If you are a 4×4 owner and driver, you have quite possibly got a tow bar fitted to the vehicle. More than 60% of 4×4’s do, Which is not surprising as most are bought for that purpose whether it be for work or play, they are usually dragging something behind them at some point.
From caravans and jet skis, to race cars and mini-diggers they pull it all.
But one thing many people don’t give a second thought to is the critical connection point between trailer and vehicle, the ball hitch.
Tow bars are rated and graded, checked at MOT’s for chassis mounting security and damage, but the ball hitch just sits there to do its thing.
To give you some background of the ball hitch we have put a few facts together that we think is of interest to all users for this type of towing connection.
Ball hitches are generally made of chrome or other very hard metals, they have to be when considering the work that they do for such a small piece of metal.
They attach directly onto the back of your vehicle’s chassis rail, mounting plate or bracket, taking up minimal space for when not in use. If you want them to take up even less space, you can now obtain foldable or quick hitch removable ball hitches that fold beneath the car or tuck away when not in use.
There are now even more options when it comes to the popular ball hitch. If you have two trailers that use two different size balls, you can now buy a two or even three ball hitch, these devices can swivel so that you can change the size of the ball that is in use. The unused ball hangs from the bottom and can be swiveled upwards when you wish to use it. Some people prefer a different size for extra load weight or security reasons (they will not fit a standard hitch preventing tow away theft).
Other ball hitch combinations are available such as ball/pin & eye or ball/NATO hitch, giving more flexibility with trailer options
The ball hitch can’t handle as much weight as some other types of hitches, they aren’t designed to drag heavy loads. They are primarily made for small trailers and lighter loads. If you want a hitch for hauling larger heavy objects, you will have to look at getting a fifth wheel coupler or a gooseneck hitch.
When buying a ball hitch, you should make sure that the hitch you buy will fit the vehicle you are attaching it too.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the ball hitch must be properly installed if not, you can find that your trailer swings/swerves, or causes chassis damage and you could even loose your load all together.
There are also several types of ball hitch, the most common being a 50mil, which is pretty standard these days. The larger balls can usually tow more weight than the smaller variants, but make sure that the ball hitch you buy is suitable for the weight you intend to tow.
Most trucks come with a ball hitch already installed. If you’re buying a truck, and you know that you will be towing something, you might want to look at buying a truck that comes with a preinstalled hitch. If the truck you want to buy doesn’t have one preinstalled, ask the dealer to install one for you before you buy it. Most of the time, a dealer will think it is a small price to pay in order to make the sale.
While ball hitches are not for everyone, they are good enough for most of the towing needs a regular, everyday person will run into in the course of their lifetimes. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to install. They can be installed on any type of vehicle and they are extremely easy to use.
Just remember to take the required safety precautions when installing them and everything should work out fine.
1, Hitch and lock the ball into the socket, then check by pulling upwards.
2, Secure your breakaway cable or chain, “not around the ball” but to the tow bar itself.
3, Never use the tow-ball as a recovery or winching point, they could sheer, becoming a flying missile.
Choose the one that will best suit your needs, and don’t buy the cheapest hitch on the market. You will probably use the hitch you purchase for many years to come, so a quality hitch is worth its weight in gold.
You can also check out our trailer towing tips just to keep the information fresh in your mind and avoid the common pitfalls.