Quick Guide To Trailer Backing

Whether it’s backing into a camping spot with your RV, easing your boat into the water from a boat launch, or getting ready to load all that junk from your garage onto your utility trailer… At one point or another, you’re going to have to deal with trailer backing.

Backing up a car isn’t particularly nerve-racking. Backing up a truck or car with a trailer attached, on the other hand, can be a stressful endeavor even for an experienced hauler. Practice makes perfect, however. Understanding the concept of the entire procedure will help the process move along in a smoother, easier manner.

Let’s take a look, step-by-step, at backing up a trailer.

You Need a Good Approach

First things first. Is there someone that can help you as a lookout? Though not necessary, this can be helpful.

Choose your entrance location. Putting on your four-way flashers, pull up alongside that entrance. Roll down your windows. You are now all set for an S-turn.


Avoid turning around to check out of the rear window and disregard your center rearview mirror. Do, however, be sure that your side view mirrors are properly adjusted. Those will be your view to your trailer sides and show you how you’re doing. For the best results, your trailer tires should be visible in your mirrors.

Scope out the area. You might actually want to get out of your vehicle to check for any obstacles (i.e., picnic tables, large rocks, stumps, holes or fire pits, tree branches, etc.).

Time for Your Set-Up

Pull as far to the side of the road (that your entrance is on) as possible. The kind of hitch you have and how long your rig is will determine how far along you pull up. Your trailer will be in front of the entrance with your back bumper being slightly past it. The point now is to swing out left but not all the way. Crank it back to the right before a ditch or curb comes into play. With your truck between road shoulders, this is where you stop and get ready to back into the spot.

Now you’ll begin in earnest, backing up. The point here is to tighten your turn radius. You don’t want to hold it too long, however. Start turning the wheel clockwise or counterclockwise (un-steering) – depending on the entrance being to your right or left – once the turn radius has been tightened sufficiently. To see your progress around the curb or corner, check the appropriate side mirror.

The Big Moment

Believe it or not, it gets easier now. To straighten out your rig, gradually keep unsteering. Keep a good eye on the front of your tow vehicle so that you don’t hit anything while it’s coming around. While concentrating on steering, don’t forget what those pedals by your feet are for. If you have a longer trailer or are backing into a narrower space, you may have to make your turn angle slightly sharper. Slowly let off the brake to begin backing. Stay calm. Analyze every movement that your trailer makes. If it doesn’t look right. Stop. The point is to take your time and not make any drastic moves.

Placement Is The Final Step

By this point, large turns of the steering wheel should no longer be required. Think of it as following the trailer in more than pushing it in. Anything more than 1/4 turn means you probably need to go back to the previous step. Make sure that your spotter is watching out for obstacles and lets you know when you’re in as far as you need to be.

Note: Before you are called upon to back your trailer for real (in a real-life situation), practice over and over in an area that is not busy. Use cones or large plastic trash containers as obstacles or markers to avoid damage to your trailer or tow vehicle.

At Mickey Genuine Parts, we know how important equipment and accessories can be. This includes mirrors. Mickey carries numerous parts and accessories in stock that are ready to ship. If we receive your order by 2 PM Eastern Standard Time, we can ship it to you the next day. If it’s not in stock, we still expedite orders as soon as possible – usually within three days. Shop Mickey and find out why more and more trailer owners choose us as their go-to parts dealer and service center.

Let’s keep truckin'.

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