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Learn how to hook to a ball hitch trailer - watch the video.

How to Hook to a Trailer :: Ball & Hitch | Trailering Smart


Closed Caption


Hi there smart drivers, Rick with smart drive test talking to you today about how to hook up a trailer. And this is for ball and hitch assembly, this isn't for pintle hook or fifth wheel hook. Now just before we get started here, if you're a new driver working towards a license or you're starting a career as a truck or bus driver, hit that subscribe button for all the great information that will help you to pass your license and get you started as a CDL driver. So today we're going to talk about towing a trailer. It really extends the capacity of your vehicle. You can tow a utility trailer, RV trailers, or boat trailers. all of that is really good. We're not going to talk about sway bars today. And most of the new RV trailers are going to have sway bars on them.

So today, it's just ball and hitch assembly. As well, make sure that you have a look down in the description if you don't know anything about towing capacity, pin weight, tongue weight, or overall gross vehicle weight and gross axle vehicle weights. All that is in that video and that will keep you safe when you're towing a trailer. Because that can really affect the handling and stability of your vehicle when you're towing a trailer if you don't have those weights right. So have a look at that to be safe on the roadway. The other thing about trailers - if you've got them parked around and those types of things you want to have a pin lock on them. And if you have them in an area where you're not quite too sure about it, as well get a wheel lock for your trailer so this doesn't go away by itself. And have a look down in the description there, you can find the links to the pin and wheel locks down in the description.

lf you just have a pin lock on the trailer, what happens is the thieves - they just wrap a chain around the tongue and then they just tow it away and they cut the pin lock off it whenever they get it to a garage or whatnot. So a lot of times you might want to consider having a wheel lock on as well. Now the three main components on hooking up: a ball and hitch - you have got the hitch assembly with just the lever on the top here that sets it down on the ball. And you need the right size ball for your trailer, and we'll talk about that more in the body of the video. You have the jack for the front of the trailer. You have an electrical connection and as well you have safety chains. And we're going to show you how to hook all of that up today. So stick around, we'll be right back with that.


Hi there smart drivers, welcome back. Rick with Smart Drive Test talking to you today about hooking up a trailer. As I talked about in the introduction, you can rent utility trailers and you can rent recreational trailers for camping in the summertime and for cleaning up your yard. You can use a utility trailer that you can rent from U-haul or the local rental shop - they will have trailers. Now the first thing that U-Haul is going to do when you go and rent a trailer from them-- they're really inexpensive, they're only about twenty or thirty bucks--is they're going to look at your trailer hitch.

Trailer Hitch Towing Capacity

And they're going to make sure that your trailer hitch has the capacity to tow the trailer behind your vehicle. And the trailer hitch is capable of towing that trailer. So there's a weight rating, as you can see here in the image on the trailer hitch for towing a trailer. And U-Haul, from personal experience, will not rent you a trailer if this is not stamped on the trailer hitch.

Wear Gloves

Now, first thing when you're hooking up the trailer is get some gloves. Because this will just protect your hands against metal slivers and those types of things, because let me tell you, if you get a metal sliver in your fingers and whatnot, it really hurts. And as well, it'll protect you from pinch points because when you're hooking up a trailer there's lots of pinch points with the inserts, at the trailer the jack handle, and all of those types of things. So first thing, get some gloves and protect your hands. And you might even want to put on a pair of safety glasses and those types of things.

Now just as a note, this is just for a ball hitch assembly on how to hook this up. This is not for pintle hook or fifth fifth wheel. And I do not have the sway bars on my trailer so I'll see if I can find a trailer that has sway bars on it and I'll do another video for you in terms of sway bars.

Insert (Receiver-Hitch)

Now the first thing you got to do--and I don't recommend that you drive around with the insert (receiver) in the back of your trailer hitch. Take it out and stow it in the vehicle somewhere. And essentially the insert (receiver) as you can see, is the ball part. And when you're hooking up to a trailer you got to figure out what kind of hitch is on the trailer and how big the ball you need to tow that trailer. The most common is probably a two-inch trailer hitch. And for those of you that have a different ball size, just leave a comment down in the comment section there and tell us what kind of trailer you're hauling. That just helps out all the new drivers and smart drivers who are getting into trailering and towing trailers to extend the capacity of their vehicle. And that gives us more information for towing trailers.

So it's got a pin on it here that holds it into the trailer hitch assembly here on the back. And it's got a lock pin so you just pull the lock pin out here, pull the pin out and then slide this into the back of the hitch assembly and just pull it out so you get the pin in and then put the locking pin in and make sure it's locked. And that's all you do to put the insert (receiver) into the back of the truck. Now the next thing we need to do is, we need to figure out the height of the truck and trailer to make sure that the trailer is the right height to get the ball hitch underneath the tongue of the trailer.

