The Tug Test

Trailer TowingWe'll just hook up the trailer, and away we go. A quick check in the rearview mirror, yes, it's following us. The tug test has been passed, we're good to continue. I say this tongue in cheek, but I often think that drivers use this method to make sure their trailers are roadworthy. It takes much more than this to be sure.

All trailers need lights and reflectors that are both installed properly and working correctly. At minimum, there must be a yellow side marker lamp and reflector at both sides of the front, a red side marker lamp and reflector on both sides at the rear, brake and tail lamps on both sides at the rear, and a licence plate lamp.

There are three different scenarios for brake requirements. Anytime the trailer and load weigh more than 1,400 kg brakes must be installed and operational. If the trailer is properly licenced, any trailer and load weighing more than 2,800 kg must have brakes that can be applied by the driver from the cab separately from the brakes of the tow vehicle. A surge brake does not meet these needs. If the weight of the trailer and load is at or under 1,400 kg but more than half of the net weight of the vehicle towing it, brakes are required in this case as well. The only sure way to know is to go to the scale and weigh in.

Don't attach your breakaway brake lanyard to the hitch or safety chain, attach it somewhere else on the vehicle. If the hitch fails entirely, there will be no force to apply the brakes unless you do this.

Putting more weight in the trailer than it is designed to carry may cause structural failure that can have serious consequences. Never exceed the carrying capacity of the trailer or it's tires. Trailer weight capacities are shown on the capacity plate and tire capacities are shown on the sidewall.

Safety chains, tire condition, load security, correct ball size, and no more than a total weight of 900 kg if you are using a bumper hitch are among the other considerations to make for safe trailering. If you have questions, please contact the police or weigh scale nearest to you for help.

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