Chevrolet Cobalt Owners Manual: Towing a Trailer (Automatic Transmission)

Chevrolet Cobalt Owners Manual / Driving Your Vehicle / Towing a Trailer (Automatic Transmission)

WARNING:
The driver can lose control when pulling a trailer if the correct equipment is not used or the vehicle is not driven properly. For example, if the trailer is too heavy, the brakes may not work well—or even at all. The driver and passengers could be seriously injured. The vehicle may also be damaged; the resulting repairs would not be covered by the vehicle warranty. Pull a trailer only if all the steps in this section have been followed.

Ask your dealer/retailer for advice and information about towing a trailer with the vehicle.

The vehicle can tow a trailer if it is equipped with the proper trailer towing equipment.

To identify the trailering capacity of the vehicle, read the information in “Weight of the Trailer” that appears later in this section.

Trailering is different than just driving the vehicle by itself. Trailering means changes in handling, acceleration, braking, durability and fuel economy.

Successful, safe trailering takes correct equipment, and it has to be used properly.

The following information has many time-tested, important trailering tips and safety rules. Many of these are important for your safety and that of your passengers. So please read this section carefully before pulling a trailer.

Load-pulling components such as the engine, transmission, rear axle, wheel assemblies and tires are forced to work harder against the drag of the added weight. The engine is required to operate at relatively higher speeds and under greater loads, generating extra heat. The trailer also adds considerably to wind resistance, increasing the pulling requirements.

Pulling A Trailer

If you do, here are some important points: - There are many different laws, including speed limit restrictions, having to do with trailering. Make sure the rig will be legal, not only where you live but also where you will be driving. A good source for this information can be state or provincial police.

- Do not tow a trailer at all during the first 1,000 miles (1 600 km) the new vehicle is driven.

The engine, transmission or other parts could be damaged.

- Then, during the first 500 miles (800 km) that a trailer is towed, do not drive over 50 mph (80 km/h) and do not make starts at full throttle. This helps the engine and other parts of the vehicle wear in at the heavier loads.

- Obey speed limit restrictions when towing a trailer.

Do not drive faster than the maximum posted speed for trailers, or no more than 55 mph (90 km/h), to save wear on the vehicle's parts.

- Do not tow when the outside air temperature is above 100°F (38°C).

- Do not tow more than 1,000 miles (1 600 km) per year.

Three important considerations have to do with weight: - The weight of the trailer - The weight of the trailer tongue - The total weight on the vehicle's tires

Weight of the Trailer

How heavy can a trailer safely be?

It should never weigh more than 1,000 lbs (450 kg). But even that can be too heavy.

It depends on how the rig is used. For example, speed, altitude, road grades, outside temperature and how much the vehicle is used to pull a trailer are all important. It can depend on any special equipment on the vehicle, and the amount of tongue weight the vehicle can carry. See “Weight of the Trailer Tongue” later in this section for more information.

Maximum trailer weight is calculated assuming only the driver is in the tow vehicle and it has all the required trailering equipment. The weight of additional optional equipment, passengers and cargo in the tow vehicle must be subtracted from the maximum trailer weight.

Ask your dealer/retailer for our trailering information or advice, or write us at our Customer Assistance Offices.

See Customer Assistance Offices for more information.

Weight of the Trailer Tongue

The tongue load (A) of any trailer is an important weight


The tongue load (A) of any trailer is an important weight to measure because it affects the total gross weight of the vehicle. The Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) includes the curb weight of the vehicle, any cargo carried in it, and the people who will be riding in the vehicle. If there are a lot of options, equipment, passengers or cargo in the vehicle, it will reduce the tongue weight the vehicle can carry, which will also reduce the trailer weight the vehicle can tow. If towing a trailer, the tongue load must be added to the GVW because the vehicle will be carrying that weight, too. See Loading the Vehicle for more information about the vehicle's
maximum load capacity.

If using a weight-carrying hitch, the trailer tongue (A) should weigh 10 to 15 percent of the total loaded trailer weight (B).

Do not exceed the maximum allowable tongue weight for the vehicle. Choose the shortest hitch extension that will position the hitch ball closest to the vehicle. This will help reduce the effect of trailer tongue weight on the rear axle.

After loading the trailer, weigh the trailer and then the tongue, separately, to see if the weights are proper.

If they are not, adjustments might be made by moving some items around in the trailer.

Total Weight on the Vehicle's Tires

Be sure the vehicle's tires are inflated to the upper limit for cold tires. These numbers can be found on the Tire-Loading Information label. See Loading the Vehicle. Make sure not to go over the GVW limit
for the vehicle, or the GAWR, including the weight of the trailer tongue.

Hitches

It is important to have the correct hitch equipment.

Crosswinds, large trucks going by and rough roads are a few reasons why the right hitch is needed.

- The rear bumper on the vehicle is not intended for hitches. Do not attach rental hitches or other bumper-type hitches to it. Use only a frame-mounted hitch that does not attach to the bumper.

