No one wants to see the first time I pulled a trailer. It was an absolute mess. I drove over curbs and couldn’t figure out why the trailer would always go in the opposite direction when I backed up. It is a miracle that I didn’t do any serious damage.
It turns out that I was not alone in my lack of towing skills. Even though 75% of light truck buyers tow, most have never had any training to learn the trailering skills. They pick it up by doing (as I have now done over the years) but still may not know all of the details that will help them tow safely. This is why I want to share the important skills that I picked up at the GMC’s Tow Like a Pro event in Saint George, Utah.
Know What You Can Tow
To many towing is about toys. I have to admit that I am no exception to that. With summer upon us, I’m already shopping for what “towable toys” will help my family spend time together.
GMC was thinking the exact same thing when they hitched up 25″ trailers loaded with two 4-seat Polaris RZR side-by-sides to the GMC Sierra 1500 Denali. After a brief introduction of how important it is to know the towing capacity of the vehicle and that the right hitch allows the trailer to sit level.
Our loads were already evenly balanced and well within the towing capacity of our Sierra 1500 Denali (9500lbs). GMC had even weighed the trailers with cargo on truck scales beforehand. While this is always recommended, it is not always convenient in the real world so Chris Carino, GMC Pickup’s Lead Development Engineer showed us how you can measure the space from the ground to the edge of the front wheel well while the truck is parked on a level surface. If this space doesn’t increase by more than a half inch when the trailer is attached, then the tongue weight is acceptable regardless of vehicle or load carrying capacity.
My tow vehicle had the 6.2L V8 engine along with every imaginable assist feature including a Trailer Brake Controller, Sway Control, Hill Start Assist, Autograde Braking, Tapshift, Trans Temp Gauge, and a Rear Vision Camera. Most of these features seemed like overkill for towing our 6,000lb load but I can definitely see how they could be useful in many situations.
The most challenging part of our 100-mile drive out to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes was not clipping anything in resort’s parking lot with our extra long trailers.
The truck handled the load with ease over city roads, at freeway speeds, while climbing inclines and even over a two-lane highway that was under construction. Only once did we feel the trailer “pushing” the truck as it came to a stop which was only because we neglected to put it into “tow mode” and let it know we had a load.
The mirrors on the truck surprised me a bit for a vehicle that is designed for towing. They did not extend as many do. GMC instead went with a compound mirror that does a decent job of letting you see the end of the trailer once they are adjusted properly.
The dunes were as amazing as you would expect. I’m definitely going to have to get a couple of RZR’s to carry my family of 8 and a tow vehicle that can safely tow them.