Hitch ClassificationsHitches are divided into several categories depending upon their weight-carrying capacities and abilities.

Weight-Carrying ClassesClass I: GTW to 2,000 lbs., TW to 200 lbs.Class I, 2500 Series: GTW to 2,500 lbs., TW to 250 lbs.Class II: GTW to 3,500 lbs., TW to 300 lbs.Class III: GTW to 5,000 lbs., TW to 500 lbs.

Weight-Distributing Classes*Class III: GTW to 4,000 lbs., TW to 350 lbs. (some have GTW of 5,000 and 7,500 lbs.)Class IV: GTW to 10,000 lbs., TW to 1,000 lbs.*Some types of vehicles cannot use some of the heavier hitches, so check applications before purchasing a tow vehicle.

Hitch TipsHere are several tips to help you out when you purchase your hitch.

1 "The single biggest mistake is to not have a transmission cooler on an automatic transmission [vehicle]," TrailersForLess points out. "You will kill your automatic box if you run without one."

2 Go to a qualified hitch installer. While many types of automotive shops sell hitches, very few people know what it takes to install them correctly. Professional shops learn about the customer's needs before they recommend a hitch. They also make sure that every trailer towing combination is absolutely level before it leaves the shop. If the tow vehicle/trailer combination doesn't sit level, chances are the hitch wasn't installed correctly.

3 Ask plenty of questions. Make sure that the installer knows everything about your needs before deciding what to install. Ask if the installer is insured (as well as the manufacturer). If the manufacturer is producing a quality hitch, they'll be willing to stand behind it.

Get More Towing Power In A Flash With The PredatorTuning your engine is easy with this hand-held programmer.

One of the quickest and easiest ways to improve horsepower on your late-model, computer-controlled tow vehicle is with a performance tuning flash programmer. And the Predator, from DiabloSport (in Boca Raton, Florida), is one of the best programmers on the market.

What Is The Predator? Without getting too technical, the Predator is a state-of-the art, high-performance tuning flash programmer in a sleek handheld unit. Once connected to the vehicle, the Predator's internal computer recognizes the vehicle's pulse code modulation (PCM) and automatically picks the proper tuning files designed specifically for that PCM.

Inside the Predator's memory are the actual tuning files that optimize spark timing and air/fuel ratio curves. The transmission parameters are remapped to improve the shift characteristics such as shift firmness and shift points. Unlike other "tuners," DiabloSport's programming is performed in very small increments throughout the entire RPM range, for a smoother, wider and a more predictable power delivery. DiabloSport engineers spend many hours on the dyno, street and track to ensure that the tunes provided with the Predator are the best they can be.

Dyno-Tested Performance TunesThe Predator was created with one thing in mind: power! Average power gains are in 10-20 rear wheel horsepower (RWHP) range in cars and 20-30 RWHP in trucks. The Predator's additional influence makes itself noticeable immediately with an increase in power that starts in the low RPM range and builds at the high RPM end.

The Predator can hold up to five custom tunes made by any authorized dealer nationwide, the upload process is less than 30 seconds. This makes the Predator a valuable product to have. If you tuned your vehicle from stock and like the power that it's producing, most likely you will start adding modifications to your car as time goes on. Good thing that you have a Predator because you can go to any of our authorized dealer and get a custom tune for your exact modification setup. Your vehicle will run better, faster and get the best gas mileage that can be achieved for that particular modification setup.

A Predator tuned vehicle will also exhibit significant improvements in drivability. The additional power and improved shift patterns created by the Predator tune will yield quicker acceleration and better mileage, whether it's in town or out on the highway.

The power increase in the lower RPM range will yield a better throttle response. An increase in miles per gallon (MPG) is a by-product of maximized engine efficiency, the improved timing curve and air/fuel ratio creates a more complete combustion; i.e., the engine extracts more power from each molecule of gasoline-especially important with today's gas prices.

