Is It Okay To Leave Your Vehicle Hooked To Your Trailer?


When towing a trailer to the campsite, you might think it will be faster for cleanup to leave your trailer attached to your vehicle. Most campsites have a length limit of around 34 to 38 feet for trailer length, so you have to take that into account when choosing where you want to park or camp. Most people like to leave the campsite to go see sights and do activities, so is having your trailer hooked to your vehicle all the time really a good idea? We are going to give you the breakdown on if this is something you should do, and what you might want to avoid to keep your trailer and vehicle safe from costly repairs.

Is it okay to leave your vehicle hooked to your trailer? You should not leave your trailer hooked to your vehicle for more than one or two days at the most. The reason for this is that it can break down the shocks and springs in your vehicle which will cause permanent damage. There are also things like your refrigerator that need to be level in order to work, so if your camper is attached to your vehicle, it will be angled down, and things will not work correctly. You also run the risk of sticking out of your parking spot too far, and other people will not be able to get around you. If you have to leave your trailer hitched, please make sure it is for no more than a day or two.

Fifth Wheel Hitch

Fifth-wheel trailers have their hitched centered over the axel of your truck, so the weight is dispersed evenly, and not putting the weight completely on the rear hitch. While this does help your shocks and springs, it is still not a good idea to leave your trailer attached to it. The weight of your trailer can still cause damage to the trailer hitch and your shocks which will cause damage to your truck. You might get a day or two more than you would a normal tongue trailer before damage starts, but having that much weight on your vehicle will start to stress and break things that could cost thousands of dollars to fix. Wanting to keep your trailer attached to a fifth wheel is more common because your overall length will be shorter since part of the trailer is over the bed of your truck so please be careful.

Tongue Hitch

A tongue hitch is where the trailer rests on a trailer hitch that is attached to the very back of your vehicle with a ball attached. When you have this type of trailer, you are putting all the weight of it on the back springs and shocks of your vehicle. When you attach the trailer, it might even look like the front of your truck is pointing up in the air. While newer trailers are made lighter, and easier to tow, it can still cause major damage to your vehicle if your trailer is left on there. Make sure that you look on the inside of your door for the max weight your vehicle can carry without harm to your vehicle before you hook anything up to your hitch. Most trucks have a 5000-pound towing limit, or more, especially newer trucks.

Dry Weight vs Tanks Full

When you tow a trailer, you will almost always tow it “dry”. Dry weight is when there is nothing in your water or sewer tanks, and this will be how you tow your trailer to the campsite unless you know that there will be no water hookup. When you add water and sewer to your tanks, you can expect to add an additional 1500 pounds of weight to your trailer, which will cause stress to your hitch faster. At a full hookup campsite, you will probably not have a sewer problem because your tanks will be emptied as soon as you flush the toilet, or run the sink. Your water weight, however, will fill up, and never go dry.

Can I Add Better Shocks?

Over time, your springs and shocks can wear out on your vehicle which will cause the back end of your vehicle to sag. What you can do, however, is take your truck or vehicle to a shop and add re-enforcing to your hitch, or you can buy heavy-duty shocks and leaf springs. Doing this will help your vehicle take the weight of your trailer without the front of your car looking like it is going to take off. This will make your vehicle look more level when you are driving down the road, and also keep the nose of your trailer up and at a more level angle. Adding better shocks and springs is normally between $500 and $1000 dollars depending on the type of shocks and springs you buy, and how much your service person charges you. If you plan to take your camper out a lot, I highly suggest spending the money on this, as it will safe the life of your vehicle.

Will My Camper Drain My Truck Battery?

If you leave your trailer hooked up to your vehicle, and leave it plugged in, your camper will draw from your car to power your trailer. Things like lights, pumps, automatic levelers, and fans are just some of the things that draw their power from batteries. Your refrigerator will also draw a lot of power as well, so it is important to switch it to gas when you get to your campsite. When you are towing your trailer, your vehicle is charging your stored batteries and things like running lights, brake lights, and turn signals. If you do not want to wake up with a dead battery in your truck, it is a good idea to unplug your camper as soon as you get settled in at your camp spot.

Can I Have My Ball Hitch On When I’m Not Towing?

It is perfectly legal to keep your ball and hitch attached to your vehicle when you are not towing a trailer, so there is normally no need to disconnect the ball from your truck after your trailer is set. Depending on how big your hitch is though, could cause a problem when you park somewhere. You could obstruct people’s path, and they might not be able to get by you without damage, so if you can see that your vehicle sticks out too much, it might be a good idea to take it off. There is always a chance that you or someone walking by your vehicle might injure themselves. Anyone who owns a trailer has hit their shin on the hitch, and it does not feel good!

Keep The Trailer Level

There are things like your refrigerator that need to stay level, so it is important that you make sure if you get your trailer level right away. Keeping your trailer hooked to your vehicle can cause things like your refrigerator to stop cooling, and can make it very difficult to cook, or pump water to your sinks and showers. You might also find that your bed will tilt, and you may roll to one side.

Final Thoughts

It is not a good idea to leave your trailer hooked to your vehicle for more than a day or two, things in your trailer can break, and things on your vehicle can break or wear down much faster. There are options out there to re-enforce your vehicle which is a good idea, but you should still disconnect your vehicle when you get your trailer parked. Make sure that you check your refrigerator to make sure it is still cooling your food if your trailer is not level.

Related Topics

Can I Leave My Slide Outs Open All The Time?

Can I leave my slide outs open all the time? It is not a good idea to leave your slides out when you are not using your trailer. If you are not going to be around your trailer, or any sort of rain or snow is going to happen, make sure to put your slides in so snow does not collect on your roof that can cause damage.

Terry Minton

I am the owner of Fast Cast Rods. I live in the mountains of Northern California where I love to be outdoors hunting, fishing, camping and hiking with my wife and three awesome kids.

Recent Content