Even if you’ve towed something behind your car before, when reversing a trailer for the first time you’ll likely experience some nerves. If you’ve never towed anything before, it can be a seriously confusing experience.
Firstly, you have an extra couple of metres of vehicle to contend with. Secondly, the trailer always seems to go….well, the wrong way. And sometimes your trailer might have a boat, horse, or load of furniture so it’s heavy too (and maybe even a wide load).
But with a bit of practice, you can perfect it quite easily. Knowing some of the inside tricks can help you to reverse like a pro.
If you’re not comfortable going forwards, let alone backwards, you’ll want to read our tips on towing a trailer first.
Here are four hacks which makes reversing a trailer a walk in the park.
Well. Sort of, anyway.
1. Reverse the trailer to the right where possible
Obviously, reverse in a straight line wherever you can! It’s easier, and you’re less likely to get yourself into a sticky situation. But when you do have to turn in reverse, opt to turn the trailer right wherever possible.
If you’re reversing the trailer to the right, you can easily see the rear corner. Trying to see the rear on the left can be difficult as you’re sitting on the right of the car. This makes reversing much more difficult, especially if it’s a tight spot.
If you’re towing something like a boat or caravan, this tip is especially handy. It can be really difficult to reverse a sizeable trailer to the left. Is it a caravan you’re dealing with? Check out our information how to make caravan holidays less painful and more pleasurable in other ways, too.
2. Look at the bottom of the steering wheel
If you have a momentary blank and can’t remember which way to turn to make sure the trailer goes where it should, you can use the steering wheel. When reversing a trailer, the bottom of the steering wheel directs the trailer. In “normal” reversing, the top of the wheel directs where you end up.
When the wheel is in neutral, imagine there’s a downward-pointing arrow at 6 o’clock. Place your hand on the bottom of the wheel, and whichever way the imaginary arrow points as you turn its is the direction the trailer will go.
So yes, if you turn the wheel to the left from the top of the steering wheel, the trailer will go right. Eeeek. Deep breath!
3. Use your eyes, not just the mirrors
Using the rear view mirror can get confusing when everything is happening in reverse. The secret to knowing exactly where your trailer is going is using your eyes as well as the mirrors where possible.
Wind down your windows and go slowly enough to look out of the windows as you’re reversing.
Trailer reversing experts and purists will tell you that you should reverse solely from your mirrors. But we say that if it gets reversed safely and takes you a couple of extra minutes or checks, that’s no problem. You want to avoid having to make a comprehensive car insurance claim, right?
Obviously, you might have to use your left mirror if you don’t have someone looking out of the window for you. Or, you can just hop out of the car to check your progress.
4. Make small adjustments when reversing the trailer
When you’re reversing a trailer, try not to get into a situation where you have to make major adjustments. It can be really challenging to maneuver yourself out of a jack-knife situation, but they’re quite easy to avoid.
Instead, keep checking your positioning and making small adjustments. If you veer slightly off course, then correct it early instead of running with it.
If it looks like you might not be able to reverse tightly enough to make it into a space, pull forward and slightly adjust. Don’t make a huge turn and then leave yourself no space to get out of it.
Make sure you’re covered
Before you hit the road with your trailer, make sure you have adequate car insurance and that you’re towing legally. We’d suggest comprehensive car insurance for the fullest peace of mind.
Reversing a trailer – over to you
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