Friday, December 8, 2023


Around the Campfire: To grease or not to grease a trailer’s hitch ball?

To grease or not to grease a trailer’s hitch ball? That was the question around the campfire a few nights ago. Everyone seemed to have an opinion about greasing the trailer’s hitch ball and were eager to share in the discussion.

A “newbie’s” question

Conner, a “newbie,” is confused. The issue? Do you grease the trailer hitch ball on a travel trailer or not? The dealership told Conner that grease wasn’t necessary. Conner’s dad disagreed. “If you plan to keep your hitch from rusting, you better be sure to grease it.” What to do? Two conflicting directives offer opposing advice. Conner didn’t know what to think.

No grease necessary

A long-time RVer chimed in first: “I have driven an RV for 40 years and never put a spot of grease on any hitch ball. Never had a problem either.”

“Same goes for me,” Mitch added. “Most of the time you’re driving straight, pulling the trailer. There’s just no need to grease it up.”

The moms around the campfire really liked the idea of not greasing the hitch ball, as well. They told horror stories about kids and dogs who accidentally rub against the greased ball. “It makes a terrible mess, both outside and inside the RV.” Yikes!

“Doesn’t the grease just attract dirt and grime?” wondered another no-grease proponent. “I think that might just make matters worse.”

Other campers suggested that a stainless-steel hitch ball would not require grease because it will not rust.

Some RVers mentioned that when not in use they covered the hitch ball with a tennis ball to keep out moisture. Other folks remove the entire hitch and store it in a dry place when not traveling in their RV. Eliminating exposure to direct moisture (rain) and humidity seemed to help reduce rust or corrosion. All without grease!

Yes, grease the hitch ball

It didn’t take long for differing viewpoints to confuse Connor, our “newbie,” even more. “If you want your hitch ball to last, you’ve got to protect it. Grease does that best,” a mechanic at the campfire offered.

Here are additional opinions folks gave for keeping the hitch ball greased:

  • It prevents rust and corrosion, which can eventually degrade the hitch ball.
  • Grease prevents heat buildup on the ball.
  • Applying grease will keep the hitch ball from squeaking when turning the RV.
  • A greased hitch ball will last longer than one that is not greased.
  • Even stainless steel is prone to galling when there is friction under high pressure from a heavy load (like towing an RV). Grease can help reduce galling.

What’s the answer?

I’m not sure Connor found a definitive answer to his query: “Should I grease my trailer hitch ball?” But an alternative was proposed: wax paper. RVers towing lightweight trailers said they folded up a square of waxed paper to make four layers. They placed the waxed paper over the ball then hitched up as usual. This greaseless alternative is said to last two days or so before you’ll need to replace the waxed paper. Hmm. That certainly doesn’t cost much. And it’s much less messy, too. But does it really work? If you’ve tried it, let us know in the comments.

Folks around the campfire wondered why manufacturers do not recommend greasing the hitch ball. Is it because grease really isn’t necessary? Or is it because manufacturers want the ungreased hitches to wear out sooner so that they can sell more hitches? Good questions!

Greasing procedure

  • Inspect. Check for rust, corrosion, or any deformities in the hitch ball. If you have damage you should replace the hitch ball.
  • Clean. Make sure the hitch ball is free of dirt, grease, and/or rust. (If there is only a small amount of rust you may be able to remove it with sandpaper.)
  • Apply. Be sure to liberally apply the lubricant to all sides of the hitch ball. You may want to use a glove for easier cleanup. (This is the lubricant recommends.)
  • Protect. It’s best to cover the hitch ball when not in use. This will keep out any dust and debris. A cover, like a plastic bag, will also protect kids and animals from getting any lubricant on themselves.
  • Check often. Every time you hook or unhook your trailer up, check your hitch.

What do you think? Do you grease your trailer’s hitch ball? Tell us in the comments below.

 Another look at this subject 

Alternartives to hitch ball grease

By Russ and Tiña De Maris
A new hitch ball is often bright, shiny and chromed. But many RVers have been much dismayed, on lifting the hitch coupler off the new ball after the first use, that the chrome is scratched and scarred. What happened? Metal-to-metal contact can scrape off that shiny chrome and things are never the same. So what to do?



Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.



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Vanessa (@guest_251367)
3 months ago

My Husky hitch says to clean and grease the ball before every tow. Also to clean the tongue cup before towing. I usually do grease it.

Eric V (@guest_251362)
3 months ago

I agree with those who say it makes sense to lubricate metal on metal, and I do lubricate my hitch ball with dry lube. That said, with all those who never grease the hitch ball, why don’t we see a lot of people having to replace their hitch couplers from wear?

bobby (@guest_251354)
3 months ago

i havent greased….yet. there have been a couple times when i get to site, set up and go to disengage and have to jump on the bumper to get the ball out. so im leaning towards grease. i cover the ball with a cover and spray the receiver hitch but i still get stickage.

Diane McGovern
3 months ago
Reply to  bobby

I like your term “stickage,” Bobby. Thanks! Have a great day. 😀 –Diane at

Dennis K (@guest_251343)
3 months ago

I wish I could post a picture of what an ungreased ball looks like when is galls. It can happen in a short time and it will destroy the coupler. Good luck to you “no grease” believers.

