Towing Tips from RV Education 101

Hi. I'm Mark Polk with RV Education 101, and I would like to welcome you to RV 101, understanding your RV.

Today's topic is safe trailer-towing tips. Towing a trailer safely requires the proper hitch components. Today, we're going to discuss hitch receivers, types of hitches, hitch balls, and ball mounts.

Every component in a towing system has a weight rating. Your towing system is based on the weakest link in the chain. Let's start with the hitch receiver. The hitch receiver receives the hitch head or ball mount. The hitch receiver is rated to handle a specific amount of weight and has nothing to do with the tow vehicle's tow rating. The rating for the hitch receiver must be greater than the amount of weight being towed.

If you are towing a lighter trailer with a weight-carrying hitch and experience problems with the steering and/or sway, you may need a weight-distributing hitch. With the loaded trailer hooked up to the tow vehicle, stand back and look at it. If the lowest point is where the trailer couples to the hitch, talk to your RV dealer about a weight-distributing hitch. Hitch ball and ball mount.

Towing your trailer safely involves more than just selecting the right class of hitch receiver for the job. The hitch ball and the ball mount also have maximum weight ratings they are capable of handling. Hitch balls have three basic measurements: the ball diameter, the shank diameter, and the shank length.

The ball size must be the right size for the coupler on the trailer you are towing and be rated to tow the trailer's gross vehicle weight rating. The hitch ball base and shank play a major role in the hitch ball's weight rating. The ball mount is the removable portion of the hitch that slides into the hitch receiver.

For weight-carrying hitches it may be necessary to find a ball mount with a drop or rise to help level the trailer when it's hooked up to the tow vehicle. Ball mounts are also rated by the amount of weight they can safely tow.

That's a quick primer on safe trailer towing and trailer hitch components. If you'd like to learn more about towing a trailer safely, take a minute to visit

Happy camping.

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