Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club. Today he discusses hitch balls.
I’m replacing my 2” ball and ball arm for my 5-year-old 3500-pound camper. I would like to know your opinion of the question “to grease or not to grease” a hitch ball. I started out greasing the ball and got it on myself half the time. After a year or so I stopped greasing it. It’s not really too badly scarred, but it keeps coming loose so I’m purchasing one that is welded to the arm. —Douglas
This is one of those questions I call the “Dunk Tank” topic. That’s when I share my experience and opinion and then place myself up on the Dunk Tank to let comments hurl at the target!
Here is my opinion and experience. I have never lubricated the hitch ball and I ran a company that had three trucks towing 10K trailers that put 125,000 miles on each year or more for the past ten years. Yes, we did have some rusting on the hitch balls but it did not affect the connection or disconnection of the trailer or the towing.
Trailer coupling mechanism needs attention
What we did find is the trailer coupling mechanism needs to be inspected and lubricated periodically. This includes the top lever that brings the U-shaped connecter to the bottom of the ball hitch and the hinge at the U-shaped lateral piece. Again, in my opinion and experience, the ball typically does not get stuck or lodged to the trailer rounded hitch portion, rather the underlying connection piece.
However, an FAQ from etrailer.com states that it is a good idea to grease the ball hitch to prevent rust and make it easier to disconnect. They also sell the recommended grease.
My recommendation is to lubricate any moving parts of your hitch assembly with a quality lithium spray product. But, more importantly, make sure the components are connected properly and you have determined the weights on the hitch, the GVWR, and GAWR.
The hitch ball keeps coming loose
Which brings me to a question on your statement: “It’s not really too badly scarred but it keeps coming loose so I’m purchasing one that is welded to the arm.”
Typically the ball with threads goes through the hole in the receiver hitch and is secured with a lock washer and nut. If this is installed properly and tightened or “torqued” properly, it should not come loose. My trailers have more than 125,000 miles per year and drive on rough construction sites and have never had a loose connection. However, since you are using a 2” ball, it might be a mismatch of the receiver hitch to the hitch classification. Here is a picture of different drop down receiver hitches.
It might not be easy to see, but there are different hole sizes for the various weight ratings. The heavier the towing classification, the larger hitch ball requirement and also the heavier or larger shaft with threads. It’s possible your slide-in hitch receiver is rated for a heavier towing capacity and your 2” ball has a smaller shaft/thread and is not the proper match. The shaft/thread should slide into the hole in the receiver hitch with very little movement or “slop”.
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