How to Reverse a Trailer

Beginners Guide

Backing up a car can sometimes be a stressful experience. When you have something attached to your car, it gets even more nerve wracking. However, reversing a trailer is relatively simple, especially with a little practice. As long as you understand the concept of what you're going to do ahead of time, the process is easy.

  1. Whenever possible, you should have someone to help you when you are attempting to reverse a trailer, as visibility can be limited and this will present a considerable challenge if you’re not used to it.
  2. The best starting position from which to reverse or park is when your vehicle and trailer are aligned as straight as possible. The best indicator of this is when you can see the same amount of trailer in each side mirror.
  3. Before you begin, check out how much of the trailer you can see in your mirrors, and how much you can see when you look out the windows (back and side). Knowing where your trailer is at all times makes the whole process much simpler.
  4. If your trailer has hydraulic override brakes, ensure the braking mechanism has been disengaged before reversing. This is not necessary if your hydraulic coupling is fitted with the Autoback valve.
  5. Perhaps the most important thing to remember when reversing and parking a trailer is that the trailer will turn in the opposite direction to which the steering wheel is being turned i.e., when you turn the steering wheel left, this means the trailer be turning to the right.
    Pro Tip: When you hold the steering wheel at the 6 o’clock position you move your hand the same direction you wish to turn the trailer
  6. Straightening the steering wheel once you have started turning at the desired angle will keep the towing vehicle and trailer moving together in a smooth arc.
  7. Turning the trailer too far or too sharply can cause it to jackknife, which could damage your trailer and/or vehicle.
  8. When you are getting used to reversing a trailer, it is best to try and do this as smoothly as possible, giving you time to correct your alignment gradually.
  9. Don’t be afraid to stop and get out of the vehicle at any time so you can get a clearer view.
  10. Although you are reversing, remember to keep an eye on the front of the towing vehicle as well, so that you don’t clip any obstacles when you are turning at an angle.

Here’s a few other tips that may be helpful

  • Small Movements – When backing up you want to make slow, small, intentional movements.
  • Check and double check hitch, safety chains, jack, and cable for lights.
  • Try Again – Don’t be afraid to scratch a bad approach, take a lap and try again. If you didn’t get your initial approach or turn correct it’s perfectly fine to try again. It may be easier to try another approach than to try to mess with bad positioning.