Jackknifing, pinching your trailer and tow vehicle together, can happen to anyone. Here’s some tips from Mirage Trailers that may help you avoid it.
It happens when your vehicle’s or trailer’s wheels lose static friction or, most commonly, when reversing. We’ve dealt with reversing your trailer before. So, here are a few tips that may help you avoid this unfortunate situation when on the road.
Check Mirrors Often
Looking back at your trailer often to monitor trailer sway is critical when towing. It becomes even more important when towing an empty trailer or a light load. The heavier your rig, the more friction is applied to the road surface during travel. So, the lighter your trailer, the less your trailer wheels are gripping the road. Additionally, check your mirrors anytime you have to brake hard.
Decelerate before turns and avoid braking during a turn whenever possible. In other words you should be at an appropriate speed for a turn before you begin the turn. This will help you avoid loss of traction when the trailer and tow vehicle are at their most vulnerable state. Avoid slamming on your brakes. Keeping a safe distance from other vehicles on the road and giving yourself plenty of distance to come to a stop will minimize instances where emergency braking is necessary. If the need for emergency braking is imminent, avoid braking and swerving simultaneously as much as possible.
Balance Cargo Distribution
Items placed inside your trailer must be distributed evenly with the heaviest items as close to the ground and the axles as possible. Placing too much weight on one side, in front, or back creates potential for a whole host of problems not the least of which is jackknifing your trailer.
Whoops! It’s too late and you’re starting to jackknife!
In the event that you’re beginning to jackknife one of three things are happening.
- Your brakes have locked
- The trailer wheels have lost traction
- Your tow vehicle has lost traction
If your brakes have locked – Let off the brakes. Allow the wheels to regain their static friction with the road surface.
If your trailer’s wheels lose traction – Accelerate. The act of speeding up should pull the trailer back into alignment with the tow vehicle.
If your tow vehicle’s wheels lose traction – Decelerate. Letting off the gas until traction returns and the correcting the slide should prevent a jackknife.
We certainly hope everyone remains safe when pulling a trailer and knowledge is power. We hope these tips will be a benefit to you. Happy trailering!