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Trailer Safety - Things to consider before towing a trailer
0800 743 558 -   info@trailerace.co.nz


Before you tow a Trailer

Before you tow a trailer check either in your vehicle’s handbook or ask you local franchise dealer whether your vehicle is capable of towing it. The most important factor is the laden weight of the trailer. This can greatly effect braking performance of your vehicle and trailer.

The maximum speed towing a trailer is 80kp/h

When towing your loaded trailer, you must be capable of stopping within seven metres from a speed of 30km/h

The trailer must display
A current Warrant of fitness
A Current registration sticker
Before hooking your trailer up:

1. Inspect the tow bar for loose bolts and worn parts.
2. Tighten loose bolts and replace worn parts before hooking up.
3. If you have bolts which are consistently coming loose, use Loctite or put on a double nut to keep them tight.

During hooking your trailer up:

1. Hook-up on flat smooth surface.
2. If you have a coupler type tow bar, check the fit of the coupler on the ball. Adjust the coupler if necessary.
3. Attach the safety chain.
4. Attach the Light cable.
5. Check the function of all the lights on both vehicles.


All trailer loads must be securely tied down. It is illegal to tow a trailer when the load being carried is not properly secured. No part of the trailer body or load is allowed to touch the ground.

The load must not extend more than 1.25m either side of the trailer centre line.

Any load which extends more that 1m behind the trailer must have a white, red, orange, or yellow fluorescent flag attached.

The load supported by the tow coupling should not exceed 10% of the trailer gross weight (30-40 kg for the average house hold trailer). The trailer drawbar should be level of slightly nose down.

An unbalanced load can cause the trailer to pivot on the towbar, forcing the towing vehicle to sway from side to side. To help reduce the chances of swaying

1) Avoid sudden lane changes
2) Large masses should not be concentrated towards the ends of the trailer
3) It the trailer starts to sway do not apply your brakes instead remove your foot from the accelerator and allow the vehicle to slow down.
Towing a Trailer:

Allow more time and distance to overtake as you vehicle will accelerate slower with the added weight.

As you turn, the extra weight of the trailer and load will continue pushing your vehicle ahead, especially on gravel or greasy roads

Allow extra spacing when following other vehicles as you braking distance will be increased with the increase in load.

Stop after towing your trailer for approx 10km and check that it is all still secure as you load may shift slightly. The trailer and load should then be checked periodically on your journey



If you follow these easy steps and with a little practice backing will be a breeze:

1) Have a good look at where you’re backing the trailer. Get out of the car and nosey around. If it looks too tricky, then just unhook the trailer and push it! It might look wowserish, but it might save you paying for damaged paintwork.

2) Remember whichever way you turn the wheel to steer the car the trailer turns the other way

3) Give yourself plenty of room. Steer the trailer wide of where you want to go. The finer the angle the less chance of a stuff up.

4) Turn the car slightly away from the direction you want to go in. This will bend the trailer in the direction you want it.

5) Once the trailer is headed in the right direction ease the wheel back, bringing the car through to follow the trailer.

6) Once the trailer and car are inline, reverse away…but be carefull!! It’s at this point that some backers relax to much. Keep them in line.

7) If the trailer bends away from the direction you want to go in, just drive forward a few metres and straighten up.