Tips to Hitch and Hook Your Trailer to Your Ram Truck
Anyone who’s ever had to hook up a UHaul truck has experience with loading cargo, but not everyone knows what they’re doing. It’s always nice to have some sense of direction, or even a couple of tips the first time you’re towing a trailer with a Ram truck. Especially for the hitch – you don’t want your trailer to suddenly fly off on the highway do you? So here’s a little lesson on towing basics for those of you new to hauling cargo.
When loading cargo onto a trailer, you should keep it balanced to reduce steering, braking, and trailer sway issues. The best way to go about this is to load up the heavy stuff first.
A good ratio to keep in mind is 60 percent of the cargo weight should be in the front half or middle of the trailer if possible (unless directed otherwise by trailer manufacturer). The remaining 40 percent of the cargo weight should be in the rear half. The key to keeping balance is not only having an even amount of weight on all sides, but also placing the heaviest stuff over the trailer axle(s) for a low center of gravity.
Connecting the Hitch
It’s arguable whether to load up the trailer first or to connect the hitch to the back of a truck. Honestly, it’s a preference, and we think it’s better to have everything connected so you can do a test run with and without a 100% loaded trailer. It takes some getting used to.
Ram has light- and heavy-duty trucks, and they can do some serious towing. There are also three different kinds of hitches one can use to connect a trailer to the back of a truck – receiver hitch, fifth-wheel hitch, and gooseneck hitch.
This is the standard and most common hitch found on Ram trucks. It’s also pretty easy to connect. Before doing anything, put some wheel chocks or blocks on both sides of the trailer’s back tires to keep it from moving during the hitch.
Step 1 – Insert the draw bar and lock it in place with the pin and cotter pin. Then back up the truck so the hitch ball lines up with the coupler.
Step 2 – Crank the trailer jack down so the coupler lowers itself over the hitch ball; there will be a slight snap to cue a solid connection has been made. Keep cranking the jack until it’s as high as it can go, and then release the jack and lock it into place.
Step 3 – Connect the safety cables in a criss-cross fashion to the safety hooks and attach the safety breakaway cables. If the trailer comes unhitched, the breakaway cables will engage the trailer’s brakes to safely stop it.
Step 4 – All Ram pickup trucks come with a 4-pin and 7-pin connector in the bumper. Plug in the wires for lights and brakes so the trailer will also light up when the vehicle’s lights and brake lights are in synch. Be sure they’re working by making sure the proper brake type has been selected and have someone let you know if the brake lights on the trailer light up when applying pressure to the brake pedal.
Remove the wheel chocks and you’re good to go.
Installed into the truck bed itself, a fifth wheel hitch connects to a trailer much differently than a receiver hitch. Depending on the engine and type of truck, a fifth-wheel hitch can have a maximum towing capacity of up to 25,000 pounds, much more than one would tow with a standard receiver hitch. With a heavy-duty truck like the Ram 3500, maximum towing capacity can exceed 30,000 pounds. Most truck owners would need to take their truck to a third-party upfitter for the fifth-wheel hitch, but Ram trucks are available with a fifth-wheel hitch or gooseneck hitch prep package.
Step 1 – Use chock blocks on both sides of the wheels to keep the trailer from moving before hitching. Before connecting, grease the locking plate to reduce friction. Then, unlock the locking mechanism. The trailer needs to be high enough for the hitch plate to slide in and grab onto the kingpin, so adjust the trailer jacks as necessary.
Step 2 – Back up the truck slowly to connect with the kingpin; if your truck has a cargo view camera, this will be much easier to do. Once the truck has been backed up enough and the kingpin fully engages with the coupler, the locking mechanism will lock up automatically, securing the trailer. You can check this by shifting the gear into “Drive” and letting the vehicles baseline RPM move the truck forward. Once connected, park the truck and leave it on.
Step 3 – Connect the safety chains, trailer brake wiring, and the breakaway switch.
Step 4 – Raise the trailer legs to their uppermost position so the truck is supporting the trailer weight solo and close the tailgate.
Step 5 – Remove the chock blocks and test out the hitch. Also check the brakes and that the correct brake type has been selected. For a heavy load, like an RV, select “Heavy Electric”. While testing the hitch, set the integrated trailer brake controller to set how much grip the brakes have on the trailer. Of course, if possible, have someone help check that the brakes are working properly.
A gooseneck hitch is also little different from the standard hitch and they can tow the heaviest loads, sometimes more than 30,000 pounds. A gooseneck hitch is located in the center of the truck bed rather than the rear, where the fifth-wheel is located.
It’s best not to fill up the max for easy control and handling, and although the Gooseneck hitch is in the center of the truck bed, there is a flat trap door that can be folded down to conceal the hitch and make room for loading payload cargo. Again, place some wheel chocks behind the rear trailer wheels prior to set up.
Step 1 – Slowly back up the trailer so the trailer coupler is directly over the gooseneck hitch ball.
Step 2 – Lower the coupler with the trailer crank onto the hitch ball, attach safety chains to the their appropriate places around the hitch ball and give them a little tug to make sure they’re secure, and attach the safety breakaway cable. Then latch the coupler into place.
Step 3 – Lastly, connect the wiring harness to connect the brakes, and lift the trailer stands to their uppermost positions. Again, if possible, have someone check to make sure the brakes are properly connected with a quick test.
Remove the wheel chocks and hit the road.