Back Up a Trailer Like a Pro

Updated March 16, 2016 . AmFam Team

Back your trailer, camper or boat like a pro in no time by practicing these easy tips.

Your trailer is hitched and you’re ready to tow. Nice work!

But once you get where you’re going, you’re going to need to park somewhere — and that means you’re probably going to have to do some backing up. And let’s be honest — that can be tricky business.

Whether your trailer holds your boat, snowmobile or a new antique, our tips for backing up a trailer can get you parked safely.

Parking your trailer en route. Stopping to get a bite to eat, use a rest stop or get gas? Plan ahead and you’ll be in and out in a jiffy. If you can, park where you can pull forward to get out — in two car parking spaces, along a divider or at an outside gas pump.

If you have to park on a hill, have someone else place blocks on the downhill side of the trailer’s wheels, then apply the parking brake, shift into park and take your foot off the brake. This way, you’re not straining the transmission.

How to back a trailer. If you’re new at this, find an empty parking lot and practice. Once you get the hang of backing a trailer, you’ll back with ease. Hint: Longer trailers maneuver more easily when backing.

First things first, always check for tree limbs, wires, building overhangs or anything else that might get in the way.

Start with your hand at the bottom of the steering wheel. Move your hand up or down on the side of the wheel you want the trailer to go — if you want to move the trailer to the right, raise your hand (and wheel) up to the right, and vice versa.

You can also think about it as if you’re pushing a wheelbarrow. The trailer is the wheelbarrow and the hitch is you. To move a wheelbarrow to the right, you would turn the handles to the left before straightening it out.

Don't be afraid to stop, get out and see where you are. It can help you make a plan of attack.

If your trailer tongue is close to perpendicular with your bumper or if you’re not lined up correctly, pull forward and start again. You don’t have to do it right the first time!

Don’t forget! Before unhitching the trailer, put blocks in front of and behind the tires.

With a little practice, you’ll be backing your trailer like a pro in no time!

Before hitting the road, your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) can help make sure your trailer and its contents are perfectly protected.

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