At Towmate Trailer Hire, we take safety seriously, so we want to share with you some important information that you may find valuable. This page will take you through connecting up our trailers. loading, towing, securing your valuables (and our trailer) and changing the wheel (on the remote chance this is required)
Before we get started, two very important questions need to be asked even before you hire a trailer.
1. Is your vehicle a suitable tow vehicle?
2. how much weight can you safely load on the trailer for the vehicle you are using?
The law requires that every light vehicle and trailer combination must be capable of stopping witihn a distance of 7 meters from a speed of 30km per hour.
On your vehicles tow bar, you will see a rating as to how much weight your tow bar is designed to tow safely. This should be in line with your vehicle manufacturers' recommendations for maximum towed weight (see your manual or handbook). There will be a figure for braked and unbraked loads.
Every trailer should have a Tare (unloaded weight) displayed on the drawbar - you will need to make sure this Tare weight of the trailer + the total weight of your intended load doesnt exceed the rated capability of your vehicle to tow safely. A good example would be if your vehicle was rated to tow a braked load of 1500kgs and the trailer had a tare weight of 1000kgs, this would mean you could only put 500kgs of goods on the trailer to stay in your safe towing limits.
All Towmate Trailer Hire staff will discuss this with you at time of booking.
Your vehicle itself should be in a good serviced condition and it is important to check that your tyres have good tread and that the tyre pressure is correct for your vehicle.
So, your vehicle is suitable for towing? great! now it's time to connect up the trailer.
Connecting up a trailer:
Connecting the trailer to your vehicle correctly is the key to preventing trailer accidents from happening and once again, before you hook the trailer on, there is something you need to check first - what size towball do you have?
Towballs come in two different sizes, 50 millimeters and the older 1 7/8ths sizing. Unless your trailer has a universal coupling, the towball size must match the coupling size in order to connect correctly.
All Towmate Trailer Hire trailers have a 1 7/8ths coupling which will only fit a tow ball of this size. You can not use a 50 mill coupling to tow one of our trailers.
Connecting a trailer to your vehicle is simple. First, back your vehicle up to the trailer so that the coupling is close to the tow ball. The coupling handles on our trailers have a safety trigger which has to be pressed and held up while the coupling is placed down over the towball. Once the coupling is fully on the towball, the safety trigger is released, locking it in place. To test this is secure and locked, try lifting the coupling handle - the coupling should stay firm on the towball and not release off.
Once the coupling is connected, the next step is to wind up the jockey wheel. Jockey wheels must be wound up fully inside the shaft, and by pulling the release handle, swivelled and locked into the horizontal position while travelling.
When placing a trailer back onto the jockey wheel to disconnect from your vehicle, use the release handle and swivel the wheel back to its locked vertical position. Care needs to be taken when winding the jockey wheel out, that you only go as far as you need to clear the vehicles tow ball. Jockey wheels are not fastened inside the shaft and over winding can lead to over extension and cause the jockey wheel to drop out of the shaft completely.
Depending on the size of the trailer, you will have 1 or 2 safety chains which must be attached to your vehicles tow bar using the rated shackle provided. The safety chains should not hang low enough to touch the ground - if they do, you are able to shorten them by looping another couple of links through the shackle before attaching to your vehicle. In the case of 2 safety chains, and a vehicle with only 1 attachment point, then the second shackle can be connected through the first before it is attached to the vehicle. Make sure the shackle is screwed all the way through until it is tight
Attach the light lead to your vehicle and test all your lights and indicators before each trip. New Zealand law states that all trailers must display lights during the legal hours of darkness, no exceptions. The legal hours of darkness are set as 1/2 an hour after sunset and 1/2 an hour before sunrise. During daylight hours, lights are not required if the driver of the following vehicle can see your vehicles lights or your hand signals.
All Towmate Trailer Hire Trailers are fitted with LED lights. If your tow vehicle is a late model European vehicle, then occasionally there can be a conflict between the low current draw of the LED and your electrical system. This may show as fast flashing indicators, or a warning light on the dash.
The best solution is to fit an LED Load Resistor which replaces the load that has been reduced by the LED lamps. These resistors are inexpensive and easy to fit, giving you a solution that will be useful for any further towing you may need to do.
All Towmate Trailer Hire trailers have hydrolic override brakes. You will notice by the coupling handle a Reversing Latch. This must be in the open position for driving, and then flipped closed while reversing to disengage the brakes.
Now that you have your trailer connected correctly, its time to load and tow!
The way you load your trailer can make a big difference to your towing experience and also to how safe your trailer is to tow. An unbalanced load can be dangerous to yourself and others.
When loading your trailer it is advisable to:
Spread your load out evenly across the floor of the trailer, placing larger and heavier items on the bottom.
Position loads as close to the axle as possible and avoid placing heavy items towards the rear of the trailer. A recommended ratio is around 60% of the weight forward of the axle and 40% behind.
Secure your load if possible to the anchorage points inside the trailer.
If you have a bike rack, feel free to connect it to the towball at the front of the trailer behind the spare wheel
Never tie anything to the outside of an Towmate Trailer Hire trailer.
To keep your belongings safe while travelling, we recommend you lock the back of the trailer - all this takes is a standard padlock through the door hasp. If you need to leave the trailer loaded, and off your vehicle for a period of time, we suggest you lock the coupling by turning the coupling handle upside down, threading the safety chain through the handle, then locking it together with a standard padlock, This is a simple precaution that will prevent anyone from placing the trailer on their own vehicle and driving off with it.
Towing a trailer
The maximum open road speed limit in new zealand for towing a trailer is 90kms an hour.
When towing a trailer do:
Make test stops at low speed to check the feel of your vehicles brakes, and test for load balance by gently moving the steering wheel from side to side at low speed - the trailer should come back into line quickly when loaded correctly.
Allow more time and distance to overtake, and in return, pull over when suitable to allow faster traffic to pass.
Take care on corners, the weight of the trailer will push your vehicle ahead especially on gravel or greasy roads so use brakes with caution to avoid jack-knifing.
Allow extra space for stopping and larger gaps when following other vehicles.
Always use a lower gear while travelling downhil.
Swaying (or snaking)
This is caused by an unbalanced load causing the trailer to pivot on the towbar.
To reduce this, balance the load on your trailer correctly and avoid sudden changes of direction. If your trailer does start to sway, do not brake, instead take your foot off the accelerator and allow your vehicle to slow down.
Stop as soon as you are able and reposition your load as directed above to ensure you are travelling safely.
Take frequent rest breaks to recharge - towing a trailer, especially long distance requires a lot of concentration and energy - dont drive tired, and if you are feeling time pressured, or the weather conditions are making your trip hazardous, check in with us - we may be able to give you extra time to complete your journey safely.
Should the unthinkable happen, and you get a flat tyre! - Relax, all Towmate Trailer Hire trailers have a spare wheel supplied. To change the wheel, pull over somewhere safe and well off the road if possible.