Essential Trailer Gear and Accessories
Get the most from your trailer with these game-changing and ingenious accessories.
No more bruised shins
Everybody's done it—walked right into the ball mount and gotten a really banged-up shin. Soften the blow by adding a ShinShield protective rubber cushion to your ball mount. The cushion curves downward to prevent contact with both the sides of the ball mount and the ball stud.
We use ratcheting tie-down straps to ensure that the stuff in the trailer stays in the trailer. There are tie loops on each side of the trailer, perfect for hooking to. But whenever we hook the first tie-down to one of the loops, it falls off before we can walk around to hook the other side. It makes you feel like you're stuck in a scene from “The Three Stooges.”
We recently stumbled across a product called Hook-Tight. It keeps straps and bungees in place while you secure them. You can find this product at some home centers, or you can buy them in packs of four online. They're worth every penny.
The best hitch camera
Even with a spotter guiding you, hooking up a trailer is always a pain. If you're tired of this process, check out the iBall trailer hitch camera. The monitor plugs into the truck's power port (AKA cigarette lighter), and the camera is equipped with a magnet, so it can be stuck to the truck or trailer. We stuck it to the top of the tailgate for an overhead view.
An aluminum jack
The wedge-shaped aluminum EZ Jack (available from Cabelas) is perfect for trailers with tandem wheels. Here's how it works:
First, loosen the lug nuts on the flat tire. Then wedge the EZ Jack under the inflated front tire and pull the entire trailer forward (or place it on the back wheel and drive backward if it's a flat front tire). Then chock the opposite side. Swap out the tires, toss the lightweight EZjack back in your truck, and you're good to go.
Trailer lights for emergencies
If you own any type of trailer, it's more than likely that there's taillight trouble in your future. Keep a battery-powered bicycle taillight in your trunk. When a taillight fails, strap the bike light to your trailer, where it will alert tailgaters (and hopefully ward off cops). Don't push your luck and treat this as a permanent solution, though. Fix the problem ASAP.
Bonus tip: Be sure you have a spare tire and a wrench for the lug nuts on your trailer wheels—don't expect your truck's lug wrench to fit.
Step up to your trailer
The HitchMate Truck Step makes loading and unloading tolls and materials from a truck bed so much easier. Just slide it into any standard 2-inch trailer hitch receiver and insert the lock pin. Release the spring-loaded retainer knob and pull the bar out all the way. The bar extends 23-1/2 inches, so the step is located right where you need it—at the end of your open tailgate. When you're done, simply flip up the step, pull the retaining pin, and stow the entire unit under your truck bed.
Remove a stuck ball mount
If the ball mount on your trailer hitch is rusted in place, don't just whack at it with a sledgehammer. Instead, buy a can of CRC Freeze Off penetrating spray, an air chisel, and a hammer bit, then follow this process:
Spray the opening to the hitch receiver with the CRC Freeze Off spray. This style of penetrating fluid chills the metal, causing it to contract and help break the rust seal. Then use the air chisel fitted with the hammer bit to knock everything loose. The air hammer will break up the rust, spread the penetrant and free up the ball mount. Once it's free, just tap the rusted ball mount out with a hammer. If you plan to reuse the rusty mount, coat it with a rust converter or waterproof marine grease.
Hardened steel trailer locks
Trailer thieves get quite a laugh out of coupler “latch locks.” They can cut them in an instant with even the smallest bolt cutter. Then they're on their way with your trailer. If you want real protection, use a coupler lock that presents thieves with a real challenge. (Shown here is the Trimax Universal Coupler Lock.) Just insert the ball into the coupler and slide on the U-bracket. Unless the thief has the time to unbolt the entire coupler and install a new one, you'll be well protected.
Stop trailer thieves
If you have a really expensive trailer, it pays to get an extra layer of protection by using a “boot”-style lock in addition to the coupler lock. There are many styles to choose from, but we liked this particular model (the Trimax TCL75 Wheel Chock Lock) because it doubles as a wheel chock to prevent the trailer from rolling. Just slide it onto the wheel and press in the lock cylinder.