7 Trailer Towing Safety Tips for Peace of Mind on the Road

trailer towing safety tipsSo, you know the old cliche: safety first. But it’s not always as simple as putting on a helmet or buckling a seatbelt.

Taking a trailer on the road—whether you’re going across the neighborhood or across the country—requires several safety precautions to protect your vehicle, your trailer, your cargo, and of course yourself.

For many drivers, especially those new to trailering, it can feel a bit overwhelming.

So we’ve collected some key trailer towing safety tips that the Blue Ridge Trailers community has found useful over the years. Paired with the safety instructions for your specific vehicle and trailer, these tips will give you peace of mind for a smooth trip every time you hit the road.

7 Trailer Towing Safety Tips

1. Learn your tow vehicle’s towing capacity

Keep your tow weight under capacity to prevent damage to your vehicle and trailer, and to ensure safe braking and stability on the road.

Your tow vehicle’s towing capacity will be found in the owner’s manual. Often you’ll find more than just a number—there may be instructions and trailer towing safety tips specific to your vehicle.

If you can’t find the manual, contact the vehicle manufacturer or dealer. Many models also have owner’s manuals available online.

Once you know your towing capacity, compare it to the combined weight of your trailer, cargo, and passenger weight. Again, detailed instructions for your vehicle will be found in the manual.

2. Secure the coupler and cross the safety chains

This is where you’ll ensure that your trailer remains attached to your vehicle throughout the ride. Don’t neglect this step even if you’re just driving around the corner.

First, ensure that the coupler is locked so you know your trailer is securely attached to your tow vehicle.

Next, hook up the safety chains that dangle under the coupler for a bumper pull, or on either side of a gooseneck. These safety chains are your emergency plan in case the trailer becomes detached from the coupler.

With a bumper pull, make sure to cross the safety chains under the coupler so they can catch the tongue if it slips out. Otherwise it would fall and smash onto the pavement.

3. Check your trailer electrics and brakes

Once you’ve got a trailer hooked up, it shares the responsibility of signaling and braking with your tow vehicle.

Before you depart, test your turn signals, emergency signals and brake lights to confirm your trailer electrics are all properly connected.

For trailers with electric brakes, confirm that the batteries are charged before you drive. You should also have a brake controller—your manual for the controller can tell you how to confirm it’s adjusted and functioning properly. Finally, once you’ve reached the end of these trailer towing safety tips and are ready to hit the road, take your trailer for a short test drive to triple-check brake function.

4. Adjust your mirrors

Don’t wait to do this until your key’s already in the ignition. Instead, hop in the driver’s seat once you’ve hooked up your trailer and take some time to thoughtfully readjust the mirrors.

You’ll quickly notice that your trailer significantly widens your blind spots. Depending on the size of your tow vehicle and trailer, you may even want to purchase mirror extenders for added visibility.

5. Fill tires to the maximum PSI

As we’ve discussed before, filling your tires to the maximum PSI is crucial to preventing blowouts.

Do this before you travel. The temperature around you doesn’t impact the maximum PSI, although you want the tires themselves to be rested and cool (not fresh off the road) to fill them properly.

6. Ensure proper weight distribution in your trailer

As you’re loading up your cargo or utility trailer, put the heaviest items over the axles. If you put them too far toward the front or back, weight won’t be distributed evenly. This will cause your tow vehicle to work harder and can ultimately damage the vehicle or the trailer itself.

(Note: weight distribution is somewhat less of a concern for horse trailers, which are designed to carry the weight of your horse or horses evenly.)

For bumper pull trailers (cargo, utility or horse) you can use a weight distribution hitch to diffuse weight from the bumper of your towing vehicle to the axles of the truck and trailer. These not only greatly improve handling as you drive, they provide added security if you’re towing weight that’s close to capacity.

7. Drive slower than you’re used to

I say this to everyone who’s never pulled a trailer before, but even veteran roadtrippers should keep it in mind.

Hitching up a trailer instantly makes your stopping distance much longer, because you have the weight of that trailer pushing into your tow vehicle. You should also be aware that you’ll need extra time and space to safely merge onto the highway.

