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Not all cars can handle towing well, especially during winter conditions. Even though winter weather can make towing more complicated, it is necessary for adventurous activities, like skiing, that require a car with good towing capabilities. Here’s a look at the proper towing equipment you’ll need when you tow something during winter.

The dangers of towing during winter

A car towing during winter on a snow covered road.
Car towing in winter | Getty Images

Winter is a notoriously dangerous time to drive and even worse when towing something heavy. According to Pac Brake, there are several dangers related to towing during the winter. One of the significant dangers is jackknifing. This is something that can happen in normal road conditions too.

However, it can take longer for a car to slow down in winter conditions and even longer when you’re towing something heavy. This could more easily lead to jackknifing. If your car is too close to another vehicle and forced to brake for any reason, there’s a good chance your car will jackknife. This can damage what you’re towing, but it can also damage the vehicle itself.

A lesser-known danger with winter towing has to do with emergencies. Many drivers habitually throw their emergency gear into the trailer they’re hauling. This can be problematic during winter. If something happens and you lose your trailer, you don’t have access to your emergency gear. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep emergency equipment in the cab of your car instead. 

The proper towing equipment needed for the winter

Controlling your car is the big challenge when towing something in winter. An air suspension is one piece of equipment that can help you stay in control. An air suspension can keep your ride smooth, and according to Pac Brake, it can also help you control whatever you’re towing. This equipment can be helpful in icy conditions when the road is incredibly slippery. 

Exhaust brakes are another piece of proper towing equipment that can be a good idea for winter towing. Exhaust brakes are only available on vehicles with diesel engines. As the name implies, exhaust brakes use the car’s exhaust pressure to apply the brakes. This does two things for drivers. It will reduce the amount of wear and tear on the actual brakes, and since exhaust brakes are gentler, it’ll also minimize trailer sway.

Other tips to remember when towing

Even if you can’t use proper towing equipment, some general tips will apply to towing anything during winter. First and foremost is speed, and not just in terms of how fast you’re going. Like in regular winter driving, folks need to drive, brake, and turn the wheel slowly. Similarly, it’s generally a good idea not to do any passing maneuvers while towing something in the winter.

This is especially true if visibility is low, as you may end up impeding traffic in the passing lane, and you may also have trouble seeing if there are any cars ahead of you. A tip more specific to towing is to test out your rig first. Every vehicle is different, and your towing setup can also be different. As such, it’s a good idea to find a safe place to test your rig during the winter to get a good idea of how it behaves.


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