Towing in the snow brings a new level of risk factors and requires the driver to be a bit more attentive. Regardless of the added weight and extra risks, it can still be done safely with these tips. After all, many of you rely on your trailer and equipment for your livelihood. And some of you have been looking forward to snowmobile season all year. (If that’s you, take a look at our new snowmobile trailers!)
Do you remember the massive car pile-up on 1-94? It happened in January of 2015 and there was a whopping 193 cars involved, shutting down the highway for two full days. With icy roads and low visibility, no one was able to see the pileup with enough time to slow down. By the time they saw the brake lights, it would be too late.
Michigan is the number one state for snow related accidents and fatalities. This is why it’s so important that we all take these steps to ensure safe roads- even when we’re not pulling a trailer.
I was very surprised to find that Texas comes tenth on the list, ranking before snowy stakes like Maine, Iowa, Nebraska and even North and South Dakota! A prime example of why it’s so important to be ready for the inevitable snow.
3 Tips For Towing in the Snow.
I’ll be honest. I’m not a fan of driving in the winter months. I lived out of state for a while and I did not miss all the snow. (Nothing beats a Michigan summer, though!) I know I should be used to it by now but I’d much rather stay home and wait for the roads to clear. But unless it’s a serious blizzard or polar vortex, schools and businesses stay open and life goes on.
You still need to get to work during the week and to your snowmobile trails on the weekend. We all need to be prepared for the snow. And with the added risk of pulling a trailer, it’s so much more important to be ready for the ice with these tips.
1. Use The Right Tires
When towing in the snow, your tires are the only thing on your vehicle that are in contact with the ice. Good tires are an obvious first priority. And if your truck or SUV loses control, your trailer will follow suit. So if you don’t have the means to place winter tires on both your vehicle and trailer, choose your vehicle first.
In these winter months, the colder air will lower the pressure in your tires. This can be dangerous. So keep an eye on your tires and learn what do in a tire blowout.
Keep in mind that your truck and your trailer require different types of tires. The tires on your truck are designed to accelerate, steer, and have traction on the road. Trailer tires are designed to be pulled and just go along for the ride. You should never used a trailer tire on a car or vise versa.
In addition to having the right tires, take the time to make sure your tow vehicle is ready for snow. Ensure that you have fluids with antifreeze, that your lights and breaks are working properly and that your snowbrush is ready to go.
2. Drive Slow
I know, you’ve heard this before. But it’s so important! Plan ahead and allow yourself plenty of extra time to arrive to your destination. Travel at a slow and manageable pace. Keep a good distance between yourself and the vehicle ahead of you and give yourself a lot of stopping distance. (So you don’t wind up in a situation like those on I-94)
AAA says that snowy conditions can lengthen your stopping time by up to 10 times.
Keep your turns slow and steady and try to avoid any rapid adjustments. Also, never use cruise control on wet or snowy roads.
3. Use a Brake Control
We highly, highly recommend making the small investment on a quality brake control. Specifically, the Curt Discovery Brake Controller. It’s automatic calibration and sensitivity adjustments make towing so much easier. It decreases your stopping distance which can make a world of difference when towing in the snow. Seriously guys, you won’t be disappointed if you add this accessory to your vehicle. The extra safety it provides is so worth it.
In addition to having a brake control, it’s a good idea to know your brake controller’s override. If you begin to lose control and the trailer starts to slide, the manual override will allow you to hit the trailers brakes straight from your controller.
If you drive smart through most slippery situations, you should be just fine on the roads. Unfortunately, there are moments when a sudden application of the brakes is necessary. In these moments, you may feel your trailer beginning to slide around. Don’t panic. Ease up on the brakes and steer into the slide to regain control.
4. Bonus Tip: Rinse Off The Salt
Sure, this doesn’t have anything to do with safety, but it’s still an important winter maintenance tip! You already know that salt can be damaging to your vehicle if it’s left on too long. It’s a good idea to get your vehicle washed whenever the temperatures are somewhere above the arctic grip of death . The same goes for your trailer. After a trip through the salty, slushy roads, give that baby a good rinse off to keep the salt from corroding it.
Well those are my four best tips for winter hauling. Stay safe on the roads this year! 2020 doesn’t need anymore upsets.
For more great tips and all the latest news, sign up right here to receive our bi-weekly newsletter. You’ll be the first to know what’s new and what’s going on sale!