Towing Tips from an Expert: An Interview With Bob De Kruyff

Aug 24, 2012

towing tipsRecently, we’ve been sharing several tips to help you when driving, parking, and loading a trailer. We wanted to dive deeper into this subject and get answers to questions that we still had. We asked a towing expert, Bob De Kruyff of U-Haul International, for some more insider towing tips for trailers. Read our interview with Bob for some valuable pointers before your next move.

MI: To start, can you tell me a little bit about your background?

De Kruyff: “I worked with GM for 32 years in vehicle engineering and handling. Then, moved to Phoenix and joined U-Haul to work in the development process. I am very heavily involved in the engineering details themselves.”

MI: When deciding on which trailer to get, do you have any recommendations based on what you are hauling?

De Kruyff: “The trailer has a lot to do with what you are hauling, but the ability of your vehicle to tow the trailer is even more important. A computerized qualification process can make sure your specific vehicle is able to tow the trailer that you need safely. To decide which type, consider this:

  • Enclosed trailers will often be better for household goods because it’s protected; you can lock it up, and it’s sheltered from the weather.
  • Open trailers are better for bulkier goods, such as a tractor or landscape goods; you aren’t as concerned with the elements in these situations. Having an open trailer also makes it easier to tie-down large or awkward shaped items.”

MI: Do you have any tips for how to optimize fuel economy when towing a trailer?

De Kruyff: “Wind resistance with a trailer is a very big deal; it almost doubles with added speed. The difference between 55 MPH and 65 MPH is huge. So, driving 65 is not efficient.”

  • Follow the recommended speed posted on the trailer.
  • Inflate the tires of the trailer and the car to the maximum amount recommended by the manufacturer. You can find this information in your car door opening.

MI: How do I know if my trailer is over its weight capacity?

De Kruyff: “There are websites that can give you an estimate of the weight of your belongings. Or, just swing by your local U-Haul center and they’ll help you make sure you are not over your weight capacity.”

MI: Are there any restrictions to what I can haul in a trailer?

Towing Tips

Securing your extra long load on an open trailer

De Kruyff: There not really any restrictions for what you can haul for non-commercial use, although even for non-commercial use some states and provinces have specific laws regarding cargo securement.  Additionally, “certain items may present difficulty in securing such round items that tend to roll. Secure all items carefully because an improperly secured item can affect vehicle balance and trailer stability.” Here are some guidelines:

  • Empty flammable material (such as gas tanks or gas cans), and use care while transporting propane.
  • Never hang anything over the tailgate, or to tie anything to the top or outside of the trailer. Loading heavier in the front is critical, if you have extra long cargo, U-Haul recommends securing it over the front of the trailer using the load stabilizers.

MI: Are there any precautions I can take to be safe with a trailer?

De Kruyff: “Once you have a trailer hooked up to your vehicle, it’s not the same vehicle anymore. The combination of the car with the trailer is like a whole new vehicle. The best things to do are

1. Reduce your speed. A good rule of thumb is not to exceed 55 MPH,  and

2. Plan ahead before entering a gas station so that you can get out easily without backing up, and looking ahead to spot hazards in advance. Watch U-Haul’s safe trailering videos for more detailed information on this topic.”

MI: Do you have any tips for driving the trailer, specifically in adverse weather conditions such as rain or snow?

De Kruyff: “SLOW DOWN, wear your seatbelt and keep your hands on the wheel. Also, keep your steering  slow and fluid; smoothness is very important. ”

MI: Are there any other tips you have for someone who may be towing a trailer that we haven’t covered?

De Kruyff: “Hooking up the trailer is also something that must be done carefully and correctly. For help, you can visit a U-haul center, or the website for instructional videos. Also, always take the time to read the instructions. You will be glad you did.

A big thanks again to Bob De Kruyff for his expert insight. If you have any expert insight, or questions you’d love answered before your move, then let us know below in the comments. 


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