Just like when you were a kid learning to drive, you practiced in an empty lot to get the feel of it. This is no different, use an empty lot to your advantage and practice towing your Airstream
Hooking up of course is an essential religion as it should be done one way and one way only every time so as not to miss any steps as they are all crucial to safe towing.
- Back up to the Air Stream and center your stinger and ball to the tongue of the trailer. Some use directions from a helper. Some have bright visible sticks that are place on the trailer tongue and the rear of the soon to be towing vehicles in order to line up on the ball. Attach the locking mechanism and make sure it is secure on the ball before moving to the next step. Note: Some trailers have electrical jacks that require a battery. Make sure the battery is at full charge before attempting to lower the trailer onto the ball.
- The next step is to connect the safety chains so that they form a cradle under the hitch ball. Loop the chain through the tow vehicles holes provided for the chain and attach the chain to itself. Connect the break away chain if the trailer has one.
- Attach the umbilical cord for the lights to the towing vehicle and inspect each of the following: Left , Right , Brakes, and marker lights to verify all is in working order. If any light is not working be sure to trace down the problem before moving the trailer an inch. It could be as simple as a fuse in the towing vehicle that has been blown.
- Do one last inspection of your hooked up trailer and tow vehicle and remove the chocks and stow them. Every seasoned driver does a pre-trip inspection to make sure all is in proper order before embarking on a trip.
Now that everything is hooked up you can practice and get the feel of how the Airstream tracks behind you. Watch your mirrors and pay attention to the tires and you will notice that you will have to take wider turns to ensure you will not cut into your corners and possibly cause damage to the trailer or stationary objects. Thus curbs or deep shoulders on the road are just a few obstacles that if you cut the turn short you will end up pulling the trailer over and into. Go slow so you can follow the direction your tires are moving behind you and get the feel of stops and starts. Your combined weight of the trailer and tow vehicle will be very apparent once underway.
Another adventure is the backing of the trailer. It helps to have a partner be your spotter. Agree on hand signals before attempting this. Common hand signals would be a closed fist for stop, Palm open in slow motion to move backwards. Palm pushing down to slow down more. Fingers to point direction left or right. A trick is to hold the bottom of the steering wheel turn the steering wheel so that the top indicates where you wish the trailer to go. Setting the trailer to back up on the drivers side is often easier because you can see the rear of the trailer as you turn.
To prevent or lessen trailer sway, Fish tailing as it were it is a good idea to use the brake controller in your tow vehicle to help keep the trailer under control. While still in the parking lot learn your adjustments to provide a smooth ride. Attempt to directly change the amount of power going to the trailer brakes so that the brake controller does its job by reducing the amount of braking power needed by the towing vehicle.
A good thing to do is to measure the length of your tow vehicle plus the Air Stream trailer. The general rule is to stay behind the vehicle in front of you one of those lengths for every 10 miles an hour you are going . Remembering that it will take extra time to slow down due to the extra weight provided by the Air Stream in tow. It feel as though your trailer doesn’t weigh very much and deceptively you might think it will be easy to stop due to the smooth ride it has been giving you. Air Stream is built low to the ground and has special shocks to absorb the tensions of the road giving the easy feeling that the weight is much different than what you may think.
To save on your transmission and vehicle, accelerate slowly during during take offs and increasing speed. It is imperative to maintain a slow and steady pace when climbing hills and mountains. Always keeping check of your gauges, especially the temperature gauge to make sure you do not overheat the tow vehicle.If your tow vehicle doesn’t already have a transmission cooler you might want to invest in one.
Once you have completed your practice trip you will possibly want to get underway. Here are few notes on loading your gear into the Air Stream. To help prevent “ Fish Tailing” load your heavier items you plan to take with you to the front of the trailer. This allows the weight to be distributed to the hitch. Always check your connections at all rest stops as it is better to be safe than sorry.
With that ….Have a safe trip …..Happy towing and beyond all else have a great experience towing one of America’s greatest Icons; the Air Stream.
This article is in no way a substitute for the technical information found in your owners manual on the subject of towing. This is meant to be informational and instructive only.
Watch our youtube video and see how nice this trailer is inside and out.
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