If you’re trailering with a horse, remember that sudden stops will throw them off balance and could cause injury.

 

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Who Should Buy Sport Haven Utility Trailers? 4 Key Considerations for Going Aluminum

sport haven utility trailers all-aluminum

View and compare aluminum Sport Haven utility trailers on the Blue Ridge Trailers lot

Can you name the biggest innovation in trailer construction?

It’s not ramp design or tire treads. It’s not accessories or any bells and whistles.

It’s simple: aluminum.

All-aluminum trailers are tough without being heavy. They’re easy to move around, and since aluminum doesn’t rust, they hold their resale value throughout their lifetime.

Of course, the thing about innovations is that they’re often expensive. (Remember trying to get an iPhone when it first came out?)

That’s why we’re big fans of Sport Haven utility trailers here at Blue Ridge Trailers. This family-owned brand offers all-aluminum utility trailers without eye-popping price tags. They’re long-lasting and light on both your vehicle and your wallet.

While we believe these trailers can be great for almost anyone, there are certain types of people who find them especially useful. Consider Sport Haven if any of the following applies to you:

1. You have a lightweight tow vehicle (including cars and ATVs)

Makes sense, right? If you have a lightweight tow vehicle that can’t pull very heavy loads, you’ll want a trailer that adds as few pounds as possible.

Sport Haven utility trailers don’t have nearly the heft of their steel counterparts. Take the 5’ by 8’ model–it’s about 440 pounds. Even an ATV could pull it around.

But in steel, a trailer that size clocks in at 900 pounds.

So if don’t want to rely on a heavy-duty truck for basic hauling, Sport Haven’s all-aluminum trailers give you freedom to use the tow vehicle of your choice.

2. You need to move/re-park your trailer frequently

The easy mobility of Sport Haven trailers is another reason we love them.

The all-aluminum construction makes them super easy to pick up and move at the drop of a hat. You should see the faces on our customers when they feel how light and easy it is to lift up the Sport Haven trailers on our lot!

This mobility is especially helpful if you keep your trailer in a barn or shed that’s far away from your driveway, or if you’re going to be working events that require you to move from booth to booth. Sport Haven utility trailers will be right by your side without weighing you down.

3. You’re planning to resell

It may sound silly, but you’ll need a trailer that looks pretty if you ever want to resell it. Let’s face it: appearance plays big for resale value in the trailer business just like it does in, well, basically every other business there is.

That’s what so great about aluminum. It doesn’t rust, so it looks new its whole life. Not to mention it resists the type of deterioration that rust can cause to not only the trailer frame but also the floor/side supports and tongue.

So if you know you’re going to be reselling your trailer–even if that will be years down the line–a Sport Haven all-aluminum trailer will hold its value until you do.

4. You’re pinching pennies

Like I mentioned above, Sport Haven utility trailers give you a great bang for your buck. We’ve found that these trailers typically cost hundreds of dollars less than comparable trailers from competing brands.

Plus, remember that a lighter trailer means you’ll be using less gas to tow it around, so it will help pay for itself each time you fill up.

But you can pinch your pennies even further. Sport Haven gives you the option to switch out aluminum floors for pressure treated wood floors, which are resistant to rot and pests and cost less than the all-aluminum option. Pressure treated wood floors have almost the same lifespan as aluminum, and are very durable and long-lived.

 

Want to learn more about all-aluminum Sport Haven utility trailers? Call us at (434) 985-4151 for current inventory and prices. We’re always happy to answer questions and help you make the right trailer choice for your needs.

Dos and Don’ts to Get the Right Gooseneck Trailer Clearance

gooseneck trailer clearance pickup truck

Nothing kills the thrill of a new truck quicker than realizing it’s too tall off the ground for your gooseneck trailer.

You drop the coupler on the ball in your truck bed, plug in the electrical connection and…

You quickly discover there’s only a few inches of clearance between the gooseneck frame and top of the sides of your brand new truck.

It’s a problem that many gooseneck trailer owners and buyers face lately, as trucks continue to come out of factories taller and taller off the ground, regardless of the manufacturer.

