Securing a Trailer to Your Vehicle
Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated May 15, 2012)
Whether you have a truck or a car, a trailer can be a very helpful item in moving things around. That is, as long as the trailer is properly secured. Improperly securing a trailer can lead to damaged property, accidents, lawsuits, and possibly even hospital time. Make sure that you are securing a trailer to your vehicle properly before you begin using it. It's not all that difficult, but you do need to follow a few simple steps to ensure that you do it the right way.
- Get a hitch. One thing that many people don't really think about until it is too late is whether or not they have a hitch on their vehicle. While some people may say that you don't need a hitch to tow a trailer, it is the best way to do it safely. Check to make sure that your vehicle has one, and if it doesn't get one installed.
- Inspect everything. Take a look at both your hitch, and the trailer are in good working order. This means that all connectors are present and in good working condition. Check to make sure that all the bolts, nuts, and wheels on the trailer are in good condition (after all, you don't exactly use the trailer every day, and something could have happened). Check the electrical connectors on both your vehicle and trailer are not frayed or damaged, and that they are not loose either.
- Prepare the trailer. Arrange the trailer so that it can be hooked up to the vehicle. This usually entails that you raise the trailer coupler (the part of the trailer that attaches to the hitch) is raised enough so that the hitch can get underneath it. Furthermore, make sure that you will not hit anything when you back up the vehicle.
- Align the vehicle, and back it up. Drive your vehicle so that the back end of it is in front of the trailer coupler, and have a friend guide you back. This friend should direct you so that your trailer hitch ends up directly underneath the coupler. When you are in the best possible position, shut off the vehicle, and place the parking brake on.
- Hook up all connections. Lower the coupler, and latch it onto the hitch. Once you have done that, attach the safety chains so that in the event that the trailer happens to slip off of the hitch it won't go careening through traffic. Also attach all the electrical connections properly so that you can have working brake lights and turning signals.
- Check your work. After everything has been hooked up, go back over all your work to double check it. In fact, it would be a good idea to also have your friend look over all the connections as well to make sure that nothing was missed. Test out the brake lights and turn signals to ensure that they are hooked up properly as well.
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