Hitching A Trailer: How You Hook Up a Trailer In 10 Steps
Understanding the process of hitching a trailer to your vehicle is one of the most important skills to have.
It isn’t all about backing up your vehicle to the trailer.
You’ll need to attach the coupler and fasten the safety chains.
Then, plug in the trailer’s electrical connector.
It’s a tedious process that needs your undivided attention.
In this post, we will walk you through the whole process of hitching a trailer.
It also includes helpful advice for doing so on your own as well as a pre-towing checklist.
10 Steps To Hook Up A Trailer:
Improperly attaching a trailer can cause serious harm to your vehicle.
It can have a harsh effect on the trailer.
It can possibly even cause damage to the other vehicles traveling on the road.
So, learning how to properly connect a trailer to your vehicle is an essential responsibility.
So, during hitching a trailer, by following these simple instructions, you can be sure that your trailer is tied up correctly.
You first embark on towing journey should be safe and sound.
1. A helping hand:
In the practical aspects, the first thing you need to do in hitching a trailer is to enlist the assistance of a friend.
It will make the task way less difficult if there is another person there outside of the vehicle who can provide direction.
Before beginning, come to an agreement on a series of indicators.
These signals or indicators shall include which way to turn when to actually back, and when to apply the brakes.
Before you attempt to back up, instruct your assistant to stand on the end of the trailer that is closest to the driver.
Also, tell him to stand sticking even with the tongue of the trailer.
Then, check to be sure that you can clearly see this person.
Finally, get set to back up.
2. Line Up The Vehicle:
If you want to link up your beloved vehicle to the trailer in the simplest method possible, we have the best approach here.
The best way to do so shall be in a straight line instead of just making a circuitous route around it.
Be patient and put the vehicle in line with the trailer.
You have to put the vehicle squarely in front of the trailer.
As soon as you achieve the straight line and a signal from the friend, start to back up.
While backing up, maintaining a straight line between the vehicle and the trailer is of utmost importance.
Put the brakes on as soon as the rear of your car gets within 10-12 inches of the proximity of the trailer.
This much distance is essential to swiftly do the hitching process.
Reminder: A good friend who can walk you through this phase will make it go much more smoothly.
The assistant can stand on the sidelines and provide you with directions using hand signals.
3. Deal with the coupler height:
After you have brought your vehicle up close to the trailer using the reverse gear, you will need to bring the coupler height in balance that connects the trailer to the vehicle.
A trailer’s tail end holds the coupler.
It is simply a metal socket that establishes the links between the towing vehicle and the trailer.
The hitch ball is the measurement standard here.
The coupler will seat on this hitch ball. So, you have to set the coupler higher than the hitch ball.
Adjust the height of the trailer jack by rotating the handle to get a height that is between two and three inches higher.
If the coupler is not standing high enough, the connection will not be secured and may cause damage.
4. Back Up The Vehicle:
We have already brought the coupler up to a position where it is higher than the hitch ball, right?
Now, to proceed with hitching a trailer, you need to close the 10-12 inches remaining distance.
It is time to back your vehicle up the remaining distance. In this process, the coupler and the hitch ball shall be in complete alignment.
Keep your assistant in alarm to help you through this.
During this part of the process, you need to make sure that you are reversing gently and cautiously.
If you go too far backward, you could hit the coupler and damage the link.
You may also hit the back of your car and causes harm.
Doing this alone: In case you don’t have anyone helping you, you can do it alone by using the brakes.
Sound funny but does the job flawlessly!
Just reverse the vehicle a bit and step down after pressing the brake.
Go back and see how much distance is left.
Then go back further slowly.
Do this slowly and patiently to avoid unnecessary troubles.
It may take a big chunk of your time.
But it will make ensure a perfect alignment between the hitch ball and the coupler.
5. Put the coupler on the hitch ball and lower it:
Here we recommend you double-check a few things to proceed with the connection.
To guarantee that you are correctly attaching the hitch ball and the coupler, this approach is significant.
Before attaching the coupler to the hitch ball, check to see if the ball has any coverings or protectors on it.
If any, remove them carefully.
Also, before lowering, check to see that the coupler latch is standing erect.
When it is in the open position, you can move on to the next step.
Reduce the height of the coupler using the trailer jack until it rests flush against the hitch ball.
The hitch ball has to be able to totally sustain the pressure of the trailer.
Remember, during this stage of the process, it is extremely important to put your vehicle into park.
Don’t forget to apply the emergency brake.
6. Close The Latch On The Coupler:
When you are satisfied that the coupler is properly positioned on the hitch ball, you can proceed to secure the coupler.
First off, latching the coupler will enforce the link.
Then, you can reinforce it to secure it by using the secure it using coupler lock.
A safety pin is also of great help here.
Raise the tongue of the trailer just a hair higher.
It will help check if every attachment is secured or not.
If the coupler unlatches during testing, the connection was not secured.
It means that the alignment of the ball and coupler was faulty or the height of the coupler was not enough.
So, you latched it even before placing the coupler on the ball properly.
In case this occurs, you will need to release the latch on the coupler and make another attempt at connecting it.
Then, test it again to make sure that there is no movement.
7. Attach the safety chains in a cross pattern:
As you are done linking the hitch ball and coupler, do add an additional measure of protection.
Attach safety chains to further reinforce the connection.
The law also mandates the chains on the hitches.
All cars that are capable of pulling a trailer shall have these chains in place all over the hitches.
