Ford Tempo/Topaz 1984-1994 Repair Guide

General Recommendations


Before starting on a trip, practice turning, stopping and backing up in an area away from other traffic (such as a deserted shopping center parking lot) to gain experience in handling the extra weight and length of the trailer. Take enough time to get the feel of the vehicle/ trailer combination under a variety of situations.

Skillful backing up requires practice. Back up slowly with an assistant acting as a guide and watching for obstructions. Use both rear view mirrors. Place your hand at the bottom of the steering wheel and move it in the direction you want the rear of the trailer to swing. Make small corrections, instead of exaggerated ones,as a slight movement of the steering wheel will result in a much larger movement of the rear of the trailer.

Allow considerably more room for stopping when a trailer is attached to the vehicle. If the trailer is equipped with brakes, lead with the trailer brakes when approaching a stop. Trailer brakes are also handy for correcting side sway. Just touch them for a moment without using the vehicle brakes, and the trailer should settle down and track straight again.

To assist in obtaining good handling with the car/trailer combination, it is important that the trailer tongue load be maintained at approximately 10-15% of the loaded trailer weight.

Checking everything before starting out on the road, then stop after you've traveled about 50 miles and double-check the trailer hitch and electrical connections to make sure everything is still correct. Listen for sounds like chains dragging on the ground, and check your rear view mirrors frequently to make sure the trailer is still attached and tracking properly. Check the trailer wheel lugs to make sure they are tight and never attempt to tow the trailer with a spare saver tire installed on the vehicle.

Remember that the car/trailer combination is more sensitive to cross winds and slow down when crossing tall bridges and open expanses in gusty wind situations. Exceeding the speed limit while towing a trailer is not only illegal, it is foolish.

Because the trailer wheels are closer than the towing vehicle's wheels to the inside of a turn, drive slightly beyond the normal turning point when negotiating a sharp turn at a corner. Allow extra distance for passing other vehicles and downshift if necessary for better acceleration. Allow at least the equivalent of 1 vehicle and trailer length combined for each 10 mph of road speed.

Finally, remember to check the height of the loaded car/trailer, allowing for luggage racks, antenna, etc. mounted on the roof and take note of low bridges or parking garage clearances.