If you’re pulling your fifth wheel or travel trailer out on the open road, it’s tempting to set the cruise and let your vehicle do the hard work for you. But should you use cruise control while towing?
The answer is both yes and no. While using cruise control can help you maintain a consistent speed, there are some dangers to be aware of.
Here’s what you need to know about using cruise control while towing an RV.
Is Pulling A Trailer With Cruise Control Safe?
In general, it is safe to use cruise control while towing. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
First, your vehicle will be working harder to tow a trailer than it would be without one. This means that your engine will be under more strain and could overheat if you use cruise control for too long.
Second, you’ll need to be extra careful in stop-and-go traffic. If you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to lose control of your vehicle when you’re towing a trailer.
When you’re using cruise control, your vehicle will continue to accelerate even if you take your foot off the gas pedal.
This can cause you to rear-end the car in front of you if you’re not careful.
Finally, remember that cruise control can’t account for changes in terrain. If you’re going up a hill, your vehicle will need to work harder to maintain the same speed.
This could cause your engine to overheat or put too much strain on your transmission.
So, while using cruise control is generally safe, there are some risks you need to be aware of.
If you’re going to use cruise control while towing, be sure to keep an eye on your vehicle’s temperature gauge and take breaks often.
This will help you avoid any problems and keep you safe on the road.
Choose Manually Driving Over Using Cruise Control In Bad Weather
In addition to the risks mentioned above, you also need to be aware of the effect that wind can have on your vehicle when you’re towing a trailer.
A strong crosswind can push your trailer from side to side, making it difficult to control. If you’re using cruise control in these conditions, it’s important to be extra vigilant.
Pay attention to the direction of the wind and be ready to take control of your vehicle if necessary.
Additionally, don’t use cruise when driving in icy or snowy conditions. These slippery conditions make it difficult to stop your vehicle, even without a trailer.
If you have to use cruise control in these conditions, be sure to go slowly and keep a close eye on the road.
Your Trailer Has Tires Too
Don’t forget that your trailer has tires too. These tires can wear down just like the ones on your vehicle.
If you’re using cruise control while towing, be sure to check your trailer’s tires often.
These tires work hard to keep your trailer stable on the road. If they’re not in good condition, it can be difficult to control your trailer, which can be dangerous.
Plus, most RV tires have a maximum suggested speed limit. The vast majority are set to 65 mph, so it’s probably a good idea to stay at that speed or below it.
Remember, your vehicle tires and your RV tires are different. Putting too much strain on your RV tires can cause problems you want to avoid.
Use Tow/Haul Mode Whenever You’re Towing RV Camper
Tow/haul mode is designed to help your vehicle handle the extra weight of a trailer.
When you put your vehicle in tow/haul mode, the transmission shifts differently than it does when you’re not towing.
This can help your vehicle accelerate better and prevent it from overworking itself.
Additionally, tow/haul mode can help your vehicle slow down more effectively. When you’re towing a heavy trailer, it can be difficult to stop quickly.
This is especially true if you’re going downhill. Engaging tow/haul mode can help your brakes work better and prevent your vehicle from overshooting a stop sign or red light.
But should you use tow/haul mode and cruise control when towing? Yes, you can. However, you should make a note of a few things.
First, your vehicle is going to do whatever it has to in order to maintain the speed you set.
That means if you’re going up a steep incline, your vehicle is going to push harder to get up to the desired speed.
The best time to use tow/haul mode is when you’re in a flat area. This lets you maintain a steady speed without taxing your engine or transmission.
Using it through the mountains could lead to unnecessary stress and wear on your vehicle.
If you’re going to use cruise control while towing, you might want to consider engaging tow/haul mode.
This can help your vehicle handle the extra weight of a trailer and make it easier to stop. Of course, you don’t have to use tow/haul mode if you don’t want to.
It’s really up to you. Just remember that if you’re towing a heavy trailer, it’s probably a good idea to engage this mode.
Can You Use Overdrive (O/D) And Cruise Control At The Same Time?
People who like to drive with cruise control on should take advantage of the overdrive gear option.
It is only meant for driving at one set speed, but it must be a high speed.
The reason is that it is easier for the engine to reduce its RPM if the vehicle is traveling at a higher consistent speed.
In other words, when you activate the overdrive gear, the torque converter is locked so that the transmission absorbs all the engine power.
This is how the engine will perform better and reduce its fuel consumption.
Overdrive is a gear that’s designed to help your vehicle conserve fuel. When you’re not towing a trailer, engaging overdrive can help your vehicle run more efficiently.
However, when you’re towing a trailer, overdrive can put extra strain on your engine.
