Individual

Light Vehicle With a Trailer

If you use your vehicle to tow a trailer, you must respect certain obligations in order to travel safely.

Mandatory stop at an inspection station

If the truck you are driving has a gross vehicle weight ratingA vehicle's weight, including its maximum load capacity, according to the manufacturer's specifications. (GVWR) of 4,500 kg or more, you are required to stop at an inspection station when its lights are flashing. This applies notably to trucks, tow trucks, equipment transport vehicles, tool vehicles and vehicles whose trailer or semi-trailer is more than 10 m in length.

Loads must be properly secured

  • It must not be possible for any portion of the load to fall, leak, spill, move, come loose or be blown away by the wind
  • The load must be solidly restrained or adequately covered
  • The load must not reduce your field of vision
  • The load must not block any lights or headlights
  • The load must not compromise the vehicle's handling or stability

Failure to abide by these obligations is subject to a fine of $175 to $350, plus costs.

For more information, visit our Load Securement page.

Trailer loading tips

  • Load the lighter items on both sides of the heavier items to avoid body roll in curves
  • Position the heaviest loads near the trailer's axles and as low as possible
  • With a properly balanced load, the rear suspension of the towing vehicle should not overly sag. Too heavy a load bearing down on the hitch reduces the load on the front axle, which affects steering, braking and vehicle control

For more information, visit our Load Securement page.

Driving a vehicle that is towing a trailer

  • Always use your turn signals when changing lanes or passing other vehicles
  • Avoid sudden manoeuvres
  • Keep more distance than usual between your vehicle and any vehicle you are following, because the trailer's weight and load increase braking distance
  • Never let anyone ride in the trailer
  • Slow down before entering a curve
  • Obey speed limits and maintain a constant speed
  • If you pass a vehicle, make sure there is enough room between your trailer and the vehicle you have just passed before re-entering the lane
  • Stop frequently to check the trailer, the hitching system and the load
  • Check the towing vehicle's brakes, which can overheat from overuse

Load and towing capacity

The towing vehicle's load and towing capacity must be adequate for your purposes.

You can find this information on the sticker affixed to the vehicle or in the owner's manual. If in doubt, contact your dealership.

Points to remember

  • The weight of the vehicle's occupants and cargo, combined with the load exerted by the trailer on the hitch or coupling device, must be lower that the towing vehicle's load capacity
  • Make sure never to exceed the load capacity of each of the towing vehicle's axles, especially the rear axle

For safety reasons, manufacturers may recommend that a vehicle never tow a trailer, as the towing capacity of certain vehicles is 0 kg.

Hitch or coupling device

Never subject the coupling mechanism to loads that are higher than the limits indicated by the manufacturer.

The mechanism must be in good working order and solidly attached. Make sure you check it before every trip, and as often as possible during the trip.

When you are not using your vehicle to haul a trailer, it is important to remove the hitch or coupling device, as it can increase the risk of physical injury and property damage in the event of an accident. As well, by removing the hitch or coupling device after each use, you avoid the risk of having it stolen or it becoming rusty.

Safety devices (chains or safety cables)

Whenever you pull a trailer that is not equipped with an independent braking system that can stop it should it become detached from the vehicle, you must use a safety device (chain or cable) to attach the trailer to the towing vehicle.

The device must be directly installed on the towing vehicle. This device must be solid enough to ensure that the trailer stays attached to the towing vehicle in the event that the coupling device breaks.

If you build a trailer, read the document entitled Guide de construction de remorques de fabrication artisanale (PDF, 2.4 MB)This file does not meet Web accessibility standards. (in French only) to help you choose a proper safety device for the trailer's GVWR.

Mechanical condition

Make sure that the towing vehicle and the trailer are both in good mechanical condition. Pulling a trailer puts additional stress on important components of the towing vehicle: brakes, suspension and tires.

Lights

Make sure that the parking lights, licence plate light, brake lights and turn signal lights all work and that they are synchronized with those of the towing vehicle.

Make sure the reflectors are also all in good condition.

Brakes

The trailer must be equipped with a braking system that acts on all weight-bearing wheels, if its total weight (including the load):

  • is 1,300 kg or more
  • is greater than half of the towing vehicle's weight

Maintaining a horizontal position

If the trailer tilts too far forward or backward, find out what is causing the tilt and correct it.

The trailer should maintain a horizontal position once it is loaded and hitched to the towing vehicle.

Tires

Check the condition of the tires on both the towing vehicle and the trailer. They must:

  • be in good condition
  • show no signs of cracks or excessive wear
  • be inflated to the right pressure (the pressure indicated on the sidewall is the maximum allowable pressure for that tire)

The larger a vehicle's load, the closer the tire pressure should be to the maximum allowable pressure to avoid overheating and premature wear.

Check the Transport Canada compliance label for the recommended tire pressure for both the vehicle and the trailer.

Mirrors

The towing vehicle must be equipped with mirrors that enable the driver to see on both sides of and behind the trailer.

Make sure the load is not too high and that it does not hinder your vision.

Handling

The towing vehicle will handle differently when it is pulling a trailer. Practise turning, stopping and backing up in an area where there is no traffic.

Driving in reverse requires practice because the manoeuvres required are contrary to those required when backing up without a trailer.

Visibility

If you are driving slowly or must stop at an unusual location, use your hazard lights to warn other vehicles.

If the load exceeds the rear of the trailer by more than one metre:

  • For daytime driving, place a red flag or a reflective panel at the rear extremity of your load
  • For night time driving, place a red light at the rear extremity of the load. The light must be visible from at least 150 metres away, both from behind and to the right and left of the trailer.

Building a hand-crafted trailer

Find out more about the procedure before building a trailer.