Hitching a trailer is a term used by truck drivers to connect the towing vehicle to a trailer. Trailers come in a variety of types, but are usually structures that include wheels, a chassis, sometimes a suspension and sometimes an enclosed cargo area.
When hitching a trailer to a towing vehicle a coupler is used. A coupler from the towing vehicle attaches to the trailer ball. In a way this creates a ball and socket connection which while keeps both the towing vehicle and trailer together also allows for movement between the two which is necessary, especially when riding on uneven surfaces. On the trailer, the ball secures to the draw bar.
Types of Couplers
Common types of couplers include; Straight couplers, A-Frame couplers Adjustable couplers, Goose couplers and Fifth Wheel Couplers. Some types of couplers such as the Straight and A-Frame are used mostly with semi trailers, where fifth wheel coupling is common with small trailers that are pulled by cars.
It should be noted that most trailers are not always the same height as the towing vehicle. This can cause problems when hitching both together. A trailer jack is a device that lifts the trailer to a specific height in order to easily hitch it to the towing vehicle. There are several types of trailer jacks including A-Frame Jacks, Drop Leg Jacks and Swivel Jacks.
Electrical Components and Hitching
Besides connecting the trailer to the towing vehicle, many times you will also need to connect electrical components of the trailer to the towing vehicle as well. For instance, if your trailer has brake lights, then there should be a simple electrical connector that fits to your truck or car. This will ensure that when you brake, the braking lights on the trailer will also be activated to safely alert vehicles behind you.
Large trailers, such as semi trailers also have connections to connect air brakes and other electronic equipment. Since most trucks are unable to stop their loads only using their vehicle’s brakes, most semi trailers have their own brakes and brake lights. When the driver presses the brakes, it also activates the trailers brakes ensuring that the entire vehicle comes to a complete and full stop.
Safely Hitching a Trailer
To safely hitch a trailer, you will normally have to be familiar with both your towing vehicle and the trailer. Most of the time, it only takes a couple of minutes to successfully hitch a trailer, however, before driving away, a visual safety check must be made to ensure that the trailer is hitched properly to the towing vehicle. Besides the hitch itself, other things to check to ensure safe operation of towing a trailer is the weight distribution of the load you are carrying, total weight load and trailer’s wheels.
Check the weight distribution inside the trailer. For instance, if all the items you are hauling are located on one side of the trailer, this could be a safety issue causing the truck and trailer to tip when going around a turn. Total weight load is also another concern. If the trailer is empty, you may need to carry at least some weight (about 10% of the trailer’s weight to ensure safe driving). Finally, just as you inspect your vehicle before you drive it, you should also inspect your trailer fully, looking at the wheels, axles, brakes, connectors, etc.