If you’re going to use cruise control while towing, you might want to avoid overdrive. This will help your engine last longer and prevent it from overheating.
Of course, you don’t have to avoid overdrive all the time. If you’re driving on a flat road with a light load, you might be able to use overdrive without any problems.
Just be sure to keep an eye on your vehicle’s temperature gauge and take breaks often. This will help you avoid any problems and keep you safe on the road.
Think About Trailer Sway
If you’re going to use cruise control while towing, you need to be aware of the risk of trailer sway.
This is a problem that can occur when your trailer starts to swing from side to side.
This can happen for a variety of reasons, including a strong wind or a sudden change in direction.
Trailer sway can be very dangerous. The extra weight of the trailer can make it difficult to control your vehicle. You might even lose control completely and have an accident.
To avoid trailer sway, you need to be vigilant. Pay attention to the direction of the wind and be ready to take control of your vehicle if necessary.
Additionally, don’t use cruise control in areas where there might be a lot of traffic. This will give you more time to react if your trailer starts to sway.
Finally, be sure to load your trailer correctly. An uneven or unbalanced load can make it more likely to sway.
If you’re not sure how to properly load your trailer, ask someone at a campground or a truck stop. They’ll be able to help you get it right.
When to Use and Not Use Cruise Control
As you can see, there are a few things to consider before using cruise control while towing.
If you’re not sure if it’s safe to use cruise control, err on the side of caution and avoid using it.
In general, you should avoid using cruise control when:
Using cruise control on the highway is always tempting, but sometimes it’s best to turn it off and manually control your speed.
Safe Towing Practices While Using Cruise Control
If you’re planning on using cruise control as you move from one place to the next, there are some precautions you can take to ensure that things go as smoothly as possible.
Before you head out on the open road, check and double check the route you plan to take. This will help you avoid any unexpected surprises, such as road closures or detours.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to research the area you’ll be driving through. This way, you’ll know what to expect and can plan accordingly.
For example, if you’re driving through a mountainous region, you might want to take a different route than you would if you were driving through the plains.
The lighter your load, the easier it will be on your vehicle. If possible, leave any unnecessary items at home.
This will help conserve fuel and prevent your vehicle from overworking itself.
Additionally, make sure that your trailer is properly packed and balanced. An unbalanced or overloaded trailer can be difficult to handle, especially on windy days.
Check your equipment
Before you hit the road, take some time to inspect your vehicle and trailer.
Make sure that everything is properly secured and in good working order. This includes your tires, brakes, hitch, and lights.
It’s also a good idea to check the weather forecast for your route. This way, you can plan for any inclement weather and make sure that you’re prepared.
Take your time
If possible, avoid driving for more than eight hours per day. This will give you time to rest and allow your vehicle to cool down.
If you have to drive for longer periods of time, be sure to take breaks often.
This is especially important if you’re driving in hot weather. If it’s too hot outside, consider stopping for the day and finding a place to stay overnight. It’s not worth pushing yourself (or your vehicle) too hard.
Hook it up right
Be sure to double check your hitch before you start towing. This is one area where you don’t want to take any chances.
If the hitch isn’t properly secured, it could come loose and cause an accident.
Also make sure that all of your chains and straps are secure. These are what keep your trailer attached to your vehicle in case of an accident.
If they’re not secure, they could come loose and cause your trailer to detach from your vehicle.
Before you start driving, be sure to adjust your mirrors. This is especially important if you’re driving a large vehicle or towing a trailer.
You’ll need to be able to see behind you, so that you can avoid any potential accidents.
If you’re pulling a long trailer, you might want to have two types of mirrors: a flat mirror to see the road and a convex mirror to view your RV.
Once you’re on the road, keep an eye on your mirrors and be sure to check them often.
This way, you’ll be able to see what’s going on behind you and make any necessary adjustments.
Consult your owner’s manual
Before you use cruise control, be sure to consult your owner’s manual. Some vehicles are not designed to use cruise control while towing.
Additionally, some systems will automatically disengage the cruise control if they detect that the vehicle is towing something.
As always, if you’re not sure, err on the side of caution and forego using cruise control from one point to the next.
As you can see, there are a few things to consider before using cruise control while towing.
However, if you’re prepared and have the right equipment, it can be a great way to make your trip more enjoyable.
Using cruise control while towing is ideal when you’re driving across the plains and in optimal weather conditions.
But if those factors change, it’s best to cancel the cruise and control the speed yourself.\
Follow the steps we mentioned above and you can rest easy knowing you’re ready to hit the open road and set the cruise. Safe travels!