There are so many amazing car and truck options for towing trailers, boats, and hauling hefty cargo. However, regardless of how good your vehicle’s towing capacity is, pulling heavy loads gives integral parts a hard time. And if you tow regularly, the usual check-up routine may not be enough to spot potential problems before it is too late. And a bonus tip to tow safely and prevent damage to crucial parts of your vehicle is to check its recommended towing capacity in the manual or using online resources like Towing Cap and never exceed this limit.
Regularly Check Suspension
One of the most vulnerable systems in heavy-duty trucks is suspension. The risk is still there even if you never tow at full capacity and use air suspension. The springs, shocks and other parts constantly put up with the weight of your vehicle. That is what they were built for. But add a few thousand more extra pounds, and you might put them in extreme conditions, prompting premature wear and poor performance.
Pay attention to how your car behaves on uneven roads to prevent serious trouble. If you can feel every bump along the way, it’s a sign that your suspension is deteriorating fast. This problem doesn’t end with a simple inconvenience. If left unresolved, your car’s rear end can sag after towing, influencing steering and exposing essential parts to damage.
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Prolong Your Tires’ Life
Always make sure that when you pull a trailer or other load, it is attached correctly, and the weight is distributed evenly. As we mentioned earlier, faulty suspension can throw your car off balance and result in uneven tire wear. Unfortunately, even if your suspension is in mint condition, the tires still get their share of strain from pulling weights.
Anyone who takes towing seriously knows how important torque and engine power are, but it often slips our minds that the tires have to get things rolling. Without sufficient traction, part of that power gets lost. And unless you equipped special tires meant for towing, much more robust and with deeper thread than can be found on standard tires, deterioration will start sooner. Regular tires are not manufactured to withstand much more effort than pushing your car’s weight forward, so naturally, towing will wear them down faster.
Consider switching to special grade tires to save money in the long run, and also, you can try rotating front and rear tires to ensure an even wear for better steering. Towing makes your vehicle harder to control, especially with large, awkward trailers, so any steering boost will be welcome.
Take Care Of Brakes
Needless to say that your own well-being and the safety of other drivers and pedestrians heavily depend on how good your braking is. It is a fragile system on its own, but add another 3 000 to 6 000 lbs of load hitched behind the truck, and you get a recipe for trouble. Towing wears down your brakes especially fast.
Your braking system has to endure the tremendous strain of two large and very heavy objects moving at relatively high speed. And to keep it as efficient as possible, keep your speed around 55 mph while pulling a trailer, boat, or a bunch of logs. And check the brakes regularly to anticipate the best moment to replace old brake pads and other worn-off parts. Timely replacement of faulty parts is one way to get the best out of your brakes, prolong their service and maintain performance. Replacing brakes entirely is not always necessary, and it is more expensive.
Protect Fluids & Transmission
Cars with automatic transmission win over manual types when it comes to towing. They are less prone to damage when shifting gears. However, both transmission systems have one common weak spot — overheating. Pulling trailers, towing heavy loads, and hauling bulky cargo are tough for your car or truck, even if it was manufactured with that kind of activity in mind.
Transmission integrity is one of the reasons why you should not tow more than the manual says. Every extra pound weighs heavily on this system whenever you shift, so calculate the weights carefully before hitching it.
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Another thing to consider is the transmission fluid that makes shifting smooth and seemingly effortless. Towing causes this fluid to reach a much higher temperature than it normally would when you just drive. Keep in mind that this process will lead to faster deterioration of the fluid’s quality and decreased performance. Overheating will damage essential parts, so once again, keep your towing capacity in check.
It’s always best for you to check the fluid level before towing and to replace old transmission fluid with a fresh one. If you want to do this by yourself, be careful with measuring. Too much fluid will bubble and create foam that does the opposite of what you want. This foam is a bad lubricant for transmission, doesn’t work as a good cooling medium, and can cause damage to the moving parts.
Check The Hitch
Last but not least is the simplest part you can imagine that still impacts the way you tow — a hitch. It is the part where your vehicle connects to the load you pull with it, and if you want to keep them securely attached, don’t forget to look at your hitch from time to time.
Towing takes a toil on every part, even as plain as this. It takes a lot of durability not to bend under the weight of a medium-sized trailer, but you should remember that metal fatigue will eventually find its way. Spotting this issue may be tricky. At later stages, you can notice tiny cracks on the surface or hear a very specific rattling sound when you hit the hitch. When you find either clue, remove the hitch and replace it with a new one. Towing with a crumbling hitch is a bad gamble.
Besides, there is also corrosion from the elements that makes your hitch less and less reliable with every round of towing. Look for early signs of rust and get rid of it.
These five essential tips will help you tow safely and save money on repairs. Drive safely!