As part of a towing comparison video we've been working on, we spoke to Daniel from JD’s Boatshed about the basic tips and safety precautions you should take when you’re hitching up your trailer. Here’s the easy step-by-step guide.
Step 1 – Lower the jockey wheel.
It might sound obvious, but if you’re hitching up alone, this can be really annoying. Have the trailer higher than you need it, while you line up the tow ball. Then you can lower the trailer down to the correct height for your tow ball.
Step 2 – Drop the coupling.
Lower the coupling down gently, ensuring that it is lining up correctly and heading into the right position to sit squarely over the tow ball. Once the coupling has dropped down onto the ball securely, ensure the locking latch is dropped down into position. The trailer is now securely locked to the tow ball.
Step 3 – Release the trailer brakes.
This is as simple as using some force to pull the brake lever back toward the trailer, while releasing the locking lever. Once done, the emergency brakes are disconnected.
Step 4 – Connect the safety chain.
You should have decent quality D shackles for this purpose that stay either with the trailer or the tow vehicle. Don’t ever tow without the safety chain set up correctly. Don’t over tighten the screw-in bolt in the D shackle either. Nip it up, then back it out half a turn – that way, you’ll be able to undo it when you want to park the trailer.
Step 5 – Plug in the electrics.
You should already have checked that you have the correct adapters if needed and that your electric cable is long enough to suit the trailer and tow vehicle. Ensure you have connected the clip in securely and the latch that secures the connection is clipped in.
Step 6 – Fold the jockey wheel up.
This is a must, and don’t forget to do it under any circumstance. Towing with the jockey wheel down is dangerous. Each trailer is different, but most have an easy to understand hinge system that lifts the jockey wheel up and out of the way. Generally, it is smart to wind the jockey wheel all the way back in.
Step 7 – Visual inspection.
Another step that you should get in the habit of doing every time you hitch up a trailer, especially if it isn’t one you’re familiar with. Check that all the lights work as they should and double-check all your connections. If a globe has blown for example, this is the time to work that out and fix it.
Towing is simple and it’s something that becomes second nature the more you do it. Regardless of your level of experience though, these simple tips are something that even experts can benefit from.
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