How to Securely Hitch a Trailer to the Back of Your Car

September 21, 2022
Natalie Thorburn

If you've always wanted to haul a trailer behind your car, but have been too nervous to try it because you're afraid of getting it hooked up wrong, never fear—we have you covered. Read on for step-by-step instructions on how to hitch a trailer to the back of your car securely!

Line Up Your Vehicles

First and foremost, you must line up your car and trailer on level ground and put wedges on the wheels to prevent rolling. The car should be reversed back slowly and in a straight line with the trailer. As you reverse, ensure the hitch coupler and the ball line up correctly. If you can't do it alone, you can use a helper to guide you as you reverse.

Lower the Coupler Onto the Ball

With the help of a trailer jack, slowly lower the coupler onto the ball. If you're unsure of what that is, it's the thingy with the hole in it that looks like a doughnut. As you do this, the latch should be upright and unlocked. Otherwise, the coupler won't go down effectively if it's locked. If you’re having any issues with this, it can help to speak with local professionals like Top Shelf Trailers for advice. Experts will have the experience necessary to navigate niche problems.

Lock the Coupler Latch

Once the coupler is lowered onto the ball, raise or jack up the hitch under the car and apply your thumb to the latch to lock it down. With the help of a hitch adjuster, you can tighten the coupler to prevent slipping. In addition, you can insert the latch pins to hold the coupler into position securely. Since different vehicles have different locking mechanisms, make sure to refer to your owner's manual for the correct process.

Attach Safety Chains

Attach the safety chains to the trailer coupler. Before doing this, make sure that your chain hooks are angled so that they won't get caught under or between the hitch and the vehicle. You can also use spring-loaded clips to secure the hook to hook together.

Connect Your Trailer Lights

Trailer lights help you communicate with other road users. If your trailer is equipped with electric lights, connect the wires to your car's wiring harness. If not, try to attach light or reflector boards to the rear bumper of your vehicle.

Hook Up the Brake Control

To better get control of the trailer, you should install brakes. Usually, a power-boosted hydraulic trailer brake controller is advisable over electric brake system on the trailer because it helps dissipate heat better when braking.

Final Thoughts

Hitching up a trailer to the back of your car may seem daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, you'll realize that it's easy and typically just takes a couple of minutes. However, if you still experience any trouble, contact a nearby professional to help you.


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