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Trailer Towing Basics (Compulsive Behavior)

By: Don Stec

I have compulsive behavior, (a compulsory or obligatory desire to do something.) I can not control it even if I try; I automatically go into compulsory behavior. It is even worse that I know many of my trailer towing friends are not affected with this disorder. What I mean is, I worry about my trailer. It's bad enough when I am the driver but when I am the passenger in a friend's vehicle, I find that I am worried about his trailer too. It's even worse when my friend totally disregards his trailer and I have to worry about it for him.

I am constantly checking my trailer in my rear view mirrors. Towing a trailer is not a relaxing thing for me to do. I want to make sure my trailer tires miss the chuckholes and rocks in the road. When I go into a right hand curve in the road I watch the trailer tire near the shoulder and make sure I don't turn too tight, so that the trailer tire doesn't go off the road or hit a curb. Making a left hand curve, I watch the left trailer tire to make sure it does not go over the centerline or hit the center divider.

Drivers trained in high speed driving, such as police officers know to take turns tight, on the inside of the curve. Many drivers instinctively do this. This helps maintain control and gives more space should a tire lose traction. It is the wrong thing to do when towing a trailer. A towed vehicle/trailer has a smaller turn radius and right turns need to be made wider to keep the right trailer tire on the pavement and the opposite is true when making a left turn to keep the trailer on your side of the road.

A friend of mine now retired, was a police officer in southern California. He was an exceptionally good driver and was involved in one of the longest pursuits at the time. The chase went through several cities. Years later I had the opportunity to go off road riding with him on his Kawasaki Mule. He drove it like a police chase; we had a good time!

It was on the trip back, on a narrow, winding mountain road towing the Mule on a trailer, he asked me why I seemed to be so jumpy. I said, do you realize every time you go through a right hand curve the right side tire of the trailer goes off the pavement about a foot. On the last curve the tire started going off the embankment. Had it gone much further it would have been a long drop off down the mountain.

In conclusion; slow down on turns, make turns wider, watch your trailer tires and your trailer will appreciate it. To do otherwise invites damaged tires, bent wheels and bent axles. But be careful, you may become compulsive about it.. And in this case that is good.

If you have rapid or uneven tire wear on you trailer or motor vehicle please stop in at Coachmaster, 6851 Eastside Road in Redding and discuss it with me. Or call at 530-243-1310 for an appointment for repair.