USER MANUAL Camper Trailer
This User’s Manual contains safety information and instructions for your camper trailer.
You must read this manual before loading or towing your trailer.
You must follow all safety precautions and instructions.
GENERAL SAFETY INFORMATION
An Owner’s Manual that provides general camper trailer information cannot cover all of the specific details necessary for the proper combination of every trailer, tow vehicle and hitch. Therefore, you must read, understand and follow the instructions given by the tow vehicle and trailer hitch manufacturers, as well as the instructions in this manual.
Loss of control of the camper trailer or trailer/tow vehicle combination can result in death or serious injury. The most common causes for loss of control of the trailer are:
- Improper sizing of the camper trailer for the tow vehicle, or vice versa.
- Excessive Speed: Driving too fast for the conditions.
- Failure to adjust driving behavior when towing a trailer.
- Overloading and/or improper weight distribution.
- Improper or mis-coupling of the trailer to the hitch.
- Improper braking and steering under sway conditions.
- Not maintaining proper tire pressure.
- Not maintaining proper torque on lug nuts.
IMPROPER SIZING OF THE CAMPER TRAILER TO THE TOW VEHICLE
Trailers that weigh too much for the towing vehicle can cause stability problems, which can lead to death or serious injury. Furthermore, the additional strain put on the engine and drive-train may lead to serious tow vehicle maintenance problems. For these reasons the maximum towing capacity of your towing vehicle should not be exceeded.
DRIVING TOO FAST
With ideal road conditions, the maximum recommended speed for safely towing a trailer may vary. If you drive too fast, the camper trailer is more likely to sway, thus increasing the possibility for loss of control. Also your tires may overheat, thus increasing the possibility of a blowout. The maximum recommended speed is 100 km/h.
FAILURE TO ADJUST DRIVING BEHAVIOR WHEN TOWING A CAMPER TRAILER
When towing a camper trailer, you will have decreased acceleration, increased stopping distance, and increased turning radius (which means you must make wider turns to keep from hitting curbs, vehicles, and anything else that is on the inside corner). Furthermore, the trailer will change the handling characteristics of your towing vehicle, making it more sensitive to steering inputs and more likely to be pushed around in windy conditions or when being passed by large vehicles. In addition, you will need a longer distance to pass, due to slower acceleration and increased length.
With these caveats in mind:
- Be alert for slippery conditions. You are more likely to be affected by slippery road surfaces when driving a tow vehicle with a trailer, than driving a tow vehicle without a trailer.
- Anticipate the trailer “swaying.” Swaying can be caused by excessive steering, wind gusts, roadway edges, or by the trailer reaction to the pressure wave created by passing trucks and busses.
- When encountering trailer sway take your foot off the gas, and steer as little as possible in order to stay on the road.
- Use small “trim-like” steering adjustments.
- Do not attempt to steer out of the sway.
- Also do not apply the tow vehicle brakes to correct trailer swaying.
- Check rearview mirrors frequently to observe the trailer and traffic.
- Use a lower gear when driving down steep or long grades. Use the engine and transmission as a brake.
- Do not ride the brakes, as they can overheat and become ineffective.
CAMPER TRAILER NOT PROPERLY COUPLED TO THE HITCH
It is critical that the trailer be securely coupled to the hitch ball, and that the safety chains and emergency breakaway brake cable are correctly attached. Uncoupling may result in death or serious injury to you and to others. Proper selection and condition of the coupler and hitch are essential to safely towing your trailer. A loss of coupling may result in death or serious injury. Be sure the hitch ball size matches the coupler size. Observe the hitch for wear, corrosion and cracks before coupling. Replace worn, corroded or cracked hitch components before coupling the trailer to the tow vehicle. Be sure the hitch components are tight before coupling the trailer to the tow vehicle. A loose hitch-ball nut can result in uncoupling, leading to death or serious injury. Be sure the hitch ball is tight to the hitch before coupling the camper trailer.
Do not move the camper trailer until:
- The coupler is secured and locked to hitch ball;
- The safety chains are secured to the tow vehicle;
- The trailer jack(s) are fully retracted.
Do not tow the trailer on the road until:
- Tires and wheels are checked;
- The load is secured to the trailer;
- The trailer lights are connected and checked.
WORN TIRES, LOOSE WHEELS AND LUG NUTS
Just as with your tow vehicle the camper trailer tires and wheels are important safety items. Therefore, it is essential to inspect the trailer tires before each tow.
If a tire has a bald spot, bulge, cut, cracks, or is showing any cords, replace the tire before towing. Uneven tread wear can be caused by tire imbalance, axle misalignment or incorrect inflation.
