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How to Pull a Trailer Without a Hitch

by Kate Klassen

Most single- and double-axle trailers are not self-supporting while in motion and they must be held up by the tow vehicle for transportation. Using a vehicle with a suitable hitch installed is recommended for safety; however, it is sometimes possible to pull a bumper-pull style trailer a short distance without a hitch. In these instances, the legality of pulling the trailer on public roads should be checked before proceeding. Gooseneck and fifth-wheel style trailers cannot be towed without a hitch designed for their unique configurations.

Check the vehicle's manufacturer's specifications to determine if the vehicle is approved to pull the weight of both the trailer and the trailer's contents. Pulling a heavier trailer than is recommended may lead to vehicle damage and unsafe accelerating and braking conditions.

Determine the size of ball required by the trailer's ball mount system. If the tow vehicle's bumper can be used as a hitch, there will be a hole in the center of the bumper where the ball can be inserted. Use a locking washer and correct nut to ensure the ball will not loosen during towing.

Connect the trailer's ball mount to the tow ball. Attach the trailer's safety chains to the bumper, or to the tow vehicle's frame underneath the bumper, ensuring that there enough slack in them to allow for turning. Plug the trailer's electrical wiring into the vehicle's receptacle. If they are not compatible, the trailer will not have functioning lights or brakes and should not be used on public roads. Converters can be purchased that will adapt different prong configurations to one another.


  • The height of the tow vehicle's bumper may not match properly with the trailer requirements. Using this method of coupling cannot correct this.

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About the Author

Kate Klassen has been a professional writer and photographer since 2005. She has completed work for notable companies such as The Fight Network, Travelodge and The Yellow Pages Group. Klassen attended the University of Calgary and graduated with a Bachelor of General Studies in communications.

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  • Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images