How to Back Up a Trailer: Step-by-Step Guide

Do you have a big camping trip coming up? Or do you need to haul a moving trailer for a long-distance move? Maneuvering a trailer can be tricky regardless of the reason you’re towing or what cargo you’re hauling. Feeling anxious about backing up a towed vehicle of significant size is normal.

Fortunately, there’s no need to worry with our 8-step guide to teach you how to back up a trailer. After a few practice runs, you’ll be able to back up a trailer with ease.

How to Back Up a Trailer in 8 Steps

Remember the most critical thing when backing up your trailer; go slow and take your time. Then follow these eight back-up trailer tips, and you’ll be a pro in no time. 

1. Get Out and Take a Look

When you arrive at the place where you need to back in your trailer, take a moment to get out of your vehicle and survey the spot. Look for obstacles, tight spaces, and uneven terrain. Decide where you want your trailer to end up and if it needs to be next to any hookups. Remove any obstacles that might cause you distress when backing up. Tackling this simple step will make your task of backing in far easier because you won’t be guessing—you’ll already know what the area looks like and where you might hit bumps in the ground, trees, walls, or other immovable obstacles.

2. Have Someone Help Guide You

We recommend asking someone to help guide your trailer into place. Backing up with a vehicle of any significant size can be tricky, especially if the trailer blocks visibility from your side and rear view mirrors. An extra pair of eyes outside the vehicle can help point out when obstacles are in your way–and where–and help you determine when to stop or keep going. 

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3. Have a Backup Camera

You can make driving much more manageable by installing a backup camera system that gives you a view behind and around your trailer. We suggest installing a camera on your tow hitch and others that can be positioned around your vehicle and the vehicle you’re towing. 

4. Adjust Your Mirrors

Your rearview and side mirrors are crucial when backing up a trailer. Ensure the mirrors are positioned correctly so you can see the trailer and the surrounding area. It’s often better to set the mirrors pointing towards the ground so you can see where the trailer wheels are going and if any obstacles are in its path or yours.

5. Hold the Steering Wheel at the 6 O’Clock Position

Begin backing up by holding the steering wheel at the 6 o’clock position—the trailer will match the direction in which your arms move, making it easier to control. The reasoning behind this positioning is that when you try backing up by holding the top of the steering wheel, your trailer will move in the opposite direction of your hands and, therefore, in the opposite direction of the wheels of your towing vehicle. 

6. Make Wide Turns

The size of your trailer will make a difference in how wide you need to turn. A more extended trailer will need wider turns than a small one, but it’s usually a good idea to turn wider than you think you need to so you have extra room to maneuver and straighten out.

7. Avoid Jackknifing

Jackknifing is when the trailer and vehicle towing it bend at a 90-degree angle and strike each other. This will cause extensive damage to both and could make it even more complicated to straighten the trailer out. To avoid this, go slow and avoid making any turns that are too tight.

8. Repeat for Practice

When you first get a trailer (or if you’re borrowing one for the first time), take some time to learn how to maneuver it. Take the trailer to an empty parking lot or open area and practice backing up and aiming the trailer into a specific space. If you’re able to set up traffic cones or utilize parking lines or some other type of guidelines, all the better. This will help make you more confident when it comes time for handling and backing up into a tighter space, such as a camp spot or a driveway.

Contact Weigh Safe for Quality Trailer Products

It doesn’t matter what type of trailer you have or how heavy it is—Weigh Safe can help. We specialize in making trailer hitches that effectively measure and distribute the tongue weight of your load. With our reliable products, your towing load will be optimally balanced, making your journey safer and more efficient. 

Before you hook a trailer to your vehicle, check out Weigh Safe and find the best trailer products. We’ll ensure your vehicle and trailer function the best they can to make your life easier.

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