Hitch Ball Mount Buyer’s Guide
- When it comes to towing a trailer, one of the things that you should be familiar with is a hitch ball mount.
- A hitch ball mount is a common part of a hitch trailer. It goes into the receiver hitch to connect the trailer and your vehicle.
- Hitch ball mounts are categorized into five classes based on their weight capacity.
- There are several types of hitch ball mounts including self-aligning ball mount, multi-ball mount, integral ball mount, dual-ball mount, and triple-ball mount with pintle hook.
- When choosing your hitch ball mount, consider factors like trailer height and weight, towing capacity and use, vehicle type, material, and color and finish.
- Installing a hitch ball mount is easy and won’t require the use of any tools.
- The price of a hitch ball mount ranges from $20 up to $500.
Towing a trailer or another vehicle is not as easy as it sounds. It can become very technical since you have to determine the GCWR or Gross Combined Weight Rating of your vehicle, its passengers, your trailer, and your cargo. This is to make sure that you won’t go over the maximum safe weight that your vehicle can haul. You also have to know how to correctly hook up and detach your trailer as well as learn how to properly drive while towing a heavy load. The most important part, however, is knowing the right parts and accessories that you need to make your ride better prepared for towing. One of these is a hitch ball mount.
What is a trailer hitch ball mount?
A hitch ball mount is basically an accessory for a receiver hitch and one of the most common devices used in a hitch trailer. It is composed of a shank that goes into a hitch receiver tube and a platform where a trailer ball can be safely mounted.
Hitch Class and Weight Range
Hitch ball mounts are divided into five different classes (Class I, II, III, IV, and V) based on their weight capacities. Class I and II, for example, have a gross towing weight of up to 2,000 and 3,500 pounds, respectively. Higher hitch classes (Class III, IV, and V) have a max gross towing weight that ranges from 6,000 pounds to 12,000 pounds.
Types of tow hitch ball mounts
It comes in various styles, but it is usually designed for light or heavy-duty pickup trucks.
Self-aligning ball mount
It is designed to keep the proper alignment of the towing system by creating a “V” pattern that allows the trailer coupler onto the ball.
It is designed to accommodate various coupler sizes since it comes with balls placed on three or four areas.
Cushioned ball mount
It has a shock-absorbing design that prevents the trailer load from putting too much strain on the drivetrain especially when you are accelerating or braking.
Integral ball mount
Unlike other mounts, it is composed of a one-piece mount. The ball is already part of the mount, so there’s no opening to accept other balls.
It’s similar to a multi-ball mount, but instead of having three or four balls, it only has two.
Triple-ball with pintle hook
It is also similar to multi-ball mounts. The main difference, however, is that it employs a pintle hook to attach to the lunette-ring trailer couplers.
How to choose your tow hitch ball mount
There are several factors that you need to consider when you are choosing your hitch ball mount.
Towing capacity and size
Choose the ball mount that has the weight capacity that matches your towing system. This is to make sure that the mount can support the total weight of your trailer and its load. The hitch ball and trailer coupler’s diameter must be the same too, and the same thing applies to the shank diameter of the hitch ball and hole diameter of the hole mount. Moreover, once the hitch ball is attached, the shank must be able to accommodate two threads for visibility.
Car manufacturers actually provide information on which type of ball mount works best with your vehicle. They also give the maximum safe weight that your ride can tow. You can use this information as a guide to make sure that you won’t purchase the wrong type of ball mount.
Aside from the total weight of your vehicle, the weight of your trailer and its cargo must be taken into consideration as well. This is to make sure that you can get a ball mount that won’t break under such heavy load.
Your vehicle and trailer must have the same height. Otherwise, it can lead to an unstable trailer ride, which can put your safety at risk. You should always measure the height of your tow hitch and trailer to ensure that they are even. If they are not even, make the necessary adjustment like replacing your truck hitch or correcting the height.
Exposure to the elements and the strain that comes with towing a heavy load can put a toll on the ball mount. In order to avoid getting a hitch ball mount that is not up to the task, make sure to look for a product that is made from heavy-duty material. You need a durable device to guarantee your safety and to ensure a long service life.
Color and Finish
Hitch ball mounts are usually painted black, but they can also come in other dark neutral colors like gray. The hitch ball mount’s coating does very little for the aesthetics of your vehicle and trailer. However, it can help with rust and corrosion, which can damage the structural integrity of your ball mount.
How much is an aftermarket hitch ball mount?
The cost of a hitch ball mount can go from $20 to $500. It can be purchased individually or in sets of three. You can also choose the material and color or finish of your hitch ball mount. Steel and carbon steel are your choices for the material. Meanwhile, for the coating, you can choose among powdercoated black, chrome, or dark gray.
