Airstream Touring Coach Interstate 19 2023 Trailer Towing and Driving Tips User Manual
Trailer Towing and Driving
(Some text is partially excerpted from Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Operators Manual.)
Failure to use proper equipment and driving technique can result in a loss of vehicle control when towing a trailer. Improper towing or failure to follow the instructions contained in this section can result in serious injury. Follow the guidelines below carefully to assure safe trailer operation. Ask your authorized Mercedes-Benz Sprinter or Airstream dealer if you require an explanation of information contained in the manuals.
Units have hitches and wiring installed from the Mercedes-Benz manufacturer. The Sprinter 7- way connector is used for lights and charge line on a trailer. For further information, please see your authorized Mercedes-Benz Sprinter dealer. To reduce the possibility of damage, remove the hitch ball adapter from the receiver when not in use. Since this vehicle is designed and intended primarily as a load-carrying vehicle, towing a trailer will affect handling, durability and economy. Maximum safety and satisfaction depends upon proper use of correct equipment and avoiding overloads and other abusive operation.
The total weight of the touring coach and trailer must not exceed the GCWR listed in the specification section of this manual. The maximum towing capacity varies according to the size of the touring coach and its GCWR. Vehicles should be properly equipped for towing trailers. Information on trailer hauling capabilities and special equipment required may be obtained from your Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and/or Airstream dealer.
Loading a Trailer
When loading a trailer, you should ensure neither the permissible GTW (Gross Tongue Weight), nor the trailer GVWR are exceeded.
Maximum permissible values are listed on the safety compliance certification labels for the vehicle and for the trailer to be towed. For their location, see the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Operator’s Manual. The lowest value listed must be selected when determining how the vehicle and trailer are loaded. To assist in attaining good handling of the vehicle/trailer combination, it is important that the tongue weight be maintained at approximately 10-15 percent of the loaded trailer weight, but not to exceed the hitch rating. Tongue loads can be adjusted by proper distribution of the load in the trailer, and can be checked by weighing separately the loaded trailer and then the tongue. The tongue weight at the hitch ball must be added to the GVW to prevent exceeding your Sprinter towed vehicle’s rear GAWR. When towing trailers, touring coach tires should be inflated to the highest pressures shown on the Sprinter Tire Information Placard. See Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Operator’s Manual for its location. The Cargo Carrying Capacity (CCC) of this vehicle is reduced by the amount that equals the trailer tongue load on the trailer hitch.
Checking Weights of Vehicle and Trailer
To assure that the tow vehicle and trailer comply with the maximum permissible weight limits and to know the actual weights, have the loaded vehicle-trailer combination (tow vehicle including driver, passengers, cargo, and trailer fully loaded) weighed on a commercial scale as explained earlier in this section. Also, check the vehicle’s front and rear axle weights and tongue weight. The values as measured must not exceed the Sprinter weight ratings listed on vehicle information placards and in the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter manual. These ratings are also listed in section 4 – Floor Plans, Specification Chart of this manual.
Check the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter manual for all weights and tire information placard locations.
Attaching a Trailer
Please observe the maximum permitted trailer dimensions (weight and length). Most states and all Canadian provinces require safety chains between your tow vehicle and trailer. The chains should be crisscrossed under the trailer tongue. They must be attached to the hitch receiver and not to the vehicle’s bumper or axle. Be sure to leave enough slack in the chains to permit turning corners. Most states and all Canadian provinces required a separate brake system for towing trailers.
The towing vehicle’s braking system is rated for operation at GVWR, NOT at the GCWR. A separate, functioning brake system is required for any towed vehicles or trailers weighing more than 1000 lb (450 kg) when fully loaded. NEVER exceed the GVWR or the GAWR specified on a touring coach certification label. Also, NEVER exceed the weight ratings of a trailer hitch installed on a touring coach. Failure to heed any part of this warning could result in loss of control of the touring coach and towed vehicle or trailer which may cause an accident and serious injury. For specified towed vehicle braking requirements, consult the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Operator’s Manual that comes with this vehicle.
Do not connect a trailer brake system (if the trailer is so equipped) directly to the vehicle’s hydraulic brake system if your vehicle is equipped with anti-lock brakes. If you do, neither the vehicle’s brakes nor the trailer’s brakes will function properly. Property damage, injury, or death to you or others may be the result. The provided vehicle electrical wiring harness for trailer towing has a brake signal wire for hookup to a brake controller. Most states and all Canadian provinces require a breakaway switch on trailers with a separate brake system. The switch activates the trailer brakes in the possible event that the trailer might separate from the tow vehicle. Please consider using a trailer sway control system. For further information, see your authorized Mercedes-Benz Sprinter or Airstream dealer.
Towing a Trailer
There are many different laws, including speed limit restrictions, having to do with trailer towing. Make sure that your vehicle-trailer combination will be legal not only for where you reside but also for where you’ll be driving. A good source for this information can be the State Attorney General, State Police, or local authorities. Before you start driving with a trailer, check the trailer’s hitch, breakaway switch, safety chains, electrical connections, lighting, and tires. Also, adjust the mirrors to permit an unobstructed view beyond the rear of the trailer. If the trailer has brakes using an electric brake controller, start your vehicle and trailer moving slowly, and then apply the brakes manually using the brake controller to be sure the brakes are working properly. Read and follow the controller manufacturer’s recommendations. When towing a trailer, check occasionally to be sure the load is secure, and lighting and trailer brakes (if so equipped) are functioning properly. Always secure items in the trailer to prevent load shifts while driving. Take into consideration that when towing a trailer, the handling characteristics are different and less stable than those when operating the vehicle without a trailer. It is important to avoid sudden maneuvers. The vehicle and trailer combination is heavier, and therefore is limited in acceleration ability and requires longer stopping distances. It is more prone to reacting to side wind gusts and requires more sensitive steering input. In order to gain skill and an understanding of the vehicle’s behavior, you should practice turning, stopping, and backing up in an area that is free from traffic. If possible, do not brake abruptly, but rather engage the brake slightly at first to permit the trailer to activate its brake. Then increase the braking force. We want every owner to be a safe and courteous driver. A few hours of towing practice in a large empty parking lot will make pulling your trailer over the road much easier. Line out two corners for left and right turns. You may also use these corners to practice backing and parking.
