Whether you've been towing camper trailers for years or you're about to begin your first family vacation pulling a small travel trailer, towing isn't something to be taken carelessly. To successfully tow a trailer behind your Toyota 4Runner, you need to develop a new set of driving skills. Even hitching and unhitching a trailer requires know-how. Skipping over just one crucial piece of the process could compromise your traveling safety. Let’s face it, safety is job one when you’re traveling with your loved ones.
Before you hit the road
“Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
- Check your trailer tires. A lot of people check the tire pressure on their 4Runner but neglect the tires on the trailer. Also, make sure the wheel lug nuts on the trailer and 4Runner are tightened to the specified torque.
- Make sure your 4Runner’s maintenance is up to date. Towing puts additional stress on the tow vehicle, so before heading out be sure your 4Runner has been inspected thoroughly.
- Don't get stuck on the side of the road. Make sure you have at least one spare tire for your trailer along with a proper lug-nut wrench and jack in case you need to change a flat tire.
- Use trailer safety chains. All trailers should have safety chains that hook up to the hitch.
- Check trailer lights. Check to make sure the trailer's electrical wiring system is properly connected to your 4Runner. Confirm that the trailer's running lights, brake lights, turn signals, and hazard lights are all working properly.
- Consider getting tow mirrors. If your trailer is wider than your tow vehicle, look into getting factory or wider aftermarket tow mirrors to help see the trailer's blind spots while driving and to aid rear visibility when backing up.
- Wheel chocks! When unhooking the trailer from the 4Runner, place wheel chocks (sturdy, wedge-shaped blocks) in front of and behind the trailer's tires to ensure the trailer doesn't roll away when it is released from the tow vehicle.
- Practice driving with a trailer. Before hitting the road, it's a good idea to practice accelerating, backing up, braking, making wide turns, and using your sideview mirrors.
- Make sure your 4Runner and travel trailer are level. Any sag or squat will make it difficult to control your rig and compromise the safety of your towing adventure. If this is the case, look into getting a set of Timbren SES suspension upgrades.
Hit the road
Once your trailer is safely hooked up to your 4Runner, it's time to hit the open road and let the adventure begin. Here are some important tips for safely getting you, your 4Runner, and your trailer on down the road to your destination.
While you’re traveling: “May the road rise up to meet you...”
- Know your trailer. Understand your trailer’s weight, height, and width.
- Make wider turns at curves and corners. Because your trailer's wheels will end up closer to the inside of a turn than the wheels of your tow vehicle, the trailer tires are more likely to hit or ride up over curbs.
- Allow for longer stopping distances. Because of the added weight of the trailer, stopping distances will increase from what your 4Runner can normally achieve on its own.
- Stay in the right lane on highways. Driving in the right lane will also make it easier to get over to the shoulder in the case of a tire blowout.
- Adjust trailer brakes according to the load. Many trailers have electric brakes, and the power level can be adjusted by the driver if the truck is fitted with an optional in-vehicle trailer brake controller system.
- Don't ride your brakes on long downhills. Shift to a lower gear to help slow the vehicle and take some strain off of the brakes. If your tow vehicle has a tow/haul mode that - when engaged - will automatically downshift the transmission when it senses the truck is on a long downhill. Applying the brakes at intervals to keep the speed in check (as opposed to constant application on the brake pedal) will help keep the brakes from overheating.
- Use a spotter when backing up. Have someone outside at the rear of the trailer while backing up whenever possible; mirrors—even wide tow mirrors—typically can't provide all the visibility you may need, particularly in situations where there are other vehicles, objects, or people in close proximity.
- Disconnect wiring before launching a boat. Disconnect the trailer's wiring from the 4Runner before backing the trailer into the water at a boat launch. This will avoid any electrical problems that might arise from submerging the trailer's lights in the water.
- Check your route ahead of time. Unfortunately, some roads don't allow trailers on them, and certain roads also have weight, height, and width limits. Planning your route ahead of time will save you the hassle of having to backtrack to find roads that allow passage for your rig.
Best suspension upgrades for towing with your 4Runner
Airbag helper springs provide great ride quality... but are they the most reliable for your 4Runner? Without a doubt, the term ‘best’ choice would have to include ‘most reliable’. In other words, the system needs to be bullet proof! If an airbag suspension system isn’t the most reliable, then what is?
Timbren SES suspension upgrades provide the most safety because they are the most reliable. Why? It’s because they require zero maintenance: a truly ‘set it and forget it’ system. All Timbren SES products - like the TORSEQ - come with a No B.S. Lifetime Warranty and a 100-Day Customer Satisfaction Guarantee.