Finding the right fit
To be able to find the perfect hitch ball mount for your trailer, make sure you have the following information: receiver tube size, maximum gross trailer weight, and maximum tongue weight. This is to guarantee that the mount you will purchase is a direct fit to your hitch and has the capacity to support the weight of your trailer.
Tips on Choosing a Hitch Ball Mount for Your Vehicle
To succeed in towing jobs, a vehicle requires the appropriate hitch ball mount installed on it. With the wrong hitch ball mount, you'll end up with a trailer that won't sit level while being hauled down the road. It's important that the trailer is leveled so that the connection between the trailer and the hitch would receive less strain. It also keeps the trailer aligned behind the vehicle all throughout the drive. Towing vehicles involves hauling varying heights. That is why a hitch ball mount with a rise or drop is highly recommended.
Getting the appropriate ball mount class
Hitch ball mounts are divided into five classes, based on the trailer hitch you have. For a Class I trailer hitch, for example, a Class I ball mount must be used. Each class also requires a specific hitch ball to be used, unless you intend to void your warranty by using a different one.
- Class I and II ball mounts have a 1-1/4" x 1-1/4" shank. Both require only 1-7/8" or 2" hitch balls with a shank diameter of 3/4".
- Class III and IV have a 2" x 2" shank and use a ball with a 1" or 1-1/4" shank diameter. They use a 1-7/8", 2" or 2-5/16" hitch ball and can accommodate a weight distribution system, allowing them to tow heavier loads.
- Class V ball mounts have a 2-1/2" x 2-1/2" shank. Similar with the Class III and IV, these use a 1-7/8", 2", or 2-5/16" ball with a 1-1/4" shank diameter. They can hold a weight distribution system to tow more weight as well.
A few guidelines in selecting your hitch ball mount
Choose a hitch ball mount based on your towing needs. There are different ball mount styles available in the market, including the fixed ball mount, the adjustable ball mount, and the multi-ball mount. Ball mounts can be made of different materials. The most common ball mounts are made of either steel or aluminum. Other ball mounts are made of chrome, stainless steel, and forged steel. Choose the material that matches the strength you need.
Hitch ball mounts also come in different styles. If you plan to tow vehicles with a uniform height, then you would do fine with a fixed ball mount. However, if you want to tow different heights, then an adjustable ball mount or one with a rise and drop level would suit you. Other types include a vertical ball mount and a multi-ball mount.
Installing a Hitch Ball Mount to Prepare Your Car for Towing Jobs
Planning to use your vehicle for towing? Before announcing to everyone that your car is up for some towing jobs, check first if you have a working hitch ball mount installed. Setting up a hitch ball mount is pretty easy compared to other auto repair jobs. It involves only simple tools and some basic knowledge on car repair.
Here's a step by step procedure on how to install a ball mount on a Subaru Legacy:
Difficulty level: Easy
Tools to be used:
- Set of socket wrenches
- Ratchet wrench
- Flat blade screwdriver
- Torque wrench
Step 1: Shut down your car's engine and let it cool completely.
Step 2: Get under your vehicle using a skateboard or other similar tools. Locate the rear frame rails and look for the exhaust hangers connected to them.
Step 3: Use socket and ratchet wrenches to loosen and remove the bolts that hold the hangers. Allow the exhaust pipes to hang down, away from your working area.
Step 4: Using a flat blade screwdriver, pry the plastic plugs and remove them from the welded-on nuts on the rear frame rails. Keep the plugs if you plan to remove the hitch in the future.
Step 5: Ask a helper to lift the hitch into position at your vehicle's rear end. Insert the carriage bolt into the hole in the square mounting plate.
Step 6: Insert the bolt through the car's rear tow hook. Let it pass through the mounting hole in the center of the hitch until you feel the mounting plate make contact with the tow hook. Place a washer and nut on the threaded end of the bolt and tighten the nut.
Step 7: Put spacer blocks in between the hitch and the frame rail. If there are no gaps between the frame rails and the hitch, then you can skip this step.
Step 8:While on the frame rails, place bolts with washers into the mounting holes of the hitch and into the welded-on nuts. Using a torque wrench, tighten the bolts to 75-foot pounds, and the hitch center bolt on the tow hook to 38-foot pounds.
Step 9: Position the exhaust system and use socket and ratchet wrenches to tighten the retaining bolts on the hangers.
We recommend you insert your preferred hitch draw bar into the hitch mount receiver before getting hands-on with towing jobs.