Fortunately, whether you’re looking to buy a new truck or trailer or you just need to fit a gooseneck to your truck, there are a number of “dos and don’ts” that can help you get the right gooseneck trailer clearance and stay safe on the road, without denting the sides or tailgate of your truck.

DO: Aim for at least six inches of gooseneck trailer clearance

The minimum gooseneck trailer clearance needed to handle most highway and off-road conditions is six inches between the lowest part of the gooseneck frame and the highest part of the truck side and tailgate.

DON’T: Extend the coupler to hit six inches

Extending the coupler will make the distance from the trailer to the truck sides longer. However, this is not a fix, because the trailer will no longer be level.

Extending the coupler raises the front of the trailer higher than the back, meaning that weight won’t be evenly distributed between both axles. Instead, extra weight will be pushed onto your rear axle, which can bend the axle and/or lead to tire blowouts.

These are dangerous and expensive issues that aren’t worth the risk.

DO: Know that newer trucks are taller

As mentioned above, truck manufacturers have started to hike up the height of their trucks in recent years. While your typical one-ton pickup bed used to measure about 52 inches off the ground, we now see drivers coming in on trucks with beds as tall as 60+ inches.

Trailer manufacturers have responded with taller goosenecks—however, that’s not a perfect solution because it means your head room inside the gooseneck area will be reduced. That height’s got to come from somewhere.

If you’ve got a new truck, be aware that it’s going to be more difficult for you to find a used gooseneck trailer that provides enough clearance, or to hook up a gooseneck you already own. (We’ll discuss some potential fixes below.)

DON’T: Buy a used trailer without testing your truck’s suspension

Just as trucks are getting built taller and taller, they’re also getting softer and softer suspensions. This can be either a blessing or a curse when you go to hitch up a heavy gooseneck trailer.

In some cases, we’ll see customers drop a gooseneck on their truck, and the suspension will simply be too soft to safely support the trailer.

Other times, the suspension will provide just enough give to create the minimum six inches of clearance between the trailer and truck bed, while still supporting the trailer adequately.

It’s nearly impossible to determine what the case will be for your truck and a given trailer without hitching it up and taking a look. So don’t buy a trailer without testing it out first!

DO: Think About the Pros and Cons of “Quick Fixes”

If you already own a gooseneck trailer that doesn’t fit your truck, don’t despair. There are a variety of options that may help you achieve the right gooseneck trailer clearance. Just know that they come with pros and cons before determining which fix will work best for your budget and travel needs.

Fix 1: Pay a professional to take the axles off the trailer, weld a steel block to the frame, and then weld the axles to the block. This can give you almost three extra inches of clearance, depending on how the axle box is constructed.

However, the trailer will now sit three inches higher off the ground, so it can be more difficult to enter. The cost is also going to run anywhere from $600 to $800.

Fix 2: Buy an aftermarket truck lowering kit. These kits can drop the rear of certain trucks by two inches, supposedly without affecting truck performance.

We haven’t tried one of these kits here at Blue Ridge Trailers so we can’t vouch for them, but it’s certainly something to research if it can save you from trading out your trailer or truck.

Fix 3: Remove the truck bed and install a flatbed. With the truck sides removed, clearance to your trailer should be ample.

The obvious downside is that you lose the functionality of a truck bed for hauling.

As with any smart purchase, it’s important to do your homework before putting any money down. A qualified trailer dealer can help you compare measurements, research your options and make a smart purchase that works for your lifestyle and your budget.

Contact Blue Ridge Trailers online or at (434) 985-4151 for a discussion about your individual trailer questions or needs.

The Best Horse Trailer Cover… Isn’t a Horse Trailer Cover

best horse trailer cover

Finding the best horse trailer cover means keeping your trailer-and your horse-safe.

Is your horse trailer wearing a mini-skirt?

If you’ve been using a standard horse trailer cover for your trailer, then it’s very possible. In my experience looking for covers that will protect our products here at Blue Ridge Trailers, I’ve discovered that the best horse trailer cover that’s available affordably isn’t actually a horse trailer cover at all.

