How to Hitch Up a Travel Trailer

These steps for hitching and unhitching a travel trailer are basics instructions. As you gain experience at hitching your rig, you will develop techniques that are specific to you and your rig.

If you’re new to RVing we urge you to have an RV tech make sure your hitch is properly adjusted for your rig.

If you are or having a new hitch installed, the installer should set up the hitch for your rig and show you how to hitch up properly and safely.

Hitching a travel trailer to a weight distribution hitch.

  • Raise the trailer tongue until there is enough room for the hitch ball to go underneath the coupler.
  • Back the tow vehicle until the hitch ball is under the coupler.
  • Open the coupler latch mechanism and lower the coupler onto the ball just enough so the latch mechanism will close correctly. Use a padlock or hitch pin to secure the lever.
  • Raise the tongue… the tow vehicle will also raise… about 3 to 4 inches with the tongue jack to make it easier to install the weight distribution spring bars.
  • Insert one end of the spring bars into the hitch head.
  • Lower the snap-up bracket (sometimes called the saddle) and place the proper chain link onto the hook.
  • If you have the Dual-cam hitch setup, rest the spring bars on the ends of the cam.
  • Using a short piece of pipe that should have come with your snap-up brackets, raise it back up to its normal position and secure it with a safety clip.
  • Repeat the above 2 steps for spring bar on the other side.
  • Safety clip the snap-up brackets.
  • Retract the tongue jack to allow sufficient clearance between it and the road.
  • Attach the safety chains to a permanent part on the tow vehicle. Cross the chains (like an X) under the hitch to make a cradle for the coupler. This will prevent it from hitting the ground should the hitch fail. The chains should be long enough to allow the tow vehicle and trailer to turn sharply, but not so long that they can drag along the ground.
  • Attach the breakaway cable to a permanent part of the tow vehicle. This should not be attached to any other part that is used to pull or support the trailer tongue, Should the receiver fail and the breakaway cable is attached to it, the trailer brakes will not activate
  • Plug the trailer electrical cord into the receptacle on the tow vehicle making sure there is enough slack to allow for proper turning but it will not drag.
  • Check all lights.
  • Check brake controller for proper connection… a green light or other indicator.

Unhitching a travel trailer from a weight distribution hitch.

  • If you will be camping, make sure the trailer is nearly level from side to side as you can get it by placing boards or blocks under all of the tires on the low side.
  • Chock the trailer tires so they won’t roll.
  • Disconnect the electrical cord from the tow vehicle.
  • Disconnect the safety chains.
  • Disconnect the breakaway cable.
  • Raise the tongue high enough to take most of the weight off of the spring bars.
  • Remove the safety clips from the snap-up brackets.
  • Lower the bracket and release the chain. You should be careful here. If there is too much weight still on the spring bars, it could cause the lever to jerk out of your hands.
  • Raise the tongue high enough to relieve most of the spring bar tension.
  • Lower the tongue to put weight is on the hitch ball.
  • Unlock and release the coupler latch mechanism.
  • Raise the trailer toung until the coupler is clear of the hitch ball.
  • Move the tow vehicle forward away from the trailer tongue.

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