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What is a Jockey Wheel?

Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann

A jockey wheel is typically located on the front of a trailer near the hitch. This wheel is used to help jockey the trailer into position or to assist in moving the trailer around when not hooked to a tow vehicle. This wheel will also be attached to the trailer jack in many cases.

This type of wheel can be found in two different styles: A soft, pneumatic tire, or a solid rubber or plastic tire. Both have independent advantages. The soft, air-filled tire is easier to roll and will typically support a greater amount of weight on a soft surface. The hard rubber or plastic tire is less expensive in most cases and will support the greatest amount of weight on a hard surface.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

The jockey wheel makes it much easier to hook the tow vehicle onto the trailer. By allowing the operator to easily move the trailer a few inches in every direction, the tow vehicle does not have to be exactly placed to attach the hitch to the ball. This ease of mobility coupled with its lack of needed maintenance makes this a popular trailer accessory.

When using the jockey wheel, care should be taken to ensure that there is not an excess amount of weight placed on it. The jockey wheel is intended to be used to move only empty trailers around. By attempting to move a loaded trailer on the wheel, damage could occur to the wheel, the hitch and even the trailer jack.

When pulling a trailer that has the jockey wheel attached to the trailer jack, make sure to raise the jack to its highest position prior to moving it. Failure to do this can result in the jockey wheel scrubbing and scraping the road. This will cause the tire to have a flat spot, which will hinder the trailer's ability to be easily moved on the wheel. If possible, removing the jockey wheel from the jack is recommended prior to trailer use.

When parking a trailer equipped with a jockey wheel, always place the wheel on a support when placing it on a soft surface. Failure to do this could result in the trailer sinking into the ground and damaging the jack or the wheel. Jockey wheels are not designed to support a great deal of weight on a soft surface and therefore should have a board or other flat item placed underneath it to distribute the weight over a greater surface.

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      Man with hands on his hips