Improper tire pressure causes increased tire wear and may reduce trailer stability, which can result in a tire blowout or possible loss of control. Therefore, before each tow you must also check the tire pressure.
Tighten lug nuts before each tow. Lug nuts are also prone to loosen after first being assembled. When driving a new trailer (or after wheels have been remounted), check to make sure they are tight after the first kilometer of driving and before each tow thereafter.
Failure to perform this check can result in a wheel separating from the trailer and a crash, leading to death or serious injury.
The total weight of the load you put in or on the trailer, plus the empty weight of the trailer itself, must not exceed 750 kg.
UNSAFE LOAD DISTRIBUTION
Improper load distribution can lead to poor trailer sway stability or poor tow vehicle handling. Poor trailer sway stability results from tongue weights that are too low, and poor tow vehicle stability results from tongue weights that are too high. After loading, be sure to check that none of the axles are overloaded.
Be sure to:
- Distribute the load front-to-rear to provide proper tongue weight.
- Distribute the load evenly, right and left.
- Keep the center of gravity low.
Since the camper trailer “ride” can be bumpy and rough, you must secure your cargo so that it does not shift while the trailer is being towed.
A utility camper trailer must not be used to carry certain items, such as people, containers of hazardous substances or containers of flammable substances.
INOPERABLE BRAKES, LIGHTS OR MIRRORS
Be sure that all of the lights on your trailer are functioning properly before towing your trailer. Electric lights on a trailer are controlled via a connection to the tow vehicle, generally a multi-pin electrical connector. Check the trailer tail lights by turning on your tow vehicle headlights. Check the trailer brake lights by having someone step on the tow vehicle brake pedal while you look at trailer lights. Do the same thing to check the turn signal lights.
HAZARDS FROM MODIFYING YOUR CAMPER TRAILER
Essential safety items can be damaged by altering your trailer. Even simply driving a nail or screw to hang something can damage an electrical circuit or other feature of the trailer.
For warranty coverage, you must immediately contact the dealer from which your unit was purchased to make a warranty claim. The dealer that sold you the trailer will initiate the claims process in order to obtain approval for warranty work.
SAFETY FIRST–BASIC TIRE MAINTENANCE
Properly maintained tires improve the steering, stopping, traction, and load-carrying capability of your vehicle. Underinflated tires and overloaded vehicles are a major cause of tire failure. Therefore, as mentioned above, to avoid flat tires and other types of tire failure, you should maintain proper tire pressure, observe tire and vehicle load limits, avoid road hazards, and regularly inspect your tires.
CHECKING TIRE PRESSURE
It is important to check your vehicle's tire pressure for the following reasons:
- Most tires may naturally lose air over time.
- Tires can lose air suddenly if you drive over a pothole or other object or if you strike the curb when Parking.
STEPS FOR MAINTAINING PROPER TIRE PRESSURE
- Step 1: Locate the recommended tire pressure on the vehicle's tire information placard
- Step 2: Record the tire pressure of all tires.
- Step 3: If the tire pressure is too high in any of the tires, slowly release air by gently pressing on the tire valve stem with the edge of your tire gauge until you get to the correct pressure.
- Step 4: If the tire pressure is too low, note the difference between the measured tire pressure and the correct tire pressure. These "missing" pounds of pressure are what you will need to add.
- Step 5: At a service station, add the missing pounds of air pressure to each tire that is underinflated.
- Step 6: Check all the tires to make sure they have the same air pressure (except in cases in which the front and rear tires are supposed to have different amounts of pressure).
COUPLING AND UNCOUPLING THE CAMPER TRAILER
A secure coupling (or fastening) of the trailer to the tow vehicle is essential. A loss of coupling may result in death or serious injury. Therefore, you must understand and follow all of the instructions for coupling. The following parts are involved in making a secure coupling between the trailer and tow vehicle:
Coupling: That part of the trailer connecting mechanism by which the connection is actually made to the trailer hitch.
Hitch: That part of the connecting mechanism including the ball support platform and ball and those components that extend and are attached to the towing vehicle, including bumpers intended to serve as hitches.)
Trailer lighting (and braking) connector: A device that connects electrical power from the tow vehicle to the trailer. Electricity is used to turn on brake lights, running lights, and turn signals as required. In addition, if your trailer has a separate braking system, the electrical connector will also supply power to the trailer brakes from the tow vehicle.
Jack: A device on the trailer that is used to raise and lower the trailer tongue.
