Car Trailer Towing Guide: How to Get Your Next Project Home

Car Trailer Towing Guide: How to Get Your Next Project Home


This episode of DIY
Tryin is brought you by Blue Def diesel
exhaust fluid. Welcome to DIY Tryin. Toe something home. I’m Patrick Norton. I’m Michael Hand. And that’s much what we’re going
to talk about in this episode. You find the perfect vehicle. Maybe it’s that 51
Ford or 240 wagon. It’s a deal. It’s a steal. It is undriveable. You can try to fix it wherever
it is before you bring it home, or you get yourself a trailer
and try to bring it back behind another vehicle
you own that runs. So finding a trailer– one
really easy way to do it is to go to U-Haul’s
website because they want you to rent
trailers, so they make it really
easy to figure out if you can actually
toe a vehicle. So on the website they
have a cool little tool that lets you input the
towing vehicle, the vehicle that you’re trying to
toe, and then they’ll spit out what trailer you need
and whether it’s available pretty much. Yeah it’s really, really cool. Right. Cause the other
thing is when you go to rental company
like that, chances are if your vehicle
is not stout enough to toe the weight
you want it to toe, they will rent you some sort
of big old diesel-powered truck that will happily toe the
weight you want to tow. We’re fortunate enough to
have my ’95 Dodge with Cummins diesel inside of it which has
a massive, like 10,000 pound, rating, so we were good to
go with pretty much anything. That said, if we were trying to
tow the family “Suburbasaurus”, the “Helliburban,”
as my wife calls it, we would actually have to go to
like an equipment rental place, like the kind of place where you
rent like a double drum compact or an excavator, because
we would need a 7,000 pound trailer to carry that
6,500 pounds Suburban and basically, they don’t rent
anything I think at U-Haul. So say you have the correct
vehicle for your towing. You have the trailer. Doesn’t mean you’re
necessarily ready to tow yet. You need the proper
trailer hitch. Yeah, and the nice
thing about renting a trailer is they’re
generally not going to let you leave the place
unless one of their technicians has inspected your stuff. Right? So they’re going to make sure
you have the correct class trailer to tow the weight you
want to tow, that you have a ball hitch, and then
they’re, generally speaking, going to attach
everything for you. Let’s go back in time to show
you how we got this all set up. So your hitch is of
an appropriate weight. You’ve got the appropriate
size ball hitch attached, and basically you’re going
to line it up and lower the hitch onto the ball. There we go. Now you see our foot’s
lifting up here. So we’re going to turn around
and tighten down the lock. So our ball is secure. It’s over. We can see the top of the
ball on the top of the hitch. Let’s go ahead put the
jack all the way up. You do not want to tow
with the jack down. That’s bad. You also always want to
attach your trailer before you put the vehicle on
the trailer, otherwise you won’t really get
it on the trailer. So first thing I’m
going to attach here– this is for the brake. And what this does– sometimes
with electric brakes, there’ll be a thin cable. With surge brakes
like this, the idea is that if this get separated
from the tow vehicle either an electric connection
of some type and switch is going to get pulled, which
is going to lock the electrical brakes or,
in the case of these brakes, this cable, this chain, is going
to pull, flip this up and lots the surge brakes. Generally speaking, this
is emergency equipment. Make sure it’s connected. Also emergency
equipment– safety chains go underneath the tongue here. We’re twisting them up here
so they don’t drag as much. They get put on here
and attach that. So locked, safety
chains are in place, emergency brake is
in place, and we need to attach our
taillights and brake lights. We need to make sure the turn
signals and the brake lights work. Left turn signal? Yup. Right turn signal? Yup. Brakes? Um, yeah. You we need to come this
way just a little bit. Ahhh. All right. This is a tire strap. And the trick to this
is to make sure it’s centered behind the wheel. Slide that over because
this is essentially what’s holding your vehicle
down on the trailer. And there’s a big old
ratchet strap in front. You’re going to center
that on the tire. I like to pull it tight. Lock that down. Go to the next tire. This is also a really good time
to make sure you’re– in this type of trailer, you want to
make sure your wheels are all the way up against
that forward stop. Again, we’re going
to slide this harness so it’s nice and
centered on our tire. Strap it down. And we’re going to check
that again before we leave. But before we leave, the
front end of the car– you’ve got a safety
chain down here. You’re going to wrap
the safety chain around. Make sure it’s as snug
as you can get it. Make sure it’s not over,
say, your brake lines or electrical lines
on the vehicle, and put your little
safety catch in there. And around to the back. Do yourself a favor. Use two hands on the ramps. Make sure they’re
locked in place. And we’ve got one last
safety chain to put on Underneath this conveniently
parked tractor trailer to talk about where
to attach chains. For smaller vehicles,
you’re probably going to have something
like those tire straps we showed you. Larger vehicles– you end
up with bigger trailers and you probably have to
actually chain your vehicle down. And when you’re
under your vehicle you’re going to
be looking around. And there’s an axle. The axle’s attached to a spring. The spring is
attached to the frame. This frame is massive. You’re probably thinking,
