Step 1: Mounting the Trailer
The first step is mounting your trailer. To this you must line up the trailer hitch trailer ball under the coupler. Once lined up, the coupler can be lowered onto the ball. The trailer should either be lifted on its built-in jack or a floor jack. Use this jack to drop the coupler onto the tow ball. Make sure the coupler is in the open position so clamps that haven’t been used recently won’t stick.
Do not count on your sight alone to make sure the coupler is mounted correctly This is the cause of many breakaway accidents. To avoid this from happening, be sure to feel the bottom of the tow ball and make sure the clamp is properly gripped on it. A good indicator of this will be the clamp release lever. If the coupler is properly lined up it will be easy to clamp down. If there is an excessive amount of resistance from the clamp release lever then it is probably not lined up correctly on the ball.
Step 2: Hooking Up The Hitch
Once you’ve properly and safely clamped the coupler to the ball, it is time to hook up your hitch. There are a just a few connections that need to be made, depending on the type of hitch you have. If you have a standard trailer hitch, the final connections are simple:
- Double-check that coupler clamp and release latch are hooked securely. To do this use a coupler pin or lock to keep coupler in closed position. Making sure the hitch pin is safely fastened will also be helpful.
- Connect safety chains from tab(s) on hitch to the trailer. Cross them under trailer coupler to avoid the coupler from falling directly on the ground in the event of a breakaway.
- Plug in trailer light wiring harness to the connector on your vehicle. Check all lights — brake lights, turn signals, reverse lights, etc.
Step 3: Backing Your Vehicle Up to the Trailer
The next step is to safely and accurately back up your vehicle to the trailer.
Using a Spotter:
Backing up with a spotter is best done with someone who is careful and observant. You will need someone who can clearly communicate, verbally and through sign language (if the engine is loud).
- Establish signals that are clear and easy to understand before backing up. Avoid using confusing signals such as which direction to turn the steering wheel. It is better to have signals to direct where the rear of your vehicle should go: right/left, towards me/away from me, etc.
- The spotter should stand near the trailer tongue on the driver’s side. This will allow them to communicate better and give them the best view of the ball/coupler line-up. Also, the spotter should always be in clear view of your side view mirror.
- Always back up slowly and cautiously to avoid any accidents.
On Your Own:
Although it is harder to back up a trailer on your own, it is not impossible.
- Buying a bright stick mounted to a magnet can help you keep track of where the trailer coupler is and see when the magnet is clinging to the trailer coupler through your rear window.
- To remind you where the hitch is, you can place a piece of tape on the center of your rear window. Using the tape and stick together will make it easier to keep the coupler and ball mount in line.
- Always make sure the trailer jack is cranked up enough so that the tow ball won’t hit the coupler.
- Get out and heck the amount of distance you have left once you’re getting close.
- When making final adjustments, keep the driver’s side door open and look at the ground to gauge the amount of distance.
- Take your time and be cautious when backing up.
These tips should help you hook up your trailer to your hitch safely and securely. Always do your research for more guidance. Once you’ve complete these steps, you are now ready to start driving!