Many new RVers have questions like “how to hitch a travel trailer” as some of their first questions.
There are a number of firsts that are really sort of nerve wracking if you've never gone through them before.
For some, like farm people or folks from the construction industry managing a towable trailer is no big deal for them.
For the rest of us, we might ask the question “how the heck do you make it look so easy.
How to hitch a travel trailer – the way old RV52.com might do it.
I grew up on a farm so I had to hitch, unhitch and back trailers all the time. But it was so many years ago I did this that unlike bike riding, it does seem to fade from your skillset. The only thing that remains is the probably misplaced belief that I can do without thinking!
Here are the steps as I see them for a non-sway bar connection – just the ball:
- First and foremost, make sure your travel trailer is jacked up high enough to let the bumper ball on your truck to cleanly get underneath the ball.
- Next, make sure your ball is installed in your tow vehicle and secured. Little things like forgetting to put your keeper pin (lynch pin, kotter pin, etc.) in the hitch could cost you your $50,000 travel trailer.
- On your travel trailer, make sure that the travel trailer hitch area is free from obstructions.
- Make sure all the things you need to connect up to tow the trailer are free from being ran over.
- If your travel trailer has a ball lock or theft protection, now would be a good time to remove it.
- Before getting into your truck, take a careful look at your travel trailer. Find a mark or visual reference on your trailer that is exactly in the middle of your trailer just like your ball.
- Now, I would recommend getting your 2nd person to direct you at this point, but lets just pretend you are by yourself.
- I would also recommend lining up your truck as straight in line with the trailer as possible. Doing things while turning is harder in my opinion.
- Now, if by yourself, I would line up the middle of the truck tailgate with the visual center you identified earlier and slowly back up until you think you are pretty close.
- NOTE: It is better to NOT bump your travel trailer. Therefore I would recommend always stopping short and inching your way back to the travel trailer. I have a fitbit so I like the extra steps anyway.
- If you do this several times – inching back, stopping, getting out, checking distance, getting back in, inching back and keep repeating you'll finally be under the ball hitch. Be patient, this could take several minutes.
- IF you have someone help you they can point which way to turn as well as indicate distance to the ball by showing you how far with their hands. It should look like a football referee telling you how far the ball has to go for first down.
- Now that you are under the ball the hardest part is complete.
- Sheri and I connect the break-away switch wire to the ball. I don't know what other people do but this works for us.
- Now you can lower the hitch onto your truck. I'm going to assume the weights are within spec. If your trucks front wheels come off the ground or your back wheels blow out while lowering it, seek help.
- When the hitch is completely lowered, just keep going and crank the jack stand completely up. It would be foolish to not do this and bend a jack on a dip in the road.
- Flip the ball lock into place. If you can't because the hitch is preventing it, you can scootch the hitch on the ball. A trailer is easier to move than you think.
- Sheri and I padlock the hitch onto the ball. I would do that now.
- Hook the safety chains that go along with your travel trailer to your truck.
- Hook the electrical connection from the travel trailer to your truck. Mine is a seven wire connector.
- If you have boards or other things to support the jack, put those in the back of your truck.
- At this point everything should be connected. Double check to make sure the area is 100% clear now.
- In the truck, put your flashers on. This is the fastest way to check the trailer lights to make sure it is connected.
- Go to the back of the RV. You should see the back lights blinking.
- You could also turn on your lights and make sure the running lights are on.
- If you use wheel chocks, which you should, you should remove them now.
- I'm assuming that all the rest of the RV is disconnected.
RV52.com has bought one of these so I can connect the trailer by myself.
Hitch a Travel Trailer the easy way – using alignment balls
I recently purchased a pair of alignment balls and finally got a chance to try them out. It was so hot outside that my wife stayed inside the house and I hooked up a trailer. In this case it wasn't a travel trailer, but you can see that the alignment balls made it really easy and I was able to do it by myself.
I thought putting pictures would save you lots of time and you can see how they worked in real life.
My biggest “notice” is that they really, really helped with left-right alignment. Also, I only had to get out of the truck cab one time. This was very quick and easy.
Notice on the picture where I got too close, the balls separated. If you see this, you have about a 75% chance of just rolling forward about 2 inches and being in alignment.
But the nice thing is if your balls get separated, you'll see it and can keep from ramming your travel trailer off of the hitch – which is a real concern. Better to check and get out of the cab a couple of times than end up with a mess that will take a tractor to lift your trailer and fix. If you are lucky, that would be all you have to fix.
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