Hi, my name is Joanne and in this short post I’m gonna try to explain how to back up a trailer. The key term that I want to make sure everyone knows about is the hitch ball. The hitch ball is on a lot of cars and you’ll see it’s what is underneath this cover right here. It’s what the trailer grabs onto and connects itself to the car. The trailer will pivot on the hitch ball as you turn the car back and forth and the main thing you want to avoid is what’s called a jackknife situation and that’s what we kind of have set up here. If we were to back the car up another eight inches or a foot, a very short distance, you could imagine as the bumper comes backwards, it would collide with with the tongue of the trailer and cause some damage to your car and to the trailer, so if we can avoid that, I think we’ll be okay.
The key for me when I’m trying to explain to someone how to back up a trailer, is to get them to imagine that it’s like a wheel barrel that you’re pushing but instead of pushing the wheelbarrow with your hands, you’re pushing the trailer with the hitch ball of your car and so the key to doing this is being able to control and know where you want the hitch ball to be turning and pushing the trailer from. If I want to get the trailer to go to my left I have to move my body to the right. My body in this case is supposed to be the hitch ball, so if I want to get the trailer now to move to the right I have to get my body or the hitch ball to the left, so that’s how I have to push it. If i want to make the trailer go this way to the left of the passenger side, of the left I guess, then I need to get the hitch ball to the right of the trailer and i’ll turn the steering wheel to do that.
Now that I’ve started going that way, if i want to make the trailer just continue in this arc and follow it around I’m going to need to back that wheel the other way and if I want to get the trailer to switch directions I gotta lock the steering wheel out all the way in that direction so that I can get the hitch ball on the other side of the trailer.
Again, to avoid a jackknife, now I have to turn the wheel, yet again, the other direction but it’s kind of like doing these exaggerated movements when you’re pushing a wheelbarrow you just kind of got to get your hitch ball where it needs to go..