GMC Terrain: Trailer Towing / Driving Characteristics and Towing Tips

GMC Terrain 2018-2021 Owners Manual / Driving and Operating / Trailer Towing / Driving Characteristics and Towing Tips

Warning

You can lose control when towing a trailer if the correct equipment is not used or the vehicle is not driven properly. For example, if the trailer is too heavy or the trailer brakes are inadequate for the load, the vehicle may not stop as expected. You and others could be seriously injured. The vehicle may also be damaged, and the 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 for advice and information about towing a trailer with the vehicle.

Driving with a Trailer

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. Read this section carefully before pulling a trailer.

When towing a trailer:

  • Become familiar with and follow all state and local laws that apply to trailer towing. These requirements vary from state to state.
  • State laws may require the use of extended side view mirrors. Even if not required, you should install extended side view mirrors if your visibility is limited or restricted while towing.
  • Do not tow a trailer during the first 800 km (500 mi) of vehicle use to prevent damage to the engine, axle, or other parts.
  • During the first 800 km (500 mi) of trailer towing, do not drive over 80 km/h (50 mph) and do not make starts at full throttle.
  • Vehicles can tow in D (Drive). If the transmission downshifts too often, a lower gear may be selected using Manual Mode See Manual Mode.

If equipped, the following driver assistance features should be turned off when towing a trailer:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)
  • Super Cruise Control
  • Lane Keep Assist (LKA)
  • Park Assist
  • Automatic Parking Assist (APA)
  • Reverse Automatic Braking (RAB)

If equipped, the following driver assistance features should be turned to alert or off when towing a trailer:

  • Forward Automatic Braking System (FAB)
  • Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA)
  • Front Pedestrian Braking (FPB)

If equipped with Lane Change Alert (LCA), the LCA detection zones that extend back from the side of the vehicle do not move further back when a trailer is towed. Use caution while changing lanes when towing a trailer.

If equipped with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), use caution while backing up when towing a trailer, as the RCTA detection zones that extend out from the back of the vehicle do not move further back when a trailer is towed.

Warning

To prevent serious injury or death from carbon monoxide (CO), when towing a trailer:

  • Do not drive with the liftgate, trunk/hatch, or rear-most window open.
  • Fully open the air outlets on or under the instrument panel.
  • Adjust the climate control system to a setting that brings in only outside air. See “Climate Control Systems” in the Index.

For more information about carbon monoxide, see Engine Exhaust.

Towing a trailer requires experience. The combination of the vehicle and trailer is longer and not as responsive as the vehicle itself. Get used to the handling and braking of the combination by driving on a level road surface before driving on public roads.

The trailer structure, the tires, and the brakes must be all be rated to carry the intended cargo. Inadequate trailer equipment can cause the combination to operate in an unexpected or unsafe manner. Before driving, inspect all trailer hitch parts and attachments, safety chains, electrical connectors, lamps, tires, and mirrors. See Towing Equipment. If the trailer has electric brakes, start the combination moving and then manually apply the trailer brake controller to check that the trailer brakes work. During the trip, occasionally check that the cargo and trailer are secure and that the lamps and any trailer brakes are working.

Towing with a Stability Control System

When towing, the stability control system might be heard. The system reacts to vehicle movement caused by the trailer, which mainly occurs during cornering. This is normal when towing heavier trailers.

Following Distance

Stay at least twice as far behind the vehicle ahead as you would when driving without a trailer. This can help to avoid heavy braking and sudden turns.

Passing

More passing distance is needed when towing a trailer. The combination of the vehicle and trailer will not accelerate as quickly and is much longer than the vehicle alone. It is necessary to go much farther beyond the passed vehicle before returning to the lane. Pass on level roadways. Avoid passing on hills if possible.

Backing Up

Hold the bottom of the steering wheel with one hand. To move the trailer to the left, move that hand to the left. To move the trailer to the right, move that hand to the right. Always back up slowly and, if possible, have someone guide you.

Making Turns

Caution

Turn more slowly and make wider arcs when towing a trailer to prevent damage to your vehicle. Making very sharp turns could cause the trailer to contact the vehicle.

Make wider turns than normal when towing, so trailer will not go over soft shoulders, over curbs, or strike road signs, trees, or other objects. Always signal turns well in advance. Do not steer or brake suddenly.

Driving on Grades

Reduce speed and shift to a lower gear before starting down a long or steep downhill grade. If the transmission is not shifted down, the brakes may overheat and result in reduced braking efficiency.

The vehicle can tow in D (Drive). Shift the transmission to a lower gear if the transmission shifts too often under heavy loads and/or hilly conditions.

When towing at higher altitudes, engine coolant will boil at a lower temperature than at lower altitudes. If the engine is turned off immediately after towing at high altitude on steep uphill grades, the vehicle could show signs similar to engine overheating. To avoid this, let the engine run, preferably on level ground, with the transmission in P (Park) for a few minutes before turning the engine off. If the overheat warning comes on, see Engine Overheating.

Parking on Hills

Warning

To prevent serious injury or death, always park your vehicle and trailer on a level surface when possible.

When parking your vehicle and your trailer 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, gradually release the brake pedal to allow the chocks to absorb the load of the trailer.
  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.
    • 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 used to tow trailers. See Maintenance Schedule. It is especially important to check the automatic transmission fluid, engine oil, axle lubricant, belts, cooling system, and brake system before and during each trip.

Check periodically that all nuts and bolts on the trailer hitch are tight.

Engine Cooling When Trailer Towing

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

    Trailer Towing

    General Towing Information Only use towing equipment that has been designed for the vehicle. Contact your dealer or trailering dealer for assistance with preparing the vehicle to tow a trailer...

    Trailer Towing

    Caution Towing a trailer improperly can damage the vehicle and result in costly repairs not covered by the vehicle warranty. To tow a trailer correctly, follow the directions in this section and see your dealer for important information about towing a trailer with the vehicle...

    Other information:

    GMC Terrain 2018-2021 Owners Manual: Reducing Speed While Using Cruise Control


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    GMC Terrain 2018-2021 Owners Manual: Lane Keep Assist (LKA) and Lane Change Alert (LCA)


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