Whether you’re hauling heavy materials to a worksite, or heading off with your gear on an adventure holiday, it’s important to stay within towing guidelines and restrictions to make sure you stay safe on the road. However with so many different measurements to consider, as well as different rules and guidelines between states, it can be tough to know whether you’re towing right. In this guide to towing, we bust 10 towing myths so you can have a safer and smoother journey.
Myth 1: Passengers and gear in your car do not count towards your towing capacity
This towing myth can lead to you towing far too much on the road. Your car’s towing power is determined by its Gross Combined Weight Rating – the maximum amount your vehicle and trailer can safely weigh when loaded. This means that the weight of additional passengers and gear in your car will reduce the amount you can legally tow.
Myth 2: It doesn’t matter how you load your gear into your trailer or caravan
The way you load your trailer or caravan can significantly change its stability and tendency to sway, affecting your safety on the road. You should always pack heavy items at the bottom of your trailer, and pack as much weight as you can above the caravan’s axles. It’s also important to load your trailer or caravan evenly on both sides to increase stability.
Myth 3: Towing does not change your driving speed
You may not be able to legally drive at the speed limit when towing. Some vehicles specify lower maximum speeds if you’re towing a load. While robust vehicles like the Mitsubishi Triton don’t have a maximum towing speed lower than the speed limit, it’s still best to drive under 90km/hr to avoid excessive fuel usage. NSW, Tasmania, and WA also have different maximum speed limits for towing, depending on load.
Myth 4: You don’t need towing mirrors if you have a rear camera on your caravan or trailer
This is a common towing myth, as many people think they only need to see directly behind their trailer. Towing mirrors let you see along the length of your caravan, not just directly behind it. Towing mirrors are required unless your vehicle’s factory fitted mirrors are wider than the caravan and provide a clear view along its full length.
Myth 5: You can estimate your towball weight
Your towball weight is the amount of weight exerted by the trailer on your vehicle’s towball. Most manufacturers recommend this be about 10% of the total load. Excessive towball weights are a common cause of hitch failure, so it’s very important you measure your towball weight correctly with towball scales.
Myth 6: To decrease your towball weight, just move your heavy items to the back of your trailer
Yes, this will decrease your towball weight, but it’s also extremely dangerous. If a trailer with too much weight behind the axle line is hit by a strong wind or turns suddenly, it can cause the rear of the trailer to swing side to side with a dangerous, increasing arc. Make sure to distribute your load evenly throughout your trailer.
Myth 7: You can increase your towing capacity by upgrading your towbar
This could be true if your previous towbar’s towing capacity was lower than your vehicle’s towing capacity. However, you cannot exceed your vehicle’s towing capacity regardless of which towbar you choose. A quality towbar, such as our Mitsubishi Genuine towbars can help minimise the stress placed on your Mitsubishi when towing.
Myth 8: You should accelerate to correct trailer sway
It is dangerous to accelerate when your trailer is swaying. Instead you should ease off the accelerator and gently apply brake pressure until you come to a controlled stop. Once your vehicle and trailer is stopped you should also determine what caused the trailer sway to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Myth 9: You only need one safety chain
This depends on your load. Australian law requires two correctly rated safety chain links for loads over 2.5t.
Myth 10: You can fit your own electric brake controller
Your electric brake controller will automatically apply the brakes of your trailer anytime your vehicle brakes. To use these, a control unit will need to be installed in your vehicle. Vehicles such as Mitsubishi Triton have sensitive electrical systems that enable advanced features such as anti-lock braking and electronic brakeforce distribution – so trailer brake controllers need to be installed by a qualified professional.