How To Hookup and Load your Utility Trailer

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    There are many times that you might want to use a trailer and for each of those reasons there is a different type of trailer that you can buy or rent.

    For most home owners and small contractors an open utility trailer will work well and allow you to transport tools and materials to and from the work site.

    If you are a professional contractor or if you are expecting to travel a long distance with a possible overnight stay you probably want to look at a Van or Enclosed trailer that will provide some added protection from both the elements and people who might want to walk off with your stuff when you make a stop.

    Open Utility Trailers can be purchased from a variety of different places. You probably have a few small distributors in your area that carry a variety of different styles at prices ranging from $500 to $2,000 and up. You can also purchase trailers of this type in kit form from online retailers and large chain retailers. Your final option is a chain home store that will have a selection of different trailers however most of the ones that I have seen only offer a steel grate floor which is not great if you want to transport mulch, sand, gravel or even if you might leave that random tool on your trailer floor because it probably won’t be there when you end your trip.

    Van Trailers are a little more difficult to come across and you will probably need a private local dealer that specializes in this type of trailer. Van Trailers can also be purchased used but you want to make sure that you get a title from the seller not just a bill of sale because trailers like cars all come with titles that must be registered.

    Once you pick the style of trailer that meets your need you will have to learn how to use it properly. If you buy from a small dealer you are likely to get some hand holding and personal instruction. If you buy over the internet then you are going to have to learn on your own.

    How to Hook up your Trailer to your Car or Truck

    Hooking up your trailer is not as simple as just backing your truck or car up to the hitch and making the connection. There are a few things that you must watch and account for or you could find yourself in some serious problems when you are driving down the road at 55 miles per hour.

    The first thing you have to understand is what weight can your vehicle tow. Now this is a combination of both the physical ability of the vehicle and the rating of the tow hitch. The basic deal is the larger the vehicle and higher the tow hitch rating the more you can tow. However you can not tow more with your vehicle just because you put a larger hitch on it. Both must work together.

    The second thing is the rating of the trailer. Each trailer has a maximum weight that it can carry no matter what type of vehicle is towing it and that is based on the structural components of the trailer including the hitch, frame and the axle and tires. Two trailers that look very similar may have a load rating 500 or 1000 pounds apart.

    Now that you know your vehicle can tow a specific trailer with a specific load and all of your equipment is well within the capabilities of getting your job done you need to understand how to learn how to attach your trailer, load it and drive it.

    Loading your utility trailer

    There is a basic rule when loading your trailer called the 60/40 rule. It simply means that 60 percent of your load should be in front of the trailer’s axle. Normally this is true in most cases however you must consider how much downward force the hitch on the trailer is putting on the ball on the vehicle’s hitch.

    Each setup will be different but the measurement you are looking for is called the Tongue Weight. Tongue Weight can be measured with a household bath scale for very light loads but it can get tricky if your tongue weight is over 150 pounds. At that point and if you are hauling a Van or Double Axle trailer it is important that you invest in a special scale which will tell you if enough weight is on the ball so the load will be safe and the trailer won’t sway as you go down the road.

    If the tongue weight is too light then your trailer will sway. If the tongue weight is too heavy it will be difficult to steer your vehicle.

    The problem may require shifting of the load or lightening of the load.

    Safety Chains

    Safety chains must always be used when hauling any type of trailer. Whether you are hauling a jet ski or towing another car a tow hitch chain means if your hitch fails the load hopefully won’t fly out of control and harm other motorists. You may be in for some damage to your own vehicle but hopefully no one will get hurt.

    Use Tie Down Straps to secure your load

    Every trailer should have a way to secure the load. Tie down straps are an easy way to provide adjustable security for most loads but you must use them at their rated strengths. If you have heavy objects like you are towing a motorcycle in your flat bed utility trailer you want to make sure that you tie it down at at least two points in the front and two points in the back with each of these points attaching to the left and right of the trailer.

    Just as you distribute load you want to distribute the load on the tie down straps so no one strap or direction is taking the load more than any other or you might end up with shifting loads while you are driving and that is probably worse than loading your trailer wrong from the start because it will be startling when you are trying to control your load.

    Check List for Loading your Trailer

    Make sure following are done.

    • Make sure the loaded weight is within the ratings of the equipment.
    • Tow hitch and hitch-ball are tight.
    • Coupler hand wheel is tight.
    • Safety chains are properly attached and secure.
    • All lights are connected and working.
    • Check all tires for correct pressure.
    • Load trailer heavier in front.
    • Secure the load.





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