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Test Tips: Uncoupling and Re-Coupling a Trailer

Routine for Un-Coupling and Re-Coupling a Trailer For the B+E Driving Test

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.
  • 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 slightly above the ground (approx. 50cm) 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. 50mm between the tow ball and the trailer connector once it has been released.
  • Remove electric power lead from socket and stow safely.
  • Push the trailer to check the handbrake is holding the trailer securely.
  • Disconnect the ‘breakaway’ cable and stow safely. IMPORTANTthis is done last.
  • Move vehicle to position along side trailer. (rear of vehicle level with rear of trailer)

Safety Checks on the Trailer

YOU WILL BE ASKED BY YOUR EXAMINER TO IMAGINE THIS IS A TRAILER YOU ARE SEEING FOR THE FIRST TIME.

  • IMPORTANT: Checks to be done before trailer is connected to the vehicle.
  • IMPORTANT: Check that the handbrake is on and working corectly Attempt to push the trailer, to show it is secure! (mention this to the Examiner to confirm this)
  • 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.
  • 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. Again you may release the handbrake if necessary to help the connection of the trailer.
  • 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 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 the following question;

“Can you check the rear tail, rear fog lights, indicators, hazard lights and brake lights with me please?”