I should run the chain around the frame. That would be bad. That’s sprung weight
on your vehicle. What happens when you attach
the trailer– so you have your vehicle, your
trailer, when you attach it to the sprung weight– when
the vehicle– you hit a bump, the vehicle compresses,
the chain loosens up, and of course, the
spring does what it does, which is rebounds. And the chain get snapped. It may not snap the first time. It may not snap the tenth time. But invariably, it
will snap while you’re going around a mountain
curve and you’ll fall off to your death
as the vehicle drags you. So don’t attach the
chains to sprung weight. Attach it to unsprung weight,
which basically means attaching it to the axle, below
the leaf springs, or the axle, the A-arms, but
basically, below the leaf springs or below
the coil springs to a sturdy part of the
suspension, preferably the axle if it’s a solid axle vehicle
or like the A-arm if it’s not. Got that? Important safety tip. So everything’s attached. Before you leave, and frankly
before I leave any parking lot if I’ve left the vehicle
for any amount of time, and pretty much every time I
get gas, or diesel in this case, I check everything. Lights are attached. Safety chains are attached. The hitch is still attached. My wheels are strapped down. My safety chain’s on. In the front, the tires
are well-inflated, the ramps are still up,
chains are down in the back. All right. Everything’s good. Let’s hop in the truck. Go for a ride. So before we take
this for a test drive, let me give you a heads up
about something called DEF, diesel exhaust fluid. Peak Automotive, our
sponsor for this episode, makes Blue DEF, their brand
of diesel exhaust fluid. It’s an API spec. It’s like 32.5% urea,
67.5% pure water, and it’s part of the selective
catalytic reduction process. Helps clean up the emissions
for diesel vehicles. Like you’re driving
cross country, right? Little light comes
up on the dashboard. Says it’s time to add
more diesel exhaust fluid. Don’t panic. Because it might say
DEF, and it’s not because you’re going to go deaf. It’s not some
loudness indicator. So if that light
does come on, just go to the local Autozone,
Ace Hardware, something like that, truck stop. O’Riley, Tractor Supply,
Pilot Flying J’s. I mean you get the idea. This stuff is basically
everywhere– Walmart. Just pick it up and
then put it in your car and then the light
will go away and you don’t have to worry
about it any more. And thanks to Peak
Automotive for sponsoring this episode of Die Trying. Let’s hit the road. Let’s be safe. Want to drive? No. [LAUGHTER] All right. Trailer secured to
the tow vehicle, the vehicle you’re towing
is secured to the trailer. Your seat belt’s on. Your hands are at ten and two. You’re ready to go. I need you to slow down. Literally. It’s going to take much
longer to stop your vehicle. You’re going to need to be a
little more cautious in turns because you’ve suddenly got a
30 foot steel tail behind you. Changing lanes gets a little
exciting on the highway. Here in the state of California,
we got two things going for us. We have to stay
in the right lane when possible and
any vehicle towing is at a maximum speed
of 55 miles an hour. There’s a reason for that. People drive like
idiots around here. And you may think, hey, it’s
got 4,000 pounds back there, but I can still do
85 miles an hour because my car is the bomb. Well your car may
be the bomb when you discover it
takes you twice as long to stop with that
vehicle towing behind you. I Also want to point out,
seeing as how we’re in San Francisco, hills. Hills get really
interesting when you have a lot of
weight behind you. So slow down. There’s a reason why
diesels use exhaust breaks in situations like this. Shift down a gear, especially
if you’re on a steep hill. Use your engine compression
to try to control things a little bit so you don’t
burn out your brakes. It’s amazing how
hot your brakes will get if you’re on a
super-long, super-steep hill. So, you’re crossing the Sierras,
you’re crossing the Rockies, you’re up in the Wasatch. I don’t care where you are. Just slow down. Stay on the right side
and if people honk, flip them the bird. Works for me. It’s a New York thing. [LAUGHTER] All right. Lots of space. Lots of room. Nice wide turn all the
way out to the line. No horrible scraping
noises because we’re not hitting anybody else. So far so good. Hey, look, we’re back. And the cars even here. Yeah. The cars on the trailer. The trailer’s on the truck. The whole thing
isn’t upside down. Hopefully, we’ve
demystified a little bit of the process of
pulling a vehicle. And of course, a
little bit about diesel exhaust fluid for our
sponsor, Peak Automotive. And it’s kind of funny, right? You never need to tow
a trailer until you do, and you should be
cautious and attentive and respect the whole
tailoring situation. But now all of you are experts. Let’s say– I’ve
been doing for years and I don’t consider
myself an expert. Let’s say I hope we’ve
given you a solid foundation to build your expertise on. And if you think our advice
sucks, comment down below, tweet at DIY Tryin,
or kick us an e-mail at [email protected] And you can subscribe
to us anyway. Youtube.com/DIYTryin.com. I’m Patrick Jordan. I’m Michael Hand. Thanks so much for watching. We’ll see you next week. No more cars. Not for a while.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Bed liner looks great!! I had a car come loose one time because of the low pressure in the tires allowed the hooks to come loose. I've towed hundreds of times and this was a fluke event. Luckily it was a dirt track car so no appreciable damage to the car but it cost me my tailgate.

