There are a certain number of precautions one has to take when pulling a motor home or tent-trailer - both to avoid unpleasant mishaps and to assure your safety and others.

Primary considerations

The vehicle doing the pulling must, in theory, weigh at least twice as much as the towed vehicle (and the latter's weight must include cargo and luggage). Read the owner's manual to find out the exact capacity.

Hitching

As a rule, tow bars that hook up to the bumper are not recommended. Article 245 of the Highway Safety Code states that chains or other sufficiently solid devices must be used and connected in such a way that both vehicles will remain connected if a safety chain breaks, unless the trailer has its own braking system. It is more efficient to cross the chains. Between 10% and 15% of the trailer's weight must be resting on the towing hitch.

Maintenance

The vehicle doing the hauling has a harder task to accomplish. Accordingly, the motor oil should be replaced and the filter changed every three months or 5,000 km, whichever comes first. Other maintenance tasks, and especially oil for the automatic transmission, must strictly follow the manufacturer's maintenance recommendations with regard to hauling.

Brakes

If the trailer does not have its own braking system, your vehicle's brakes are subjected to more use and can more easily overheat. Expect longer braking distances. A trailer weighing more than 454 kg (1,000 lbs) should have brakes in good working order, and all items inside the trailer should be properly secured.

Electrical system

Make sure that the head and taillights on the trailer are in good working order.

Transmission

An automatic transmission is generally the best choice. With manual transmissions, the act of engaging the clutch can subject the friction disk to premature wear and tear.

Loading

Because the back of the car is supporting 10% to 15% of the trailer's weight, you should not load the car with more than 85% to 90% of its total capacity. Inside the trailer, roughly 60% of the weight should be located in the front half and equally divided on both sides. Naturally, the heaviest objects should be placed on the floor and, whenever possible, in front of the wheels. Secure all loose items inside the trailer.

Precautionary measures

Before hitting the road, (re)familiarize yourself with driving maneouvres while hauling a trailer. Check tire pressure and read the label or the owner's manual and follow the guidelines (cold-tire pressure or, if specified, Vehicle Capacity Weight). Make sure that the tires show no signs of excessive wear and that the lug nuts holding the wheels are tight.

Reminders

According to Article 428 of the Highway Safety Code, in Quebec and almost everywhere else, passengers are forbidden from riding in a trailer while it is being towed.

Don't forget to equip your vehicle with the right mirrors and ensure that the trailer's registration is valid.