How To Reverse A Trailer (Without Stressing Everyone Out)

Knowing how to reverse a trailer is a unique and admired skill.

Even people with plenty of driving and towing experience can be challenged when reversing a trailer.

When performing this task, you are working with an extended vehicle length and limited visibility, not to mention the unnaturalness of steering in the opposite direction from where you want to go.

While it can be a little stressful (especially if you have an audience watching), a bit of practice and the right techniques will have you backing up like a pro in no time.

Let’s explore how to get the job done.


How To Reverse A Trailer (Without Stressing Everyone Out)

Here are the top 8 things to consider when trying to reverse a trailer:

1. Safety first

It may go without saying for experienced drivers, but a safety tip is always worth a mention! Before you reverse your trailer, you should double-check that all your connections are stable and secure. Ensure the reverse lights and indicators are working so that anyone walking or driving near you can steer clear.

2. Have a clear view

A pretty essential rule for driving, but especially when you’re going backwards with a trailer on, is to check your entire surroundings before moving. You may not have a completely clear view from inside your vehicle, especially if you are working with an incline or a particularly narrow space. Take a quick look around the outside of the vehicle to make sure nothing is in the way before you get going. Adjust your mirrors as needed to give you the best view of the end of the trailer.

3. Have a spotter

A second pair of eyes can be extremely helpful once you get moving and is particularly important if you are a complete beginner or have minimal experience. If you have a passenger (or any spectators), have them stand a safe distance from the vehicle where you can see them. Wind your window down so you can hear each other clearly (or agree on some super cool hand signals before you get started).

4. Start straight

To set yourself up for success, you want to be in the straightest starting position possible. This means making sure your vehicle and your trailer are aligned and straight. How do you know if you’ve got the position right? Check your side mirrors. You should be good to go if you can see each side of the trailer equally.

5. Steering the ‘wrong’ way

The key thing to remember when backing up a trailer is that the trailer will move opposite to the steering wheel. To make the trailer go right, turn the wheel left, and vice versa. Something else to note is that the trailer won’t always stay directly behind the car. As you move, use your side mirrors. You might start seeing more of the trailer on one side. To straighten up, turn towards the side you can see more of.

6. Slow, small movements

As you move backwards, you want to keep your steering movements small and keep your speed down. If you need to correct your course, make small adjustments or return to your starting spot to try again. You might end up in a jack-knife if you move too fast or too sharp, which can damage the trailer and towing vehicle.

7. Watch your front

Remember that you (or your spotter) also need to stay aware of the position and movement of the front of your towing vehicle. You want to avoid hitting or clipping anything in the front as your vehicle changes direction.

8. Take your time

If you rush the process, you are more likely to make a mistake and need to start over, or worse, cause an accident. If you do mess up and end up in the wrong spot or with the trailer pointing in the wrong direction, it’s no big deal. Just get back to your starting spot, straighten up and try again.

Now you know how to reverse trailers with the best of them! If you’re keen to keep learning, we have more great tips on our blog, including advice on trailer maintenance and trailer hitching.

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