Towing a van or trailer behind your vehicle is a demanding procedure. All due and care and consideration must be taken before you drive off to ensure your rig is set up properly and safely.
Listed below are some towing tips from the Hayman Reese Website
Q: What is the correct towbar to fit to my vehicle?
A: The towbar must have a capacity that exceeds the loaded weight of the trailer you are intending to tow. Therefore you must check the rating of the towbar and the vehicles rated towing capacity which is included in the towing section of the cars handbook. There are two types of towbar available. For light-duty towing generally up to 1250 Kg ‘standard’ towbars with a bolt-on, tongue is used. For heavy-duty towing a hitch receiver is used which has a square hole designed for a removable ball mount or the Hayman Reese Weight Distributing Hitch.
Q: How can I determine the rating or capacity of my vehicle?
A: If your vehicle has a tow rating this can be found in the handbook under the towing section. The vehicle tow rating will include a trailer weight capacity and a trailer ball weight capacity.
All Hayman Reese towbars have a compliance plate which states the maximum tow rating and the towbar ball weight capacity. You should check the handbook to check the details for your particular model.
Q: How can I check my ball weight?
A: Ball weight refers to the weight on the front end of the trailer not carried over the axles. As a rule, you should aim to have 10 per cent of the total trailer weight as ball weight. This can be measured at a weighbridge by resting the jockey wheel only on the scale.
Alternatively, Hayman Reese distributors have a Ball Weight scale with which you can measure your ball weight by placing it under the coupling and winding the weight off the jockey wheel.
Q: When do I need a Weight Distributing Hitch?
A: If your trailer’s ball weight is causing the back end of the vehicle to sag, a weight distributing hitch can be used to return the vehicle to its normal height and ensure you have full traction for braking and steering control.
The weight distributing hitch is designed to ensure a return to even distribution of weight across all wheels of the tow vehicle and trailer. This even distribution ensures that positive steering and braking control is maintained.
Q: When should a mini hitch be used?
A: A mini hitch is appropriate for light towing purposes only. It can redistribute ball weights up to 82Kg. Therefore you should check the ball weight of the trailer or caravan to ensure it is within the mini hitch capacity. The mini hitch fits easily onto the towbar tongue and the spring bars can be adjusted quickly by selecting the appropriate chain link to bring the trailer back to a level height.
Q: Can I invalidate my vehicle warranty if I fit a Hayman Reese towbar?
A: Fitting a Hayman Reese towbar will not cause you to void your vehicle warranty. Just remember that you have to stay within the vehicles recommended towing capacity. If there is a problem that arises as a result of the towbar being faulty and you have stayed within the recommended towing capacity you will be fully covered by the Hayman Reese Lifetime Warranty for as long as you own the vehicle.
Q: What tow ball should I use?
A: The Australian Standard AS4177-2 recommends that 50mm tow balls with a rating of 3500 Kg be used for towing trailers up to 3.5 tonne. The capacity should be stamped on the ball plus the manufacturer’s identification and a ‘50’ to indicate the tow ball diameter in millimetres.
Q: How can I stop sway from occurring?
A: Generally correct weight distribution will contribute to controlling sway because all wheels have full traction on the road. However sway can still occur from passing trucks, crosswinds etc. If a weight distributing hitch has been fitted and you want to ensure sway is minimised a Hayman Reese sway control unit is highly recommended.
A Friction Sway control can be used for ball weights from zero Kg upwards. A Dual Cam Sway control can be used for ball weights from 160 Kg upwards. Check with us to determine the appropriate unit to suit your needs.
Q: Do I need a transmission cooler?
A: Towing increases the workload on a vehicle’s engine. This can cause the engine transmission to become hotter than under normal driving conditions. You should, therefore, refer to the vehicles handbook or your dealer for instructions covering the fitment of additional cooling equipment if necessary.
Q: When should a brake control unit be fitted?
A: All trailers with an aggregate trailer mass (including the load) over 750 kg must be fitted with brakes to comply with national road regulations. Any trailer with electric brakes needs a brake controller to activate the operation of the brakes. The brake controller sets the timing and level of power output to the trailer brakes when activated by pressing the brake pedal in the vehicle.
Q: What are the regulations relating to towing in different States of Australia?
A: A set of national towing regulations are now in place governing towing in Australia for trailers up to 3500 Kg aggregate of loaded trailer mass. In short, the loaded trailer must not exceed the recommended towing capacity of the vehicle.
Q: Do I need to alter the suspension in my vehicle for towing?
A: A trailer has ball weight on the coupling which when connected to the vehicle is held by the suspension over the back axle. This load is redistributed to all wheels of the vehicle and trailer using a weight distributing hitch to return the vehicle to its normal height.
If a load is being permanently carried in the back of the vehicle (eg if gas has been fitted) then it may be appropriate to replace the standard springs with higher rated (carrying capacity) springs. These will not transfer any load away from the axle but will provide better support for the higher load being carried.
It is preferable to transfer the ball weight when towing to ensure that the vehicle’s rear axle is not overloaded and to ensure maximum traction of all wheels on the road for optimum braking and steering control.
Q: How can I make it easier to hook up the chains on my weight distributing hitch?
A: The hookup process is lifting and transferring the ball weight. As this can in many cases be a large weight we recommend that you use the jockey wheel to assist in lifting the weight. Therefore always wind down the jockey wheel so that the coupling of the trailer is lifted up before you put the spring bars in place and connect the chains. You may also have to hook up a progressively higher chain link to get to the desired link rather than doing it in one step.
Q: What happens if I have a problem with my towing system when on holiday or away from home on a trip?
A: Hayman Reese has a lifetime warranty covering our towing equipment for as long as you own the vehicle or weight distribution system. If you need assistance they have a free call number 1800 812017 to call. They have 150 distributors throughout Australia who can assist with solving your problem quickly and efficiently. So wherever you are in Australia Hayman Reese is with you.
Q: How do I know that the towbar I have purchased is a Hayman Reese?
A: Hayman Reese have a compliance plate on all their towbars with our name, the part number and vehicle description. This is usually found on the towbar cross member. A sticker with the Hayman Reese logo is also placed in a visible position on the towbar for identification.
If you have a hitch receiver towbar it can be readily identified by the aluminium collar which is fastened around the square receiver section.
Q: Do I have to leave the trailer ball mount in the hitch receiver when I am not towing.
A: The trailer ball mount can be left in the hitch receiver as long as it does not obscure the licence plate. To prevent theft Hayman Reese have a Hitch Pin Lock available which replaces the standard pin and clip. Alternatively, you can remove the trailer ball mount and store it in a secure place and use a Hayman Reese hitch box cover to provide a neat finish on the towbar and at the same time stop dirt and water readily getting into the hitch receiver.