How To Hitch Up Your Trailer To Your Tow Vehicle

Assuming you have all the correct gear and an appropriate tow vehicle, we are going to start by making sure your wheels are choked. This will ensure the trailer will stay put while you raise the stabilizer jacks and get hooked up. Once your wheels are chocked go ahead and raise all of your stabilizer jacks with a crank and turn it until it is lifted all the way up as far as it can go. They make great attachments for drills to make this process faster and easier on your back. Before backing your vehicle underneath the coupler, make sure that it is raised above the ball of your vehicle. This can be done either by pushing the buttons of an electric jack, or manually cranking it up. 

The next step will be getting in your vehicle and backing up until your hitch is positioned directly underneath the coupler. Take advantage of your surrounding to center your ball under the coupler; rearview mirror, side mirrors, back up camera, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to spot you! And most importantly, take it slow, this is not a race.

After you have it lined up, you can lower the coupler down on top of the ball. You’re then going to use the latch on on the coupler to lock on the ball of your truck.

A Few Things To Keep in Mind

This entire procedure is best done on level ground. Where that isn’t possible, just use extra caution and take a little more time to allow for safety. 

Don’t forget the assumptions we’re working with. If you’re unsure of your setup’s weights, have your local RV service center advise you. We’re going to cover a simple and safe procedure to get you on the road!

Basic “Hitching” Equipment

Tow Vehicle Side:

  • Hitch Reveiver
  • Tow Bar or Draw Bar
  • Tow Bar Pin
  • Tow Ball
  • Electrical Plug (4-pin or 7-pin)

Trailer Side:

  • Ball Coupler
  • Coupler Pin or Lock
  • Tow Chain with Hooks or Clips
  • Breakaway Cable
  • Tongue Jack
  • Electrical Plug on Trailer Side

Trailer Hitching Outline

Pre-Hitching Check

  1. All appliances, non-travel appliances are OFF
    1. Water Pump
    2. Water Heater
    3. Fans (off, closed and locked)
  2. Refrigerator
    1. Has been pre-cooled 12-24 hours before your departure time
    2. Is set to OFF or 12-volt (caution… 12-volt will drain your trailer’s battery faster than your tow vehicle can recharge it, which can then drain your tow vehicle’s battery)
  3. Verify that the wheels of the trailer are properly chocked.
  4. Raise all of the trailer’s leveling jacks.
  5. Check that the area is clear of obstructions and items that might get in the way during this process.
  6. Verify that all power cables, hoses, cords, and attachments… even hammocks are detached from the trailer and out of the way.
  7. Close your trailer’s awning if it is extended.
  8. It’s a good time to check tire pressure, lug nut torque, and all compartments are closed and locked. Don’t forget about any vent covers.
  9. Double-check hoses, hose storage, holding tank valves (dump pulls), and sewer caps.
  10. Lock all applicable external latches and locks.

Tow Vehicle Preparation

  1. Insert your drawbar, with the correct size tow ball attached to it, into your tow vehicle’s hitch receiver. 
  2. Pin the drawbar into place to secure it. From there, use the pin’s retention clip, through the hole in the pin, to secure the pin.
  3. Verify the height of the top of the tow ball from the ground.


  1. Using the tongue jack, raise the trailer-mounted ball coupler to a height of 3” above the measured height at the top of the tow ball.
  2. “Open” the coupler’s mechanism to receive the tow ball. 
  3. Carefully back the tow vehicle to a position that situates the tow ball directly beneath the trailer’s coupler. (This does not have to be perfectly precise… but the closer the better.)
  4. Put your tow vehicle in “Park” and set the tow vehicle’s parking brake.
  5. Using the trailer’s tongue jack, lower the coupler down onto the tow ball. Make sure the coupler is fully down on the ball.
  6. “Close” the coupler to set the ball into place.
  7. Verify the coupler is closed properly onto the ball by:
    1. Visually inspect that the “teeth” of the latch are fully seated into their recesses
    2. Visually check that the lock pin hole is unobstructed and can accommodate a pin. (This is a great time to put the pin in!)
    3. Using the tongue jack, raise the front of the trailer a few inches to verify that the ball is truly captured and that the couple cannot separate or come loose from the ball. (this can be confusing… you “lower” the tongue jack to “raise” the tongue)

Safety! – Mechanical

  1. Fully raise the tongue jack and remove any low-hanging accessories like a detachable wheel, skid, or jack foot. (Secure those items in your exterior storage or tow vehicle.)
  3. Connect your safety chains by crossing them once beneath the coupler (make an “x”) and then attach them to the chain receivers using the supplied hooks or locking connectors.
  4. Verify that the chains cannot drag the ground, but have enough slack to allow for safe turning.
  5. Connect the breakaway cable to one chain receiver using a clip or carabiner. Verify that the breakaway cable cannot drag the ground, but that it has enough slack to allow for safe turning.

Power! – Electrical

  1. Connect the electrical plug, 4 or 7-pin, to the corresponding receptacle on the tow vehicle.
  2. Verify that the electrical plug is secure. In the case of 7-pin plugs, the receptacle’s cover or “door” has a latch that secures the plug when it’s fully seated to depth.
  3. Check your trailer’s lights by activating them one at a time from your tow vehicle. (It helps to have a friend for this.) **With the tow vehicle running
    1. Check both turn signals, left and right.
    2. Check brake lights
    3. Check hazard lights (flashers)
    4. Check running lights or marker lights by turning on the tow vehicle’s headlights.


  1. Check your brake controller’s connection status
    1. Visually on the device or smartphone application, if that is possible
    2. Audibly… If your ears are capable, get near your trailer’s tires while the brakes are depressed on the tow vehicle. You should hear a quiet, high-pitched tone or “whine”

Un-Chock Your Tires and prepare to test/set the calibration of your brake controller!

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