Ball hitches and mounts are key commercial truck accessories required for safe towing. But they aren’t all created equally. Towing is much more than just loading your trailer onto your commercial vehicle and hitting the road.
In order to properly and safely tow your utility trailer, there are a number of things that need to be taken into consideration including:
- The towing capacity of your tow vehicle.
- The maximum gross trailer weight.
- The rating of the ball hitch and mount.
- Height of your hitch and trailer.
Our qualified, friendly experts at Camco Wheel & Axle in Pharr are eager to share their experience with you to ensure you make the right choices when it comes to purchasing and installing your hitch and mount. Choosing the right truck accessories is absolutely essential and can prevent a serious accident.
Choosing the Right Trailer Hitch Ball
The trailer hitch ball is the truck accessory that connects to the ball mount and works as the attachment point for your trailer’s coupler. The hitch ball allows the trailer to pivot around turns. Trailer hitch balls come in different sizes, diameters, shank lengths, and weight capacities to meet your towing needs.
Choosing the Right Ball Size: In order to choose the right diameter, you need to know the size of the trailer coupler. Most trailers will list the hitch ball requirements and maximum towing capacity on the coupler or frame.
Hitch Ball Shank Size: Your hitch ball must fit both your trailer and your ball mount. Your hitch ball will have a threaded shank that bolts the ball to the ball mount. Our quality technicians at Camco will help you to identify the shank length and diameter to ensure you make the right hitch ball purchase. The shank size is determined by the class of the trailer hitch with common diameters at:
Types of Hitch Balls Available: You have several options when it comes to hitch ball materials and finishes. The most common types include:
- Chrome – economical but prone to rust after chrome wears off.
- Stainless steel – rustproof but more expensive.
- Zinc coated – corrosion resistant and less expensive than stainless steel.
- Raw – purposed for heavy duty jobs.
- Gooseneck balls – designed specifically to work with gooseneck systems.
Choosing the Right Ball Mount
Alongside your hitch ball, your ball mount is just as important to safely tow your utility trailer. At Camco Total Vehicle Solutions, we have a vast number of ball mounts to meet your towing needs.
Ball mounts connect to your tow vehicle’s hitch and are held in place with a pin and clip. You will need to determine the size of your trailer hitch receiver as your ball mount must fit perfectly in your towing vehicle.
Determine the Weight Capacity Your Ball Mount Needs
As previously mentioned, there are several factors that should be taken into consideration when purchasing a ball mount including gross towing weight (GTW) and tongue weight (TW), which is the weight of the trailer tongue at the point where the ball mount and trailer hitch meet.
When you’ve determined that (A) your vehicle is able to safely tow the load and (B) the GTW and TW of your trailer, you will then want to get a ball mount that meets or exceeds the weight of the trailer at its heaviest.
Hitch class ratings are used to determine the towing capabilities of the vehicle’s hitch and ball mount. They are as follows:
|Hitch Class||Max TW (WC)||Max GTW (WC)||Max TW (WD)||Max GTW (WD)|
|I||up to 200 lbs.||up to 2,000 lbs.||N/A||N/A|
|II||up to 300 lbs.||up to 3,500 lbs.||N/A||N/A|
|III||up to 600 lbs.||up to 6,000 lbs.||up to 1,000 lbs.||up to 10,000 lbs.|
|IV||up to 1,000 lbs.||up to 10,000 lbs.||up to 1,400 lbs.||up to 14,000 lbs.|
|V||up to 1,200 lbs.||up to 12,000 lbs.||up to 1,700 lbs.||up to 17,000 lbs.|
Determine Ball Mount Drop/Rise and Hitch Height
Your trailer couple and vehicle hitch should be at a level position when the trailer is loaded. A level position helps with weight distribution on the axles. Failure to adequately level the trailer and trailer hitch ball can lead to overloaded axles – and ultimately – a serious accident.
It is worth noting that there are Weight Distributing Hitch Systems that can increase the towing capacity of Class III through Class V trailer hitches.
Ball mounts come in three common styles: straight cut, angle cut, and drop cut. The ball mounts come in different amounts of rise and drop, as well as in length, in order to position the trailer on level with the hitch and to bring it closer or move further away from the towing vehicle.
To measure for level you will need to measure for the correct drop or rise of the ball mount:
- The tow vehicle should be parked on level ground. Measure the distance from the ground to the top of the receiver opening.
- With the trailer on level ground, measure the distance from the ground to the bottom of the trailer coupler.
- The difference between the two measurements will tell you whether you need a ball mount with a drop or a rise. Find a ball mount that is closest to match the rise or drop measurement.
Ball Mount Rise and Drop
- Rise is the distance from the top of the shank to the top of the ball platform when the trailer coupler is higher.
- Drop is the distance from the top of the shank to the top of the ball platform when the hitch height is higher than the trailer height.