What Does Jackknifing a Trailer Mean? (And How to Prevent It)

Jackknifing a trailer can lead to traffic jams, vehicle damage, and a slew of other consequences. Most drivers want to avoid this issue at all costs. Thankfully, you can use some simple driving strategies to drastically reduce your risks of jackknifing your trailer. Check out these safe driving practices from Easy Car Haulers.

What Jackknifing Means

Jackknifing is an event where the trailer and the vehicle pulling it “fold in” on each other. Instead of sitting in a direct line, the trailer and vehicle sit at an acute angle. Depending on the nature of the event, the trailer may crash into the vehicle and damage one or both components. Jackknifing is a tricky situation to get out of, especially when you’re on a highway with heavy traffic.

What Causes a Trailer to Jackknife?

Jackknifing commonly occurs when a driver tries to back up with a trailer attached. If the vehicle turns at a sharp angle, the trailer may not move the way it needs to.

This can also happen at high speeds when a driver brakes harshly. If the trailer’s momentum takes over, it may fling forward and pull the hauling vehicle into a sharp-angled position. Similarly, a trailer may get jackknifed if the driver makes a sharp turn around a corner. The trailer and vehicle react to each other’s movements, so they need to flow in harmony. Otherwise, you may have a disaster on your hands.

How to Avoid Jackknifing a Trailer or RV

The key to avoiding any type of trailer accident is to maintain smooth momentum at all times. This includes backing up the trailer, driving through traffic, pulling into a neighborhood, and more. Avoid harsh braking or rapid acceleration. Keep a consistent pace so that the trailer and hauling vehicle can move as one.

Easy Car Haulers has a Beginner’s Guide to Driving with a Trailer Attached. If you are renting a trailer and driving with it for the first time, review those suggestions to improve your skills. We recommend practicing in an empty parking lot, if possible, to get a feel for how the trailer shifts the weight in your vehicle. Allow some extra time to practice driving before you load up and hit the road.

Check out the Easy Car Haulers Blog for more trailer driving tips and trailer rental FAQs.