Around 15 years ago, the standard size of horse trailers jumped from roughly 6-feet-tall to 6.5-feet-tall and up, all the way to 7.5-feet-tall. These days, almost nobody builds a horse trailer that isn’t 7.5-feet-tall.

But somehow, horse trailer covers didn’t get the memo. Based on the distance from the bottom to the top of those covers, they still seem made to fit the old 6-foot specifications.

That means they leave tires and bearings exposed to moisture and heat, two of your trailer’s worst enemies. If your horse trailer is parked in the heat without proper protection, the rubber on the tires can start to degrade, shortening their lifespan and even possibly causing breakdowns. Bearing grease can also collect dirt and dry up.

So if you’re not interested in splurging on a custom-made trailer cover, what’s the secret to affordably protecting your horse trailer from the elements?

Don’t buy a horse trailer cover. Buy an RV cover.

RV covers are not only designed to be taller than standard horse trailer covers, there’s also much more variety in sizes and dimensions. Plus, they’re offered at the same price ranges as horse trailer covers.

To get an RV cover that will fit your horse trailer, take the following measurements on your trailer:

  • Total outside width, including fenders
  • Roof to ground
  • Length from the back of the trailer to the bumper pull tongue/gooseneck nose

With those measurements, you should be able to find an RV cover that matches your trailer. In my experience, all it takes is calling a local RV dealer and providing your trailer measurements—or you can search online as there are lots of RV cover manufacturers out there.

Don’t worry if your RV cover is slightly bigger than your trailer. Unless it’s really billowing out so that air and moisture can collect, the primary concern is keeping all parts covered and protected.

Ultimately, keeping your horse trailer protected is about keeping your horse protected. By properly covering your trailer when it’s parked, you’re helping to ensure a smooth, safe ride when you’re on the road. We hope this little trailer cover secret helps you achieve that.

Want more expert insights on trailer care? Subscribe to the Blue Ridge Trailers monthly newsletter.

What is the Correct Trailer Tire Pressure in Summer?

trailer tire pressure in summerIt’s hot, it’s humid, your windows are steaming and your empty water bottles are inflating. The summer air is expanding as the sun bears down.

So maybe you’re wondering: what’s going on with my tires? The air inside them is expanding too, right?

Should I under-inflate them to compensate for this hot weather?

The short answer is: absolutely not.

It may seem counterintuitive at first, but getting the correct trailer tire pressure in summer is no different than in spring, fall, or winter.

Your tires are manufactured to be filled to the maximum PSI (pounds per square inch) and will make their own adjustments as you travel. So don’t try to outsmart them! Filling your tires below the maximum PSI at any time of year will leave them underinflated and more susceptible to blowouts.

Follow these general rules to get the correct trailer tire pressure in summer or any other season:

  1. Inflate tires to the maximum PSI when they’re cold (sitting in shade or storage) before beginning travel, regardless of the ambient temperature.
  2. Always check your tire pressure before traveling, even if your trailer hasn’t moved since you last checked; your tires may still have lost some air.
  3. Park your trailer on concrete, asphalt, or gravel to reduce moisture on tires, bearing grease, and any exposed wiring. If you must park on grass, put plywood boards under your tires.
  4. Always protect your trailer with a trailer cover that reaches to the bottom of your tires. Not only will this reduce heat and moisture damage on tire rubber, it will also extend the life of bearing grease and other components.

When we see someone drive up to Blue Ridge Trailers with a blown tire, it’s almost always due to under-inflation. Following the above rules will help you prevent this stressful and dangerous issue on the road.

Want more trailer care tips? Subscribe to our free newsletter and get ’em straight to your inbox.

4 Questions You Didn’t Know You Had About Horse Trailer Insurance

horse trailer insuranceYou’ve got insurance for your tow vehicle, so your horse trailer is covered, right?

Think again.

Having the right horse trailer insurance is important not only when a crisis strikes, but also for your peace of mind while traveling with your four-legged best friend.

Yet many people drive for years with inadequate coverage, only discovering the holes in their insurance plan when it’s too late.

