Learn to Tow (on road)

Introduction to Learn to Tow (on road)
Unhitching and Hitching Your Trailer
Pre-Departure Checks
Tyres, Tyre Pressures and Breakdowns



The first thing to say about reversing is, avoid it where it is not necessary. Those of us who grew up in the bush may have learned a similar saying, relating to cars and 4wds. When in the bush drive forward always. Only reverse if it is necessary. This is because reversing provides very poor vision of any hazards. Wherever possible, utilise a guide. We like to say caravanning is a two-person sport.

At our Learn To Tow course, we give you lots of practical skills to assist you to learn how to confidently back in a straight line and around corners.

Always have extension mirrors fitted where the trailer is wider than the car.


Ask- will the trailer fit where I intend to put it.

The Guide

We recommend you use a guide, even if you have reversing cameras on the rear of the trailer.

  • The guide should be located on the driver’s side
  • In line with the rear of the trailer
  • Must walk in the direction of travel
  • Use clear signs and be seen. Use voice or radio

Preparing the Trailer for Reversing

Before reversing your trailer

  • Engage the brake lock-out device on over-ride brakes
  • Remove weight distribution bars
  • Reduce trailer brake bias
  • Have your wheel chocks and levellers out of the trailer/car and near the place where they will be used.

Reversing in a Straight Line

During your Learn To Tow course, you will be given extensive instruction on how to develop the skills necessary to reverse in a straight line. The course is designed to begin with the fundamental skills, adding more and more skills as you go. So don’t feel like you have to achieve more than you are asked to do.

The biggest mistake people make when practicing is they try to join all of the separate skills and inputs together in a flow- DO NOT DO THIS.

When first learning to reverse in a straight line it is important that you

  • Only use your mirrors, do not look over your shoulder.
  • Check both mirrors to be certain the trailer is straight.
  • Make steering inputs only while stationary
  • Go as slowly as you can
  • Stop and think before you make any steering input.
  • Do not try to make the sequence flow. In order to develop the observation and steering input skills, you need time to think, so stop before making a steering input.

Your Learn To Tow instructor will teach you the observation skills required to maintain a straight line. There are many techniques but we prefer the hands on top of the wheel technique. Looking in your mirrors, where you see too much trailer in one mirror, use your fists to bump the trailer out of that mirror- i.e. turn your hands towards that mirror. If you don’t see enough trailer in our mirror, use your fists to tug the trailer into that mirror, i.e. turn your hands away from the mirror.

Reversing in an Arc

Reversing in an arc requires the same observational skills and the same bump/tug or push/pull method that you developed in the previous exercise of reversing in a straight line. Your instructor will now show you how to use those fundamental skills to back your trailer in an arc. You will be required to demonstrate competency by backing in two complete 360 degree circles in reverse. It sounds scary but it is way easier than you think.

We won’t describe the method in detail here but the steps are as follows.

  • Setup for the arc. Full lock away from the side you want the trailer to go to, back until you see your mark,
  • Then turn full lock towards where you want the trailer to go, then back enough to provide you some margin for correction (usually about a half steering wheel turn)
  • Watch your alignment mark relative to your car
  • Maintain your arc by maintaining your alignment with the mark

GO SLOWLY and STOP before you get in trouble. If you get close to jack-knife, go forward and start from step  again.