Towing your RIB – Part 2

Part 2 of our Towing Your Rib Guide gives you a handy checklist to run through before your journey starts.  Do these regularly to prevent hassles getting to and from the water.

Plus there’s some useful tips on driving with your trailer. 

1.Essential car checks – before you start your journey

  • Re-fuel your car and check the oil before attaching the trailer. This reduces complications of entering a petrol station with the trailer attached.
  • Top up the radiator with water. Towing a large load puts the engine is under greater strain especially in hot weather
  • Check the brakes will be able to safely bring the vehicle and trailer to a halt

2. Trailer safety checks – before you set off

Trailer loads and weight

  • Ensure that the trailer is loaded properly and is well balanced
  • All trailer couplings will show the maximum nose weight which they are designed to operate with. Most trailers will be between 60-100kg
  • You can buy a nose load indicator to check that the trailer is loaded correctly
  • If it is unbalanced, it could result in the trailer ‘snaking’ behind the tow vehicle

Secure the boat to the trailers

  • Ensure the boat is securely fastened to the trailer
  • Use at least two ratchet straps to prevent the boat moving forwards and backwards as well as up and down

Secure the trailer to the towing vehicle

  • Your trailer is correctly and securely attached to the car
  • Both the hitchball and coupler are secure
  • The emergency break away cable is attached to the tow vehicle.
    • Note – if the police stop you when you do not have the break away cable attached you are likely to receive 4 points on your license
  • Do not put a security chain and padlock between a braked trailer and vehicle when you are travelling on the road
  • If you have an unbraked trailer, ensure that the safety chains are hitched up

Trailer checks

These are all legal requirements:

  • All the trailer lights (indicators, running and brake lights) are functioning properly
  • Number plate is visible, right sized letters and securely attached
  • Mudguards are secure and actually cover the wheels
  • Ensure you have a prop bag

Also ensure the following:

  • Jockey wheel is wound up and secure
  • The brake systems operate properly before you embark
  • The tyre pressures of the tow vehicle and trailer (and spare tyre)
    • The optimum tyre pressures for the trailer will be written on the side of the tyres. Ensure the tyes pressures reach this level

If you are replacing a trailer tyre, do not fit a standard car tyre. Fit a tyre with a ply rating which is suitable for the boat weight you intend to tow.

3. Connecting up your trailer:

  • Many trailer hitches differ slightly with the connection and release mechanism.
  • Get your vendor to show you exactly how to connect it up correctly to your vehicle when you buy it.
  • Always use the jockey wheel, if the trailer has one, to take the weight of the trailer.
  • As a general guide, the height of the centre of the tow ball should be between 16.5-18 inches to the ground whilst on the flat. This usually gives a very good ride height.
  • Check you have good visibility in your side mirrors. If necessary, get mirror extensions

4. Driving with your trailer:

After setting off stop after about 1 mile

  • double check the trailer hitch attachment
  • the boat is still secure, no straps are loose and the boat is not liable to move around
  • the lights and electrical connections are still working and together

Speed limits:

The national speed limits alter if you are towing a trailer:

  • Single carriageways unless signs show to the contrary = 50mph
  • Dual carriageways and motorways = 60mph.
  • Speed limits also alter in mainland Europe – check the motoring websites for details

Motorway driving:

  • When travelling on a motorway with three lanes, you can only use the middle and inside lane
  • It is not permitted to drive in the outside lane of a motorway when towing a trailer

Insurance:

  • Check that your breakdown cover includes your trailer.
  • Check if your policy states a maximum length on the vehicle and trailer
  •  Some policies will only cover the car and not the trailer. You don’t want to have to leave your RIB behind in a lay-by when you get rescued!

Snaking:

If your trailer starts to sway behind the car when you start driving then there are two ways to correct it:

Driving along a flat level road

  • take your foot off the accelerator
  • let the vehicle slow down gradually
  • DO NOT touch the brakes!

Driving down a hill:

  • drop down a gear and accelerate in order to try to pull the trailer straight.

Once you have the trailer under the control of the vehicle again, it is advisable to stop and ensure that the load is balanced correctly

5. Trailer security:

Trailer theft is a common problem We would recommend that you purchase a good quality wheel clamp and that it is ‘Sold Secure’. This is an industry standard for quality security items.

A hitch lock is also a good idea; this should also be Sold Secure.

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