Of course, every situation is different depending on your trailer, horse, and travel needs. That’s why it’s so important to communicate with your insurance agent so you know you have the right coverage for your circumstances.

Here are some key questions to ask your agent regarding horse trailer insurance:

1. Do I have comprehensive/collision coverage?

This is one of the biggest misconceptions we see among horse trailer owners: they know their towing vehicle insurance extends to their trailer, but don’t realize that the insurance only covers liability—not damage or theft.

In other words, they’re covered for costs involving damage to someone else’s property or injuries caused by their trailer. But they’re not covered for the cost of damage to their trailer and trailer contents in an accident, storm, or other crisis.

To protect your trailer, you’ll want to ask your insurance agent about comprehensive and collision coverage.

Most vehicle insurance companies will simply add an endorsement to your existing policy, which extends comprehensive and collision coverage to your trailer. This is typically a minor expense per year.

If your insurer requires a separate policy for the trailer—rather than merely adding a trailer endorsement—then you should consider shopping around.

Here in Virginia, we typically recommend that trailer owners consider pricing horse trailer insurance options with their local Farm Bureau agent (no affiliation to Blue Ridge Trailers). Farm Bureau offers several different coverages for trailer and trailer content protection. Adding a standalone policy can be very expensive, so shopping might very well pay off.

2. Are the contents of my trailer covered?

You don’t just want to protect your trailer, but also your property inside it.

Ask your insurance agent whether your trailer contents would be covered in cases of damage or theft. Note that your homeowner’s policy might cover trailer contents rather than your vehicle policy in the case of accident or theft, so make sure to ask your agent about this as well.

Be aware that “trailer contents” refers to equipment and gear, not your horse itself. You may want to consider a policy to cover your horse(s). The major national companies offering equine insurance are Taylor, Harris Insurance Services, EMO, Marshall and Sterling, and Markel. There may also be coverage available in your area from a more local company.

3. What will happen if I have a breakdown with my horse in the trailer?

Here’s something I learned the hard way. Some insurance companies (and roadside assistance companies like AAA) will tow your vehicle if you have a breakdown, but won’t extend roadside service to your trailer.

I can tell you that it’s incredibly stressful to have a horse in a trailer on the side of the highway, under the sun, and no way to get it moved to a safe place. Ask your insurance agent and/or roadside assistance company whether your trailer and horse(s) will be covered for breakdown services, and if not, you might consider looking into another policy with a company that offers national roadside equine services.

4. Is my trailer covered when it’s parked?

It’s easy to forget that trailer problems don’t just happen on the road. Ask your insurance agent how you’re covered in the case of storm damage, fire, and theft when your trailer is parked. If you store your trailer on someone else’s property or farm, you’ll also want to know how that impacts your coverage.

 

Insurance is complicated, yes? Who knew? Now the necessary homework is up to you!

Want more tips on trailers and horse care? Subscribe to our free newsletter and get ‘em straight to your inbox.

Buying a River Valley Horse Trailer? 5 Features to Consider

river valley horse trailersChoosing the right trailer is one of the most important ways to ensure your horse’s comfort, health, and safety. If you’re like me, you want a trailer built by a team that understands how important this decision is. You’re looking for a trailer made by horse people, for horse people—and that’s exactly what the people behind River Valley horse trailers are proud to be.

But what does that mean for the design and features of their trailers?

Let’s take a look at some of the key elements:

5 Key Features of River Valley Horse Trailers

1. 20-year Warranty Rumber Flooring

One of the biggest benefits of River Valley horse trailers is that they include Rumber flooring with a 20-year manufacturer’s warranty.

We’ve discussed the benefits of Rumber flooring before, but they’re always worth mentioning. Rumber is tough but flexible, giving horses a firm footing while also cushioning the floor. As a result, Rumber causes much less muscle fatigue or joint stress on horses during transportation when compared to aluminum or wood flooring.

Rumber can be quickly washed off with a hose and its durability helps you extend the life of your trailer.

