How to Disconnect a Trailer

by Contributor

There are many kinds of trailers hauled by vehicles. These can range in size from a small trailer for hauling brush or garbage to a fifth wheel RV. The basic principles of unhitching the trailer are common to all of these. Learn the basic procedure and the safety tips to never have an accident performing this task.

Move the trailer and vehicle to a level surface. You want to find a place where the trailer is neither slanting uphill nor downhill and that it isn't leaning to the right or the left. An uneven surface is a prescription for disaster. If the trailer is on an uneven surface it can shift or roll during the unhitching procedure.

Chock the wheels. This keeps the trailer from rolling or shifting while you remove it from the hitch. It is best to place a chock both in front and behind the tires. Make sure the chocks are securely under the wheels.

Disconnect the wires and chains between the tongue of the trailer and the tow vehicle. There will be two chains, one for each side, holding the trailer to the bumper of the vehicle in case it comes unhooked from the hitch ball during transit. The lights on the trailer connect to the vehicle through an electrical connector. There also may be a breakaway cable that will alert the driver if the trailer breaks free of the vehicle. Wrap the connections around the tongue of the trailer once they have been unhooked.

Remove the cotter pin from the latch on the trailer that holds the hitch ball in place. This latch can be locked shut to prevent unhooking or hooking up to a vehicle by placing a padlock on the lever. This will allow you to complete the removal of the trailer from the vehicle. Raise the lever on the latch.

Lower the jack on the tongue of the trailer until it rests on the ground. Slowly begin to lift the trailer off the bumper. As the weight lifts from the vehicle, you will notice the bumper rising up. Once the trailer releases the ball of the hitch and is resting above the ball, pull the trailer away from the vehicle.

Secure the trailer by locking the jack and ball latch closed. Leave the chocks in place and add chocks to the front and back of the other tire. The final safety precaution is to place a few blocks under the tongue of the trailer in case the jack gives way.

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