Before coupling the trailer to the tow vehicleBe sure the size and rating of hitch ball match the size and rating of the coupler. Hitch balls and couplers are marked with their size and rating. Wipe the hitch ball clean and inspect it visually and by feel for flat spots, cracks and pits. Rock the ball to make sure it is tight to the hitch, and visually check that the hitch ball nut is solid against the lock washer and hitch frame. Wipe the inside and outside of the coupler clean and inspect it visually for cracks and deformations; feel the inside of the coupler for worn spots and pits. Be sure the coupler is tight to the tongue of the trailer. All coupler fasteners must be visibly solid against the trailer frame. Raise the bottom surface of the coupler to be above the top of the hitch ball. Use the jack if one is provided; otherwise, use wood or concrete blocks to support the trailer tongue.
Prepare the coupler and hitchLubricate the hitch ball and the inside of the coupler with a thin layer of automotive bearing grease. If your trailer is equipped with a jack, raise the coupler above the ball height. Open the coupler locking mechanism. Ball couplers have a locking mechanism with an internal moving piece (ball clamp) and an outside handle, wheel, or latch. In the open position, the coupler is able to drop fully onto the hitch ball. Slowly back up the tow vehicle so that the hitch ball is near or aligned under the coupler, if the trailer jack has raised the coupler.
Couple the camper trailer to the tow vehicle
With your jack, lower the trailer tongue until the coupler fully engages the hitch ball. Engage the coupler locking mechanism. In the engaged position, the locking mechanism securely holds the coupler to the hitch ball. Insert a pin or lock through the hole in the locking mechanism. Be sure the coupler is all the way on the hitch ball and the locking mechanism is engaged. A properly engaged locking mechanism will allow the coupler to raise the rear of the tow vehicle.
If the coupler cannot be secured to the hitch ball, do not tow the camper trailer.
Lower the trailer so that its entire tongue weight is held by the hitch, and continue retracting the jack to its fully retracted position.
Connect the electrical cables
- Connect the trailer lights to the tow vehicle's electrical system using the electrical connectors.
- Check all lights for proper operation.
- Clearance and Running Lights (Turn on tow vehicle headlights).
- Brake Lights (Step on tow vehicle brake pedal).
- Turn Signals (Operate tow vehicle directional signal lever).
Uncoupling the Ball Hitch Trailer
Follow these steps to uncouple your ball hitch trailer from the tow vehicle:
- Block trailer tires to prevent the trailer from rolling, before jacking the trailer up.
- Disconnect the electrical connector.
- Disconnect the breakaway brake switch lanyard.
- Unlock the coupler and open it.
- Before extending jack, make certain the ground surface below the jack pad will support the tongue load.
LOADING THE CAMPER TRAILER
To safely load a trailer, you must consider:
- Overall load weight
- Load weight distribution
- Proper tongue weight
- Securing the load properly
To determine that you have loaded the trailer within its rating, you must consider the distribution of weight, as well as the total weight of the trailer and its contents. The trailer axles carry most of the total weight of the trailer and its contents. The remainder of the total weight is carried by the tow vehicle hitch. It is essential for safe towing, that the trailer tongue and tow vehicle hitch carry the proper amount of the loaded trailer weight, otherwise the trailer can develop an undesirable sway at towing speeds, or the rear of the towing vehicle can be overloaded.
The load distribution must be such that no component part of the trailer is loaded beyond its rating. Towing stability also depends on keeping the center of gravity as low as possible. Load heavy items on the floor and over the axles. When loading additional items, be sure to maintain even side-to-side weight distribution and proper tongue weight.
SECURING THE CARGO
Since the trailer “ride” can be bumpy and rough, you must secure your cargo so that it does not shift while the trailer is being towed.
Couple the trailer to the tow vehicle before loading. The tongue of a bumper pull trailer can rise during loading, before the cargo is properly distributed. Lower the stabilizer jack. Do not transport people, containers of hazardous substances, cans or containers of flammable substances.
Preparing the Trailer for Loading
Before loading cargo into your enclosed trailer, inspect the interior of the trailer.
Loading the Enclosed Trailer
Enclosed trailers may be fitted with a drop ramp door. The weight of the drop ramp door is partially held by a gas spring. If the spring assembly is out of adjustment or worn out, it will not provide the expected assistance for slow and careful lowering and raising ramp.
CHECKING THE TRAILER BEFORE AND DURING EACH TOW
Before towing, double-check all of these items:
- Tires, wheels and lug nuts
- Tire Pressure
- Coupler secured and locked
- Test of lights: Tail, Stop, and Turn Lights
- Cargo properly loaded, balanced and tied down
- Tongue weight and weight distribution set-up
- Doors and gates latched and secured
- Fire extinguisher
- Flares and reflectors
- Tongue and stabilizer jacks in the retracted position