I don't actually drive with one often, but when my family goes camping we almost always haul a trailer. (It looks to be a 'utility trailer' that we removed the high back from) When we arrive at the campsite, my dad pulls up, unhitches the trailer, and moves it (my mom says he looks like a donkey) by hand. He has tried to back it up, but has had a few too many close calls.

Is there some trick to backing up well?

  • The 'trick' is to practise when you're not in your final location with no choice but to get it right... same as you did when first learning to drive. Take it to a deserted car park & practise getting into a bay, first go.
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 11, 2016 at 20:16
  • Why the negative votes? Is there something I can improve on? Aug 11, 2016 at 20:23

4 Answers 4


Practice, practice, practice. Go somewhere it doesn't matter and try it out. In fact, take the whole family and they can all learn. That stops your spouse from standing there and screaming "left, left", which is not helpful.

Use the wing mirrors. If you want to go straight back, if you see your trailer in the right-hand mirror, move your right hand down a bit. If you want to see the trailer in the right-hand mirror, move your left hand down a bit. Don't over steer, trailers react very fast.

Don't be afraid to get out and check. If you are worried about hitting stuff you can't see, use sticks as markers. If someone wants to help, tell them only to say "stop" or "keep going".

  • In fact this is one of those life-skills everybody ought to have, but very few do. I taught my kids as soon as they got their driving licences. It impresses their friends greatly. It's not hard to learn, but remains useful your whole life.
    – RedSonja
    Sep 9, 2016 at 13:19

The way my dad taught me was to pretend I was steering the trailer's wheels. If you want the trailer to go left, turn the steering wheel left, and vice versa -- then use counter-steering to straighten and prevent a jack knife.

  • But if you turn left the trailer goes right.
    – paparazzo
    Aug 12, 2016 at 16:44
  • 1
    When looking in the outside mirrors, it works. It worked for me almost forty years ago; learned it in ten minutes.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Aug 12, 2016 at 17:21
  • So it is like a double negative. You should be the mirror thing in the answer.
    – paparazzo
    Aug 12, 2016 at 23:25

As a good alternative, don't even try. Instead of moving the trailer with the vehicle or by hand, invest in something called a motor mover. Here is the first video I came across which demonstrates how such a device works.

Having one won't improve your ability to reverse with a trailer but it will stop you struggling to try and reverse it or to "look like a donkey" moving it by hand.


Put your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel and move it in the direction you want the trailer to move.

A small trailer with a short hitch is hard to back.

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