  2. While you guys are on the car kick, I think you should go into further detail onto the OBD2 Adapter and Smartphone apps.  You touched on it briefly but I think there is a ton of different factors you could cover on it, plus its very geek.

  3. Cool video but there is one fatal flaw. You are supposed to cross the safety chains underneath the trailer tongue. Only so that if the hitch does manage to come loose the tongue falls into a cradle and the trailer's tongue does not get damaged. And also so the brakes don't lock and you cause a pileup on the highway.

  4. "10 and 2" is actually unsafe if you have an airbag in your steering wheel. If/when the airbag goes off, and your hands go straight into your face. 

  5. It's also a good idea to cross your safety chains so if the trailer comes off the tongue won't dig into the ground.

  6. I used to work for Uhaul, and I can say that towing is no joke. You need to understand everything involved. Weight of what you're towing, weight of the vehicle you're towing with, the hitch, the drawbar, the hitch ball. Before you consider renting a trailer of any kind, you should do research on it, or spend some time having a conversation with someone who knows. You cannot pull a Silverado behind a Hyundai. If it seems stupid and dangerous, then it is. When a trailer starts to fish-tail on you, it's scary even if you are experienced.

  7. And my dad does THAT wrong, and THAT wrong, and THAT wrong …
    He's never lost one though, so brownie points. 

  8. @SandyStarchild Actually, those are 79-88ish 240 rims… no, wait, 240 5 spokes have the indent in each spoke… damn, they are 740 rims! (Still look bette than the steel factory rims w/ no hubcaps!)

  9. I love it that you guys do a wide variety of videos, and its great that there are two of you. Most of my projects are done solo, an extra set of hands sure would be nice. Keep up the great videos and thanks.

  10. Thank you Mr Norton. Your timing with this episode was priceless. As I will be flying to the otherside of the country to pick up a dream car. I have never towed a dam thing and am a noob as much as one can be. You taught me what was paramount. Very much appreciated and keep up the great great work. Sincerly – Mark Hallston

  11. There is a name for burning out your brakes and that is called Brake Fade. Also interestinguseless Trivia for you guys. In a movie called Black Dog (1998) the hero used brake fade to get rid of one of his pursuers.

  12. Been loving the auto diys n i really hope you guys return to it at some point. Maybe a break pad/rotors swap or even some basic exhaust repairs. It might not seem like a big deal in sunny socal but up north here, where mother nature eats through your undercarriage like a fat kid at a bake sale, that info would be invaluable. Lovin the new show, keep up the good work!

  13. LOL here in Texas, I see overloaded trailers with no safety chains, no lights, towing unsecured loads at 80+ on the highways every day.  I wonder if theats why I see so many accidents . . . . 

  14. I love it when awesome people tell me how to do basic stuff, because no matter how much I think I know I always learn something. Good job guys, I love watching DIY Tryin, keep it up!

  15. Oh gosh, I remember doing something like this back in 2005 when me and my family moved to Washington state from New Mexico. I was so scared on the whole situation, because I was driving a huge truck with all of our stuff and had the car on the back as well. Good news is we made it to our destination a-okay 🙂 Now I have moved a few times but it got way easier.

  16. As Pat mentions in the video I'm not an expert tower either however I have an extra tip as someone with a commercial driver's license and having a little experience in driving a tractor at times with 53 feet of trailer and up to 108,000 pounds of weight behind my steering wheel.

    Before you set off get comfortable in your seat, then look left and right at your mirrors.  Adjust them to show an inch or two of the vehicle you're in and the trailer behind.  You want them as wide as possible, yet still see your own car/truck and trailer.

    When you need to make a turn, drive as wide as possible without making yourself a hazard to oncoming traffic.