Height of the Trailer Tongue

So essentially all I do is I just bring it up to my leg here and I just hold my hand on it and then I walk over to the trailer and make sure that the trailers at the right height above the top of that ball hich so I'm not going to bang into it when I back up to it. So I just walk over to the trailer here. And then I was up to here because I got a pocket on here so I knew where it was. So I need to crank the trailer up a fair bit here before I back the truck up underneath the trailer. And it needs to go up a fair height here and I just need to go up to about here, which there should be about good.

Pin & Wheel Locks

And then I need to unlock the trailer hitch here. And you want to have a trailer...a lock on your hitch. You know, so that people aren't driving away with your trailer. This little lock assembly, it's made of brass so it doesn't rust and I picked this up at the local locksmiths for about $20. The trailer, you know--RV places and trailer hitch places will have these kinds of lock hitches. As well and if you're working with a utility trailer and you're in a neighborhood that you know, maybe you don't quite trust and those types of things - know that a lock hitch probably isn't going to protect you because thieves, essentially all they do is put a chain on the front of your trailer and then they drag it away. And then they cut the lock off later. So you're probably going to need a wheel lock assembly as you can see here in the image. And that will stop your trailer from driving off by itself.

Backing Towing Unit Up to Trailer

So we got the trailer at the right height and now we just unlock this hitch. We can leave this sitting here for now [SETTING THE LOCK AND KEYS ON TONGUE] And now what we're going to do is we're going to back up underneath the trailer hitch with the truck. And essentially what I recommend when you back up to the trailer, make sure you have the window down on the driver's side if you have a hatchback or you have windows on the back of your pickup truck. Have those open as well so you can listen in case you bang into the trailer or something goes awry. It's always good to be able to listen as well, especially if you've got a spotter. You can hear them better if you've got your windows down.

Always Back From the Driver's Side

And the other thing I always recommend is try to backup from the driver's side. So always back around this way, obviously if you're on the other side of road in the UK or in Australia, you want to back around from the right. And if you're on the left side of the vehicle back around from the left. That way you're going to have a better line of sight than you do on the passenger side. So consider that as well when you're backing up to get the ball hitch underneath the trailer. And the last thing is, if you have a bigger trailer--this one here I can move around a little bit--but if you've got a heavy trailer, you're not going to be able to move it around, so you've got to get the ball htich pretty exact underneath the trailer hitch.

So we're going to back up to the trailer now. So the other thing you want to do is when you get close to the trailer, you just want to get out and look, if you don't have a spotter and you're by yourself. So I'm pretty much lined up there and I know I got to come back about three feet. So the other thing I do is I know I got to come back about that far so what I do is I pick a spot right straight out from the driver's side and that way I don't have to look out the back because obviously I can't see this [POINTING TO THE HITCH ASSEMBLY]

So I just back up that far and look at my reference point straight out the driver's side. [SPOTTER] Little more. [SPOTTER] Whoa! Go ahead a little bit. Whoa a little [SPOTTER] bit more. Right there. So we've the vehicle backed up and we've got the ball hitch directly underneath the trailer hitch thanks to my Mom who's helping me a little bit there. It can be a little bit tricky by yourself. If you've got somebody around who can give you a hand with it, by all means get them to help you get the ball hitch underneath the trailer.

Hitch Assembly

So we're directly underneath here - we've got the hitch open here. And essentially all this is, it's a ball hitch and this is a cup that sits over top of it. And it's a little cup a little piece of metal that slides underneath and holds it from popping off. So essentially what we do now is crank the handle down until it sits directly on the ball. Now one of the things you can do--so we've got the weight completely on the back of the truck now-- is lock this down and if you want to make sure that the hitch is in fact locked here, is you can crank this back up. And when you crank this handle back up, it should lift the back of the truck up. Because if you got a bigger trailer, you're not going to be able to lift that up and make sure it's on there. So I know that it's on there because now I know that it the trailer jack has lifted the back of the vehicle up.

Stow the Jack Handle

So now I can put that all the way down [WINDING UP JACK] and then I pull this out [RELEASING THE JACK] and I stow the handle. Now these come... actually the jack goes forward! Lock that in, put the handle there. And then we put our lock back on to our hitch assembly here so that this hitch doesn't come unlocked and the trailer fly off the back of the truck or the towing vehicle on us. And the other nice thing about this is that this locks it on here. It locks it and prevents it against theft. And as well, it keeps it on the back of the towing unit.

Electrical Connection

So we've got the jack up, we've got the pin locked, and the next piece is - you can hook up either your electrical or your safety chains. It doesn't matter. All trailers have to have safety chains for towing safety (ball and hitch assemblies). In case the hitch assembly fails, then it's not going to fall off the back of the truck. So this one here, you can see this is a seven point electrical connection. This is for recreational trailers for the most part (electric brakes too). If you're just pulling a utility trailer there's going to be a four pin, as you can see here in the image. And then essentially you just lift this cap up and underneath here there's a little clip here that locks the electrical connector on. You can see it locks into this clip here. So you put that in there and just wiggle it in until that lid sits down and locks the electrical connection in. We can see as well ,the electrical connection is not going to drag or get caught on anything when we're turning corners and those types of things. So that's the electrical connection.

