8 Winter Towing Tips for Safe Trailering

winter towingYou’ve got a big thermos of hot chocolate.

A long playlist of Christmas songs.

Seat heaters getting you cozy and comfortable behind the wheel.

So are you ready for a long winter drive?

Not until you’ve done a winter towing safety check for your trailer.

Winter drives can be lovely and scenic—until they suddenly become totally terrifying. With ice on the roads, wind at your sides, or heavy snow smacking the windshield, you and your trailer need to be prepared for dangerous situations.

Follow our winter towing tips below to keep yourself, your horses, and your cargo safe on the road this season.

Winter Towing Tips for Safe Trailering

Before we get to the list: the most important safety rule you can follow is to keep off icy roads whenever possible. If you don’t need to drive in rough winter weather, don’t!

It’s also important to get familiar with general trailer safety rules for driving in any season, which you can do here.

1. Get Your Regular Maintenance Check

Before any long trip, make sure your trailer is up to date on its regular maintenance checks. This is the most efficient way to ensure a safe drive without breakdowns.

2. Consider Snow Chains or Snow Tires for Your Trailer

Snow-ready tires can keep you stable in inclement weather. They’re especially important for safely slowing down or breaking on winter roads.

If you’re not sure whether your route will take you into the snow, it’s smart to at least have a set of snow-ready tires stowed away.

3. Check the Battery

Cold temperatures tend to cause older batteries to die. If your battery is more than a few years old, consider replacing it before your drive.

4. Clear Snow off the Top of the Trailer

Grab a stepstool and a broom to clear snow off the top of your trailer. This will prevent a chunk of snow from dropping down on your tow vehicle when you brake. It will also keep other drivers safe—you won’t be shedding snow and ice into the road as you drive.

5. Know the Stopping Points Along Your Route

Don’t just wing it with your GPS! If weather conditions get too bad, you’ll need a safe place to pull over and wait it out. Travelmath has a handy tool that will calculate stopping points along your route for you.

6. Carry an Emergency Kit

Ideally, you already have a roadside emergency kit stowed in your trailer with flares, water, equine first-aid supplies, etc. For winter drives, make sure you’ve got spare warm gloves and hats stored in a dry space, ice scrapers, and tire traction mats in case you get stuck in slush.

7. Get Familiar with Your Brake Controller’s Manual Override

Your trailer brake controller has a manual override—usually a “squeeze bar,” slide, or button. It lets you hit the trailer brakes directly from the controller (bypassing the tow vehicle brakes). So if you go into a slide or a skid on icy roads, hitting the manual override can pull you out of it.

Learn more about testing and using your trailer brake controller here.

8. Drive Slow with Lots of Stopping Distance

This is true whenever you’re trailering, but especially when roads are icy. Braking hard can cause your rig to skid or jackknife easily.


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8 Winter Towing Tips for Safe Trailering — 46 Comments

  1. It’s so very important to take it slow when the weather is acting up–I’m glad you made sure to mention it! Especially with the heavy weight added from hauling something, going below the speed limit in bad conditions is pretty vital to arriving at your destination safely. Try not to give in to the peer pressure of everyone else around you going at higher speeds–they’re not carrying the same weight you are. Play it safe!

  2. Your tip about how you need to get regular maintenance checks for your trailer makes a lot of sense. I agree that before any long trip you would want to get it looked at. My brother is towing a trailer across the country as part of a move, so he’ll have to get it checked out first.

  3. I like your tip about making sure you bring tire traction mats. This would be helpful when towing someone in the snow that you can get them out of wherever they are trapped. I’ll have to consider your tips so that I can be helpful if I’m asked to tow anyone.

  4. Thank you for all the winter towing tips. I really like your tip about making sure that the trailer is up-to-date on its regular maintenance checks. I think that would be the best thing that you could do to prepare for winter trips.

  5. I agree that you need to get regular maintenance on your horse trailer before long trips. Making sure that everything is running well before you tow it would be a really smart idea. My husband and I are looking for a horse trailer for our daughter’s horse, so we’ll have to remember to perform maintained on it first.

  6. I totally agree when you said that regular maintenance is needed to keep the trailer is in good condition for a long period of time and prevent breakdowns. I will definitely follow your tip, especially that we will be buying a flatbed trailer in the winter season. We just need it since we will be transferring a lot of things from the warehouse to the shops by then due to demand. Thanks!

  7. I love these tips about winter towing and trailering! I think it is very important to get your maintenance checked before a trip. If anything were to go wrong with the trailer, there’s a lot of bad stuff that can happen. If I had a horse trailer, I would get maintenance checks on it before I went on long trips!

  8. I agree to all the points mentioned in the article! It isn’t a bad thing to call a tow truck however, prevention is way better than cure. Therefore, check before hand if your vehicle is winter ready or not.

  9. I love what you wrote about how when driving a trailer through winter, one must know where the manual override for the brake controller so that one can stop it from sliding or skidding on icy roads. If in case the trailer does spin out of control and I need to get it back home, I will need to call someone to have it towed back. In that way, I will be reassured that the trailer can be returned safely home.

  10. Great article! Winter is here and these tips will help us to navigate safely with our trailer. I am always nervous driving on slick roads with my trailer and try to avoid it when possible but sometimes it isn’t an option. Thanks for the article this will help me to navigate more safely.

  11. I appreciate the tip about replacing your battery prior to driving during colder months. When it comes to towing, it’s important to contact a reliable service that operates vehicles with strong towing capacities. If I were to purchase a truck for towing purposes, I would make an effort to do some extensive comparison shopping in order to determine the best one.

  12. The brake controller manual override guide shares very helpful in-depth information on what to do to test your trailer brakes before you hit the roads in snowy/icy weather. As a nurse (who always has to drive to work in snowy weather) I always say it is MOST important that drivers who do not need to be on the road stay off the roads. This is especially important for small cars/vehicles. It is very scary setting out on a drive in winter weather thinking that you are prepared, only to later realize that you are in over your head and conditions are worse than you thought. The stopping points website is great, I have never heard of that one before. Great article, Be safe out there!

  13. My sister’s car stopped in the middle of the road and she wants it repaired right away. It was explained here that she should have her car regularly check for maintenance. Moreover, it’s recommended to go to trusted auto services for quality towing services.

  14. I like your tip about how cold temperatures cause older batteries to die. That makes sense considering it can sap all the energy from the battery. I’ll have to consider your tips so that I can power my truck for towing.

  15. I like what you said about checking the battery. I believe that renting a car trailer is a great idea. My friend wants to rent a trailer, so I’ll help him find the best company available.

  16. It’s good to know that you should clear snow off of your trailer before towing so that chunks of snow don’t impair your vision from falling snow while driving. My brother is looking to get a trailer for his ATV’s and frequently drives in the winter. I will be sure to recommend that he ensure the trailer is clear of snow before driving once he has found the trailer that is right for him.

  17. It’s good to know that checking the battery is important because cold temperatures can cause batteries to die. My husband and I are planning on getting a trailer to help us with moving to our new home in a couple of weeks, and since it’s the winter, we want to know how to stay safe. I’ll make sure to pass these tips along to him so he can know how to be safe when towing the trailer.

  18. Thanks for explaining that solid tires are important when there’s bad weather. Another thing that good tires could help with is muddy or uneven terrain. I’ll have to remember these tips as I look for trailers.

  19. This consultancy has been top-notch, and they are providing car detailing ideas and services to avoid future problems. Along with this, there are reasons presented why it is necessary. I guess this can be helpful.

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