How To Hook Up A Gooseneck Trailer

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If you plan heavy-duty towing, a gooseneck trailer is likely the best way to go. But exactly how do you hook up a gooseneck trailer?

To hook up a gooseneck trailer, you should:

  1. Raise the Trailer
  2. Make Sure the Coupler is Unlatched
  3. Align the coupler and Center the Coupler over the Ball
  4. Lower the trailer
  5. Raise the jackfeet and secure the handle
  6. Connect all brake cables, safety chains, and plug in the electric receptacle.
  7. Perform a safety inspection

The last thing you want to do is have trouble in the middle of the Interstate with a heavy load on the trailer. The National Highway Traffic Safety Amerminstration (NHTSA) estimates that nearly 55,000 accidents occur yearly with vehicles and improperly secured trailers. This sobering statistic means that the safety of yourself, your family, and everyone else on the road depends on how well you use and drive a gooseneck trailer. Your responsibility doesn’t start once the trailer is hooked up to your truck. It starts when you decide to secure the trailer to the truck because if you don’t do it correctly, it can kill someone.

Table of Contents


What is a Gooseneck Trailer?

A gooseneck trailer is a large trailer for hauling large equipment or loads. The trailer gets its name from the way it looks. The tongue of the trailer resembles a goose’s neck as it flies through the sky.

Where Should a Gooseneck Ball Be Placed?

Ideally, a gooseneck ball should be placed into the bed of a truck and positioned slightly ahead of the rear axle. This position allows the tongue weight to be evenly balanced for safer towing. Contact your dealer or truck shop for installation.

Do They Make Different Sizes of Gooseneck Trailers?

Yes, they do. The size of the gooseneck trailer depends on the specific need for towing. Gooseneck trailers are offered in five classification levels. Levels 1 and 2 are for lighter loads and are ideal for hauling classic cars, furniture, and landscaping equipment. Be mindful of the weight limits (Class 1 = 2,000 lbs. Class 2 = 3,500 lbs).

If your tow object is more than what a Class 2 hitch can hold, you will need a Class 3 or 4 tow hitch, which is designed to haul up to 10,000 lbs. These trailers are for heavier cars, equipment, boats, or campers.

The Class V hitch is used for towing weights up to 30,000 lbs. Be sure that the vehicle you are towing with is strong enough to handle the weight of whatever you plan on towing.

How To Hook Up A Gooseneck Trailer.

There are several steps to properly hooking up a gooseneck trailer to the back of a truck.

Raise The Trailer to Above the Height of the Bed of Towing Vehicle

The first thing you need to do is ensure that the height of the gooseneck tongue on the trailer is higher than the bed of your pickup. Using the jack, raise the trailer higher until there is enough clearance when you back the truck in. A spotter can help keep an eye on the trailer while you crank the jack.

Make Sure that the Coupler is Unlatched.

The coupler must be in the open position to sit on the truck's ball. A latch on the side of the coupler usually holds the pin into the open position. If the plate moves freely, then the coupler is ready to go.

Align the Coupler of the Trailer Directly Over the Ball in the Truck

This step is an important one. You will need to carefully back your truck up under the trailer's coupler. The hitch ball should be centered under the coupler as much as possible, and the truck should be parked in a straight line directly in front of the trailer. Refrain from hooking up a trailer to a ball at an angle. This is asking for trouble and makes hooking the trailer up harder. This is an excellent place for the spotter to help you know when things are lined up perfectly.

Lower the Trailer onto the Ball

Using the jack, carefully lower the trailer onto the truck's ball. Once you hear the coupler snap into place, latch the coupler into the locked position by lowering the pin on the latching mechanism.

Raise the Jackfeet and Secure the Handle.

Most jackfeet have pins that lock them in place. Be careful not to pinch your fingers while removing the pin and raising the foot. (A good idea is to use your foot to help as you lift the jackfoot into place while rotating the pin).

Connect all Brake Cables, Safety Chains Electrical Connections

Secure the large safety chains from the trailer's frame to the truck using the clamps or hooks provided.  Most large gooseneck trailers have a small cable attached to a pin for an emergency braking system. If the trailer gets disconnected from the truck, the separation between the truck and the trailer will pull a pin, which locks the trailer's brakes. This added safety mechanism is designed to keep your trailer from rolling anywhere it wants should it get separated from the towing vehicle.

Most trailers have a seven-point electric receptacle that should be plugged in. It is vital to plug this connection into place. Use care as you plug in the receptacle so that you do not bend or break a pin. The connections should be firm and tested to ensure they are performing correctly.

Perform a Safety Inspection

Take a moment to walk around the truck and trailer to ensure everything is in place. Have someone sit in the cab, press the brakes, and flip the turn signal switch to ensure the electric connections are working correctly. The good idea is to take a second look at the safety chains and a couple of housing to double-check that the trailer is now secure.

If there is an issue with anything, fix it before loading your trailer and taking it off down the road.

What if the Trailer Seems to Be Unlevel with The Truck?

The trailer should rest level with the truck. If the trailer seems to be angled up instead of level during the walkaround, the rear of the trailer is likely to scrape against uneven pavements. In addition, the trailer's weight may be too much for one axle, which causes excessive tire wear. Anytime an axle (tire) has additional weight placed on it, this produces more heat and increases the chance of a blowout.

A level trailer distributes the weight evenly and keeps tires from wearing out or axles from breaking.

Where Should the Weight of a Load Be Distributed on a Trailer?

A good rule of thumb is to follow the 60/40 rule, where most of the weight (60%) is placed toward the front wheel. The remaining 40% can be on the rear axle of the trailer.  Ensure that the weight of the load does not cause you to exceed the appropriate tongue weight (15%) of the total loaded trailer.