A semi-truck with a trailer is very helpful, especially for a business. They help carry more loads than what a truck can usually handle. If you are a truck driver, it is important that you know how to couple and uncouple a trailer and semi-truck. Trailers sliding off can cause a real hazard to other motorists. It can also be a lot of hassle to your shipment. Hooking up a semi-truck and a trailer does take some time to learn. However, once you get the hang of it, you can do it in no time.
Here are the steps on how to hook-up a semi-truck and a trailer:
Make sure that your truck and trailer pass the qualifications. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has a few guidelines when it comes to trucks with cargo. Your securing devices must be able to pass all the criteria. It must be able to take an amount of force, from various directions. The whole structure of the semi-truck and trailer should also pass the criteria set by the FMCDSA. If you do not know the criteria for this, you can go online and browse through the FMCSA website. Their website is fmcsa.dot.gov.
Match the height of the semi-truck to the trailer’s height. Ideally, the trailer touches the fifth wheel. In addition, the fifth wheel should also be located six inches above the backing. If the heights do not coincide, you can easily adjust it. To do this, simply dump some air. This lowers the suspension of the semi-truck significantly. You can also try adjusting the landing gear.
Remove the kingpin lock. Some owners forget to remove it. This causes problems. The semi-truck will not couple properly with the trailer if the kingpin lock is still there. Having it in place might damage your fifth wheel when the kingpin does not hook. To remove it, you can use the keys. If this does not work, you can approach a professional who will be happy to remove it for you.
Start positioning. The tractor should be right in front of the trailer. It is best to hook them up together while they are in a straight line. It is possible to hook them up even when they are not aligned. However, aligning them gets the best results.
Assess your position. Remember that the brakes should be on. You can adjust the semi-truck’s position if you are not happy with the alignment. When you are happy with the position, release the brake. Start backing up. If you have done the steps correctly, you should hear a snapping sound. This means that all of the parts have locked into place.
Put the semi-truck in first gear. Test if you have done everything correctly. You should feel the strain of the truck as it pulls on the trailer. You should also check the kingpin. Make sure to lock and secure it properly. If you are not satisfied with the results, you will have to repeat the process.
It is important that every truck driver knows how to couple a semi-truck and a trailer. Although it is highly unlikely that you will get it on your first try, you will surely be able to master it with a little practice.