Winter Towing Safety Tips
Towing a trailer comes with its own risks, which are only compounded by winters in Michigan. However, you can reduce some of that risk of winter towing by following the tips below.
Winter Towing: Think Through Your Traction
One of the most important aspects of towing in the winter is keeping traction. If you lose traction, you can quickly lose control and end up in a situation you would rather avoid.
One of the easiest ways to ensure you keep traction is to put quality snow or winter tires on all wheels. Be sure you have plenty of tread left on your tires so there is plenty of surface to grip the road.
The laws in Michigan prohibit chains that come in contact with the roadway. While there may be places in the Upper Peninsula where you could legally use chains, most of the state would be off limits. However, keeping a set of chains handy for when you go onto private property getting to your trail may prove prudent.
Get Your Maintenance Inspections
Before setting off on your winter adventures, be sure you have both your tow vehicle and trailer inspected. Specifically, you want to look for any cracks or damage to the frame. You should also check for any damage to your hitch, and ensure all lights and the tongue are in good working order.
Test Your Battery
You want to be sure you have enough power to get you through your adventures. Be sure to have your battery tested to ensure that it will be able to withstand cold weather. As batteries age, they may be able to charge and power under normal operating temperatures. However, their ability to crank over in frigid temperatures begins to fade. A proper charging bench test can tell you how much life you have left in your battery.
Clear the Snow
Clear the snow from your trailer before hitting the road, especially if you it is enclosed. This will prevent any chunks of snow or ice from hitting your vehicle or flying off and causing an accident.
Plan Your Stops
Before heading out, be sure to plan your stops. This ensures you have mapped out where to get gas, and can avoid untreated or potentially dangerous roads that are not familiar. You can use your GPS program to set the stops in advance, so it can guide you directly where you need to go.
Stow an Emergency Kit
An emergency kit can come in handy, regardless of whether you tow or not. However, when you are, you want to be sure your kit is properly equipped. Keep a little kitty litter in your kit in case you get caught on some slippery conditions. Also be sure you to keep extra flares, and an emergency blanket.
Learn to Use the Manual Brake Override
If your system is equipped with auxiliary brakes, you have a manual override, whether it be a button, slide, or lever. This allows you to activate those brakes regardless of what is happening with your tow vehicles brakes. Manual activation is helpful when you have extra sway, like when you lose traction, as well as when you need to slow down before braking your vehicle.
Give Yourself Extra Braking Room
Everyone knows you need a little extra braking room when towing. You also know that winter weather necessitates extra braking distance. The two together require extra caution and space. Consider slowing your travel speed and be extra attentive to give yourself plenty of braking distance and room for corrective action.