Whether it’s a car, a boat, your personal watercraft, a house trailer or your trash to the dump, towing requires attention to details. Here are key details to pay attention to for safe towing and longer vehicle life.

1. Weight

Make sure your trailer and whatever you’re hauling is within the tow capacity of your vehicle. Check the owner’s manual to find the trailer types that your vehicle can haul and the maximum load weight it can pull. Use the right trailer hitch and make sure it is hitched correctly.

2. Weight Distribution

If you experience fishtailing, where your trailer sways while accelerating, back off the gas and see if it stops. If it continues when you accelerate again, check to see how the weight is distributed on the trailer. It may not be distributed evenly from side to side, or else it’s too far back to put a sufficient load on the hitch ball. You want to try to carry 5 to 10% of the trailer load on the hitch. Redistribute the load as necessity dictates before continuing.

3. Lights

Connect brakes and signal lights. Double check to make sure the trailer’s brakes, turn signals and tail lights are synchronized with those of the tow vehicle.

4. Tires

Avoid hauling too much weight for the tires. Blowouts can be bad news. Be sure you keep the proper air pressure in your tires, too.

5. Handling

When towing, you’re operating a vehicle combination that’s longer and heavier than you’re used to. So you’ll want to make some compensating adjustments in your normal driving practices.

Backing up is tricky, but it is a skill you can learn. Till you’re experienced, have someone direct you from outside in those tight spots or places where you have limited visibility.

When barreling down the highway, avoid sudden turns.

6. Buckle Your Seat Belt

In case your tow vehicle ends up upside down.

7. Stopping

It’s a matter of physics. When towing, you have more momentum than you would without a trailer. Be sure you keep in mind that it therefore takes more time and distance to stop. Avoid tailgating and pay attention to what’s happening a little further down the road than you normally would.

8. Check Things Out As You Go Along

Maybe you forgot to fasten a chain, forgot to clamp the hitch or forgot to tie your car down. You’re in a hurry to get home after a long night. Things like that can happen. Once you’re on the road, make sure everything looks good back there. You really don’t want to be up all night trying to get your car out of a ditch somewhere.

9. Use AMSOIL Synthetic Transmission Fluid

What kind of lubricant are you using in the transmission of your tow vehicle? Towing is one of the most demanding activities on a vehicle’s drivetrain system.

In fact, because of the heat generated, towing is probably the number one killer of transmissions. For this reason many people install an oil cooler. An alternative is to use a high end synthetic lubricant. As a result of the reduced friction, the transmission will run cooler, and transmission life will be lengthened considerably. Tests have shown that AMSOIL synthetic automatic transmission fluid provides useful service up to three times longer than conventional fluids.

10. Pay Attention To Details

Right now many states are calling for stiffer penalties when there are accidents caused by trailers that break loose. It will be criminal negligence, not a mistake. Pay attention to the details, including hitches, safety chains, signal light hookups, handling, weight, the capacity of your tow vehicle, tires and all the rest.