- Will there be any holes in the body of the vehicle after installing a trailer hitch? If there are, then be sure to seal the holes later when the hitch is removed. If the holes are not sealed, deadly carbon monoxide (CO) from exhaust can get into the vehicle. See Engine Exhaust.

Dirt and water can also enter the vehicle.

Safety Chains

Always attach chains between the vehicle and the trailer. Cross the safety chains under the tongue of the trailer to help prevent the tongue from contacting the road if it becomes separated from the hitch. Always leave just enough slack so the rig can turn. Never allow safety chains to drag on the ground.

Trailer Brakes

Does the trailer have its own brakes? Be sure to read and follow the instructions for the trailer brakes so they are installed, adjusted and maintained properly.

Driving with a Trailer

Towing a trailer requires a certain amount of experience. Get to know the rig before setting out for the open road. Get acquainted with the feel of handling and braking with the added weight of the trailer. And always keep in mind that the vehicle you are driving is now longer and not as responsive as the vehicle is by itself.

Before starting, check all trailer hitch parts and attachments, safety chains, electrical connectors, lamps, tires and mirror adjustments. If the trailer has electric brakes, start the vehicle and trailer moving and then apply the trailer brake controller by hand to be sure the brakes are working. This checks the electrical connection at the same time.

During the trip, check occasionally to be sure that the load is secure, and that the lamps and any trailer brakes are still working.

Following Distance

Stay at least twice as far behind the vehicle ahead as you would when driving the vehicle without a trailer.

This can help to avoid situations that require heavy braking and sudden turns.

Passing

More passing distance is needed when towing a trailer.

Because the rig is longer, it is necessary to go much farther beyond the passed vehicle before returning to the lane.

Backing Up

Hold the bottom of the steering wheel with one hand.

Then, to move the trailer to the left, move that hand to the left. To move the trailer to the right, move your hand to the right. Always back up slowly and, if possible, have someone guide you.

Making Turns

Notice: Making very sharp turns while trailering could cause the trailer to come in contact with the vehicle. The vehicle could be damaged.

Avoid making very sharp turns while trailering.

When turning with a trailer, make wider turns than normal. Do this so the trailer will not strike soft shoulders, curbs, road signs, trees or other objects.

Avoid jerky or sudden maneuvers. Signal well in advance.

Turn Signals When Towing a Trailer

The arrows on the instrument panel flash whenever signaling a turn or lane change. Properly hooked up, the trailer lamps also flash, telling other drivers the vehicle is turning, changing lanes or stopping.

When towing a trailer, the arrows on the instrument panel flash for turns even if the bulbs on the trailer are burned out. For this reason you may think other drivers are seeing the signal when they are not. It is important to check occasionally to be sure the trailer bulbs are still working.

Driving on Grades

Notice: Do not tow on steep continuous grades exceeding 6 miles (9.6 km). Extended, higher than normal engine and transmission temperatures may result and damage the vehicle. Frequent stops are very important to allow the engine and transmission to cool.

Reduce speed and shift to a lower gear before starting down a long or steep downgrade. If the transmission is not shifted down, the brakes might have to be used so much that they would get hot and no longer work well.

Pay attention to the engine coolant gauge. If the indicator is in the red area, turn off the air conditioning to reduce engine load. See Engine Overheating.

When towing under severe conditions such as hot ambient temperatures or steep grades, the vehicle may experience more transmission shifting. A COOLING MODE ON message may also appear in the DIC. This alerts the driver that the shifting mode is in progress and is aiding engine cooling. See DIC Warnings and Messages for more information.

Parking on Hills

WARNING:
Parking the vehicle on a hill with the trailer attached can be dangerous. If something goes wrong, the rig could start to move. People can be injured, and both the vehicle and the trailer can be damaged. When possible, always park the rig on a flat surface.

If parking the rig on a hill: 1. Press the brake pedal, but do not shift into P (Park) yet. Turn the wheels into the curb if facing downhill or into traffic if facing uphill.

2. Have someone place chocks under the trailer wheels.

3. When the wheel chocks are in place, release the brake pedal until the chocks absorb the load.

4. Reapply the brake pedal. Then apply the parking brake and shift into P (Park).

5. Release the brake pedal.

Leaving After Parking on a Hill

1. Apply and hold the brake pedal while you: - Start the engine.

- Shift into a gear.

- Release the parking brake.

2. Let up on the brake pedal.

3. Drive slowly until the trailer is clear of the chocks.

4. Stop and have someone pick up and store the chocks.

Maintenance When Trailer Towing

The vehicle needs service more often when pulling a trailer. See Scheduled Maintenance for more on this. Things that are especially important in trailer operation are automatic transmission fluid, engine oil, axle lubricant, belts, cooling system and brake system. It is a good idea to inspect these before and during the trip.

Check periodically to see that all hitch nuts and bolts are tight.

Engine Cooling When Trailer Towing

The cooling system may temporarily overheat during severe operating conditions. See Engine Overheating.

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