Basics of Trailer Hitch: How It Works and Beyond

Last Updated on January 8, 2023 by Will Sabel

I know how everyone seems to know everything about towing vehicles. It’s overwhelming if I’m being honest.

Well, it does imply in real life and is immensely handy when you need to move or carry loads. 

Even though it is not always cost-effective, an investment can last you a lifetime depending on the trailer hitch you choose.

It’s common to get lost in the sea of pieces of information on the internet. Nevertheless, there are some good sources that you can follow to enlighten yourself on the topic. And this goes without saying – this article is one of them. 

Before you begin to choose hitches, you need to have a clear understanding of the concept of trailer hitches. In this article, I have tried to summarize the whole idea of a trailer, its origin, resources, and all you need to know.

If you are already familiar with the basic concept, it’s time to read about its usability and how it actually delivers its output favoring our benefit. 

Watch me walk you through the process in the simplest way possible. 

First, the concept. Let’s know what I found about trailer hitches. 

What is a Trailer Hitch?

Trailer Hitches of Different Brands

Here’s what I came by on Wikipedia- 

‘A tow hitch is a device attached to the chassis of a vehicle for towing or a towbar to an aircraft nose gear.’

In short, a primary connector between trailer and tow vehicle.

Or perhaps, a trailer hitch is a structural fragment that eases the method of connecting carrier vehicles to the trailer while acting as a medium between them. On top of that, a ball mount is just an accessory for a trailer hitch.      

If I get into the depth of the subject, there are receiver hitches and tow hitches. 

Receiver hitches are the kind of trailer hitches that are put onto the bottom of a vehicle, at the rear, and implement a tube for linking a ball mount or any other hitch accessory to it. 

The tow hitch is the other name of the trailer hitch. Both are termed as pieces of equipment used in towing the trailers.

As I’m explaining it more to the concept, it is important that you know about trailer balls, one of the unavoidable pieces of equipment in the towing system. So, here’s a little summary for you to have an idea – 

What is a Trailer Ball?

The trailer ball is the immediate link between the trailer and the vehicle. 

It remains coupled with the trailer coupler and helps the vehicle and trailer to travel as flat as a pancake without harsh distractions. 

  • The trailer ball consists of one metal ball attached with an elongated stem. 
  • It comes in different shapes and sizes. 
  • Can customize or choose one according to the size of your trailer coupler.

Hitch Ball is just another name of the trailer ball. 

This is just the initial idea of all the hitch components that you might come across while researching on trailer hitch or ball mount. 

I think all these ideas are enough to know the one that’s the most suitable for you.

Let’s assume you got ground-level knowledge on what a trailer hitch is. The next step would be to make you understand how a trailer hitch works. Asicall, I’m here to teach you the mechanism of trailer hitches in simpler words.

Let’s get going!

How Does a Trailer Hitch Work?

Tow hitch working mechanism

If you’re in a hurry — 

A coupler fits securely over —and pivots on— the tow vehicle hitch ball. The coupler must be the same size to fit in. You must opt for an equal or greater weight capacity of the hitch ball to ensure a safe connection.

I already mentioned this a couple of times – A trailer hitch is a connection between the trailer and the towing vehicle. As your common sense might guess, it should be a piece of equipment that will place itself at the junction and will ease the process of carrying trailers or loads.

A tow hitch or receiver hitch lets you hook a trailer to your vehicle for towing. It has a reinforced receiver that can take in a certain sized drawer and each one is weighted for a distinct weight class. 

The hitch you pick will have a towing class that checks the abilities of your vehicle. so that goes without saying that the most important thing to know before you start using a towing hitch is to never carry anything that crosses the towing capacity of your hitch or your vehicle.

Not only does a tow hitch let you haul trailers and bolts, but it can also be used for other works as a bike rack for extra room on road trips. Sounds pretty cool, right?

For understanding how a trailer works, you need to know how it fits in the vehicle. 

You will need to check some stuff before jumping into the process. Here’s what you need to know before the installation of trailer hitches and prepare yourself:

  • You will start off by taking a look underneath the vehicle to locate the mounting points in the frame.
  • After you have discovered the mounting points in your vehicle, see if it’s clean enough. To groom them, you will have to use some penetrating oil and the wire brush that suits the threads.
  • Once they are clean you will have to test one of the bolts fitted with the hitch to make sure it threads easily by hand. If it does, we are ready to mount the hitch. 
  • Lastly, you will have to clean the exterior with a wire brush. 

This is how you get prepared for the trailer. Onto the next part – this is where you place the hitch. 

It’s a little heavy, so be careful to use it. You might need someone to help you with the hitch to put into place. 

Few Tips to Ensure You Have the Best Outcome Possible

Trailer Hitch Towing

I’ve seen people get mad at themselves or worse at the brand just because the hitch didn’t make it up to their expectations. Before you do the same, I’m going to teach you things you should consider before you opt for the perfect hitch:

  • Look out for different types and classes of hitch.
  • Perfect measurement of the difference of the trailer and coupler’s height.
  • Look out for different sizes of all mounts.
  • Make sure both the vehicle and trailer are equally on the ground.
  • Be absolutely sure of the weight capacity, it’s extremely important.
  • Do not weigh more than the towing capacity if you want to be safe.
  • Check if the size matches correctly.
  • Double check your pieces of equipment!

You have to make sure you go through all of the steps above to make the best of your trailer hitch. Practice driving with the load to cross-check the safety of your vehicle and your health. 

Final thoughts

With the extreme varieties available on the market, it’s easy to get confused. Trailer hitches work best with experienced hands. Understand how it works, the service it provides, and the varieties available on the market. 

Find yourself the best one with that knowledge. I have written articles on how to choose a perfect hitch and found some of the rarest finds too. You can give those a try too!

You can check these hitch guides for more insights:

What is trailer hitch how it works

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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