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Autos

How to attach a trailer to your truck

Pulling them safely.

Before picking a trailer, find out how much weight your ca r can pull. Check the owner’s manual or write for the car maker’s towing guide. It will also tell you how to attach the hitch.

If the car’s rear sags more than 2 to 3 inches with the loaded trailer attached. the tongue weight (weight on the hitch) is excessive. Your car may need rear air shocks to level it.

In some cases a small car or a car pulling over 2,000 pounds-tongue weight will be too great even with air shocks. If so, buy a hitch that distributes weight to all four wheels. Try redistributing the load in the trailer.

Avoid an axle-mounted hitch unless approved by your car maker.

Special equipment

On a trailer over 1,000 pounds, use trailer brakes; don’t connect them to the car’s hydraulic system. Inflate your tires to the maximum pressure specified for a heavy load. Also think about safetychains, trailerlights (including turn signals), and clamp-on side mirrors. Install an automatic transmission oil cooler and, if you’re driving in hilly areas, an auxiliary electric radiator fan.

Change engine oil every 2,500 miles, automatic transmission fluid every 12,000 miles.

Trailer-towing techniques

Load the trailer more heavily in front and evenly from side to side; secure the load. Keep passengers out of the trailer. Allow extra distance for passing, stopping, and lane changes. Turn off the air conditioning on upgrades to prevent overheating; shift to a lower gear on downgrades to save brake power. If the trailer is more than 1,000 pounds, don’t use the overdrive gear, even on level roads.

When you park, apply the parking brake and chock the trailer wheels before shifting an automatic transmission into Park; otherwise shifting out of Park may be difficult.