Avoid dam­age to your ve­hi­cle when tow­ing

The Witness - Wheels - - EXPLORE -

WHETHER it’s a trailer, boat, car­a­van or bro­ken-down car, tow­ing should be done right to avoid dam­age to your ve­hi­cle and ac­ci­dents on the roads.

Les McMaster, chair­per­son of the Mo­tor In­dus­try Work­shop As­so­ci­a­tion (Miwa), says that the first thing to en­sure is that the trailer or car­a­van has been prop­erly ser­viced by a competent per­son.

“Dur­ing the ser­vice, the fol­low­ing ar­eas should re­ceive spe­cial at­ten­tion: brakes [if fit­ted]; elec­tri­cal con­nec­tions and com­po­nents such as lights, cables, etc; wheel bear­ings (these need to be greased if the trailer has been stand­ing for a lengthy pe­riod); and tyres, with em­pha­sis on the tyre age, i.e. cracks, etc.”

He adds that it also im­por­tant to en­sure you have the cor­rect li­cence and that what you are tow­ing falls within the le­gal re­quire­ments in terms of weight in re­la­tion to your ve­hi­cle. “Many mo­torists don’t re­alise that their driver’s li­cence reg­u­lates what ve­hi­cle they can drive and what type of trailer they can pull.

“The AA pro­vides a break­down of li­cence codes and the cor­re­spond­ing trailer weight. It also ex­plains how to cal­cu­late the trailer to car weight ra­tio. It is im­por­tant that mo­torists don’t at­tempt to tow an item that is too heavy for their ve­hi­cle,” said McMaster.

The cost of fuel and fuel con­sump­tion is also a fac­tor to con­sider be­fore head­ing off on hol­i­day with a trailer, boat or car­a­van in tow.

“Tow­ing roughly halves your nor­mal dis­tance so be care­ful to plan your stops be­fore­hand. It’s also im­por­tant to bud­get for the ad­di­tional fuel you’ll use when tow­ing. You’ll need to dou­ble your usual fuel ex­pen­di­ture,” he said.

McMaster says that speed­ing is the num­ber-one cause of ac­ci­dents when tow­ing. “Driv­ers need to be aware that the stop­ping dis­tance is far longer when tow­ing and al­low for this.” He adds that pass­ing heavy ve­hi­cles and vice versa cre­ates a vor­tex which can af­fect the tow­ing com­bi­na­tion’s sta­bil­ity.

“En­sure that you are not caught un­awares. Do not use ex­ces­sive brak­ing when de­scend­ing a steep de­scent as this may over­heat the brakes on the units and lead to pre­ma­ture brake fail­ure. Rather se­lect a lower gear to as­sist with the brak­ing force and keep to the rec­om­mended speed limit.”

He also en­cour­ages driv­ers who stop to as­sist a bro­ken-down ve­hi­cle to en­sure they use the cor­rect equip­ment be­fore at­tempt­ing to tow the ve­hi­cle. “Use only ap­proved tow­ing equip­ment such as tow­ing bars and ropes. Be aware when us­ing a rope that it will slacken on de­cel­er­a­tion. By us­ing the cor­rect rope you avoid the risk of the rope snap­ping on ac­cel­er­a­tion. A tow bar should be used if the towed ve­hi­cle’s brakes are not work­ing. Be aware that the steering on the towed ve­hi­cle may be ex­tremely heavy when the en­gine is not run­ning, so too are the brakes with­out vac­uum as­sis­tance,” he said.

“Ev­ery De­cem­ber and Jan­uary we have many fa­tal­i­ties on our roads. Let’s make sure that we tow re­spon­si­bly and take it easy on our roads this fes­tive sea­son,” said McMaster.

— Sup­plied.


En­sure your li­cence al­lows tow­ing, and then use a ve­hi­cle that ex­cels in tow­ing, like this Land Rover Dis­cov­ery.

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