(ED—The following tips on how to keep your sled safe and secure when trailering comes from Steadymate. Contact information is listed at the end of the article.)
Toronto, Ont. – As temperatures outside start cooling down, all of you snowmobile enthusiasts are warming up for another season of fun on the trails. But before packing up the sled and hitting the snow, you need to tune up your trailers—and your trailering skills.
Steadymate by Kinedyne, a leader in premium tie-down products and accessories for all powersport equipment, has some important tips on trailering snowmobiles that will save you on costly repairs and fines, as well as prevent serious accidents and injuries.
Steadymate Trailer Tips:
1. Carefully follow the maintenance and/or operation instructions that came with your trailer, snowmobile and securement straps.
2. Know your trailer’s weight and your vehicle’s towing capacity rating and don’t exceed it. When determining the towing capacity of your vehicle, refer to your car or truck manufacturer owner’s manual. Then, use your snowmobile manufacturer owner’s manual to verify the weight of the sled and trailer. Don’t forget to add in any other items that you carry, i.e. generator, extra gas, etc.
3. Check your vehicle’s oil and radiator levels, all other automotive vital fluids and tire pressure. Towing a large load puts extra strain on your vehicle, so make sure that it’s up to the task.
4. Your trailer faces harsh elements while traveling along winter roads. It’s a good idea to check trailer hubs and lights every trip, as salt and road chemicals can muck up your hubs, corrode wheel studs and eat away at exposed trailer wires. Always check that all trailer lights are fully operational, make sure there are no exposed wires and clean out and grease your trailer wheel hubs to prevent seizing and over-heating on the highway.
5. Make sure you test the brakes on your trailer (if it has brakes) before you hit the road.
6. Check the tires on the trailer for pressure and cracks. The sun causes natural oils in the tire to break down, reducing the life of the tire. If one tire needs replacing, it’s best to replace both tires so that they have matching tire treads and pull evenly. If you can only replace one tire, try to replace it with the same manufacturer model tire and tread. Also, always carry a spare tire for your trailer.
7. Check that your tire jack fits properly under the trailer. Some tire jacks may be compatible with your vehicle but too large to fit under a trailer.
8. Remember to always carry a trailer tool kit with ratchets, spare trailer bolts and hooks, as well as recovery straps to rescue vehicles. The Steadymate Recovery Strap is stronger than cable, lighter than chain and can easily attach to any vehicle in trouble.
9. It is wise to carry a tow strap in both your trailer tool kit as well as your snowmobile kit so that you are always prepared to rescue a sled or yourself. Steadymate has come out with a 15-foot long Tow Strap that is perfect for pulling a snowmobile out of a snowy situation or when the engine has ceased.
10. Make sure the size of the ball on the hitch matches the size of the latch (ball cover) on the trailer. One of the biggest mistakes people make is hooking up a trailer with a two-inch ball cover to a trailer hitch with a smaller ball (e.g. 1 7/8”)—this can easily come off if you hit a bump or pile of snow.
11. Attaching trailer chains from the towing vehicle to the trailer is a must. The chains should have snap hooks or links that will prevent the chain from coming loose and the chains should be crossed, creating a basket in case the hitch comes off the ball.
12. To load your snowmobile onto the trailer, first check to make sure the ramp is secure. Next, drive the snowmobile at a slow speed up the ramp, letting off the throttle as the skis reach the trailer bed at the top of the ramp. Finally, drive the snowmobile forward at a low speed until the weight of the sled is evenly distributed over the axle of the trailer. Once it is in position, set the brake right away.
13. It is not advisable to load sleds across the width of the trailer as they may exceed your maximum allowable width (2.6m) and could therefore be unsafe for fellow road users.
14. Be certain to check that the securement points (i.e. tie-down hook points) on your trailer are structural members of the trailer’s body and that they are properly intact. If no suitable securement points exist on your trailer, secure the tie-down straps to the trailer’s frame or purchase and install a trailer mount kit. Steadymate offers a variety of trailer surface mount kits, including the Surface Mount E Kit which can be easily installed without any routering and is a great solution for two sleds sharing the same fitting in a double wide trailer.
15. When securing your snowmobile with tie-downs, think of the Steadymate 4 x 45 degree rule. Prevention of movement from side to side and back to front is achieved with Tie-Downs in four opposite corners creating equal tension and balance. Prevention of movement up and down is the next step and this is accomplished by securing straps at a 45 degree angle from the sled to the floor at all four securement points. By following the 4 x 45 degree rule, you have now completed the task of securing your vehicle from the forces of all three directions: side to side, front to back and up and down; thus, creating less risk in braking situations, accidents or slippery conditions for you and others on the roads.
16. Steadymate recommends that each strap used to secure your sled should be rated for the full weight of your sled—during transport, any one strap could be called upon to hold the full weight of your sled due to uneven road conditions, sharp turns and emergency situations.
17. Only use securement straps that have a working load limit tag (1/3 the ultimate breaking strength) to ensure you are compliant with new safety legislation. Not having a working load limit tag on your straps is equivalent to having no straps at all in the eyes of the law and fines can cost you hundreds of dollars and points deducted from your driver’s license. Steadymate takes these regulations seriously and has sewn a working load limit tag onto every strap they sell.
18. When driving at night, it is always recommended to have reflectors on your trailer.
19. Take a couple of minutes at each fuel or rest stop to check on your sled and trailer. Make sure that all tie-downs are securely in place, your lights are still functioning and your trailer tire hubs are not too hot.
Since you don’t use your trailer as much as your vehicle, the extra time spent taking proper safety measures and carefully securing your snowmobile is well worth it.
For more information on Steadymate visit www.steadymate.com.