“Jackknifing” is when a tow vehicle and the attached trailer get out of sync. This can create a very dangerous situation. At Trailer Boss where we sell cargo, utility, dump and many other trailers, we occasionally hear about a jackknifed trailer.
To know how to avoid having your trailer and tow vehicle forming an “L” or a “V” shape on the road, you should understand why jackknifing occurs.
There are various situations that can cause a jackknife, but typically it comes from a loss of traction. Wheels use friction to move, and a jackknife happens when the vehicle slows be the trailer does not because of loss of traction. The tires’ inability to grab the road surface may come from the road being wet, an oil spill or when you have to change direction in a big hurry. The inertia of the trailer causes it to continue to go faster than the vehicle, and the back end comes around alongside the vehicle.
If you notice that you are already starting to jackknife, it might not be too late to prevent your trailer from bending into an angle of no return. Experts recommend letting go of the brake which allows the wheels to resume rolling and regain the traction. To avoid jackknifing, brake before, rather than during a turn.