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rv Education 101

RV Education 101 - Understanding your Hitch Ball

Hi, I’m Mark Polk with “RV Education 101.” Did you know every component in a towing system has its own weight rating It’s true and if you think about it, the hitch ball is what all the trailer tongue weight rests on and what pulls all the trailer’s weight down the road.

Let’s take a closer look at this important component in the towing system. When you plan to tow a trailer, even a small trailer, two important components are the hitch ball and the coupler on the trailer. The hitch ball reveals some important information just by looking at it.

First, it tells us the maximum amount of weight the ball itself is rated to tow. We’ll talk more about this in a minute.

Second, it tells us what the ball size is. Hitch balls have three basic measurements: the ball diameter, the shank diameter, and the shank length. Ball diameter sizes come in 1-7/8 inch, 2 inch, and 2-5/16 inch. The hitch ball base and shank play a major role in the hitch ball’s weight rating. This is where the trailer’s coupler comes in. The hitch ball size must be the correct size for the coupler on the trailer you’re towing, and it must be rated to tow the trailer’s gross vehicle weight rating.

If you look closely at the coupler, you will see what ball size is required. Some couplers, especially on used trailers, have a few coats of paint so you need to remove the layers of paint to get this information. With the hitch ball and coupler properly matched, let’s talk briefly about the ball mounts. The ball mount is the removable part of the hitch that slides into the hitch receiver. For weight-carrying hitches, it might be necessary to find a ball mount with a drop or a rise to help level the trailer when it’s hitched to the tow vehicle. Ball mounts are also rated by the amount of weight they can safely tow. An adjustable ball mount is used for heavier trailer applications. Adjustable ball mounts allow the ball to be raised, lowered, or tilted to compensate for trailer tongue weight and to attain proper height adjustment. Adjustable ball mounts are normally used with weight-distributing hitches.

So before you tow anything, a utility trailer, or a boat trailer, or a travel trailer, always check the hitch ball, the coupler, and the ball mount to make sure the weight you are towing does not exceed the hitch components’ weight capacities.

Happy camping from Mark Polk of RV Education 101

To learn more about how to use your RV,
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Mark Polk, your trusted source for RV education