The Davis Trailer World Hitch and Towing Guide
5 EASY STEPS FOR SAFELY ATTACHING YOUR TRAILER TO A BALL HITCH
A big part of towing safely is in how you attach your trailer. Once you have determined the towing weight capabilities of your vehicle and have selected and installed the correct hitch, it is time to attach the trailer to your vehicle.
For some people, attaching a trailer to your vehicle for the first time can be daunting. It is actually quite straight forward, and if you follow these simple steps, you will be on the road in no time!
1. Align Your Vehicle With Trailer
The first step in attaching your hitch, is aligning your vehicle with the trailer you are towing. Sometimes you may have to do some fancy maneuvering, but if you have the ability to wheel the trailer by hand, it is advantageous to find a good, flat surface longer than your combined vehicle and trailer length to attach.
With your trailer behind you, reverse in a straight line until you are about a foot away from the ball of your hitch. Many of the newer vehicles have a back up camera to make this easier, but if you don’t have one installed, it is beneficial to find a friend to help guide you.
2. Position Coupler Above The Hitch Ball
After you are close to the hitch ball you will need to raise or lower the trailer with the trailer jack by turning the handle so the the coupler is slightly above the hitch ball on your vehicle. You will then finish backing your vehicle up so the coupler is directly above the ball.
It is common for the vehicle to move slightly when you put it into park and let your foot of the brake. If you have a helper, they can guide you into position and lower the coupler on to the ball while you keep pressure on the brake. Otherwise it may take a few times before you are lined up where you need to be.
3. Securely Attach Coupler To Hitch ball
Before lowering the coupler on to the ball, make sure that the safety latch is released. The safety latch can be a lever on top (this needs to be in the up position), or a side to side safety lever (it should be marked which position is unlocked), or sometimes a screw type handle. (This will need to be loosened). All of these safety latches serve the purpose of tightening the ball to the hitch once it is lowered. Most of the safety levers will also have a hole that you need to insert a hitch pin or locking device into to hold them in position once they are in place. When this is complete give it a good shake to confirm it feels secure.
4. Secure Hitch and Attach Safety Chains
At this point, your coupler should be securely attached to the hitch ball. You will now need to make sure that your trailer hitch is stored out of the way. It is often loosened by pulling a pin and rotating it to align horizontally with trailer frame. Other jacks may just need to be cranked into the up position out of the way.
Attached to your trailer coupler will be a safety chain. Take the two ends of the chain and cross them and attach underneath the ball hitch using “S” hooks or chain links. If you do not see a chain, we recommend that you purchase one as these are the last line of defense if your trailer somehow un-attaches from the ball hitch and is legally required in most states.
5. Attach Electric Light Cable and Test
At this point, your trailer should be attached to your vehicle safely. The final step is to hook up the electrical and lights cable. To do this you will need to locate the wiring socket on the rear of your vehicle. This can be located on the bumper, near the license plate or even inside the trunk. If you cannot locate it, please check your manufacturer’s instructions.
Take your electrical cable that is attached by the trailer coupling and plug it firmly into the receptacle. You will need to keep it from dragging or detaching from your vehicle, so feed it through any loops that exist or at least up and off of the ground. Lastly, check all of your lights, blinkers and hazards to make sure they are working. This will be easier if you have a friend to help.