Properly Hitching A Trailer To A Tow Vehicle

Before building our tiny house I gave very little thought to what we’d do after it was built. I knew the land we intended to settle on was in a different state and that somehow we had to get the tiny house there. But at the time we drove a Dodge Caliber sport wagon so I rested easy knowing I would just find someone to tow it for us. When it came time to relocate I practically begged my father to use his Chevy 2500 extended cab to do the towing for us. He agreed but on one condition. I had to help drive. That meant I had to learn how to tow our 7,800 pound tiny house.

What I have learned since that time is that perhaps one of the most important parts of building a house on wheels is knowing how to transport it safely and effectively once complete. This includes the use of safety chains, stabilizer bars, a sway bar, coupler locks, and trailer brakes. While it doesn’t take a rocket scientist it does take a few minutes and an idea of what needs to happen to safely move down the road with your tiny house in tow. I invite you to spend the next 3 minutes watching this short video on how to properly hook up your THOW or travel trailer to your town vehicle. Just click on the standard YouTube play button.

Click the button below to subscribe to the Tiny r(E)volution YouTube channel for up-to-date tiny house videos and access to all archive videos.Subscribe_Button

-OR – Subscribe to the Tiny r(E)volution via this link for a weekly video uncovering more topics of tiny houses and life on the road.

By Andrew M. Odom for the [Tiny House Blog]

Stay up to Date with the Tiny House Movement

Simply enter your name and email below and we will notify you of new and exciting content here at the Tiny House Blog.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Lisa E. - January 7, 2015 Reply

Thank you ever so much for this REALLY valuable information. I, too, rest easy that somehow I will get my TH towed to another state. Getting there and getting set up are two areas that function in the fog right now as my focus is on paying off cc’s and getting my TH built. Since my TH is still in the planning stage, I’m very concerned about size and being able to move each size properly.

I have a 6 x 10 vardo and had problems with bringing it back from Canada (where I built it.) I never knew about stabilizer bars, sway bars or coupler locks. This is why articles like this are immensely important to the basic knowledge of good TH ownership. Thanks, again!

Andrew M. Odom - January 7, 2015 Reply

It has already been noted that not all trailers come equipped for sway control the way all travel trailers do. In that case you can purchase an after-market weight distribution and sway control kit like the one here on eTrailer —> http://www.etrailer.com/dept-pg-Weight_Distribution-pm-Blue_Ox.aspx

    William Kastrinos - January 8, 2015 Reply

    Andrew, Thanks for your efforts on this topic. One point, however, a properly weighted trailer (tiny house), does not need sway control. Sway on a trailer is caused by too much weight behind the axles, or an over weight unit, as you know. Design is the best sway control. If you build your dormer on the back of the trailer, and choose to have your kitchen there as well, along with heavy appliances, your resulting tongue weight risks being too low, and the trailer will tend to sway. The other extreme, results in too much tongue weight. These issues are magnified if the tow vehicle is marginally matched to the load. I.E. a half ton pick up may be able to pull your tiny house, but a 3/4 ton or 1 ton dually, is probably more appropriate. After 7 years of towing Tiny Houses of all sizes and shapes, we now only hire professionals to accomplish this. http://www.interstatehaulers.com is one source, and if you do the math, it is tough to justify moving a tiny house yourself. The wind resistance alone of a 13 ft 6 in tall house, demands a larger vehicle than most of us own. The stress on transmissions and fuel economy is formidable. Not saying it can’t be done safely, but my experience votes for leaving it to the professionals. And most rental trucks do not have brake equalizers, or allow towing a personal trailer/home. Just my input. Thanks again. Bill Kastrinos Tortoise Shell Home LLC

      Andrew M. Odom - January 9, 2015 Reply

      Hey there Bill. Thank you so much for commenting. I made the video almost entirely because a large percentage of DIY builders as well as some “professional” builders do not know what you pointed out or just don’t take it into consideration. Therefore the balance is off and the weight distribution is wrong. Just shy of rebuilding the THOW some options do exist and sway control is one. But it is only as good as the person hooking it up and using it. That is precisely why I made the video. Hopefully as more of this sort of word gets out there building will not just be for making a pretty tiny house but also for making a safe one; on the road and off. Thanks again Bill!

Leigh - January 7, 2015 Reply

In addition to sway control for your tiny home another thing you should consider when buiding it is- how often you are going to tow it and the # of axles. We are Airstreamers and have been trveling with our trailers since the ’70’s. We had a wonderful 1963 Bambi 16′ that had was a single axle. We quickly found out that a flat tire on a single axle can not only be inconveinient it can cause damage to your undercarriage-including plumbing & wheel wells. We now have a 22′ which is the shortest Airstream with a double axle and now flat tires are easier to cope with.

Ericc - January 7, 2015 Reply

While this rudimentary instruction is whole truth – it fails to advise on a few very important items.
First you should preload your weight support bars further, by using the trailer jack to raise the trailer coupling about 4″ – 5″ above the natural hitched height prior to connecting the load bar chains, then raise the hitch jack to it’s maximum height off the road. This will prevent trailer sway at low speeds, you need to have the capability of towing up to 60 mph without sway for safety sake.
You will also have to be especially careful traversing driveways in order to prevent damage to the trailer hitch jack dragging on the pavement, it can easily be badly damaged and become unusable.

Also, it is recommended to travel your tow route checking ease of navigation hazards regarding height & width, state inspection & road permit requirements.

Last but not least, inquire with insuring agent of the tow vehicle that there is sufficient insurance coverage for the trip which will include both damage and liability values of the tiny home in addition to the tow vehicle. This is doubly important if hiring someone to perform your tow, which would be considered a commercial activity by an insurer.

    Andrew M. Odom - January 7, 2015 Reply

    Great points Ericc. Thank you for adding those. I would consider those to be an entirely separate post though. In fact, the insurance and liability is more than just a video. It is an entire novel. HAHAHAHAH!!!!! I think I may need to do a video on the different hitches as there are several and for this purpose, most should be avoided. Thank you again for your thoughts.

bryan flake - July 17, 2015 Reply

My wife and I recently bought a set of kayaks and a trailer for them to go on. I need to buy the towing hitch apparatus to attach to the back of my truck. How do I measure the size of the trailer hitch? The last thing I want to do is buy the wrong size hitch and waste money.
http://www.marvsqualitytowing.com/services.html

Leave a Reply: