How to Backup a Trailer like a Pro?

Backing up a trailer can be quite an ordeal for most of the people. This is primarily because of the fact that trailers are extremely difficult to manage while turning as they are not exactly attached to the vehicle. With pedestrians, other vehicles, buildings, and many other obstructions around, backing up a trailer can be nerve wrecking, particularly for a beginner.

Why is it so difficult to backup a trailer?

Most of the trailers use a ball hitch to remain attached to the vehicle. With a ball-and-socket connection, the trailer is able to turn along with the towed vehicle. Without this feature, turning a vehicle towing a trailer would require at least a couple of traffic lanes.

However, this same joint makes it extremely challenging to backup a trailer.  As a result of this joint, the trailer tends to jut out at an angle.  In the worst case scenario, the trailer may end up double backing until the sides of the vehicle and the trailer come in contact with each other.  This situation is commonly referred to as a jack-knife.

Luckily, with a little bit of practice, these scenarios can be avoided. Mentioned below are some simple tips that will help you backup a trailer like a pro.

  • Hooking up: Please note that this step is not just for backing up the trailer. This must be done before taking your trailer anywhere. If this is not done the right way, there is a risk of the trailer coming off and causing serious accidents. Once your trailer is on the ball, make sure the chain is hooked up. If everything is done right, the chain will make a cross.
  • Placement of the hands: In general, all of us are habituated to placing our hands on the upper portion of the steering wheel. However, this may go against you while having a trailer attached to the vehicle. This is because the trailer tends to go right when you turn left. Similarly, when you want to go right, the trailer goes exactly the opposite way. This problem can be solved by holding the steering wheel’s bottom part.
  • Understanding the basics: While turning and backing up, your trailer and the vehicle will create a ‘V’ shape pointing away from the direction of your turn. The ‘V’ will get sharper as you continue. Avoid going too sharp because that will get you jack-knifed. If you are looking to straighten out, the best option for you is to go forward. Please remember that it is very difficult to do this going backward. If you are stuck at any point, your best move is to go forward and trying to re-set.
  • Go slow without panicking: The experience of towing a trailer can be stressful for a beginner. Practice adequately so that you are confident and try not to rush into it. Always look at the side mirrors and make reference points so that you can understand if trailer ever moves in the wrong direction. In case your trailer is wider than the vehicle, use the fender wheels of the truck and the vehicle as the reference. On the other hand, for trailers that are narrower compared to the vehicle, it must come into view on the side mirrors while backing up. It is nice to have a camera on the back, but try not to rely too much on it.
  • Back up in angles: It is much easier to go back in straight lines. However, it is important to master the technique of turning the trailer while going back because spacious places are not always available. While moving backwards and turning, if required, put your head out of the window and look back. You may also get out of the car and check your progress. Don’t get intimidated while doing this in a large crowd. It is perfectly alright if you make small mistakes. Start backing up again after correcting your position.
  • Opposite side backing up: Backing up in the direction of the passenger seat can be even more challenging because it is not possible to look out of the window. In these circumstances, look over your shoulder and through the vehicle’s back window. Keep your focus on the trailer’s rear end and maneuver it in the correct place. As always, stay calm and be prepared to correct your angles by going forward or backward.
  • Practice as much as possible: If you already have trailer, drive it to an area that remains empty. Get a real feel of the entire process by adequately practicing backing up while turning. You may also try practicing with traffic cones or other types of obstacles to simulate a real-life experience.
  • Backup cameras: Your life can become much easier with the help of a backup camera on your trailer. These cameras make it relatively easier to figure out where the back of the trailer is, and ascertain whether the angle is good.  All beginners without a guide or spotter will benefit a great deal by using backup cameras.
  • Find a guide: Your job can become much easier if you can find out someone to stand on the trailer’s rear end. A guide can assess the overall situation and promptly identify if anything goes wrong. Guides are particularly useful while backing up at hard angles or on the opposite side.


If you still have any questions related to your trailer, please feel free to contact us right now. At K&G Machinery, we also have lucrative offers for hiring, selling or purchasing trailers in great working condition.