I saw someone pulling a trailer behind their SUV the other day that caught my attention. What made me take notice was the fact that the safety chains were dragging on the ground — and throwing sparks! I immediately came home and enlisted the help my husband to write this post for you. A trailer serves many uses in our lives. I’ve used my husband’s trailer to haul items from the toy store, pickup used furniture I have purchased at yard sales, and all sorts of fun things. I think it is really important for everyone to know how to use one for those emergency situations when you find yourself face-to-face with a great frugal mom deal and your only option is to pull the trailer out yourself, or stack it on the roof like a children’s cartoon! (My vote is always to pull the trailer out because it is safer for you and everyone around you!)
Driver Tips: How to Tow a Trailer
Lets start with your vehicle capabilities. Most of today’s trucks and SUV’s come with a bumper that has holes in it to add a towing ball to it. If your vehicle doesn’t have this option you can purchase a towing hitch and have it installed by your auto dealer. Towing hitches are produced for almost every kind of vehicle. There are different types of hitches classified by their ratings. They range from “Class I” which is the lowest, to “Class V”, the strongest one. Be sure to check the manufacture’s rating to make sure that you are purchasing the right hitch for your vehicle and needs.
Once you have your hitch you will need to pick out a ball, and possibly, an adapter. This selection is made based upon your trailer’s needs, not your vehicle. Look on the tongue of your trailer, there should be a number on it. (It should say something like 2″). Look for the ball that has your corresponding number on it. If you have a hitch you will also need an adapter that you put the ball on at the opening of your hitch. Once you put the adapter into your hitch, make sure you put the pin back through the hole and place the cotter key on the end of the pin to prevent it from coming out! Those who are inserting the ball directly into their bumper can skip this step and just put the ball into the hole of the bumper (easy peasy).
Now you are ready to back-up to your trailer! If you have someone that can guide you back it will help. Otherwise, a backup camera is also a great tool for this job!
Once you have your car in place you can pull the latch up on your trailer. Start lowering your trailer onto the ball until the jack is all the way up. Now push the latched down into place. Some trailers have a safety pin that goes through a hole to keep the latch from coming up. I always like to pull up (away from the hitch) to make sure that the trailer is on properly.
Next you plug in the lights. It’s as simple as just taking the plug on the trailer and inserting to the one on your car.
Lastly, take your safety chains and hook them to the holes next to where your ball attaches to your hitch. I like to cross the chains. This would help catch the trailer if it where to ever come off.
Check your lights and tires and you off!