Before purchasing or attempting to tow any trailer, make sure your tow vehicle is properly equipped and can pull the trailer safely. Consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations with respect to its tow rating and special equipment.
Know these terms:
When towing a trailer in Alberta it is important not to exceed the GCWR. Your owner’s manual has this information. If you do not have an owner’s manual, contact your dealer for assistance. If you tow too much, you could damage your vehicle and void the manufacturer’s warranty.
In Alberta you can tow a second trailer behind the holiday trailer, providing the following requirements are met:
When towing a trailer in British Columbia, each unit has to be within the GVWR and GAWR specified by the manufacturer.
Most full-sized cars are capable of pulling trailers when properly equipped, however it is very important that you check the manufacturer’s recommendations for any model and size of vehicle.
Light trailers 909 kg (2,000 lbs.) can be pulled using a ball frame dead-weight type hitch. Anything above that weight requires a frame-mounted load distributing hitch with sway control. Use only trailer hitches that permit normal operation of the rear bumper energy absorbing system if your vehicle is so equipped.
For example, a rigid fore and aft connection between the bumper and any other part of the car may increase damage in the event of a collision.
Axle-mounted hitches should not be used. They can damage the axle housing, wheel bearings, wheels or tires. If there is any doubt, contact a firm specializing in trailer hitches.
Safety chains must be fitted and of the proper size, strength and length to secure the trailer in the event of hitch failure. Chains should cross under the trailer tongue to prevent it from dropping to the road in case of failure. If your car has air shocks, keep them at minimum pressure 70 to 105 kPa (10 to 15 psi) when installing, adjusting or towing with a weight distributing hitch.
Make sure the electrical connection is not corroded. This connection should include a ground wire and not depend on grounding through the hitch.
Keep the trailer tongue load at 10% of the loaded trailer weight for dead-weight hitches, and 12% for weight-distributing hitches. Tongue loads can be adjusted by proper distribution of the load in the trailer. This can be checked by separately weighing the loaded trailer and then the loaded tongue.
When you remove a trailer hitch be sure to seal any mounting holes in the body of the trailer. This will help prevent entry of exhaust fumes, dirt or water. Remember that the allowable passenger and cargo load for the tow vehicle as shown on the tire placard, is reduced by the trailer tongue weight whenever the trailer is attached to the vehicle.
Storing the trailer for one month or longer requires preparation to prevent deterioration. All of the water systems (water and, water tank heater, plumbing system, sewage reservoir) should be drained and flushed with trailer type anti-freeze to prevent freezing and bursting of pipes and joints.
Towing a trailer behind your vehicle requires the proper towing equipment. When installing a hitch, you’ll need to determine what type is suited to your vehicle and which is adequate for the type of load you will be pulling. Make sure the trailer ball diameter is appropriate for the trailer you are towing.
When specifying the towing capacity for a particular class of hitch, guidelines will typically refer to two separate measurements:
The gross trailer-weight is the weight of the trailer fully loaded.
The tongue weight is the downward pressure applied directly to the hitch by the weight of the trailer. The maximum tongue-weight for a hitch is 10 per cent of the maximum gross trailer-weight.
Class 1 hitch:
This is a light/regular duty trailer-hitch suitable for most sizes of vehicles including smaller and compact cars. Towing capacity for this class of hitch is up to 909 kg (2,000 lbs.). Maximum tongue weight is 90 kg (200 lbs.). This class of hitch should be restricted to use with smaller trailers such as a cargo carrier of less than six feet in length, or a boat trailer of no more than 12-feet long.
Class 2 hitch:
This is a medium to heavy-duty hitch suitable for midsize and larger vehicles, including minivans and is not recommended for use with compact cars. These hitches can safely pull a cargo trailer up to 12-feet in length or a boat trailer up to 20-feet long. Towing capacity for this class is up to 1,588 kg (3,500 lbs.). Maximum tongue weight is 136 to 227 kg (300 to 500 lbs.).
Class 3 hitch:
This is a heavy-duty hitch suitable for trucks, vans, SUVs and minivans. They incorporate heavier mounting hardware and utilize an under-car receiver attachment to the vehicle’s frame. These hitches can safely pull an automobile-transport or a boat trailer up to 24-feet in length.
Towing capacity ranges from 1,588 to 2,268 kg (3,500 to 5,000 lbs.). Tongue weight ranges between 136 to 227 kg (300 and 500 lbs.). The towing capacity as well as the tongue weight can be increased even beyond these limits if the hitch incorporates a weight-distribution system – a mounting arrangement that distributes weight directly to the frame and transfers the weight to all of the wheels.
A weight-distribution system is safer and better for heavy-duty towing because it improves handling in the tow vehicle and allows the vehicle to handle heavier loads without sagging in the rear.
Class 4 hitch:
This is a hitch that can tow up to 4,536 kg (10,000 lbs.). These hitches utilize weight-distributing mounting brackets to transfer the weight to all of the vehicle’s wheels. They are designed to handle large loads such as horse-trailers, boat-trailers of more than 24-feet in length, large campers, etc.
If you plan to tow and handle extremely heavy loads, consider using a gooseneck trailer or fifth wheel. These setups offer better control.
Recreational vehicle dealers are a reliable source for information on heavy-duty towing as well as various towing options and accessories.
Always check your owner’s manual before installing a hitch to make sure that the hitch is compatible with your vehicle and that your vehicle is able to safely pull the amount of weight you intend to tow. When you purchase a hitch, it should also come with a manual that will contain important safety information and specific instructions on installation.