Whether it’s a Utility Trailers or a boat trailer,¬† it will not make it to its destination if it is not connected to the tow vehicle properly. ¬†Since 1975, there have been more than 1 million traffic accidents in the United States caused by improperly attached trailers, to the tow vehicle ¬†according to information compiled from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.¬† Within those 1 million-plus crashes, more than 14,000 people have been killed and almost 500,000 injured.¬† The numbers are staggering and illustrate the need to properly hook up your trailer.
- ALWAYS¬† CHECK THE BALL SIZE OF THE COUPLER ON THE TRAILER¬†BEFORE HOOKING ANY TRAILER TO ANY VEHICLE.
- Raise the trailer tongue so it is higher than the tow ball on the tow vehicle. This is necessary to make sure the vehicle can get under the tongue to connect to the trailer.
- Position your helper next to the tongue of the trailer facing the rear of the tow vehicle. This person will guide the tow vehicle into position for attachment.
- Back the tow vehicle to the trailer, positioning the ball of the tow vehicle directly under the coupler on the tongue of the trailer. This could take several attempts to complete properly.
- Open the latch on the trailer hitch. Each trailer is different: some are a basic lift type switch while others are a more complex spring-loaded slide mechanism.
- Lower the trailer onto the tow vehicle ball using the trailer jack. Make sure the latch remains open. Continue to lower the trailer until the ball is fully inside the ball coupler and the jack leg is off the ground. Fully raise the trailer jack.
- Close the latch¬†on the coupler.¬† It is always recommended and some states require that a locking mechanism be placed in the latch to insure that the latch doesn’t come unlocked while traveling.
- Connect the safety chains on the trailer tongue to the tow bar of the tow vehicle. There are chain connections next to the hitch mount of most towing bars. If there is no visible place to connect the chains, locate the nearest frame rail to the hitch and clip the chains there. These chains must be connected. They keep the trailer connected to the vehicle in case the coupler comes off the ball.
- Attach the trailer wire plug to the plug on the tow vehicle.¬†¬† Turn the lights on and check all light functions.¬†
- For trailers equipped with brakes you must also connect your break-away cable to the tow vehicle.¬†
- Recheck all of the connections.¬† This last step will take less than 30 seconds¬†to ensure you have done your part.
- Don’t forget about the rest of your trailers maintenance needs.
- Make sure the trailer is not too heavy for the tow vehicle.
- Towing capacities ca be found in the owner’s manual for most vehicles.
- Make sure all connections are complete and lights are working prior to leaving the starting point.
- Check connections every 50 miles to ensure they are still connected.