We were all rookie RVers at one point . Whether we learned how to tow a parent or pick it up on the way to our travels, even the simplest of tasks had to learn. One of those first lessons that many people around the world need to learn from RVing is how to secure a trailer to a ball hitch.
After reading this article and a little practice, you should be a master hitchhiker. Here’s how to secure a trailer coupler to a ball hitch, one of the most common ways to tow.
What is a Trailer and Coupler Hitch Ball?
Let’s talk about some terms, you are not confused from the start. There are two main components that you will work with: The ball hitch and the coupler.
The ball joint is fixed to the coupling head; the hitch receiver is the device that is attached to the towing vehicle.
The coupler is the part that is attached to the trailer itself.
The end goal is to get these two items so that you can tow the rocking with as little as possible on your travels.
This is the most common type of hitch configuration for a towing vehicle and trailer . Most trailers on the road – apart from fifth wheel VR – will have this basic towing configuration .
Guide to securing a tow ball hitch to a coupler
Here is a beginner’s guide to ensuring a trailer ball hitch to a coupler:
- Crank your trailer, so the coupler is greater than the hitch ball on the tow vehicle, just a few inches will do.
- Have your partner stand by the trailer, looking over the coupler.
- Save the towing vehicle to the trailer, that’s when it will help you have a partner. Roll your windows down or use a two-way radio so that you and your partner can communicate. It is also helpful to design hand signals as well. Pointing left and right, a movement here to continue and a closed fist for a stop signal are manual signals.
- Continue to support the trailer until the ball hitch is under the coupler. The more you get, the easier the rest of the process will be. Don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time, even the most seasoned RVers screw this part up.
- Once the hitch is under the coupler immobilize your vehicle, place it in the park and the emergency brake, you can leave your vehicle at this time.
- Crank down to lower the coupler onto the ball hitch, there might be some resistance at first, but continues until the coupler starts pops. If it doesn’t drop you are too far, pull it up and try again.
- The weight distribution hitch and the ball must be locked in place. Make 100 percent that the coupler does not float on the ball hitch. When you are certain that the two are locked in you can move on.
- Lock the coupler and the ball in place; there is a device known as a coupling clamp which is used to lock this down.
- Secure the hitch collar with the hitch pin that came with the hitch.
- Use the safety chains to connect the trailer to the towing vehicle; you have to cross the chains. You cross chains to act as a fail-safe to catch the trailer somehow coming off.
- Connect all electrical components if your trailer has them.
- Crank the trailer jack all the way and swing it out of the way if necessary, you don’t want to slip or if scraping on the road. Make sure the trailer weight is now on the ball hitch.
- Using your partner, make sure all the lights on your trailer are working, including turn signals and brakes.
Keep in mind the above steps may vary depending on your type of trailer or motorhome . Refer to your manufacturer’s instructions to ensure you are using the correct type of hitch and tow vehicle for your installation.
After hitching your trailer and the towing vehicle, make sure everything looks good before jumping into the driver’s seat. Take a trip around the block and make sure everything looks normal for you. You will know if something is when towing, usually right away, allowing you to pull on and adjust to ensure a safe towing experience.
Pro Tip: Consider doubling up on safety chains when using this basic type of towing system. While a trailer hitch ball and coupling system is safe, it may not have as much control over the trailer’s sway as you want. Safety chains can add another level of safety on the road should your ball and hitch come undone.
Now you’re ready to hit the road. It may seem like a lot to do the first time around, but the more you work on it, the easier it gets. Remember, it hurts to never double and triple check to make sure the trailer is secure before your next travel excursion.