How To Prepare Your Truck for Towing a Camper
Posted on March 08 2021
There’s nothing better than latching your camper to the back of your truck and driving off into the horizon, onward to new adventures. Before you embark on your next journey, you’ll need to plan your trip—what you’ll pack, where you’ll go, and how long you’re planning to stay—but you’ll also need to make sure your truck is ready for towing a camper. In this guide, we’ll go over how to prepare your truck for towing a camper so that you can securely latch your trailer and make sure that your drive, no matter where you’re heading, will be safe.
Maintain Your Vehicle
Make sure to keep your towing vehicle in good shape. A poorly maintained vehicle is a safety hazard, especially when you add a big, bulky camper into the mix. Follow your vehicle’s recommended maintenance schedule, including changing the air/fuel filters, oil, transmission fluid, and coolant at regular intervals. If you’re planning a long trip, have a professional inspect your vehicle and top up the fluids before you hit the road. It might seem like a costly and unnecessary step, but it’s better than having your vehicle break down mid-route and needing to wait for repairs. You’ll also want to ensure your vehicle has the proper insurance and is up to date with any inspections, registrations, and paperwork.
Check Your Tires
There’s nothing worse than losing a tire in the middle of your trip. Before you head out, make sure the shocks and tires are in good condition. If they’re on the verge of breaking down, replace them early. Even when your existing tires are brand-new, it’s not a bad idea to carry a spare. If you have tires with good tread, check their air pressure regularly. Keeping their pressure at the right levels will ensure that they perform optimally. While maintaining your vehicle’s tires is an essential part of preparing it to tow a camper, you can also reduce the amount of wear-and-tear on your vehicle by investing in a set of helper springs. These springs are inexpensive and simple to install. They lessen the amount of work that your suspension system needs to do, reduce wear-and-tear, and increase your vehicle’s longevity.
Use the Right Hitch
Towing might seem like an uncomplicated process, but there’s more to it than hooking up your load and driving off. To start, you’ll need to decide on the type of hitch you’re going to use. There are five different classes of hitches that you can choose from, each with its own unique set of advantages and limitations. These hitch types are designed for use with conventional towing, which means they attach to your vehicle’s chassis.
A class 1 hitch works best for towing lightweight loads. If you have a camper or recreational vehicle that weighs less than 2,000 pounds, a class 1 hitch should be able to handle it.
A class 2 hitch can handle loads of up to 3,500 pounds. It can manage more weight than a class 1 hitch, but it still has very narrow limitations for what you can safely and efficiently tow. Despite this, it’s one of the most popular options for vans, SUVs, and light-duty pickup trucks.
A class 3 hitch is perfect for pulling small- to medium-sized trailers. It can handle loads of up to 8,000 pounds.
If you’re ready to use your truck for heavy-duty work, it’s not a bad idea to invest in a class 4 or 5 hitch. These hitches can handle up to 18,000 pounds, making them the hitch of choice for dually and heavy-duty trucks.
Factor in the Weight
Sure, your vehicle can handle a decent amount of weight, but that doesn’t mean you should push it to the max. There’s a difference between what your vehicle is capable of towing and how much you’re actually hauling. Most campers and trailers will have their weight listed as a “dry” weight, which doesn’t take any additions into account. Anything that you add to your camper—suitcases, appliances, and other items—doesn’t factor into the dry weight figure. To calculate the actual amount of weight you’re hauling, you have to add your camper’s weight and that of any additions together. If your towing vehicle can’t handle the amount of weight that it’s towing, you could damage or destroy the motor, transmission, and suspension.
Drive With Caution
When you’re hauling a heavy load, drive with caution. Keep two essential factors in mind when you’re hauling a camper: visibility and sway. It might not come as a surprise, but towing a large vehicle behind you can compromise your visibility on the road. Consider equipping your vehicle with extended towing mirrors, wide-angle mirrors, and clip-on mirrors to reduce blind spots and increase visibility. Still, to make up for this impairment, you’ll need to pay more attention when you drive. Make sure to keep tabs on the vehicles around you, even when you’re not planning to change lanes. Staying alert and aware will reduce the likelihood of an accident. Sway can make towing a camper uncomfortable and, at times, dangerous. The wind, the motion of the vehicles around you, and the road itself are all factors that can contribute to sway. To limit the amount of sway you encounter, consider installing sway bars on your vehicle. These attach from the tow hitch to your trailer’s front frame and provide your vehicle with additional support.
Another way to prepare your truck for towing a camper is to modify it with performance-boosting aftermarket parts. Towing forces your engine to work harder. Navigating hills, curves, and other terrains that require a lot of acceleration and deceleration can lead to an increase in RPMs. An increase in RPMs can cause your engine to overheat. Improve overall performance and mitigate some of the problems that come with towing by making aftermarket alterations to your vehicle. A cold air intake will help your vehicle get more oxygen, leading to more power and better performance. Another way to boost your towing vehicle’s performance is by using a module to manipulate certain parts of the engine to maximize fuel efficiency and increase power across the RPM spectrum.
Dr. PerformanceRX’s diesel power performance modules can improve your towing truck’s fuel economy, horsepower, and torque. If you want to make safe and efficient improvements to your truck, come and shop with us today!