Proper, regular maintenance of your vehicle and trailer is vital for safe towing. See your trailer and/or vehicle dealer, the RACQ or other competent service agent in this field to check that:
- The towing vehicle and the trailer are in a roadworthy and safe condition
- The trailer's wheel-bearings, suspension and brakes are in good working condition.
This is particularly important for boat trailers or if the trailer has not been used for some time.
Before the Trip
There are a number of safety checks you should make before each trip. These are:
- Inspect all tyres carefully. When towing heavily loaded trailers, vehicle tyre pressures should be increased to the level recommended in the owner's handbook or on the tyre placard (usually about 15 kPa above normal). Otherwise, ask a reputable local tyre dealer.
- Carry out normal service checks of the tyre pressure, remembering that towing places additional demands on your vehicle.
- Ensure the coupling socket and ball are the matching size. If the coupling is not a ball type check that all parts fit and function properly.
- Check the coupling is securely fastened and latched or screwed down when the trailer is connected to the towing vehicle.
- Check safety chains are properly connected with attachments capable of withstanding the specified breaking load of each chain. Do not use padlocks. If two chains are fitted, cross them under the drawbar before they are attached to the towing vehicle. This provides better directional control of the trailer and helps prevent the front of the drawbar hitting the road if the coupling disconnects.
- Check trailer brake and light connections are secure and all lights work.
- Check the initial operating adjustments of electric or vacuum operated brakes fitted to the trailer are in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
- Disengage any reversing catch fitted to the trailer coupling (as used with over-run brakes).
- Make one or two test stops from low speed to confirm the trailer brakes operate properly.
- Ensure all doors, hatches, covers and any load or equipment are properly secured. Limit the mass of the load carried in the boot or luggage space of the towing vehicle.
During the Trip
Soon after beginning each trip, stop in a safe location and make sure:
- Couplings and safety chains are still fastened
- Brakes and wheel-bearings are not overheating
- Light connections are secure and lights are still working
- Tyres are still inflated correctly and are not rubbing on the mudguards, suspension, trailer body and so on
- Loads doors, hatches, covers and so on, are still properly secured
- On long trips, repeat these checks every two to three hours when taking a rest stop.
For more information on safe towing and maintenance, check out the "Safe Towing" PDF published by the Department of Transport and Main Roads.