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  • Towing Rules! - Under Pressure

Towing Rules! - Under Pressure

Why Towing Is Awesome!

Jason Sands
Jan 3, 2014
Photographers: Jason Sands
I’ve always thought we should include more towing articles in the magazine, considering a very high percentage of diesel gearheads have a trailer behind them regularly. While I’d like to think of myself as an authority, much of my expertise comes from learning and listening to others who have spent years or decades in front of a trailer, and then applying that knowledge when I get behind the wheel.
It’s Not That Bad
I still remember my first three-point turn with a trailer behind me, which I was forced to perform on a residential street after I took a wrong turn. I was nervous, but all those years of listening in geometry class must have paid off. I just put my hands at the bottom of the wheel, stuck out my thumbs, and used them as a guide for the direction I wanted the trailer to go. With the horsepower of modern diesels, tasks that used to be monumental, like pulling out into traffic, are now no problem. Other features such as backup cameras with directional assist, beeper buttons for proximity, and better-than-ever towing mirrors make being hooked to a trailer a lot more pleasurable than it used to be.
You’re Not Going to Get Good Mileage
I get this tech question all the time from people who are towing miniature homes on wheels. At 75 mph, I’m sorry to say, but there’s no magic tune that defeats the laws of physics and enables large increases in mileage at speed. From what I’ve experienced, anywhere between 10 and 15 mpg is the norm, although there are exceptions (such as pop-up campers) when the mileage can be a littler higher. Where you fall in that 10-to-15-mpg range is going to largely depend on the truck you start with, and the type of trailer you’re towing. Just remember the days of big-block gas engines getting 4 mpg loaded, and you’ll feel better.
Safety First…and Last
While I’m always careful when hooking up to a trailer—attaching the safety chains, making sure the hitch is seated and the lights work, and everything else that comes with towing—I also quadruple-check every single thing before I take off. Using this method, I’ve found ratchet straps that weren’t locked, balls that weren’t seated correctly in the hitch, and tires that were low. Thinking ahead before you even hook to the trailer is a good idea also; epiphanies such as the fact that your $49.95 jack probably can’t lift a loaded truck and trailer at the same time can be a lifesaver. In addition to thinking ahead, looking ahead to avoid unfortunate situations is also key. I still remember seeing a big rig a few years ago that was jammed up trying to make a tight turn in a concrete-walled construction zone. “Crunch,” the trailer would go when he went forward. “Bam,” the truck would hit when he backed up. “Crunch, bam, crunch, bam,” and on it went. For all I know, he’s still there, which is why Los Angeles traffic is always so horrible.
Sometimes You Have to Be a Jerk
Last year, I remember sitting in a driveway with about $60,000 worth of hardware behind me, in the form of a diesel drag truck and enclosed trailer. Unfortunately, the house I was at was in the middle of a blind corner in both directions, where traffic was cheerily exceeding the speed limit by a blinding amount. After some time, I realized there was absolutely no way to get out of the driveway without cutting someone off and making them slam on their brakes. I pulled out as quickly as I could, while the hard-braking BMW driver that came screaming around the corner gave me the finger. Sometimes with a trailer, you have to inconvenience others. It’s better to realize that and get over it now.
Opening Doors
“Man, towing sucks,” is a common lament I have heard around the office, but I disagree. Towing enables you to get your race vehicle to the track, create a home away from the stresses of your own home, or even rescue a friend in need. Towing is an enjoyable escape for the possibilities it creates, and that’s why towing rules!

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