How to Safely Hook Up a Trailer

September 26th, 2023 by

A trailer neck hitched to the back of a pickup truck

To a lot of us, a trailer is something that comes before a movie! If you’re a new truck owner, you may have never hauled anything — but the moment may arise when you need to hook up a trailer and put your vehicle to the test! At Hebert’s Town and Country Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Shreveport, Louisiana, we think that if you’re going to invest in a truck, you should get one that can handle every challenge that pops up.

Tow With the Best of Them

Nervous about hooking up a trailer for the first time? We’ve got your back! Just follow these 10 easy steps to safely tow just about anything.

1. Gather Your Equipment

Before you start, make sure you have all the necessary equipment, including a properly sized trailer hitch, safety chains, a trailer light connection, and any additional accessories specific to your trailer type.

2. Know Your Truck’s Towing Capacity

Consult your pickup truck’s owner’s manual to determine its towing capacity. It’s crucial not to exceed this limit, as overloading can lead to accidents and damage to your vehicle.

3. Position Your Truck and Trailer

Park your truck in front of the trailer on level ground. Give yourself plenty of space to maneuver as you reverse.

4. Adjust the Trailer

The trailer hitch ball height should be slightly lower than the coupler height on your trailer. You may need to adjust the coupler height by either raising or lowering it. On most trailers, this is done by spinning a hand crank on the trailer to extend or shorten the jack. Make sure your trailer coupler is unlocked.

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5. Connect the Hitch Ball

Reverse your truck toward the trailer and position the trailer coupler directly over the hitch ball, making sure it’s centered. It’s helpful to have another person guide you from outside the truck, as this process often requires very small adjustments. Once perfectly centered, lower the coupler onto the ball. Lock the coupler into position and insert any safety pins.

6. Secure the Jack

Once your trailer is connected to the hitch, the small wheel of your jack should be completely raised. Move the jack so that it is parallel to the neck of the trailer; this may also require the removal/insertion of a safety pin.

7. Attach Safety Chains

Cross the safety chains under the trailer coupler, forming an “X” pattern. Connect them to the anchor points on your truck’s hitch, ensuring they are neither too loose nor too tight. These chains act as a backup in case the trailer detaches from the hitch. Make sure the chains are not touching the ground.

8. Plug in the Lights

Connect the trailer’s electrical plug to the small outlet under your truck. Be sure the plug is secure and inserted properly. Once connected, test the trailer lights to ensure they function correctly, including brake lights, turn signals, and running lights.

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9. Secure Cargo

Be sure your cargo is properly secured and the weight is distributed evenly on the trailer. A shifting trailer or shifting cargo can be extremely dangerous while driving.

10. Double-Check

Walk around the trailer and truck, checking for loose connections, low tire pressure, and any signs of damage. Make sure the tags on your trailer are up to date, as well!

Remember that towing a trailer requires extra caution and attention while driving, so take your time, stay within your vehicle’s towing capacity, and drive responsibly. Safe towing ensures a stress-free journey and a safer road for everyone. If you’d like the convenience of a powerful and capable truck, come see our selection today at Hebert’s Town and Country CDJR in Shreveport, Louisiana!

Posted in Car Tips, Ram, Safety