How to Properly Hook Up a Trailer to a Vehicle: A Step-by-Step Guide


If you are new to hooking up a trailer or need a refresher, follow these steps to ensure you do it safely and correctly. Properly hooking up your trailer ensures the safety of you, your load, and other drivers on the road. If you don't have a trailer yet, check out our trailer rental service to find the perfect trailer for your needs.

1. Positioning Your Vehicle

First, slowly back up your vehicle to the trailer, centering the hitch with the coupler. A vehicle with a backup camera makes this easier, but if you don't have one, having another person guide you can help. This step often requires a few adjustments and patience. If the trailer is light enough, you might be able to manually move it into position.

2. Check Trailer Ball Size

Ensure the trailer ball size matches the coupler size. Using the wrong size ball can cause the trailer to detach. The ball should be properly torqued on the ball mount. Lower the trailer onto the ball mount, ensuring it is as level as possible. Adjust the height of the coupler or hitch if needed. The coupler should be securely latched around the ball with the safety pin in place.

3. Retract the Jack

Fully retract the trailer jack to avoid it dragging on the ground during transit.

4. Secure the Safety Chains

Attach the safety chains from the trailer to the vehicle. They should be loose enough to allow for turning but not so loose that they drag on the ground. Cross the chains underneath the hitch to cradle the hitch and prevent sway if the trailer becomes unhitched.

5. Connect Electrical Wiring

Plug the trailer's electrical plug into the vehicle socket. Verify that the running lights, turn signals, and brake lights on both the vehicle and trailer are working correctly.

6. Attach the Breakaway Switch Cable

If your trailer has its own braking system, securely attach the breakaway switch cable to the vehicle, ideally around the bumper or another sturdy part of the vehicle. This cable activates the trailer brakes if it disconnects from the vehicle.

7. Adjust the Brake Controller

If your vehicle is equipped with a brake controller, ensure it is set to assist in stopping the trailer without causing the trailer tires to slide or lock up. Adjust and monitor the trailer brake activity from the cab of your vehicle. If you need a brake controller, consider purchasing one from Rigid Hitch or directly through our service department.

Ready to Tow

You are now set to safely tow your trailer. Remember to make wider turns, brake sooner than normal, and periodically check the trailer to ensure everything is functioning as expected. For those who need a trailer, visit our trailer rental services to find the best options for your towing needs.

By following these steps, you can ensure a safe and smooth towing experience.