Going Barefoot

There has been a lot of talk about making trailers cheaper, smaller and more lightweight so those with smaller cars and sport utes can tow them. The problem seems to lie in the true drivability factor. 

Are they safe? Especially being towed behind a smaller wheelbase vehicle. Just because the trailer is lighter than the vehicle's towing capacity, doesn't make it safe. 

By far this new BareFoot is about the best small trailer I've ever seen, and I've seen and towed plenty as the former Editor of RV magazine. But again, is it safe behind a small vehicle?

The tail wags the dog is a problem that arises when the trailer and vehicle become unbalanced on the road at speed. It doesn't happen at low speeds, but at 55 or 65 miles per hour bad things can happen if you get sucked up in the draft of a high-speed big rig that passes by. 

 Trailer sway is a huge issue and not many novice drivers understand it. I won't go into detail because there are plenty of great sites online that discuss it, however, it can be caused by lots of situations, not just other big trucks, but by unbalanced loads or sudden gusts of wind.

The problem is that once sway begins it is very difficult to stop and many people tend to slam on the brakes, which only makes the problem worse. The best thing to do is simply lift off the throttle until the vehicle slows to a safe speed, get out and balance the load in the trailer and then start up again. Don't counter-steer either, that can cause you to spin.

Small vehicles with limited wheelbase and transmission performance can have difficulty towing a trailer, even the small single-axle ones. So it's best to do your research before you get on the road. Trailer sway is just one issue, and sometimes certain hitches help a lot, but unless your rig can be outfitted with a standard 2-inch ball and it's mounted to the frame, I would think twice before towing anything more than a tiny cargo trailer. 

If you're trailer is considerably longer than your vehicle and you can't get a 2-inch ball hitch mounted to the frame, STOP and rethink it. Drive to your local trailer repair shop and ask them their opinion. If you trust their advice go with it, but don't overlook a second opinion either. 

Ignoring the warnings only puts you and the lives of others at risk. Be safe.


Larry Saavedra