How do I Measure For A Drop Hitch

Last Updated on January 8, 2023 by Will Sabel

Tired of looking at all those tutorials and still not getting a clue on how to measure hitch drop?

Rest assured, I got you. This is the part where my very-smooth article kicks in.

I have reviewed videos and articles on how to completely and perfectly master the steps. At this point where I have read countless articles, I’ve come up with a version of my own. This is easier, and beginner-friendly with just the perfect touch before you start.

In this article, I am going to write a step-by-step elaboration on how you can measure your drop hitch (and additionally, for a rise instead!). 

Now if that’s something that interests you, this read is specifically for you.

Before I get into the elaborative steps, it’s really important for you to clear your basics on how a hitch works or the whole necessity of it. If you are a beginner, I highly recommend paying attention to the next paragraphs. If you are not, you can just skip to the steps.

Why Should I Measure for a Drop Hitch?

Hitch drop and rise affect

It’s the most asked question anyhow. I mean, why would anyone want to go through all the hassle just to measure some trailer and coupler height? Why can’t we just simply attach a trailer with the ball mount, load our cargo and drive to wherever we need to go?

In a simple answer: No, that’s way too risky.

As much as it sounds comforting to do so, this is not the case in real life. No trailer would be a perfect fit for whatever receiver mount or any vehicle that will need to carry the load. 

In the best cases, you might just be lucky enough to have your unplanned trailer match your vehicle or mount receiver. 

That is very rare and surely not recommended by me.

All the vehicles and their trailers are found in abundance in today’s market. Plus, if we take the varieties into account, well… there’s just way too many to begin with. There’s a very thin chance of you getting lucky here.

Moreover, there is an issue of safety here. If the height does not match, the trailer will bend downwards and will clash every moment when you take off with your carrying vehicle. 

If the height of the mount receiver is greater than the trailer’s height, then the vehicles will not be leveled resulting in applying more force in the end part of the trailer. 

As the hitch drop and rise are usually not similar, you will need to know the difference. To know if the vehicles are leveled or not, you need to measure for the drop hitch.

That’s where you need the process to calculate the drop hitch to find the right drop hitch. 

And I’m here to gladly help you with it. 

Hitch Drop Rise Measurement

Steps to Measure for Rise and Drop for Your Ball Mount or Drop Hitch

This could be a 1 minute read with minimal steps. But as I’m going for more elaboration for better understanding, this is beneficially lengthy at most.

To measure the drop hitch, you need to measure the trailer hitch’s height and the coupler’s height. The hitch’s height is related to the tow vehicle while the coupler’s height is for the trailer. For the perfect measurement, you need to get some stuff ready. I’ll list them down below:

Things you’ll need:

  • Your tow vehicle and your trailer are on leveled ground.
  • A measuring tape.
  • Ruler or scale.
  • Loaded cargo for accurate measurement.
  • Trailer kickstand or trailer jack. 

Here’s what you need to do once you are done with the pieces of equipment:

Step 1 – Setting Everything on a Level Ground

Before everything else, take your tow vehicle and trailer and try to level it on the ground as much as you can. If the trailer is higher or lower than the towing vehicle, a ball mount can be used to fix the difference.

It is recommended to try with loaded cargo as it will help to predict the real situation. The first step is simple, you just need to be careful with your measurements. 

For hitch’s height, it is measured to the inside wall of the receiver opening’s top from the pavement. As the height of the hitch is calculated from the inside of the receiver opening, the thickness of the hitch is not an issue here. 

So, before we begin to measure, install the hitch. 

As for the coupler’s height, it is measured to the bottom surface of the coupler from the pavement. Now it’s time to take the measurement tool out and measure the hitch height and the trailer height.

  • Measure the distance from the ground to the top of the inside of the hitch receiver. Let’s assume the measurement as ‘a’. 
  • Measure the distance from the ground to the bottom of the coupler. Let’s assume the value as ‘b’.
  • Subtract the hitch height from the trailer’s height. That is, (b – a). This value will be equal to the drop’s value.

Whatever value you get, that’s the drop your trailer will need. If the coupler height is greater than the height of your hitch, you will need a rise hitch instead of a drop hitch. On the other hand, if the hitch’s height is greater than the coupler’s height, you will need a drop hitch.

Step 2 – Check the Size of Your Shank

hitch shank

Here, you need to determine the size of the shank. I have a whole article written on the concept and elaboration on the shank, you can check that out!

Shanks come in different sizes. Whatever the size might be, it should match the receiver tube size of the trailer hitch. So, to find the best match, you need to measure the receiver tube opening. 

Here is how you can do it:

  • Measure the rise which is the distance the ball platform above the top of the shank.
  • Measure the drop. This one is opposite to rise, below the top of the shank.
  • Now calculate the length from the pinhole center to the ball hole center.
  • Measure the hole size as the trailer ball shank is required to fit in the ball mount.

Step 3 – Properly Check the Weight Capacity

After you are done determining the shank, we can move on to find the weight capacity.

There are two things that you need to consider before we begin to calculate. Tongue weight and gross trailer weight.

Tongue weight is the weight of the trailer measured at the coupling point. Gross trailer weight is the total weight of the trailer including the cargo load. 

So, when you choose your ball hitch, it must cross the gross trailer weight and tongue weight. It’s always better to stay safe and choose a ball hitch that exceeds the tongue weight. You can contact the manufacturer for further details.

Step 4 – Find a Trailer Ball for Yourselves!

Trailer ball

When you are done with all the 3 steps above, you can start looking for the trailer ball. It’s an easy part, just make sure the trailer ball diameter matches the coupler’s size.

And that’s a wrap! This is all you need to do for a successful drop hitch measurement process. I tried to simplify and elaborate as much as I could, the rest is on you. Good luck with that!

How to measure hitch drop

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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