5 Things to Consider When Trailering

Trailering with the All-New 2014 GMC Sierra

Whether it's for work or play, it's always good to brush up on know-how, tips, and equipment for your next trailering endeavor. Here are some important things to keep in mind before your next trip:

1. Size up your vehicle. Check your vehicle's owner guide for towing guidelines — it's important to have a vehicle that's tailored to the item you are towing. For example, 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 pickup trucks have a max trailering capacity of 11,500 lbs.* and come with an array of specially designed trailering features like Tow/Haul mode, an integrated brake control, trailer sway control, and more. For even more towing capacity, look to the 2014 GMC Sierra 3500HD with a 1-ton-maximum fifth-wheel trailering capability of 23,100 lbs.**

2. Make sure you have the right hitch. Before selecting a hitch or trailering package, you should be familiar with the weight ratings specific to your vehicle because it affects how your vehicle handles, corners, brakes, and signals. To find your vehicle's weight ratings, refer to your owner's manual or contact your local dealership.

3. Brake with confidence. We all know the importance of routine brake inspections, but don't forget about the brakes on your hauler or trailer. Before you take off, it's important to know what kind of trailer brakes you're working with. There are two common types of trailer brakes; each is used for a different purpose.

  • Surge brakes: During vehicle deceleration, the trailer coupler pushes on the hitch ball, which activates a self-contained hydraulic brake system. This means, as you apply the brakes in your vehicle, your trailer follows suit — applying brake pressure at the same time. Surge brakes are primarily used on boat trailers.
  • Electric trailer brakes: Using a brake-control unit, this system activates the trailer brakes whenever the vehicle brakes are applied. This ensures that both your vehicle and trailer decelerate at the same speed, providing greater confidence on corners and hilly terrain. It is often found on travel trailers, horse trailers, and car haulers.

4. Check your tech. Having the most advanced technology features available from the factory can help make towing safer and easier. Your vehicle should be sporting these features:

  • Trailer Sway Control. Uses sensors to measure unexpected side-to-side motion, and corrects by applying individual brakes to bring the vehicle and trailer back in line.
  • Hill-Hold Assist. Holds full brake pressure for up to 1.5 seconds if it senses potential "rollback," giving you time to carefully accelerate and pull away smoothly.
  • Integrated Trailer Brake. Integrates with your vehicle's electrical and antilock brake system to provide simultaneous braking from both your vehicle and your trailer.

5. Remember your spare. Make sure your vehicle is equipped with a spare tire. Don't forget about the tires on your trailer either (consider picking up a spare wheel and wheel hub). Check the tread on your tires with a penny: Insert the penny into several tread groves of the tire, Lincoln's head pointing down. If you can see the top of Lincoln's head, your treads are worn and it's time for new tires.

For more trailering know-how, GMC has a complete section on the website dedicated to trailering and towing, with everything from basics to safety—including a glossary and charts of useful terminology. To learn more, visit http://www.gmc.com/trailering-towing.html or, if you prefer, download the GMC Trailering Guide App for the iPad from the iTunes store to pull off your towing job with ease.


*Trailering weights are calculated assuming properly equipped vehicle plus driver and one passenger. The weight of other optional equipment, passengers, and cargo will reduce the trailer weight your vehicle can tow. See dealer for details.

**When properly equipped. Maximum trailer weight ratings are calculated assuming a base vehicle, except for any options necessary to achieve the rating, plus driver.