Usually, we have to place the chains somewhere under the coupler.
A crisscross design is a priority here so that they deliver additional strength.
In some cases, the hitch ball may detach from the coupler.
So, it offers additional safety measures and holds the coupler, and prevents accidents.
8. Pull The Trailer Jack Into Its Housing:
Don’t move to retract the trailer jack unless you have already fastened the coupler securely.
Towing requires the trailer jack to be raised to an elevated position and moved out of the way.
A swivel bracket is included on some jacks.
This bracket gives the user the ability to raise the jack so that it is parallel to the ground.
Other designs consist solely of a leg.
You can retract this leg into the jack post.
9. Connect the wiring for the light:
The next thing you’ll want to do is hook up the trailer’s lights.
The needed wiring socket is a bit tricky to find.
It is at the back of your car. It provides electricity for your trailer lights.
So, locate it first.
The wiring socket can be a loose one just sitting or hanging near the hitch.
It can also be in the trunk of your vehicle at the back of it.
Connect the wiring harness from your car to the outlet on this trailer.
Be sure that there is an acceptable amount of slack in the wire.
Maintain firm pressure on the plug when you insert it into the socket.
To keep the wires together, you can simply make use of any additional latches.
The wiring harness must be of a proper size so that it does not drag on the ground. But it has to be short enough that turning does not cause discomfort.
A helpful hint: Check that the cable has not been torn or damaged in any way, as this will prevent it from functioning correctly.
10. Perform A Lighting Check On The Trailer:
Make sure that your friend is standing at a point from where he/she can see the lights.
Turn the trailer lights on one by one to check that they are functioning properly.
At first, you have to check the turn signals on the right, then the turn signals on the left.
Gradually, move on to check the hazards.
After that, check the running lights, and finish by checking the brake lights.
The person helping you shall signal you a “yes” every time he sees any particular light working or not working.
If there is any light that seems to be out of whack, it may be the wiring connection of the vehicle-to-trailer at fault.
So, check it first using any electrical tester.
If there is no active signal in the wiring, it may be damaged somehow and requires fixing.
A Vehicle Worthy Of Towing:
To begin the process of attaching a trailer, the very first requirements are a vehicle that can actually pull the trailer.
Make sure that the vehicle you have can haul a trailer before you commit to using one.
An exceptional amount of towing and torque capability is essential for the driver before he/she can tow a camper, any type of boat, or any other type of trailer requires from the driver.
When it comes to towing, the higher torque of the vehicle is something that gets the most importance.
Having such a vehicle is a blessing here.
It enables the engine to transport substantial loads more readily.
It is essential to consider what you intend to haul behind your car and ensure that the towing capacity of your vehicle is adequate for the job.
Moreover, it is critical that the load of the trailer and the vehicle is level.
Matching is important for your safety and the protection of other drivers and passengers on the road.
The same rule applies to all trailers, be it a big fifth-wheel trailer or any little utility trailer.
So, when looking for the ideal towing vehicle, look for a vehicle that possesses high levels of torque.
If the torque is high, the towing capacity is proportionately high.
For Tips For Hitching A Trailer Alone:
First and foremost, proceed very gently.
It is always a good idea to take things slowly if you are hooking up a trailer.
Have patience regardless of whether or not you have someone assisting you.
Take your time, and if you feel like you need to redo a step, don’t be hesitant to do so.
Move the trailer by hand:
It is not necessary to always align the hitch and coupler by backing up the vehicle.
Rather, you can do it manually by moving the trailer.
Push or pull the trailer to the vehicle if it is lightweight enough to do so
Try not to overexert yourself.
This maneuver could not be possible if the trailer is carrying too much weight.
Affix a marking on your car:
A piece of tape could probably be the ideal pick here.
Put it in the middle of your back window to point out where the trailer ball is located.
Marking the coupler with a flag or a stick?
Make sure that there is alignment between the marker and the tape before proceeding.
Unlock The Driver-Side Door:
Open the door on the driver’s side of your vehicle when there is only a foot or two of distance remaining between it and the coupler.
At the same time, as a point of reference, fix a point on the ground.
As you move backward, you can determine the remaining distance by referring to the point.
To prevent any damage, always make sure that your trailer’s coupler is raised higher than the ball.
A backup camera is handy:
If you a hitching alone, use a camera to record what is happening behind you.
If your vehicle does not have a camera on the back, install a camera in the back of your vehicle to improve your view of the trailer while you are reversing.
Instead, a bright flag or stick can help you focus on your target if you do it alone.
Raise the stick vertically.
Now, you can see its position out of the car’s rearview mirror.
FAQs about Hitching a trailer
How Does A Trailer Attach To A Hitch?
A trailer basically attaches to a hitch by using the coupler and the hitch ball.
What If I Don’t Use Safety Chains?
In some states, the law obliges to use the of chains.
However, you should use it for your own safety with reinforced links as the hitch ball may detach accidentally.
Why Does The Coupler Unlatch?
It may unlatch at any time if the height of the coupler was not enough.
As a result, it will not link to the hitch ball well and may unlatch and lead to accidents.
Towing a trailer allows you to haul more items than would fit in your car.
But to tow, you need to know the process of hitching a trailer. And guess what?
You have been through the entire process of hitching a trailer and you can master it now.
If you take the time to follow these straightforward instructions, the hitching will be perfect and you will get an amazing towing experience.