3 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO WHEN HITCHING UP YOUR ATV TRAILER
1. The coupler
The first thing that one usually does is back up to the trailer and put the coupler down on the ball. This is fairly straight forward. Occasionally, the coupler will not go all the way down onto the ball. One should be very conscious of this possibility.
If this happens unnoticed, the latch could be closed, and the ATV trailer would appear to be properly hooked to the tow vehicle.
The ATV trailer can even be moved in this condition, sometimes even long distances. Then when a large enough bump is encountered, the trailer will bounce off of the ball.
In my 34 years of manufacturing and servicing trailers I have seen this happen many, many times. I have even done it myself twice.
One time I towed a trailer 15 miles onto and off of the freeway and was within 4 blocks of my destination when I went over a set of rail road tracks and the trailer came off the ball.
Luckily I did have the chains crossed under the tongue of the ATV trailer. They kept the tongue from dragging on the ground and prevented damage
2. Crossing Safety chains
The second next step in attaching the ATV trailer to a tow vehicle is the safety chains. As I just mentioned there should be 2 chains or cables.
When attaching them to the vehicle they should be crossed under the tongue of the trailer.
Do not use chains or cables that are too long; just long enough to allow for turning, but not so long that the trailer tongue would hit the ground if it comes off of the ball.
One way to adjust the length of the safety chains, if you are not using cables, is to twist the chain. This makes the chain shorter. Stop when the desired length is achieved and then attach the chain to the vehicle.
The second time that I had a trailer come off of the ball I was towing a 27' long boat trailer that belonged to a friend of mine.
Fortunately it happened when I was going slowly. The safety chains caught the tongue and kept the trailer attached to the vehicle.
When I stopped, a nice motorist helped me get the trailer back on the ball and the trailer only had some scratched paint.
The third step in hitching an ATV trailer to the tow vehicle is the wiring. The importance of having running lights, turn signals and brake lights working properly is obvious. So after connecting the wiring and raising the jack out of the way, check to make sure all of the lights are working properly.
If not; the first thing to do is clean the electrical pins on both the tow vehicle and the trailer connectors. The connecting pins build up an oxidation on them over time and can form a barrier to a good electrical connection.
If that doesn't solve the problem, have someone check both the ATV trailer and the vehicle as soon as possible.
Hitching up a trailer is easy, but it is also serious. So be sure it is done correctly every time.