Some truck owners out there have at one time or another realized they have no clue how to hitch up a trailer to their truck. Loading cargo into a vehicle is one thing, but hauling it all as a separate unit a part from the vehicle can be a little tricky at first. Aside from getting the proper trailer, assuming the object(s) being towed require one, a truck owner needs to know how to properly connect the trailer to their truck, or they may lose all of their cargo before even leaving the driveway. Worse if things come undone while on the highway, so let’s chat about loading up a truck and connecting the hitch.
Keeping a Center of Gravity with Cargo
Weight is important to keep in mind when loading cargo onto a trailer. Making sure the weight is balanced will help to avoid issues while on the road. Most experienced truck drivers would say to keep a good ratio of 60 percent of the cargo weight towards the front half of the trailer (unless directed otherwise by the trailer manufacturer), and make sure it’s the heavy stuff first, to keep the truck’s center of gravity closer to its rear axle. The remaining 40 percent of the cargo goes towards the rear half of the trailer- using some of the heavy stuff works here too to keep an equal balance across the trailer. Your best bet is to put the heaviest cargo over the trailer axles.
What a Hitch
Did you know there are three main types of hitches for trucks? Ram has light- and heavy-duty trucks, and they can do some serious towing. To match the variety, there are also different kinds of hitches one can use to connect a trailer onto the back of a truck. These are: the receiver hitch, fifth-wheel hitch, and gooseneck hitch. Below we have the steps for connecting each one.
Before connecting, get familiar with how each hitch works before loading, as well as certain components, like the coupler. That’s the part of the trailer sticking out that is lowered onto the hitch ball for a secure connection. It’s a good rule of thumb to connect the trailer first and get used to driving around with it unloaded, but some say it comes down to driver preference. It’s also a smart idea to put some wheel blocks on the front and back of the rear tires to keep them from moving while loading the cargo onto the trailer.
Setting up the Receiver Hitch
A receiver hitch is the standard hitch found on Ram trucks, and it’s easy to use. When ready to back the Ram truck up to the coupler, insert the draw bar and lock it in place with the pin and cotter pin. Once lined up, crank the trailer jack down so the coupler lowers itself over the hitch ball. Crank the trailer jack until it is fully retracted until a click or snap sound is emitted, signifying a solid connection. Then, lock it into place.
Easy, right? All the truck driver has to do now is connect the safety cables in a criss-cross fashion to the safety hooks and attach the safety breakaway cables. This way, if the trailer comes unhitched, the breakaway cables will engage the trailer’s brakes and bring it to a stop. To increase safety, especially for those driving behind you, plug in the wires for lights and brakes so the trailer will also light up when the vehicle’s lights and brake lights are in synch. All Ram pickup trucks come with a 4-pin and 7-pin connector in the bumper.
Hooking up the Fifth-Wheel Hitch
Fifth-wheel hitches are actually an option for some trucks that a consumer would have to usually put in an order for through the dealer of their choice. It will be unlikely to find a truck with a fifth-wheel hitch already installed into the truck bed, even used. Made to tow a maximum of 25,000 pounds, a fifth-wheel hitch needs all the foundation it can get.
After getting the truck ready, grease the locking plate to reduce friction, and then unlock the locking mechanism. If the trailer isn’t high enough to latch onto the kingpin, adjust the trailer with the trailer jack as necessary and then back up the truck until the kingpin fully engages with the coupler. The locking mechanism should lock automatically to secure the trailer, and most drivers will test this by shifting the gear into “Drive” and allowing the vehicle’s baseline RPM to move the truck forward.
Hook up the safety chains, trailer brake wiring, and the breakaway switch again and then raise the trailer legs to their uppermost position. This will help the truck in supporting the trailer’s weight. While testing the hitch, set the integrated trailer brake controller to how much grip the brakes have on the trailer.
Hot and Heavy with the Gooseneck Hitch
The strongest hitch on the market, able to tow more than 30,000 pounds, a gooseneck hitch is located in the center of the truck bed. Although able to tow a lot, it’s best not to load up the trailer to maximum capacity. Consumers will also notice there is a flat trap door that can be folded down to conceal the hitch and make room for loading payload cargo.
Almost a mix between the receiver hitch and fifth-wheel hitch, to connect the gooseneck, back the truck up to the trailer so the the trailer coupler is directly over the gooseneck hitch ball and then lower the coupler with the trailer crank onto the hitch ball. Attach safety chains to the hitch ball, along with the safety breakaway cable. After securing, give them a good tug to test the connection and then lock the coupler into place. Again, connect the wiring harness to connect the brakes and lift the trailer stands to their uppermost positions.
Not so hard. Show off your newfound knowledge to your friends and maybe even show up with a new Ram 1500 or Ram 2500 truck to seal the deal of wisdom. You can find these trucks and more at Miami Lakes Automall.