If you get into lowriding deep enough, there will probably come a come time when you need a tow vehicle and a trailer. To ensure that your trailering experience is safe and trauma-free, you must consider a number of factors. Proper towing requires three things: the right hitch, the right trailer and a vehicle in good condition that's rated for the load that it will be towing. (Actually, there's a fourth item required for safe towing: a brain behind the wheel, but that's another story.) The load rating is easy to determine if you have a newer vehicle, since every automotive maker publishes trailer weight maximums for its new cars each year. But finding the right trailer and hitch combination is not quite so simple.

How To Get Your Ride To The Show Without A ProblemWith the show season in full swing, now's the time to make sure that you and your lowrider are safe before you take to the highway. A quick glance at the roadways during this travel season reveals in glaring detail the number of motorists who unknowingly overload their vehicles-and trailers. Aside from the cost of auto repairs resulting from an accident, or the long-term wear on their vehicles' suspensions, those folks are also risking life and limb in the interest of getting from point A to point B.

It's crucial that drivers follow some simple guidelines when towing. The first place to start is by choosing the proper trailer hitch. There's far more to making this decision than just price or how soon it can be installed. Talk to a qualified dealer and tell him exactly what you plan to tow, so he can make an informed recommendation.

Choosing A Hitch"You can't tow more than what your vehicle is rated to carry," says Saundra James of Bilt-Rite Trailers (in Sikeston, Missouri). "For safe towing, you need [to know] the vehicle's maximum towing capacity [which can be found in the vehicle's owner's manual], as well as the type of trailer, its gross trailer weight (GTW) and tongue weight (TW)."

The gross trailer weight (GTW) is the weight of the trailer completely loaded. Tongue weight (TW) is the downward force exerted on the hitch ball by the trailer coupler. As a rule of thumb, the (TW) is 10- to 15-percent of the GTW.

Once you know these two figures, it's time to choose a hitch. Hitches are rated in five classes, which cover everything from passenger cars and SUVs pulling a modest 2,000 pounds to full-size trucks hauling upwards of 10,000 pounds.