Top 10 Towing Risks to Keep in Mind


Tire Pressure and Blowouts

Trailers come in all shapes and sizes.
Trailers come in all shapes and sizes.
Daniel Mirer/iStockphoto

Before you set out on any trip, it's always a good idea to check your tires first. This is particularly important when you are towing a trailer or another vehicle. Consult your owner's manuals (or rental information if you've rented a trailer) and make sure all of your tires have the right tire pressure. Under-inflated tires can be hazardous. Think of it this way: Every tire on the road is another potential blowout. Preventative maintenance might mean the difference between a pleasant trip and a major accident.

Blowouts are always serious problems, but when you're towing a load they become even more dangerous. An unstable tow load can flip over, causing the tow vehicle to lose control and crash or roll.If you do experience a blowout while on the road, the key is not to panic, pull out of the way of traffic and slow down gradually.

Changing a tire on most trailers is identical to changing one on a car. You'll need a jack strong enough to lift the trailer. You should use a wedge to chock the wheel on the opposite side of the trailer. It's also a good idea to loosen the lug nuts before jacking up the trailer. With the trailer jacked up, remove the damaged tire and replace it with a spare. Replace and hand-tighten the lug nuts, lower the trailer down to the ground, use a wrench to tighten the lug nuts and remove the wedge on the other side of the trailer.

What if your vehicle isn't rated for towing, or if you need to tow more than your vehicle's manufacturer recommends? We'll take a look at tow loads and ratings next.