How to Hitch a Trailer

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Last Updated on July 3, 2022

There can be several reasons behind why someone would consider hitching a trailer to their vehicle. From transporting recreational stuff to even a whole boat, trailer hitching can help with all of that.

You however need to find the right method of how to hitch a trailer depending on the type. Usually, it’s a ball hitch mechanism that also includes connecting the vehicle’s electrical system to one of the trailers.

If you have zero to no clue about the hitching process, today’s discussion will interest you a lot. Keep Reading…

Here’s How to Hitch a Trailer in Steps

If you want to understand the process of hitching and unhitching a trailer then try not to skip any part. We have sectioned the process of how to attach a trailer to the hitch for your ease, hope it helps. 

How to hitch a trailer

Also, you will need another person to stay outside the vehicle. So, ask a friend to help you in this process. Here we go!

1. The Trailer & Vehicle Should Be Lining Up

Backing up to the coupler will feel much easier if you have the vehicle in a straight line standing along with the trailer. This setup just excuses you from any zigzag attempt of getting the right position. Ask your friend to stand outside. They can help you with directing you on which way to go.

2. Adjust the Height of the Trailer Coupler

  • Now you want to have the trailer tongue at least a foot away from the vehicles. So once you reach that point just stop. And focus on adjusting the height of the trailer coupler. If you know how trailer hitches work, then you already realize this adjustment is pretty important to happen in the right manner.
  • You should be backing up the vehicle the rest of the way and the coupler needs to clear the trailer ball meanwhile. It should barely be a few inches higher than the ball. So, make sure to lower in case of any raise noticed.

3. Proper Alignment of Coupler & Ball

  • Be very slow and extremely cautious as you keep backing the vehicle up the remaining way to the coupler. Maintaining the line of the trailer ball with a coupler is key here. 
  • Of course, you want to depend on your helper at this point as well, for knowing which way the vehicle should proceed. You can always pull forward and try once again if the first few times don’t seem to line things up.

4. Bring the Coupler Down to Ball

  • The vehicle should be in the park. Also, make sure the emergency brake is on. Then bring the trailer jack for lowering the coupler to a point where it comfortably rests on the ball. Having an upright latch of the coupler is important. Also, don’t forget to unlock it before you bring it down.
  • You can also try raising the jack-up again in case the coupler feels a bit offset from the ball. Just do the same thing but with more caution and attention.
For Your Information – You should grease the ball of the trailer properly. So that the connection is smooth enough. Otherwise, there’s a chance that the coupler will keep pushing the ball downwards. And it will start to wear sooner than later.

5. Engage the Latch to Coupler

  • Use the safety pin or lock of the coupler for completely engage the latch as soon as the coupler takes a complete seat on the ball. Bring the trailer tongue up using a jack to test the connection. 
  • The coupler that has a poor seat will end up making the ball come off. You need to unlatch and repeat everything until the ball seems to not come off. Shifting forward or backward the tongue can help for proper placement of the coupler.

6. A Crisscross Pattern Attaching of Chains

  • The coupler underneath the area needs safety chains in a crisscross pattern for giving cradles. So that in case the couple gets detached, the chains will catch it. 
  • The rating of each safety chain is critical. It should be meeting the trailer’s gross weight or exceeding it. Also, the chain can never come in contact with the ground once attached.
  • Retract the trailer jack as soon as the coupler is secure enough. You don’t want it in the way while towing.

7. All About the Wiring for Trailer

  • The electrical system of the trailer hooks up the electrical system of the vehicle is also an important segment. Have the wiring harness of the vehicle plugged securely to the trailer. You can take care of all excess wires by wrapping the harness around the trailer tongue. 
  • Just make sure there’s enough length for tension-free turning and at the same time no contact with the ground. Once you have the proper wire length, the plug on the trailer side needs to be pressed firmly inside the socket on the vehicle side.

8. Testing the Lights of Trailer

  • Turn all the trailer lights and make sure those are working properly. You want to do this for brake lights, hazards, running lights, right turn signals as well as a left turn signal. 
  • Use an electrical tester for confirming an active connection from the vehicle to the trailer in case any light does not work.

9. Keep These Tips in Mind

  • Use the reverse camera of the vehicle for easy lining up of hitch ball and trailer socket.
  • Use a piece of masking tape on the vehicle’s back window for centering the hitch ball. Put a bicycle flag on the trailer socket behind. You can now line both of these while reversing to get an accurate alignment.
  • If you have a light trailer, simply wheel it to the vehicle’s hitch ball rather than reversing the vehicle towards the trailer.

Wrapping Up

And that was all about how to hitch a trailer without messing up. You just need to follow the provided guidelines as it is and there should be no problem. 

However, checking the manual will help in case you find yourself in an unlikely situation that seems confusing. Maybe there are specific instructions that you should be aware of, so do that as well.

See You Again, Take Care!

About the Author: Brian Silvestro

Brian Silvestro is the founder and chief editor of OffroadersArena. He spends his free time tending to his BMW iX SUV and explaining its merits to anyone who'll listen.

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