How to Back a U-Haul Trailer with Surge Brakes


U-Haul began operations in 1945, renting trucks, vans and a variety of other moving equipment. Many of U-Haul's hitch trailers or moving trucks can be difficult to steer for drivers with little experience. Surge brakes are located on the trailer, and are most common on watercraft trailers, because of their ability to withstand frequent submerging into water without damage.

Things You'll Need

  • Assistant
  • Lock-out pin (if available)
  • Get an assistant to help before attempting to operate the vehicle in reverse. Relying on mirrors alone can be dangerous, and assistance outside the cab can make sure there are no obstructions, traffic or children behind you.

  • Verify that you have surge brakes. Surge brakes and electric brakes are often confused, and an easy way to tell the difference is to look for any additional wiring on the trailer's tongue. Any additional electrical components here may indicate that your trailer has electric, and not surge, brakes. Surge brakes are purely mechanical.

  • Check your reversing area for an incline. Surge brakes on the trailer will sense pressure on the tongue applied by the incline and engage the brakes, so it's best not to back up an incline with surge brakes activated.

  • Depending on your trailer, you may either have to insert the lock-out pin into the appropriate slot near the trailer tongue, toggle a switch located near the brakes, or on the tongue, or -- if the surge brakes have a five-pin harness -- simply shift into reverse. Using the lock-out pin or toggling the switch manually disengages the trailer brakes, while a five-pin harness tells a solenoid on the trailer that the towing vehicle is in reverse and disengages the brakes.

  • Carefully back your trailer into the desired position with guidance from your assistant.

  • Once the trailer has been backed into position, put the vehicle into park. Then either remove the lock-out pin, flip the brake switch, or simply return the transmission to drive.

Tips & Warnings

  • The U-Haul hot line at 1-800-528-0355 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


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