Avoid These 9 Travel Trailer Towing Mistakes

trailer is towed by a car on the road
"Optimists Share Knowledge Generously" - Vanessa Angel
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Last Updated on February 21, 2020 by Tanmay Sarkar


Towing a travel trailer behind your car or SUV needs good driving and safety measures.

There are at least 9 towing mistakes people do and risk their and other life and property.

To avoid damage, read this article before you are all set to hitch and drive.


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1. Racing While Towing

Whenever you are towing remember to drive slower than usual. Speeding up is one of the causes of trailer swaying. Remember slow and steady wins the race and also helps to increase the age.


picture of brakes

2. Neglecting To Check The Brakes

Brakes are important items in your vehicle and trailer. As your towing vehicle brakes are self-adjusting the trailer brakes are not, you have to do this alone. You have to manually adjust them for your travel trailer.

Brake is the only thing that can save you while your vehicle is moving. The most common type of brake found in travel trailers is the drum design brake. It uses an electric magnet and a system of cam and arm in the place of the hydraulic wheel cylinder.

When this magnet wears out like any other magnet, the efficiency of the brake decreases. If you find it replace them.


3. Overloaded Vehicle

Again overloaded vehicles can reduce the life span of towing vehicles. Problems that can occur due to this are broken hitches, blown out shocks, worn out bushing and rig flipping.

To avoid overloading look for signs of stress on suspension, hitch, ball mount and frame before towing. Always read the weight restrictions and know the towing capacity of the vehicle.



4. Wrong Size Ball Mount

If the trailer is not in level then when it pitches up or down, the axles, tire, brakes are all in stress. The possible results of this can be reduced braking power, increased tire wear and other possible component damage.


5. Wrong Size Ball

Standard bumper towing comes in three different size balls of 17/8 inches, 2 inches, and 25/16 inches. All of these balls come with three weight ratings so if you are using the wrong one then its time to change it.

To get the right ball you can check the tongue and coupling of the trailer, there you can find the right ball size stamped on it.



a car with wheels standing photo credit pixabay.com

6. Low-Pressure Tires

If your trailer is kept in storage for long then it can degrade very fast. When not in use keep the tire pressure near normal to avoid problems.

Good pressure is required for both the towing vehicle and travel trailer. Correct pressure in the tire ensures a better fuel mileage and will prevent overheated tires. Over-heated tires and uneven tire wear are the cause for a blowout.

Before you start your vehicle check the tire pressure.


oil and grease container credit pixabay.com

7. Lubrication

Travel trailer does not have engines but they still have moving parts such as wheels and axle. They require regular maintenance or will freeze up when it should not.

Regularly apply grease on axle and bearing. Apply grease on any moving part you find. Do not forget the landing gear and tongue jack.


picture of car engine photo credit pixabay.com

8. Overworking Engine

Do not overwork your engine as it can damage it permanently or degrade it faster than the normal. Keep the engine in its powerband. You must know the correct axle gearing for the load, and keep the transmission to overdrive during inclined slopes or in heavy traffic.

It will reduce wear, will lower the temperature and will also increase the oil flow making your engine more powerful to tow a trailer easily.



9. Weight Distribution Bar

You can tune the weight distributing bars which comes with chains and different strength for different tongue weights. If you are thinking that bigger is better in the sense of weight distribution bar then you are wrong. You should get the right bar after checking the tongue weight.

If your weight distributing bar is not set right then your vehicle and trailer will bounce from each other. If set wrong then you will have a bumpier ride. In extreme cases, there will be a loss of steering effectiveness and possible damage to the hitch and frame.

If you have set it right then the bar will be parallel to the trailer’s frame.


Symptoms of too Much Tongue Weight

Too much tongue weight is the reason for overloading the rear tires of the towing vehicle. It pushes the rear end of the vehicle around.

Too much tongue weight happens when most of the load is on the front end of your travel trailer and you have exceeded 15% of your GTW on the trailer tongue. The physical appearance of the towing vehicle and the travel trailer looks more like a V shape and sometimes it is called “jackknife”.

When this happens it is difficult to control the vehicle, maneuvering around curves becomes challenging and decreases the braking effectiveness.


Should Trailer Be Level When Towing

Yes, the trailer should be in level when towing as it is the best and safest way. If the trailer is un-level then tune it up by dropping or raising the hitch to make the trailer level. It prevents swaying and tire wear.

Why does your trailer need to be level?

1. Stability

When there is more weight than the recommended on the rear end of the trailer it can cause the trailer to sway. The towing vehicle and the trailer moves in ease when it is in level as it applies equal weight on all tires.

2. Tire Wear

The tire can wear out faster than expected when the trailer is not in level. It also heats the rear tires than the rest one’s causing blowout on the road.

3. Aerodynamics

If your trailer is not in level then the front of the trailer raises which causes the air to catch beneath the trailer and lifting it from the ground. It decreases gas mileage.

4. Decreased Braking

Due to an un-level trailer, the tires are in contact with the road at different pressure which decreases the braking performance of the trailer.


Travel Trailer Do’s & Don’ts


  • Slowly reduce your speed when moving with a travel trailer.
  • Drive slower than usual
  • Keep your steering wheel straight to avoid swaying
  • Look for potholes and large bumps to avoid losing control
  • Driving in low gear when climbing hills and gravel roads
  • Know about the state towing laws when you visit a new state
  • Correct pressure in tires is required for best gas mileage and driving experience


  • Forgetting to add a weight distribution system and sway control
  • Staying in overdrive or high gear for long


Travel Trailer Sway control

Trailer sway or fishtailing is a problem when the trailer begins to move from side to side behind the towing vehicle.

Causes of fishtailing or trailer sway

  • Driving on an icy road
  • Sudden braking
  • Wrong maneuvers
  • The bow wave from the passing semi-trucks
  • Moderate to strong crosswinds

How to control Trailer swaying?

One of the best ways to control swaying is by using the sway control hitch.

like this one EAZ LIFT 48058 1000 lbs Elite Kit Sway Control

It has an interchangeable bar that has a good latching action. It has a round bar weight distributing hitch, sway control and a hitch ball.

Other ways of eliminating trailer swaying are:

  • Do not speed up
  • Don’t make any sudden maneuvers
  • Do not drive with low-pressure tires as it reduces the load-carrying capacity of the vehicle and trailer.
  • Use only gear that is recommended by the manufacturer. 



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"Optimists Share Knowledge Generously" - Vanessa Angel
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