Hook Up, Head Out

Follow these steps to ensure a secure connection and an incident-free trip to the water.

Attaching your trailer to your tow vehicle is one of the most important parts of the trailering process. The No. 1 priority is ensuring the trailer coupler fits properly on the trailer ball and the latch is in the down, or locked, position. Then place the lock pin through the hole in the latch. Next, focus your attention on the break-away cable and safety chains. The chains should be crossed and locked into place on the trailer hitch.

Don’t twist each chain to make it shorter, either, as that weakens the chain strength. Ideally, the chains should hang 6 to 8 inches off of the ground when they are connected to the hitch. This rule of thumb helps ensure that the chains are secure, yet not tight enough to keep the trailer from rotating freely from side-to-side when the tow vehicle makes a turn.

The end of the safety chains should be equipped in such a manner as to lock them into the hitch so they can’t come loose on their own. This is a law in most states. The chains act as a cradle to hold the trailer’s tongue up off the road and keep the trailer attached to the tow vehicle in the unlikely event that the trailer come off the hitch ball or the ball fails.

The breakaway cable on the trailer coupler assembly should be locked onto the vehicle’s hitch. This little cable activates the trailer brakes. It’s also important to plug the trailer light connector into the tow vehicle’s matching trailer plug, and to make sure the trailer’s brake, turn and park lights work properly.

Double-check that the boat’s bow strap is connected to the trailer’s bow stop and that the strap or chain is tight. Then double-check the transom tie-downs and any cross-straps that might be used to keep your boat secure on the trailer during transit.

With those items addressed, and any loose gear aboard the boat stored so it won’t be blown out on the way to and from the water, you should be good to tow!

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