Trailer Backing Technique

For many RVers, the thought of backing a trailer into the campsite can make your palms start to sweat and your stress level go off the chart. When I worked for an RV dealership we were constantly rearranging the sales lot, moving and backing trailers. When we set-up RV shows, in an effort to use all available space, we would back units within inches of walls, RVs and other obstacles.

The technique we used for backing trailers was almost fool proof, when there were two people working together. If you have trouble backing your trailer or pop-up try this. First decide who will drive and who will spot and give directions. Let’s say your wife is driving. For this technique to work, you are her eyes, and she needs to do exactly what you tell her to do. This, of course, also means if there is an accident it’s your fault!

First conduct a thorough inspection behind the trailer where you will be backing. Always watch for children and pets. (If children are in the area ask somebody to watch the back of the trailer) When you are ready to back it in, you stand off to the side, in front of the vehicle where you can see the trailer and communicate with your wife. With the window down and the radio off, she puts her hand on the top of the steering wheel and slowly turns the wheel in the direction you tell her. If you want the back of the trailer to go to your right you tell her to slowly turn the steering wheel to her right. If you want the back of the trailer to go to your left tell her to slowly turn the steering wheel to her left. You can stop whenever necessary to check the opposite side of the trailer and behind the trailer.

The key to driving is slowly turning and backing in the direction the spotter tells you to. The two biggest mistakes made are turning the steering wheel too much and holding it in the turned position too long. If either of these mistakes occurs it will require greater correction to get straightened out, and if you continue backing while holding the wheel in that position for too long the tow vehicle and trailer can jackknife.

Don’t get upset if you need to pull forward and start over. With a little practice you’ll soon be backing like the pros, practice being the keyword. The more you practice the better you’ll get.

Happy RV Learning,

Mark Polk
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