This is the most important thing you should look at before using your new cargo trailer. Please take your time, and make sure you go over this list completely! A description of how these parts work and how they should be properly checked is included on the following pages of this manual.
- Hitch and coupler w/safety pin
- Safety chains crossed and secured properly
- All jacks are up
- All running lights, brake lights, and turn signals functioning
- Brakes, brake controller, and breakaway system
- Proper tire pressure and tire condition on trailer and tow vehicle
- Wheel lug nuts tightened
- Doors, windows, and roof vents closed
- Tie-down devices
- Proper load distribution
- The most common causes of accidents are (l) Improper coupling (2) Excessive speed or failure, road conditions (3) Uneven or overloading (4) Improper tire pressure (5) Loose lug nuts
Safety chains: Be sure to always connect the safety chains by crossing them beneath the coupler when hooking to your trailer. Crossing your safety chains forms a cradle to catch the tongue in case of disconnect. If you notice that your chains are too long, then they should be shortened (just simply twist them). If they look like they have been over-stressed, they should be replaced. In many states and provinces it is required by law that you cross your safety chains.
Brakes: Forest River trailers come with many different types of brake options. Repair and service information for each available type of brake can be found in the Axle Manufacturer’s Service Manual or online at:
- We only us Dexter Axles http://www.dexteraxle.com/
- Please follow all of the axle manufacturer’s instructions concerning brakes. Remember that failure to follow instructions could result in loss of warranty. Brakes on new trailers usually tend to “pull” or pulsate, but don’t worry, this is normal. Remember that not all Forest River trailers are equipped with brakes.
Tire pressure: The proper air pressure for your tires is printed on the sidewall of the tire. Air pressure should always be checked when tires are cold for the most accurate reading. You must not raise or lower your air pressure to meet your load. Serious injury may result from under- and over-inflation. Excessive wear and tear will also result if recommended pressure is not met. You must avoid, if possible, any potholes, curbs, or other hazards in the road. There is a chart on page 14 that describes various symptoms of tire wear and their causes.
Hitch and coupler: You must correctly match your tow vehicle to your trailer. It is essential that your tow vehicle can handle the total trailer weight (GVWR). You should also check to see that the hitch weight carrying capacity of your tow vehicle matches the loaded tongue weight of your trailer. If you have a brake controller, then you want it to match with the number of braking wheels on your trailer. The electrical wiring of your tow vehicle needs to match the wiring on your trailer. It is very important that the ball on your hitch matches the coupler size on the trailer.
Proper load distribution: All Forest River trailers are carefully designed to maintain a proper hitch weight when the trailer is evenly loaded. If improperly loaded, your trailer can become very unstable and difficult to control on the road. Uneven loading and improper hitch weight can make steering difficult and result in unsafe stopping and braking of the trailer and the tow vehicle.
For bumper-hitch trailers, always load 60% of the cargo weight evenly in front of the axles. For Goosenecks, load 70% of the weight in front of the axles. This will result in approximately 10% of the loaded trailer weight on the hitch. Hitch weight should never be less than 10 percent of the gross vehicle weight (trailer plus payload).
Distribute load as shown:70 % forward, 30% behind the axles