Pages Navigation Menu

Prepare For Safety: How To Get A Trailer Ready And Load A Vehicle

Transporting an automobile via car hauler is not a task to take lightly. Improperly loaded cars, trucks and other light vehicles can cause accidents that lead to property damage and serious injury or death. Even the act of loading must be done with safety as a first priority. Below are some guidelines for preparing a trailer and safely loading a vehicle on to the trailer:

Prepare the trailer

Before doing anything else, you need to make sure your trailer is set up and ready for loading and towing. Rushing the process of loading your vehicle increases the risk you will forget a critical step. The items below are the most important for preparing a trailer from a safety perspective:

Attach the coupler to the ball

The trailer is attached to the towing vehicle by a coupler that lies at the end of the trailer’s tongue. The coupler, which is a hollow “cup”, contains a locking mechanism that firmly attaches the coupler to the ball. It is important that the coupler size and ball size match; if the coupler is too small, it won’t properly seat on top of the ball and may slip free. Likewise, if the coupler is too large, it will loosely rest on top of the ball. Both situations are dangerous and could lead to a breakaway trailer.

Insert the safety pin and connect tow chains

Once you have locked the coupler to the ball, insert the safety pin that holds the locking lever in place and connect tow chains. The pin is important as it holds the locking lever in its down position and prevents it from popping up during transit. Tow chains serve as insurance against a runaway trailer should the coupler disconnect from the ball. For the most secure connection, cross the chains underneath the hitch and tongue so they will catch the tongue and prevent it from dragging on the ground.

Ensure operating lamps are connected and working

The last loading step is to be sure the trailer contains brake lights, turn signal indicators and clearance lamps, as well as a wire harness that attaches to the towing vehicle’s socket. If the trailer’s harness connector doesn’t fit into the socket, then you will need to find an adapter or replace the harness connect with a compatible style. Don’t tow a trailer without operating lights, especially after dark, or you may initiate a rear-end collision by an unaware driver.

Load the vehicle

Once the trailer is attached to the towing vehicle, then you can load your car. Loading is a fairly straightforward process, but it must be done slowly to prevent mishaps. Here are the essentials for loading a vehicle on your trailer:

Immobilize the trailer

Take one last look at the hitch to be sure it is attached to the trailer and locked in place with the pin. Activate the towing vehicle’s parking brake to prevent it from being pushed out of place during loading. For extra security, place wheel chocks in front of the trailer’s forward-most wheels to help hold it stable during loading.

Load front-end first

Load the car onto the trailer front-end first – towing is much more stable when the bulk of the cargo weight is in front of the trailer’s axles. Since most light passenger vehicles are front-engine powered, the heaviest part of the vehicle is also at the front. Slowly drive the vehicle up the loading ramp and pull it as far forward as you can without interfering with the trailer’s hitch or risking contact with the towing vehicle.

Secure the vehicle to the trailer

The last, but no less critical, step is securing the vehicle to the trailer. There are numerous methods for tying a vehicle down, but the most important thing to keep in mind is that all four wheels must be secured with a weight-appropriate strap.

Each strap should be clearly weight-rated with a label or imprint; if it isn’t, it’s not safe to use. For the front two wheels, each strap used can be rated at no less than half the vehicle’s total weight. For the back two wheels, each strap must be rated at no less than 80% of the vehicle’s total weight. For example, a 4,000 pound vehicle can be safely tied down using two 2,000 pound rated straps for the front and two 3,200 pound rated straps for the rear end.

Once you have your straps selected, attach them to the wheels of the vehicle at the front-most and rear-most points. Never attach tie-down straps to a vehicle’s suspension, steering, braking or other mechanical parts. Make your connections completely taut; slack could allow the vehicle to jerk forward or backward during breaking or acceleration and snap the straps.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.