Towing Techniques and Tips for a Pickup Truck

Video Transcript

Video Transcript

RON HAZELTON:
A pickup is one of the most versatile vehicles on the road. When it comes to hauling cargo or transporting people, working hard or having fun, nothing surpasses the pickup and that's especially true when it comes to towing. Trucks equipped with special towing packages like this one are just born to tow.

From specialized equipment to cargo haulers to boats, today's pickups can handle it all. Towing with any vehicle though, demands the right setup, the correct equipment and the proper techniques and methods. Here are a few useful tips.

Tow only trailers whose weight does not exceed the maximum capacity of your vehicle. Check your owner's manual to find out how much your truck can safely tow. Use the right hitch. Hitches have two basic components -- the receiver, which is either bolted or welded to the vehicle chassis and the drawbar, which is inserted inside and held in place with a pin and clip.

Put a light coat of grease on the trailer ball before attaching the trailer tongue to it. Make sure the safety chains are crossed under the trailer tongue so they can catch and support the tongue should it come loose while the trailer is being towed.

Plug in the trailer lights to the receptacle on the truck and check the lights to make sure that they're operating properly. Check the truck mirrors to make sure you can see down the entire side of the trailer. If you can't, you may need to install extension mirrors.

The trailer jack can be fitted with either a flat plate to keep the end from sinking into soft soil or a wheel that allows the trailer to be rolled about when not connected to a towing vehicle.

To help prevent trailers from being detached and stolen, consider buying and using locking pins for both the coupler lock and the hitch receiver pin. Before getting underway, check to make sure the towing vehicle has the correct tire pressure.

When towing a trailer, you'll need to swing wider when making turns in order to avoid running over curbs and off shoulders and possibly clipping signs or posts. The longer the trailer, the wider you'll need to make the turn in order to compensate.

Most pickups with automatic transmissions can be operated in the drive mode. Some trucks like this GMC Sierra, come equipped with a tow haul mode that changes the transmission shift pattern to reduce cycling between gears and improve efficiency.

When going uphill if your vehicle does not have a tow haul mode, it may be useful to shift out of drive and into a lower gear. When going downhill, use a combination of the engine and brakes to keep your speed safe. Downshift to a lower gear so the engine can slow your speed.

If you're inexperienced in backing a trailer, it's a good idea to go to an empty parking lot and do a bit of practicing. If you keep your hand at the 6 o'clock position on the steering wheel, the trailer will go in the direction you move your hand. It's a good idea to have someone behind the trailer to provide directions.

Remember to be aware of vehicles and obstacles all around you, since the front of the truck could possibly swing far enough out to hit something. Today's pickup has never been better suited for towing. To set things up correctly, use proper techniques and you'll be towing safely and effortlessly.