Most of us could use some tips for trailer hitching. Let’s face it: few boaters can get the trailer and the truck linked up on the first try. Few, as in none.
The most common trailer hitching method consists of: backing up, getting out and checking the distance, then backing up more, getting out and checking again. Then we back up still more, until the tailgate smacks into trailer tongue. Next comes pulling forward, and cursing.
If you’re tired of putting scratches and dings on your tailgate and bumper and you wish you didn’t have to get in and out of the truck 32 times every time you hitch up, use these tips.
- The chock method: when you de-couple the trailer, place a chock behind the rear driver’s side tire of your truck. Then leave it there, permanently. When it’s time to re-hitch, just back up to the chock and you’ll be all set.
- Measure with your feet. Literally. After backing into the general vicinity of the hitch pace off the number of feet between the hitch and ball. Then walk to the back of the truck’s driver side door, and pace off the same distance. Mark the spot with a leaf or twig, jump in the truck, and back up until your mark is at the back of the door.
- Add a guide, like the V-shaped Couple-Mate, to your ball hitch. As long as you can get within a foot of the trailer tongue, the guide slides it into position over the ball.
- Add a forward-facing mirror to your jack stand or bow stop (just make sure it’s tall enough to see over your tailgate). That way, you can watch as your ball approaches the hitch.
- Stop taking the trailer off of the truck, in the first place. This is our favorite method – why would you want to go anywhere without your boat, anyway?!
BONUS TRAILER HITCH TIP: Give all the moving parts of the hitch, as well as the top of the ball, a spritze of WD-40 at least once a season. You’ll be amazed at how much easier this makes it to couple and de-couple the trailer.
EXTRA DOUBLE BONUS TRAILERING TIP: Always criss-cross the chains under the trailer tongue. If for some reason the hitch comes off the ball while you’re towing, the crossed chains will support the tongue and prevent it from digging into the roadway.