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How to Safely Hitch up your Camper to a Car

Towing a teardrop camper trailer is a great way to experience camping and explore new locations. The added benefits of travelling with a nimble and light weight carriage can make towing a less daunting task, however it is important to do it safely and take your time when connecting your camper onto your tow vehicle.

Here are the steps on how to safely hitch up a trailer to a car before hitting the road.

Check the weight of the trailer

Don’t overload your car or camper. Make sure that your car is rated to tow the weight of the trailer. You can find this information in your car’s owner’s manual ensuring both down “ball weight” and “Towing capacity” does not exceed the cars limits. Also factor in additional loaded items on your camper, such as Bike racks, water tanks and excessive luggage do not exceed the campers Aggregated Tow Mass ( ATM ) or fully loaded capacity.

  1. Align the car to the the hitch. Reverse carefully so that the car tow ball aligns with the trailer coupling. With the aid of a reverse camera or a bystander to guide you will make this easier. Try to avoid physically pushing or lifting the camper to hitch on as this can cause injury.
  2. Lower the trailer coupler. Use the jockey wheel to lower the coupling so that it is over the tow ball and completely connects on. Engaging the coupling lock and securing a split pin into place for added safety. Continue to wind the jockey wheel and lock into its travel position.
  3. Attach the safety chains. Safety chains are an important feature that help to prevent the trailer from becoming detached from the car. The safety chains should be attached to the car using a correctly rated D shackle.
  4. Connect the electrical plug. The trailer plug provides the brake lights and turn signals from the car to the trailer. A modern standard is a 7 pin flat trailer plug.
  5. Release the Handbrake. Now that the trailer is hitched on, release the handbrake tension and any wheel chocks you may have in place.
  6. Double check the connections. Make sure that all of the connections are secure before you begin towing the trailer. Check your chains don’t hang to low or are to tight. Check your camper trailers lights are operational. Check under your camper to make sure you’re free to travel.

It is important to take your time going through this process to ensure you haven’t missed anything. This is a good time to walk around the camper a few times to make sure doors are locked, lights are off and you haven’t left anything or anyone behind.

Guide to Towing a Small Camper Trailer

Towing a small camper trailer can be a great way to go on a camping trip. However, it is important to be prepared before you set out. You will be challenged by different environmental factors on the road which may fatigue driving more than usual, but the feeling reaching new destinations and experiencing a world outside of your comfort zone will far out way the challenge ahead. Here are some tips on towing a teardrop camper trailer:

Towing Safely

  1. Make a Travel plan. Be prepared before you begin driving. Things like GPS maps settings, having enough fuel and stocking up on drinks and snacks before you hit the road will make your journey so much more pleasant.
  2. Drive to the conditions. Weather you find yourself in bumper traffic or a winding country road, always be awake and aware of your surroundings. Never assume other cars are looking out for you and be prepared for the unexpected. Speed will have great effect on how your camper trailer travels on the road, so slow down, take it easy. You’re on holidays now.
  3. Check the weather ahead. Its always a good idea to know what you’re heading into. Not all road trips will have perfect conditions, so be informed of what happening at your planned destination. B especially mindful of any storms brewing, floods or fires along your journey.
  4. Avoid sudden braking and acceleration. Sudden braking and acceleration can cause trailer sway. If you need to brake or accelerate, do so slowly and smoothly.
  5. Overtaking. If you’re towing a camper trailer, there’s no race. Let other drivers take the lead by being courteous and pulling over if needed. In the event you do need to overtake, just remember it’s you and the camper that needs to pass safely, and your increasing speed can create more sway.
  6. Check your mirrors often. Check your mirrors often to make sure the camper is following behind you properly.
  7. Off Road. In some cases you may find you’re leaving the black top for either gravel or dirt. On these off-road surfaces expect more pot holes and ruts, more shaking and bouncing. Traction is lost on loose surfaces and your car and trailer can slide around. Driving to these conditions especially requires adjusting your speed accordingly as handling and braking are greatly affected. Not to mention stone chips!
  8. Backing up. There are no experts in this field, only practice & experience will teach how your trailer moves when going in reverse. Know where you plan to park your camper giving room to expand awnings and such. Consider your exit as well.

Enjoy Your Trip!

Don’t forget to enjoy the journey along the way. Remember you have all the comfort you need being towed behind you.

Here are some additional tips to help you enjoy your trip:

  • Plan your Trip. Before you set out, plan a route that makes the most of your journey, make effort to visit historical towns, iconic sight seeing locations, and bush walking tracks. Mixing the trip up will make it more enjoyable.
  • Visit the small towns. Some of the best bakeries, butchers and pubs are found in rural communities. Take stock of the lifestyle and support them.
    rest up and see more. Rather than hitting the road for a full day driving ahead, break it up a bit, and consider splitting the journey into a few days instead. Towing can fatigue a driver more than usual, so plan to relax and see more of the sights of this beautiful country.
  • Have fun! Towing a camper trailer can be a great way to enjoy a camping trip. Relax, enjoy the scenery, and make some memories that will last a lifetime.

They’re so many resources, tip and tricks on how to tow, but at the end of the day you cant beat experience. So Hitch up and get out there!

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