A vehicle’s ability on slippery ground is degraded significantly when pulling a trailer. The forces exerted by a trailer off-road are similar to those on-road but are amplified. Instability and control problems can manifest themselves at very low speeds.
Off-road towing points to be considered
• Disconnect the jockey wheel and stow it before the ground
• Disengage the over-run brakes by sliding the lock over the towing arm, preventing it from retracting and engaging the brakes. When driving, allowance rarely needs be made for the trailer’s ground clearance as in most cases it exceeds the vehicle’s. However, a trailer will reduce maneuverability off-road and off-road trailers are frequently damaged by trees, stumps and bushes that the tow vehicle runs past.
• Make allowances for the additional weight when braking and descending steep slopes by braking gently and changing to low gears timorously.
Descending steep slippery slopes with a heavy trailer behind you is one of the most difficult off-road manoeuvres and should be done with extreme caution. The loss of steering control experienced in such conditions is exacerbated by the trailer. As the driver tries to direct the vehicle from the front, the trailer acts on the tail, steering it anyway it feels. In this predicament jack-knifing can occur and no amount of expert action on the part of the driver seems to be able to stop it. If gentle acceleration fails to pull the trailer straight or if acceleration is too risky in terms of losing control of the vehicle, then the only way out may be to disconnect the trailer and to manhandle it down the slope on the end of a winch cable.