Pack along preparedness when trailers hit the trails

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published May 22, 2017


METRO DETROIT — With the summer season approaching, more Michigan drivers will be hitching trailers, boats and more behind them while on the road. And due to the challenges that come with towing such loads, both trailer owners and surrounding drivers are advised to take precautions.

Dave Unger, owner of Custom Enterprises in Detroit, sells boats, trailer hitches and more. While he said some people use trailers more during the summer driving season, he also said trailers can be used throughout the year for different reasons, such as hauling boats, moving furniture or transporting snowmobiles.

Unger stressed the importance of checking the brakes and the wheel bearings on a trailer before starting to use it for the season. This is especially true for boat trailers that go into the water, he said.

“A lot of people don’t use a proper grease when they put them in the water,” he said. “They put the boats in the water and they put the trailer in storage. By then, the bearings are rusted out, and they have an axle failure, and the wheel comes off.” 

Unger advised people hauling trailers to make sure their cargo is loaded properly and to be conscious of having to take wide turns. With tandem-axle trailers, it’s also important to make sure that the trailer’s tongue is not too far down and that the trailer is level, he said. Otherwise, there could be problems.

“It’ll cause the towing vehicle to fishtail,” he said. 

According to Shellie Simmons, owner of Alpine Driving School Inc. in Southfield, drivers who want to pass or move around a vehicle with a hitched trailer need to be aware that a trailer can make blind spots, or “no zones,” bigger.

“You need to be certain that you leave some space between you and that truck with the trailer,” she said. “You’re in their blind spot, so you need to leave some space and you need to fall back more. “

It’s also a good idea to keep an even greater distance when behind a trailer when going up a hill, she said. And vehicles moving in front of a trailer-hitched vehicle should likewise leave ample space, she said.

“Once you start to pass them up, you need to pass the truck up completely until you see their headlights in your rearview mirror, and that’s when you merge in front of them,” she said.

Learn more about Custom Enterprises in Detroit by visiting or by calling (313) 822-8585.

Find out more about Alpine Driving School Inc. in Southfield by visiting or by calling (248) 663-2297.