Hooking up your Trailer - alpineeng

Hooking up your Trailer – alpineeng

Hooking up your Trailer can be a dangerous job if proper safety precautions are not taken. Before towing, make sure that your vehicle and trailer maintenance is up-to-date, and that you check the following each time you hook your trailer up.

Photo 1: Trailer coupling at the car

Here are other essential safety checks to perform when hooking up and towing a trailer:

Check the safety chains

Cross the safety chains under the trailer tongue and connect them securely to the tow vehicle. The chains should be tight enough to prevent the tongue from hitting the ground in case it disconnects from the hitch. They should also have enough slack for turns. 

Check the ball and hitch

Ensure that the ball size matches the size of the coupler on the trailer and that the hitch is securely fastened to your vehicle. Also because all ball mounts are not made the same, make sure the one you’re using can support the weight of your trailer and the load.

Hooking up your Trailer - alpineeng

Hooking up your Trailer – alpineeng

Check the lights

Test all the lights on the trailer, including the brake lights, hazard lights, turn signals, and taillights, to ensure that they are working correctly.

Photo 2: Lights on a small trailer

Remember that if the lights on your trailer are not well-lit, other drivers on the road might not see your vehicle, particularly at night.

Check the tires

Make sure your tires are in good condition by inspecting the tires on both truck and trailer for proper inflation and any signs of wear or damage. Be sure to check the pressure and treads and, that the lug nuts of your tires are secure.

Not that: If the tires are not correctly inflated they can negatively affect handling. Also, if the tires are underinflated they can create more rolling resistance, which will force the engine to work harder and consume more fuel.

Check the brakes

If the trailer is equipped with brakes, test them before you hit the road to ensure they are functioning correctly.

You can program electric brakes to use more force when towing a heavy load and less force when pulling an empty trailer.

Check the cargo

Make sure the cargo is equally balanced on each side and load the trailer in a way that evenly distributes the weight. All the cargo should be well contained and reinforced by tie-downs and securing devices to prevent them from loosening or opening during transit.

Check the weight capacity

Make sure that whatever you put on or in the trailer is within the rated capacity of the trailer.  Also, ensure that the weight of the trailer and the load do not exceed the weight capacity of your vehicle’s hitch and towing capacity.

Check the mirrors

Adjust your side- and rear-view mirrors to ensure that you have a clear view of the trailer, and the lanes to either side, while driving. 

Check the load distribution

Make sure the load on the trailer is properly distributed and secured to prevent swaying or instability while driving.

Secure the Load

It is important to make sure that anything you put in the trailer remains in the trailer, even at highway speeds.  Cover loose items so they do not fly out, and secure large items by tying them down to prevent unintentional movement.  Drivers can be held liable for any damage caused by items that come off of their vehicle or trailer.

These are just a few of the essential safety checks you can perform to help ensure a safe and smooth towing experience. Ensure you do these and other thorough inspections before hitting the road every time.

References For Additional Reading