How To Hook Up A Camper Trailer To Your Vehicle

Travelling around Australia on the wide-open road is something all Aussies should do to see all the wonderful sites in our own backyard. One of the best ways to travel around the country by driving is by taking a camper trailer with you to make your trip both comfortable and practical.

 However, if you are travelling around with a camper trailer, you will have to know how to ensure that it is hooked up properly for safe road travel. It is critical that all camper trailer owners know how to correctly hook up their trailer to their vehicle.

 Mars Campers have step-by-step instructions on how to properly hook up a camper trailer to your vehicle to ensure that you and your family have a smooth and safe trip.

How To Hook Up Your Camper Trailer

Camper trailer wheels

Before you touch your camper trailer, we recommend that you wear some steel capped work boots or hiking boots. Having a trailer coupling accidentally fall onto your feet absolutely canes, and it’s not something you want to experience.

We recommend that you wear gloves too while hooking up your camper trailer. If someone pinches or catches your skin, it can bruise you or even take off some skin if you’re really unlucky.

  1. Slowly reverse your vehicle to the coupling of the camper trailer. It will be too hard to push your camper trailer to your vehicle, and you might hurt your back in the process. If you can, get a family member or friend to guide you as you’re reversing and to let you know when your vehicle’s close enough.
  1. Once the vehicle and camper trailer are as close as possible without hitting one another, make sure your vehicle is in park, put on the handbrake, and turn the engine off before you get out of it.
  1. Turn the jockey wheel until the coupling is lined up with the tow ball or tow bar adaptor.
  1. Take out the hitch pin as you roll the camper trailer forward to make the tow ball and coupling align. If your camper trailer has a tow ball coupling, it should sit just above the tow ball.
  1. Put the hitch pin back in and then put on the o-ring clip at the base of the pin to secure it. The camper trailer must be lowered so the coupling socket can be latched onto the tow ball. The camper trailer’s full weight should now be supported by your vehicle. Lock the coupling clamp by using the hitch pin or the trailer’s locking system.
  1. Attach the safety chains. The chains should be crossed before you attach them to the towbar tongue. This needs to be done as the chains are meant to catch your camper trailer if it becomes detached during transit.
  1. Firmly connect the electrics connections of your camper trailer’s brake lights and other necessary connections, such as an Anderson plug. Once connected, check that they work. While you are pressing the brake pedal, get your friend or family member to see if the brake light illuminates as it should.
  1. Lower the camper trailer by winding back the jockey wheel you used before. Once you can no longer wind it, pull the release to raise it up and then fold it out of the way.
  1. Release the handbrake into its neutral position. Now you can safely tow your camper trailer while driving your vehicle.
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How To Unhook Your Camper Trailer

Rear folding camper trailer setup

You will eventually have to disconnect your camper trailer from your vehicle once you get back home. For the most part, this is like how you hooked up your camper trailer to begin with, but in the reverse order. However, there are some differences in what you have to do.

  1. Reverse the camper trailer into your parking space until the trailer is in a spot where you want it to be. Then simply stop reversing, park your vehicle, and turn off the engine.
  1. Aim the jockey wheel downwards and wind the lever until the wheel is on the ground so it can support the trailer.
  1. Engage your trailer’s handbrake so it cannot roll away after it has been unhooked from your vehicle.
  1. Unplug every electrical connection and put them away from your vehicle.
  1. Detach the safety chains and close the shackles to ensure that no bolts are lost.
  1. Remove the o-ring and the hitch pin so you can safely move your vehicle to where you want to park it. Put the hitch pin back into the coupling after this and secure it with the o-ring.

Your Tow Vehicle

4WD towing a camper trailer

Most cars are capable of towing a camper trailer, but how the camper trailer moves with the car is another matter. So, you have to ensure that the camper trailer that you buy is compatible with the type of vehicle you drive.

Read either your vehicle or camper trailer’s manual before you purchase the camper trailer to see if they are compatible. Mars Campers’ camper trailers like the Surveyor or the Endurance can be towed with most cars.

Know Your Vehicle’s Towing Capacity

4WD towing a camper trailer through rocky terrain

Although most cars can safely tow a camper trailer, you should know what the weight limit is before you travel. Going over or being close to the limit can cause problems for your vehicle. Such problems include the brakes and tyres quickly wearing out, or the engine can overheat and damage the transmission.

The extra weight of the camper trailer can cause your vehicle to lose traction while it’s on the road, making it sway.

If you suddenly have to brake while driving, your brakes may be slow to stop, which is very dangerous. Your vehicle’s manual should state information pertaining to its towing capabilities for you to follow.

What Weight Your Vehicle Can Tow

Camper trailer convey through the snow

The towing vehicle should be heavier than the camper trailer that’s being towed and allows for safe and quick maneuvering.

Your vehicle’s manufacturer should have put into your vehicle’s manual what the maximum weight that it can safely tow.

It is easier to tow a camper trailer with a vehicle with an automatic transmission as the driver only has to focus on driving without having to change gears all the time.

Reversing is also a lot easier with an automatic car than with a manual car.

Weight Distribution Factors

4WD towing a camper trailer through the snow

Weight distribution issues occur during transit when the towing vehicle travels on the road with its front up and back down. This causes there to be less weight on the front wheels, but more weight is put on the rear.

Both your vehicle and camper trailer should be level to ensure vehicle control, stability, and safety.

They may be unlevel because you are not using proper towing equipment, the load is uneven, or the height of the trailer coupling and tow ball are not aligned.

To ensure that the ball height is correct, measure the distance between the ground and the bottom of the coupling on the front of the A-frame.

You then have to compare that distance with the distance between the ground to the base of the tow ball on the vehicle’s rear.

These measurements should be about the same. If not, the ball mount or tongue might has to be adjusted or altered. It is unsafe to tow a camper trailer on the road if it is not level with your vehicle.

Your Vehicle’s Suspension

4WD towing a camper trailer down through a dip

The towing vehicle’s suspension have to be firm so it can tow a camper trailer. Leaf springs are better than coil springs in supporting heavy loads, but your camper trailer’s load distribution hitch should stop the rear of the vehicle from sagging.

If your vehicle has self-levelling suspension, you must follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on hitching the camper trailer to it. Not following these recommendations or not using the correct towing equipment can damage the vehicle’s suspension.

Tow Bars And Hitches

The underside of a camper trailer

A tow bar and its capabilities need to match your vehicle. A tow bar might not stay in place if it’s being used on a vehicle it is not compatible with.

As many tow bars are made to only tow small trailers, you should find out what the loaded weight of the camper trailer will be.

The best way to do this is by placing the camper trailer on a weighbridge or scales. After doing this, purchase a durable tow bar that can carry that load.

Only purchase a tow bar from a reputable brand. These tow bars should have a plate attached to them that states its maximum towing load.

If you are unsure what type of tow bar is right for towing a camper trailer with your vehicle, Mars Campers can help you with this.

Get The Right Camper Trailer For Your Vehicle

Once you understand all the steps to how to properly hook up a camper trailer to your vehicle, it will come naturally to you. For more information on hooking up your camper trailer to your vehicle, or for any other information on camper trailers, contact Mars Campers today by calling 1300 667 868.cta