The hitch receiver can be removed when not towing a trailer. When inserting ensure that the locking cotter pin is correctly inserted to prevent traier becoming disconnected while in transit.Safety Chains

And then the chain... we take the chains here and we hook up the chains. And essentially you want to have the chains crisscross underneath and these hooks here as well, you want to have these hooks come up from underneath and then hook them on. And both on the either side - you can see that my chains are crisscrossed underneath here. And the reason for criss-crossing that is if the trailer does come off the back of the hitch assembly it will sit down there and those chains will cradle the tongue so it doesn't drag on the ground. It'll actually hold it up a little bit. That's the purpose of criss-crossing your chains - your safety chains underneath the tongue. So essentially it's all hooked up.

So it's basically just three items, unless you've got a bigger trailer that you're going to have sway bars on. And a lot of the bigger RV units are going to have sway bars on them. You'll have to hook your sway bars up as well. And of course the hitch assembly will be completely different because it will be designed for those sway bars to provide stability to the trailer. But this is a simple ball and hitch assembly. And it's the ball, lift the jack up, which is the ball, make sure this is locked down. You have a pin. This is the insert (receiver) is locked into your trailer hitch. The electrical connection and the safety chains are hooked up and criss-cross underneath the assembly here. And if you go to a U-haul dealer or you hire a trailer, they will help you hook up the trailer as well.

Hooking up to a trailer is simple; however, it's also simple to do wrong. Watch the video to learn how to hook up a trailer correctly. Always conduct a pre-trip inspection after hooking.Pre-Trip Inspection

And the final part of doing the hook-up for your trailer before you exit is to ensure to do a pre-trip inspection on your trailer. Make sure there's correct tire pressure in the tires and these are good. Make sure all the lights work, and if you got an RV trailer, make sure that the doors are locked and closed, and all steps are put up into place and locked into place and those types of things. If you've got propane tanks and those type of things, make sure they're shut off as well. So the last part after hooking up and departing is to do a pre-trip inspection.

As well, make sure you have a block of wood under your jack when you unhook it or hook it back up - that way it just prevents it from sinking into the ground. So that's how you hook up a trailer for the purposes of towing. [COMPLETE SEQUENCE OF HOOKING UP TRAILER] [MUSIC: MEAN STREETZ - downloaded from YouTube audio library]


Quick review up hooking up a trailer. If you're going to rent a trailer and you haven't had the trailer on the back of your vehicle before or you don't have a hitch assembly, go to a trailer hitch installation place, camper trailers, RV outlet, and those types of places and they'll have certified technicians who will be able to give you information about the correct trailer hitch that you need to mount on the back your vehicle. Three components of hooking up for a simple ball and hitch. The ball, the jack, the electrical connection, and the safety chains.

And make sure you crisscross the safety chains underneath. Now after you hook up, do a pre-trip inspection on the trailer - make sure the tire pressure is up, tire wear is good, there's no damage to the body. If you're pulling a recreational trailer, make sure all the steps are up and stowed away, the doors are locked. Make sure the load is balanced and it's not going to fly off. If you're pulling a utility trailer, make sure you have the load tied down and/or tarped. A lot of dumps and rubbish places where you're going to dump off rubbish and garden waste and those types of things , the load has to be tarp to go in there in this day and age. So know that as well.

And make sure you got the load well distributed and that 60% of the load is in the front of the trailer. And if you have any questions at all, go to the vehicle manufacturer, and they will give you information about towing. Or go to a trailer trailer hitch installation place. They too will be able to give you information about installing a trailer hitch for the towing capacity of your vehicle.

Question for my smart drivers:

Leave a comment down in the comment section there. All of that helps out the new drivers looking to extend the capacity of their vehicle by using a utility trailer, or an RV trailer, a boat trailer - whatever kind of trailer they might be towing.

If you like what you see here share, subscribe, leave a comment down in the comment section. As well, hit that thumbs up button. Check out all the videos here on the channel if you're working towards a license or starting a career as a truck or bus driver. Lots of great information here. As well, head over to my website. Great information over there, and tremendous online courses that you can purchase.

In May 2017, we're bringing out "air brakes explained simply." It's an air brake manual that updates the 40-year old air brake manuals that are currently in circulation here in North America. As well, there's a hundred multiple-choice questions that replicate the exact CDL questions you will be asked on a CDL theory exam for the purposes of getting your CDL license. I'm Rick with Smart Drive Test. Thanks again for watching. Good luck on your road test. And remember, pick the best answer not necessarily the right answer. Have a great day. Bye now.

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