Want a smooth, safe towing experience? Knowing how to hook up a trailer is the first step. 

Get it wrong, and you could damage your trailer, your vehicle or cause a nasty accident.

But, get it right and you will be safely towing without any issues!

Luckily, safely attaching your trailer to your towbar is a pretty straightforward process – even if you’ve never done it before.

You just need to know how to hook up your trailer correctly.

Follow the simple steps below, and you and your load will be safely on the road before you know it.

How to Hook Up a Trailer – A Step by Step Guide  

Step 1

Before you even think about hitching up your trailer, you need to make sure everything is legal and roadworthy. Then, the next thing to check is whether the coupler on your trailer matches the ball size of your tow bar. There should be a number etched on both, so it’s easy to check. 

Step 2: 

If your trailer is equipped with a trailer jack (aka jockey wheel), use it to raise the height of the coupler so that it’s 5 to 10 cm higher than the tow ball.

If you don’t have an equipped trailer jack, position your trailer in a way that you can reverse your vehicle up to it and manually lift the coupling onto the tow bar.

Step 3

Reverse your vehicle into position so that the tow bar is in place just underneath the coupling. Driving the car into position is better than attempting to move the trailer because there’s less manual maneuvering involved, so less chance of hurting yourself in the process! 

It’s easier to hook up a trailer when it’s aligned in a straight line with your vehicle. So, if you have the space, try to get into a position where you can reverse directly back towards your trailer. We recommend having a second person stand beside the trailer to help guide you into the correct position.

Step 4

Check that the locking mechanism on the trailer is open, then lower the coupler down onto the tow ball using the trailer jack or manually. If using a jack, don’t forget to stash it away safely. 

Step 5

Lock the coupling in place using the safety catch. Double-check that it’s in the correct position by attempting to lift the trailer off. If you can’t, you’ve done it right.

Step 6

Attach the safety chains to your tow bar using your D-shackles. Ensure the screw is tightly secured. If you’re using two chains, make sure you cross them over in an “X” shape before connecting them. This creates a makeshift safety net that will help catch your trailer before it hits the ground if it becomes unhitched on the road. 

Step 7

Connect the trailer’s electrical plug to your vehicle’s electrical plug and test the rear lights, brake lights and indicators to make sure they’re all functioning.

Step 8

If you’re using wheel chocks, don’t forget to remove them! Disengage the parking brake once you’re sure the trailer is securely connected.

Step 9

Check that your trailer number plate is clean and clearly visible. 

Step 10

Do your final checks before hitting the road. Check that the hitch lock is in place and locked into the closed position. Ensure that the jockey wheel is stashed away and locked in place. Make sure the trailer plug is connected to your vehicle securely and all the lights are working.

Ready To Go

There you have it! You now know how to hook up a trailer correctly. 

While that’s an important first step to ensure you have a safe journey, it’s not the only one. Remember to do your essential trailer checks to get your trailer ready for the road, and read our tips on towing a trailer safely.

If you have any questions about buying, using or maintaining a trailer, Lucca Trailers is happy to help. Contact us on 0800 888 491 or email info@luccatrailers.nz.