And the coolest thing about using the Predator is that it won't void your factory warranty. "The Predator will not void or affect the factory warranty in any way," said a DiabloSport spokesperson. "There's a law protecting vehicle owners, the Magnusson-Moss Warranty-Federal Trade commission Improvement Act of 1975."

Under the Magnusson-Moss Act, aftermarket equipment, which improves performance, does not void a vehicle manufacturer's original warranty, unless the warranty clearly states the addition of aftermarket equipment automatically voids your vehicles warranty, or if the aftermarket device is the direct cause of the failure. The easiest way to check this is to look in your owner's manual under "what is not covered." For more information on your rights as a consumer, go to www.semasan.com.

We wanted to test the Predator for ourselves, so we asked Shawn Ellis of SoCal Tuning & Performance to use a Predator (Model #U7193) on a stock 6.0-liter Cadillac Escalade engine (previously installed in a Chevy Avalanche by Guaranty Chevrolet in Santa Ana, California).

Today's computer-controlled engines have a built-in speed limiter, which is normally a good thing. It keeps you from going too fast in any one gear and blowing your engine. In this case, it also prevented us from getting full power band dyno runs necessary to determine what the factory horsepower was on the engine. However, it was easy for Shawn to overcome that problem by using the Predator to increase the limiter speed.

With the speed limiter reset, we visited Joe Jill, Jr. at Superior Automotive Engineering (in Anaheim, California) to run the truck on their chassis dyno. After getting our baseline, Shawn input the new custom flash program with the Predator and ran the truck again. The results were impressive to say the least. We gained an honest 30 horsepower at the rear wheel-with 87 octane gas. Shawn assured us that he could get even more hp with 91 octane gas.

The Predator certainly proved its prowess to us. And we know that newfound power will make a big difference the next time that we use the Avalanche to tow our low.

Pre-Trip ChecklistHere's a short checklist of important items to check before you hit the road.

Tow VehicleWalk around the vehicle and check these items:

Coolant level in radiatorCoolant level in coolant recovery reservoirRadiator cap fits properlyWater level in batteryBattery terminals free of corrosionRadiator hoses (flexible and tight)Fan belt, is it tight? Worn?Transmission fluid levelCondition of transmission fluid (Pinkish, Okay; dark brown, transmission needs service)Transmission fluid cooler hoses and connectionsEngine oil level (How many miles since last oil change?)Power steering fluid levelHose and connections to power steeringSparkplug wires snugAir filter (When was it last changed?)Fluid in windshield washer reservoir

TrailerWalk around the trailer and check these items:

All lights and turn signals (Do they operate properly?)All tires (Tire pressure and tread wear)All wheel lug nutsSafety chains connected and crisscrossedBreakaway switch and lanyardCoupler locking-pin (if used)Trailer electric cable connected and secureTongue jack fully upDolly wheel removed (if appropriate)Load distributed on trailer so that proper tongue weight is maintained (about 10-percent of trailer load)Trailer is level when attachedBearings greasedCoupler size matches ball sizePin and clip installed through drawbar of hitch

SOURCE
SmarTire Systems Inc. SPAL USA
8-00/-345-0327
www.spalusa.com
Featherlite Trailers
P.O. Box 320
Hwys. 63 & 9
Cresco
IA  52136
8-00/-800-1230
Pace American
11550 Harter Dr.
Middlebury
IN  46540
8-00/-247-5767
www.paceamerican.com
Tirewise
www.tirewise.com
Hidden Hitch
8-00/-632-3290
www.hiddenhitch.com
Air Lift Company
Lansing
MI
TrailersForLess
SoCal Tuning & Performance
Dept 5.0
www.socaltuning.com
Big Tex Trailers
Superior Automotive Engineering
www.superiorautomotive.com
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Anderson Manufacturing, Inc. Kintec, Inc.
Rostra Precision Controls Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA)
Bilt-Rite Trailers, Inc. DiabloSport/Predator
National Association of railerManufacturers(NATM) PJ Trailers
Valley Industries
www.valley.us.com