Towing a trailer isn’t too tricky. You account for the extra weight, you drive a little slower, and you take it a little easier around corners. No problem.
But then you need to reverse. And everything changes.
If you’ve ever wondered how to reverse with a trailer, these tips will help you become a master of this delicate artform.
This advice can also be applied to reversing with a caravan or boat.
1. How to Reverse a Trailer: Re-Learning Left & Right
Yes, it’s true. If you turn your steering wheel left, your trailer will go right – and vice versa. If you’re struggling to wrap your head around this dilemma, try holding the wheel from the bottom instead of the top. This way, your trailer’s trajectory will match the way you turn the wheel.
2. Set Yourself Up for Success
Wind those windows down. Adjust your mirrors so that you can see your entire trailer (consider getting some extendable towing mirrors to make things easier). And, unless you’re towing alone, get one of your passengers to jump out of the car and cover your blind side. Just make sure you clarify in advance what hand gestures and words they should use to help direct you.
Bonus tip: You’ll have a better view of your trailer while reversing if you keep the driver side on the inside of the arc. So, when you have the choice, reverse your trailer to the right.
3. Practise Makes Perfect
The truth is nobody knows how to reverse a trailer perfectly the first time they do it.
If you can, take your trailer out to a spacious area (such as a quiet industrial road or empty carpark) to practise your technique. If you’ve mastered it in private, you’ll feel much less flustered when it comes to reverse-parking your trailer in public for the first time.
4. How to Reverse a Trailer into a Driveway
Reversing a trailer into your driveway is a relief in some ways; there are no strangers watching impatiently or judging your attempts. But that doesn’t make it any less frustrating when you have to drive forward, straighten up and try it for the seventh time.
Follow these tips for reversing a trailer into your driveway:
- Straight driveways: Get your car and trailer as straight as possible and as perpendicular to the driveway entrance as possible. Reverse straight, making little corrections when necessary.
- Curved driveways: Get your car and trailer as straight as possible. Guide the trailer around the curve by turning and straightening as needed, keeping tip #1 in mind whenever you turn the wheel. If your driveway curves to the left, adjust the left side mirror or ask someone to assist with tracking the trailer’s trajectory. Alternatively, go slowly and step out of the car at regular intervals to check if everything is going as planned.
Bonus tip: Don’t lose your patience. There’s nothing wrong with repositioning and trying again from a better angle. Take it easy and make small adjustments until your trailer rolls into place.
5. How to Reverse a Trailer Around a Corner
Reversing a trailer straight requires constant small corrections, which you can determine by seeing which of your side mirrors your trailer is slipping out of view in. When you need to reverse your trailer around a corner, these corrections need to be more exaggerated. If done correctly, the trailer should disappear entirely from the corresponding side mirror.
Be wary of turning your trailer too tightly and quickly though – this can lead to jack-knifing the trailer, which could result in significant damage to your vehicle and trailer. If you’re at risk of this happening, correct by turning the wheel in the opposite direction or drive forward and start again from a more forgiving entry angle.
For more tips and advice, browse the Outback Equipment blog. Or if your car isn’t quite ready for towing your trailer, be sure to stock up on the essential accessories including tow points and towbars.