MANY of our readers are most likely competent at backing up a trailer into a tight spot, but for those new to the game, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to reverse with a trailer.
1: BEFORE you attempt your first ‘official’ trailer back-up, head to an empty car park and familiarise yourself with the hitched trailer’s extra size and weight. Throw it in reverse and learn the intricacies of which way to turn the steering wheel. You should get the hang of it in no time. Hint: longer trailers are easier for beginners.
2: ONCE comfortable, venture out into the ‘real’ world, preferably with a buddy who can spot you. When it comes time to park, assess the area and plan a path that’ll comfortably cater for both the 4x4 and the trailer. Get this wrong and you can get stuck, with no way forward and no way back. Take into account surrounding trees, cars and other obstructions.
3: ADJUST your 4x4’s mirrors so that you can see the rear of the trailer. If you’re with a mate, get them to jump out to provide an extra set of eyes. Be sure all directions are clear, and that includes trees above your line of vision.
4: IF POSSIBLE, line up the vehicle parallel to the driver’s side, so that the driver can see the length of the 4x4 and trailer as well as the final destination. Head checks are also required throughout the process. So make sure you have a good vantage point.
5: SLOWLY does it. Turning the wheel left will make the trailer move to the right. A handy trick is that the trailer will follow the direction of the bottom of the steering wheel. Turning the wheel quickly in any direction will just mess the direction up.
6: NOT going to plan? Don’t be afraid to get out and check progress, and if things aren’t going to plan, drive out and start again.
Before you know it, backing up a trailer will become a natural part of four-wheel driving.