    Make a safe turn, then check your mirrors.  Your trailer will track closer to the turn than you did. Keep checking your mirror through the turn to make sure you don't track the rear wheels up onto the sidewalk.

    The longer the trailer the closer you'll track to the curb.

  17. This guy would shit a brick if you saw how i tow a car and the lack of safety precautions used in Australia. 

  18. Also, don't put a tarp on the car being towed as the tarp will rub on the paint and leave dull spots in the clear coat! I was able to polish out the worst of it, but I had to learn this tip the hard way.

  19. nice one, but we don't have the amount of space over here in shity little angerland or the uk as in uk you, but thanks. 

  20. Thanks for the vid. Just picked up a trailer today, never towed before. Installed the hitch in the morning and bought a trailer to haul cars. Thanks for the safety tips,always want to be safe

  21. IMO, it would be really hard to overload a U-haul car trailer.  They are WAY over built for what they are used for.  They have to be, I guarantee people are constantly smashing them into things.
    Also, they, and most modern trailers, are designed to be so tongue heavy that you overload the rear suspension of the vehicle long before you really get the trailer maxed out.   It used to be you had to always had to make sure to you had enough tongue weight, now it is hard to not overload the tongue.  It's a lawyer thing, it's the same reason cars are designed to understeer.
    Also, with those surge brakes, you have to watch out for wet roads and backing up steep inclines.  IIRC there is a lockout mechanism for backing up inclines on those trailers.
    @3:58 I see you put the safety hooks in from the bottom.  Not a bad idea to mention why that is.  Most consumer trailers don't have those rubber keepers in them.  Putting the hooks in that way reduces the possibility of a bump bouncing the hooks off of the hitch.
    I have to admit, the first time I saw somebody twist up chains like that I was kinda skeptical.   But when I tried to look into it, I found no documentation of issues traced back to that practice.  I also found no break tests done either, but, no news is good news, right? 😉

  22. Cool, you only really missed the part when loading the vehicle where it's extremely dangerous to be anywhere in between the two vehicles, and to stand off to the side when guiding the driver onto the trailer. Otherwise a great video!

  23. put the safty chains in across diaganal from the side of the trailer they are atached to to the opisite side on the car so if the hitch comes off the chain will catch it

  24. I usually don't bother to give thumbs up, but this one I did. But the finger option can be a problem. I just like to cuss at the drivers when they pass without them knowing it. Although, I have a few passengers have also complained as if something terrible is about to happen. If the elderly and feeble can barely walk in the store, they most likely shouldn't be driving a normal car or with many restrictions.

  25. You just spent about a grand in rentals and gas plus time and effort to tow a vehicle worth perhaps $250. Maybe just in this case- call a pro.

  26. Yeah…that's safe…twisting a chain is never good advise. Load rating for a chain is calculated by how much force each link can withstand before failure. Twisting does nothing but de-rates its capacity. If you have to shorten the chain to keep it from dragging, use tywraps or cord…something that can snap off in the event your tow assembly fails.

  27. How about demystifying the part where you forgot to mention which class trailer hitch you used to tow the u hual trailer with the volvo strapped to it?

  28. Here I was just looking up info on hauling with a pickup and HOLY FUCK it's Patrick Norton! Welp, guess I found me a new channel to subscribe to!

  29. It's called a "dynamiter" – it engages brakes immediately when you lose hitch (ball or pin).
    It's still on chains – brakes engage. You notice – hit brakes too. Also — the reason it's 55 mph MAX when towing – tow vehicle tires are speed rated for 55 mph only – they will heat up and disintegrate beyond that speed – best limit it to 50 mph. AND he's 100% correct stopping distance is longer in emergency situations, thus slowing down makes sense. It's NEVER the pulling power of your truck it's ALWAYS the STOPPING power of your truck. Make sure your tow vehicle's brake fluid is flushed and clear – brake fluid has a shelf life. If you haven't replaced your brake fluid for 5 years and you are thinking of towing – CHANGE YOUR BRAKE FLUID. Number one killer is brake failure – almost always because brake fluid was expired, OVERHEATS, NO BRAKES. But it's the trailer tires that restrict speeds ANYWHERE in North America. It's also a very primitive suspension. Important tip when trailering – ALWAYS check your trailer wheel bearings are greased so they don't overheat, shear off.

  30. Def is a joke I drive a truck I only drive pre emissions def smells like piss and is very corrosive enjoy that bullshit

  31. You don't want to run the d e f low sucks up the crap that forms on the bottom tank an sooner or later it plugs the filter so dont wait for the warning light to come on

  32. You guys answer questions here as well?? A couple people have inquired; “project” autos usually are non-running vehicles. Missed kind of a critical portion to the project I need assistance with. Something safer than me and my friends behind it, please?

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