If you are preparing for a road trip, you may decide to use a drop trailer to haul an additional vehicle. Before you go out on the highway, however, you need to make sure the trailer is safely attached to your towing vehicle. The following four tips can help guide you in this endeavor.
Measure The Height Of The Hitch Properly
Before you hook up your trailer, make sure the height of the trailer's coupler and your towing vehicle's hitch ball is even. This ensures that the trailer will be even once it is connected to the hitch. A level trailer prevents unexpected weight shifts of the cargo that could make the trailer flip, causing you and others around you serious injury.
Measure the height of the hitch on the towing vehicle from the ground to the top. Then, level the trailer and measure the distance between the ground and the inside of the top of the trailer's coupler. Subtract the height of the hitch ball from the coupler's measurement.
Next, subtract the two numbers. If these do not match up, the ball mount should be adjusted once the trailer is attached. This procedure can vary greatly, depending on the type of mount you have, so read the owner's manual to ensure you make the proper adjustments.
Ensure The Hitch Ball Is The Right Size
When you hook up the trailer's coupler, make sure the hitch ball is the right size. If the connection is not an exact, secure fit, the coupler could snap off of the ball while you are driving, potentially causing a disastrous accident if it flips or collides with another vehicle.
For example, if your coupler is designed for a two-inch ball hitch, do not attempt attaching it to one that is 2-5/16 of an inch. While it will fit, the connection will be too loose and you may not get too far without it coming disconnected.
Also, do not try to connect a two-inch coupler to a ball hitch that is only 1-7/8 of an inch. While you may get it to go on and the connection seems snug, the vibrations from the road will eventually work the hitch out of the coupler, making it disconnect.
Attach And Secure Hitch Chains
After you have connected the trailer to your towing vehicle, make sure you attach and secure hitch chains around the ball hitch and trailer coupler. Not only does this serve as a safety precaution, but it is also required in many states.
If something happens to make the coupler disconnect from the ball hitch, the safety chains, also known as breakaway chains, prevent the trailer from running off the road or into a passing vehicle. When they are secured tightly, they may also keep the trailer from flipping over because they keep it in line with the towing vehicle.
There should be three places where you run the safety chains through the hitch and the trailer. On either side of the towing vehicle's hitch, there should be two clips where the chains can pass through. Under the coupler, there should also be a clip on the trailer tongue for the chain.
Especially if you are hauling a heavy truck, you may want to pass the chain through each hole twice or use two chains. This provides a backup in case the trailer becomes disconnected and one of the chains snaps.
Before you hit the road, go through the above tips once again to make sure everything is connected properly and is secure. If you have any questions on the safety features for your particular drop trailer, you may want to contact the manufacturer to see if they have any additional tips.