Backing up a trailer is often the most dreaded aspect of getting behind the wheel of a vehicle with a hitch. It’s really quite an easy task once you get the hang of it, but for the average driver who may need to do it only once or twice here is the crash course on how to maneuver that trailer backwards.
Things to Avoid
There are two things you have to be mindful of at all times throughout the process. One is the obvious, avoiding hitting other cars, walls, or objects. The second thing to stay aware of is jackknifing the vehicle with the trailer ; this is when the trailer gets overturned and ends up in a 90 degree angle with the vehicle, ultimately damaging the vehicle and the trailer (pictured above).
How to do it
- Start the process by attempting to be (as much as you can) in a straight line with the trailer. If you are not able to get in a straight line it isn’t a problem, it’ll just take a little extra navigation.
- Trailers turn the opposite of how you turn your wheel, so while the vehicle may go right the trailer will go left. Jackknifing occurs when this occurrence becomes too drastic because of a lack of adjustment.
3. Using primarily the left mirror and window for sight of how the trailer is moving, begin to reverse slowly. If the trailer begins to turn or started in a turned position, turn the wheel in the direction the trailer is headed. This will even it out and get it headed back in a straight direction; the more heavily you turn the wheel, the more turn you get.
Sometimes Mistakes Happen
Especially if it’s your first time, it can be difficult to get it on the first try. Don’t be afraid to put the vehicle back in drive to straighten out. This is highly recommended if you weren’t able to start straight as it helps you guarantee you’re on the right path backwards.
If it ever appears you’re close to jackknifing or hitting something the first step is to pull forward to straighten out your line. If you’re in an awkward position where you can’t straighten out, remember that you can always unhitch the trailer, adjust the vehicle, and re-hitch in a better position to get out.