2. Shallow Ramps

For safe and easy loading, River Valley trailers have 54-inch rear and side ramps, which are less steep than the traditional 48-inch ramps.

Here at Blue Ridge, we’re fans of the side ramps in particular. Side ramps allow horses to come forward down a ramp when unloading, as opposed to backing up, which is unnatural for them—horses will only move backwards instinctively when they feel threatened.

River Valley straight load trailers (both bumper pull and gooseneck) at Blue Ridge come with side ramps. The bumper pull with a side ramp is a two-horse trailer and there are two-, three-, and four-horse gooseneck trailers with side ramps available.

3. Front-to-rear Trailer Ventilation

You want your trailer to be sturdy and tough, but it’s just as important to provide a comfortable, low-stress ride for your horse. River Valley trailers offer front-to-rear ventilation to keep temperatures cool and horses happy.

Double windows in the horse area along with windows above the rear ramp and in the dress wall provide complete ventilation for the trailer. The trailers are also insulated the full height of the wall, compared to the 48-inch insulation in most competing models.

Tubular head and shoulder dividers further improve ventilation while also providing more light in the trailer.

4. Eco-friendly Materials

Here’s where that Rumber flooring comes in again. Rumber is made from recycled tire rubber—the tires get heated, plasticized for rigidity and molded into boards.

The resulting product is not only eco-friendly but also durable and non-flammable.

5. Bang for your Buck

We’ve found that River Valley trailers cost anywhere from 5% to 10% less than competing manufacturers. Add the fact that most other manufacturers are not willing to support Rumber flooring, and you’re looking at a great value for cost with River Valley.

 

Want to compare River Valley horse trailers to our other models? Check out the Blue Ridge Trailers horse trailer selection or contact us directly. We’re always happy to answer questions and help you make the right choice for your horse.

RIVER VALLEY SPOTLIGHT: Technology Matters in Horse Trailers

Improvements in technology make things better in our lives. This is especially true in horse trailer construction. Important innovations at the RIVER VALLEY (www.rivervalleyaluminumhorsetrailers.com) horse trailer plant include 20 Year Warranty Rumber Flooring (www.rumber.com), hot dipped galvanized steel frame/floor supports and interlocking insulated wall panels. These construction features make RIVER VALLEY a more comfortable and safer ride for your horses and contribute to long term durability of your trailer.

river-valley-logoRumber flooring was introduced into horse trailers in 1992. The tongue and groove boards are installed running front to back in a trailer. They are supported underneath with side to side floor supports, approximately 12″ to 15″ apart. In between these floor supports, Rumber boards will “flex,” thus reducing physiologic stress on joints and soft tissue. Horses experience less muscle fatigue, and there are no floor mats to pull when cleaning the trailer. Continue reading

Trailering Your Horse: Pre-Departure Safety Checklist

horse-trailering-saftey-checklistLoading your horse into a trailer can be a stressful event. Knowing your trailer and towing vehicle are prepared properly can ease the stress of travel. Take a moment to print out this checklist to keep in your trailer.

Before your trip make sure the vehicle maintenance and trailer maintenance are current. This is very important because towing puts additional stress on the tow vehicle.

  • Check and correct tire pressure on the tow vehicle and trailer
  • Make sure the wheel lug nuts/bolts on the tow vehicle and trailer are tightened to the correct torque. Continue reading

10 Ways to Keep Your Horse Cool During Travel

rumber-trailerThe summer time has a number of horse related activities that we love to attend – horse shows, rodeos, trail riding, and more. It is hard as horse owners to not transport your horse in hot weather and this summer has been exceptionally hot in many areas. Trailering your horse in hot weather can actually be more dangerous than you think. Use these tips to avoid scorching heat and stress that can go along with that:

  1. Easy on the electrolytes. Many people say that you should provide your horse with plenty of electrolytes because they sweat and lose nutrients in the summer. Although this is true, providing your horse with electrolytes before trailering can be a bad idea. Giving your horse electrolytes and not providing enough water while on the road can cause your horse to become severely dehydrated. If you do give your horse electrolytes, offer him water every couple of hours.
  2. Continue reading