Why Are Hitch Extenders Safe & Why Not? (Honest Overview)

Last Updated on September 21, 2023 by Will Sabel

The long pipe-like attachment on the hitch receiver might seem nice but are hitch extenders safe? TBH, the hitch extender is okay but consider it for short-term use.

There’s no doubt, there are some fab benefits to hitch extenders. It not only offers great leverage and handling but also confirms ground clearance which is a plus point for towing.

But, the extender can decrease the TW (Tongue Weight) and cause max movement on the hitch accessories. For long-term application, it’s not very practical and so,  I won’t suggest that. In short, it’s safe but should not be considered a permanent fixture even if it provides good support for road use.

Keep on reading to understand the whole matter…


Explaining Whether Are Hitch Extenders Safe Or Not

Using a hitch extender will lead to mixed feelings. There are several goodnesses but also to some, it may feel like a waste. Let me explain both sides below in points.

Better Riding Experience On Road But Half of TW Is Lost

When you use the hitch extension for a travel trailer or large U-Haul, it’s clear that it will help you achieve the 3 plus points that raise safety on the road. These include:

  • Riding Ground Clearance
  • Leverage
  • Better Control Or Handling

It helps you tow the big trailer without facing unwanted friction thanks to the ground clearance. Plus, ensure no uneven load-carrying feel on the truck by putting negative pressure.

In other words, you’ll find the needed leverage with the hitch extension to help to ride level on the highway or road.

The bad thing I find in the extender is making the rear axle fulcrum point. This single change causes the TW to lose its 50% capability.

This means if your trailer can tow 1,000 lbs, adding the hitch extender causes the towing weight to decrease by up to (1,000 x 50%) 500 lbs. Which may cause the truck to lose stability or balance if you put extra stress. 

Causes Vibration To Other Hitch Accessories

Since the extender will attach directly to the hitch receiver, it can use the hitch pin, cover, and receiver to move.

This happens when you continually ride on a bumpy road and the truck jumps a lot causing the rear hitch extender to vibrate a lot.

It will cause up-down force on the hitch bolted parts resulting in the unbearable movement of accessories which is connected to the extender.

Another point of its effect is the extender lowers the hitch capacity to tow the big trailer. It puts tension on the rearrest point of the hitch which causes a drastic change in the weight balance of the truck’s front areas even if you use WD (Weight Distributor).

Increases Wear/Puncture Chances of Back Tires

An open invitation to disaster is using an excessively long hitch extender. It will cause the trailer to shift further away resulting in the central gravity shifting too.

That causes more pressure on the rear wheels. Due to this action, the rear tires can eventually wear or puncture based on the level of loads on the trailer.

It is one of the worst trailer hitch extension problems that create sway issues. This all happens due to the sidewall flex and stress on the rear tires.

Pros & Cons of Using Hitch Extenders

Pros of using hitch extenders:

Increased clearance: Extenders offer more space between the vehicle and hitch-mounted accessories, preventing contact or damage.

Versatility: They accommodate larger accessories that may not fit a standard hitch setup.

Accessibility: Extenders improve access to rear cargo areas or tailgates by moving accessories away from the vehicle.

Cons of using hitch extenders:

Reduced capacity: Extenders can decrease towing capacity due to increased leverage on the hitch.

Decreased stability: Affect stability and handling due to added leverage and stress on the hitch and suspension.

Maneuverability: The increased length of the towing setup may make maneuvering in tight spaces more challenging.

Here are some tips for safe driving with a big load and hitch extender

Secure Hitch Extender & Load: Before start driving, ensure that your hitch extender and load are properly secured to your vehicle. Check the hitch and other attaching points to ensure that everything is tightened properly and in good condition.

Start Slow: When you have a large load on your trailer, it’s important to start driving slowly and gradually increase your speed as you get onto the highway. If you press the gas pedal too hard, it can create difficulties while driving.

Adjust Side Mirrors: You have to adjust the side mirrors to get a clear view of your trailer and the road conditions behind you. You must not carry a load that blocks your view.

Check the Tires: Before you start riding, inspect both your vehicle’s and trailer’s tires thoroughly. The tire pressure may decrease due to the heavy load, so it’s important to ensure all tires are properly inflated. If you drive with a flat tire, it can cause a serious accident.

Don’t Overload the Trailer: It’s important to never overload your trailer, even if you are using a hitch extender. Ensure that the load is 20-30% lighter than the recommended weight for your trailer.

Take Corners Carefully: When driving with a trailer, you must take corners slowly and give yourself extra time to brake.

Alternatives Solutions To Hitch Extenders

Adjustable hitch ball mounts: These mounts allow for height adjustments, ensuring a level connection between the tow vehicle and trailer. They also provide better clearance than a standard hitch ball mount.

Swing-away hitch adapters: Swing-away adapters enable hitch-mounted accessories to swing out and away from the vehicle for easy access to the rear cargo area. This eliminates the need for a hitch extender while providing additional clearance and maintaining safety.

Roof racks or cargo carriers: If the primary purpose of using a hitch extender is to carry additional cargo, consider installing a roof rack or cargo carrier on top of the vehicle. This provides extra storage space without affecting the hitch’s weight capacity or stability.

Longer hitch-mounted accessories: Some hitch-mounted bike racks, cargo carriers, and other accessories are designed with a longer shank. this provides additional clearance between the vehicle and the accessory. These products can eliminate the need for a hitch extender while maintaining safety and stability.

Dual receiver hitch adapters: These adapters feature two hitch receivers which will allow you to mount a hitch-mounted accessory alongside a trailer or another accessory. This solution provides extra clearance and versatility without the need for a hitch extender.

By considering these alternative solutions, you can achieve the desired clearance and functionality.

Check out this video to learn how to use a hitch extender:

Wrap Up

The hitch extender is a great device if you have to improve the leverage and balance when towing a bigger trailer for a shorter period.

However, that doesn’t mean it would work the same if you use it for long-term purposes. As long as the trailer is carrying 20% – 30% less than the suggested weight limit, it won’t be an issue.

I hope you have the answer to whether are hitch extenders safe or not. Catch You In the Next Guide!  

are hitch extenders safe

Author: Will Sabel

Will Sabel is an avid car enthusiast. When he's not writing for RidersWant, you'll find him cruising the country in a new car. People are always wondering how many cars he has!

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