Towing a Boat
While it is possible to tow a boat with your touring coach, Airstream does not recommend it. If you plan to pull and launch a boat, use caution when backing down boat ramps, and do not submerge any part of your touring coach in water. The slope of some boat ramps may be lower than others, requiring a portion of the tow vehicle to be submerged when launching. While this may be okay for some vehicles, your touring coach has sensitive electronics that water infiltration would irreparably damage.
It is imperative that you do not allow any part of your touring coach to be submerged in water as it could cause damage to electronics that a warranty would not cover.
During practice, observe that the tracks made by the trailer wheels are distinctly different from those made by the tow vehicle. Studying this will make it easier for you to correct mistakes. Consider truck- or trailer-type fender or door-grip rear view mirrors for maximum visibility. In most states, the law requires them. After thoroughly inspecting your hitch, brakes, and tires, you should be ready to tow. Check traffic, signal that you are about to pull away, and start slowly. Look often in your mirrors, observe the action of the trailer, and then carefully move into the proper lane of traffic. Remember that the trailer wheels will not follow the path of the tow vehicle wheels; therefore, wider turns are necessary when turning to the left or right. On freeways or expressways, try to pick the lane you want and stay in it. Always maintain plenty of space between you and the car ahead, at least the length of the tow vehicle plus trailer for every 10 mph. Remember that in order to pass another vehicle, you will need longer to accelerate. You must also allow for the length of the trailer when returning to the right hand. lane. On a two-lane road cars may be lining up behind you because you are traveling at a lower speed. It is both courteous and sensible to signal and pull over at the earliest safe opportunity and let them pass.
Take into consideration that when towing a trailer, the handling characteristics are different and less stable from those with operating the vehicle without a trailer. It is important to avoid sudden maneuvers. Sudden maneuvers may lead to loss of control over the vehicle-trailer combination.
The brake controller (if so equipped) is activated when you apply the brakes of the tow vehicle. Your tow vehicle brakes will automatically apply the trailer brakes first when properly adjusted. This will help keep your tow vehicle and trailer in a straight line and make you stop as if you were driving the tow vehicle alone. If swaying or swerving should occur, briefly operating the controller separately from the vehicle brakes may help correct the situation. Practice this maneuver on a clear highway. Do not wait for an emergency and then grope for the controller.
When towing a trailer, you might encounter a temporary cooling system overload during severe conditions such as hot days when pulling on a long uphill grade, when slowing down after higher speed driving, or driving long idle periods in traffic jams. If the hot indicator light comes on, or the temperature gauge indicates overheating and you have your AC turned on, turn it off. Pull over in a safe place and put on your emergency brake. Don’t turn off the engine. Increase the engine idle speed. Lift the engine hood and check for fluid leaks at the radiator overflow outlet. Check to see that all drive belts are intact and the fan is turning. If you have a problem have it fixed at the next opportunity. If there is no problem the light should go off or the temperature should come down within one minute. Proceed on the highway a little slower. Ten minutes later resume normal driving.
If the transmission continually shifts between gears on inclines, manually shift to a lower gear. A lower gear and reduction of speed reduce the chances of engine overloading and/or overheating. When going down a long hill, shift into a lower gear and use the engine’s braking effect. Avoid riding the brakes, thus overheating the vehicle and trailer brakes. If the engine coolant rises to an extremely high temperature (e.g. coolant temperature needle approaching the red zone) when the AC is on, turn off the AC. Engine coolant heat can be additionally vented by opening the windows, switching the climate control fan speed to high and setting the temperature control to the maximum hot position.
Never open a radiator cap when the tow vehicle is hot. Add coolant when the vehicle is cool.
On slippery pavement, do not use engine drag to help slow down as this may cause the rear wheels of the tow vehicle to skid. On icy pavement, drive slowly and if you feel the tow vehicle skidding, gently apply the trailer brakes only. This will bring the tow vehicle and trailer back into a single line. Chains do not help trailer wheels. When going downhill in dry weather, downshift so that engine compression will slow the whole rig down. Take dips and depressions in the road slowly and do not resume normal driving speeds until you are sure that the trailer wheels are clear of the dip.
When driving in mud and sand, let the momentum carry the rig through. Apply power gently and use as little as possible. Stay in the tracks of the vehicle ahead and keep the tow vehicle in the highest possible gear. If you are stuck, it is best to tow out the entire rig together without unhitching. Despite even the best hitch, you will notice that whenever a large bus or truck overtakes your rig the displaced air first pushes the trailer rear slightly to the right and then affects the front. It may be necessary to steer very slightly, momentarily, toward the bus or truck to help compensate for the sway induced by the passing vehicle. Do not apply the vehicle brakes, as this can tend to exaggerate the situation. You may find, however, that briefly applying the trailer brakes with your manual control will help eliminate sway.
CHOCK THE TRAILER WHEELS when stopping on a hill or slope. Leaving your tow vehicle in gear is not enough for standstill safety. Do not use trailer brakes as parking brakes.
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