. Meaning if the flat is in the back, chock a tire in the front of the vehicle. Or vise versa. Adversely, if you do not have chocks available you can use a couple of large rocks or bricks as long as they are big enough to block the car from rolling over them.
5. REMOVE THE HUBCAP
It’s important to take care of steps 5 and 6 before lifting the vehicle or you may end up wasting time and having to lower the vehicle to remove the tire. If your flat tire has a hubcap covering the lug nuts it will need to be removed. Depending on the style of hubcap it may require that you remove it by using the lug wrench to unscrew the plastic lug nut covers to be able to remove the hubcap. Typically you can remove the hubcap by using the flat end of the lug wrench to pry it off at this point. You may have to consult the owner’s manual if it appears to require a different method of removal.
6. LOOSEN THE LUG NUTS
Using the Lug wrench place it on the lug nuts of the flat tire and one by one, break them loose but do not remove them yet. Turn them about a ½ to a full turn in a counter-clockwise direction. This may require you to use all of your body weight to break them loose. Apply pressure to the outermost part of the lug wrench to take advantage of all of the leverage the lug wrench has to offer.
7. JACK UP THE FLAT TIRE
To properly lift the you may need to consult the owner's manual. But some vehicles make it pretty obvious where the intended correct position of the jack is. Once you have determined the correct position of the jack, if you have a thick block of wood its best to prevent the jack from settling but using the block of wood under the jack. Slowly raise the flat tire off the ground until it raises off the ground a few inches. Never put any part of your body underneath the vehicle.
8. REMOVE THE FLAT TIRE
It is now time to remove the lug nuts and the flat tire. Since you loosened them earlier, you should be able to remove them by hand at this point. Remove the flat tire and safely position it somewhere will it not roll away.
9. PUT ON THE SPARE TIRE
Now it is time to put the spare tire on the vehicle. LIft and rotate it slowly until the lug bolts are all through the wheel. Thread the lug bolts on by hand and tighten them all the way down by hand.
10. LOWER THE VEHICLE AND TIGHTEN THE LUG NUTS
Slowly lower the vehicle using the jack, and remove the jack and the block if you were using a block to prevent settling. Now, fully tighten the lug nuts using the lug wrench and the full weight of your body. Replace the hub cap if applicable. Double check the air pressure in the spare tire to make sure it is safe to drive on.
11. STORE AWAY ALL EQUIPMENT
Remove the wheel chocks and place all equipment in your vehicle wherever you store your equipment.
12. TAKE YOUR FLAT TIRE TO A TIRE SHOP
Temporary spare tires are not intended to be driven for long distances or high speeds. You do not want to be stuck on the side of the road without a spare tire. As soon as possible make sure to take the flat tire to a mechanic or tire shop for evaluation.