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Diesel Towing Trucks - Towing Basics

A Beginner's Guide To Trucks And Trailers

Photography by The Diesel Power Staff

Diesel trucks are made for towing. Whether they actually pull a trailer or not, one of the great things about diesels is their ability to haul large amounts of weight. Straight from the factory, most 3/4- and 1-ton diesels are rated to tow at least 7,500 pounds, which means a car loaded onto a trailer will fall easily within its means. While not everyone will tow with their diesel, everyone should know how to pull a trailer if the need arises. For this article, we're going to go over the basics of bumper towing, so you'll be prepared if a car breaks down, or your buddies need a truck to tow their fishing boat.

Checking Equipment
When you're first looking to tow, make sure your vehicle is compatible with the trailer you are going to haul. Know whether your trailer requires a 2-inch or 2 5/16-inch ball, what type of brakes it has (surge or electric), and know what type of wiring (4-pin or 7-pin) you need so that all your lights and signals will work correctly. Once you've verified that all these parts match up, and are rated for the weight you're towing, it's time to hook up.

Hooking up to a trailer
Hooking up to the trailer is probably the most important step in the whole process. First, take a look at the trailer that you'll be towing, and make sure it is in good shape. If it doesn't have lights or brakes, or has bad welds, it should never be towed until it can be fixed. If it checks out OK, then slowly back up so your hitch ends up right under the trailer receiver. Set the trailer down on top of the hitch, then secure the trailer to the ball. Double check that the trailer is secure, and that you are using the right size ball. Once you're hooked up, attach the wiring pigtail to your vehicle, and attach the safety chains from the trailer to the rear of your truck. Never tow without the safety chains in place, because if the trailer somehow comes loose, they will be the only piece of equipment between you and disaster.

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