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Un-Coupling and Coupling a Trailer – B+E Driving Test Advice


Un-coupling the trailer and parking the vehicle along side the trailer:

  • Park vehicle on level, flat, firm ground and ensure the vehicles’ handbrake is on and engine switched off.
  • If required put on protective gloves.
  • Walk around rear of the trailer or front of the vehicle NEVER step over the trailer when connected to the vehicle, if you need to get to other side.
  • IMPORTANT: First apply handbrake on the trailer.
  • Lower the jockey wheel, by loosening the bolt on the side of the trailer frame and lowering it down, to required position. Ensure bolt is fully tightened once lowered.
  • Raise the trailer off the tow ball by turning the jockey wheel handle while simultaneously holding the lever open on the trailer to tow ball connector.
  • There should be a clearance of approx. 5mm between the tow ball and the trailer connector once it has been released.
  • Disconnect the ‘breakaway’ cable and stow safely. IMPORTANT this is done last.
  • Remove electric power lead from socket and stow safely.
  • Move vehicle to position along side trailer. (rear of vehicle level with rear of  trailer)

Safety Checks on the Trailer:

  • IMPORTANT: Checks to be done before trailer is connected to the vehicle.
  • IMPORTANT: Check that the handbrake is on! Attempt to push the trailer, to show it is secure! (mention this to him to confirm)
  • Check the condition of the ‘breakaway’ cable and electric power cable for damage/fraying etc.
  • Check for any obvious damage, missing bolts etc, at the front end of the trailer.
  • Side door is secure and nearside side light/side marker is intact.
  • Wheel arch and trailer suspension are secure and intact.
  • Wheel bolts are tight and tyres have the correct legal tread depth and safe to use.
  • At the rear of the trailer; check condition of the two reflectors and light lenses, door is secure and the number plate matches the towing vehicle.
  • Repeat offside wheel, wheel arch, suspension, tyre, and side light/marker checks.
  • Visually check trailer body for any other damage.

Re-coupling the Trailer:

  • Reverse vehicle straight until trailer connector is close enough to the tow ball and check the height of the trailer connector in relation to the tow ball…                     You are ‘allowed’ to exit the vehicle approx 3 times to complete this section of the test and to recheck your positioning. Attempt to be near enough to push/pull the trailer ‘easily’ into position

         Remembering this is a trailer you have not seen before!

  • IMPORTANT: Connect the ‘breakaway’ cable FIRST and the electric power lead.
  • Release handbrake if necessary, and move trailer to the required position, re-apply the handbrake if necessary.
  • Lower the trailer onto the tow ball by turning the jockey wheel handle while simultaneously holding the lever open on the trailer to tow ball connector.
  • IMPORTANT: Turn the jockey wheel handle to raise the back of the vehicle approx. 75-100mm (3 – 4 inches) (Referred to as the ‘Tug Test’) to show your examiner that the trailer is properly connected (mention to him you have done this, to confirm)
  • Stow away the jockey wheel by loosening the bolt on the side of the trailer frame, pulling up the jockey wheel unit high into the trailer frame then re-tightening the bolt.
  • Check handbrake is off!!
  • IMPORTANT: Ask your examiner; “Can you check the rear tail lights, indicators and brake lights please also, would you like me to demonstrate a rolling brake, trailer connection test, to show that the trailer is securely fastened.”
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Hayley Reeve

Hayley is the editor of a popular motoring blog and a massive petrol head. She has been driving for 20 years and writes regular content for a range of commercial automotive websites.