Thomas D (@guest_216161)
11 months ago

Id say don’t grease. Although pressure is applied, the hitch doesn’t make 1revolution. Grease attracts dirt and clothing. Try silicone spray if you feel so inclined. I’ve never greased a ball hitch.

John Macatee (@guest_216090)
11 months ago

Metal to metal, Grease it. Or listen to it groan around every tight turn.

Joe (@guest_216044)
11 months ago

I would be more concerned with the trailers receiver wearing out. It’s much thinner metal and subject to just as much damage as the ball gets.

Al E. (@guest_207162)
1 year ago

We grease (with petroleum jelly) our trailer’s hitch ball for one reason. When we park the trailer at home, there is a slight downward slop that the trailer is on, and when we unhook our truck, the grease helps the two release much easier than without the grease. Yes, we chock the RV before we unhook, only made that mistake once 🙂
As far as storage of the hitch, we clean it as soon as we unhook, every time, and then store the hitch in a dry compartment of the RV. Rust has not been an issue. We only have 4-5 years experience in RVing, and are on our second unit, so, we’re still learning…sometimes by messing up. Luckily, no major ones.

Al Lehman (@guest_206744)
1 year ago

In almost 70 years of towing everything from small utility trailers to large travel trailers and boat trailers weighing 12000 pounds I have never greased the trailer ball. The 2-5/16” ball I currently use is over 30 years old and the 2” ball is even older.

Sharon B (@guest_206001)
1 year ago

I do clean and slightly grease the hitch ball. The constant grinding could possibly cause aging issues both for the cover and the ball itself. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.
And ‘I ain’t changin’. 🙂

Zeke Mcfartly (@guest_196088)
1 year ago

I use an old sock, cut short to protect the ball. Keeps the ball lubricated, without making a mess.

Bryan (@guest_196046)
1 year ago

I have pulled horse, boat and cargo trailers. I tow a travel trailer, now. I grease the hitch coupler. It helps to keep the lock mechanism from getting stiff and to lock it down on the ball. I have never greased a hitch ball. BTW, have you ever rented a U-Haul trailer. No one has ever greased the hitch ball on my truck. Or recommended to do it!

Bob Walter (@guest_195930)
1 year ago

Grease protects the coupler – the most expensive part. The ball us super strong and wears very little.

David N (@guest_251326)
3 months ago
Reply to  Bob Walter

Are you all talking about hitch balls or 5th wheels?
Sounds like both.
Never greased a bumper hitch ball and been around some that was greased and found out afterwards with a mess on my pants among everything else. Lol
That said check your hitch ball for tightness!

Gene Cheatham (@guest_190965)
1 year ago

Seems to me to be a no brainer. From an engineering perspective if greasing load bearing metal surfaces wasn’t necessary there’s a bunch of points on your car or truck that would not have lubricant – believe me they would not if it weren’t needed as it would save $ in material and time. I use the proper ball/pin grease to handle the pressures exerted on the parts.

Steve (@guest_190536)
1 year ago

I like to lubricate my tow ball lightly with grease or petrolleum jelly as you would with any moving metal parts. Whether you say there a lot of straight pulling on the ball or not you still have constant up and down movement.. I also rotate the tow ball from time to time to eleviate spot ware and inspect for any cracking. Wipe tow ball regulary and apply fresh grease because grease attracts dust which will act as a grinding paste

Mark (@guest_190533)
1 year ago

First stainless steel rusts not as fast as regular steel but it will rust a little not a lot of grease

Rod B (@guest_204608)
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark

100% stainless will not rust

David Merritt (@guest_190408)
1 year ago

Always grease your ball it will last alot longer otherwise friction will wear out the ball and socket.

David (@guest_190392)
1 year ago

Make sure you still have lights after greasing your ball. Many trailers run the ground for the lights through the hitch-ball contact. In fact, in some cases the lights do not work until a new ball is a bit scratched up.

Bob p (@guest_190456)
1 year ago
Reply to  David

What rock are you living under? The last time I saw a trailer being grounded through the hitch was around 1965. What do you think the white wire on a trailer wiring plug is for?

Mark (@guest_190534)
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob p

What rock you living under my car trailer grounds thru the ball the dealer says. My lights come on bright after I’m moving

Dale (@guest_216192)
11 months ago
Reply to  Mark

That is because you do not have proper grounding through the wiring.

Zeke Mcfartly (@guest_196089)
1 year ago
Reply to  David

Seriously, brother? That might be a little old school

Ray (@guest_190364)
1 year ago

I would say it depends on the hitch. Personally, I use the Andersen WDH. It specifically states in the owners manual use no grease on the ball. There’s a good reason for it. The ball is a tapered pin inserted in a collar lined with a friction material. More tongue weight the more sway control. Any grease gets in that it would be like putting grease on your vehicle brakes.

Ray (@guest_251331)
3 months ago
Reply to  Ray

Well said.

Danny King (@guest_190360)
1 year ago

Metal to metal requires lubrication for longevity. You put oil in your crankcase right? You can always clean the hitch ball off when not in use if you don’t like the mess. I always do and apply fresh grease each time. If your ground is through the hitch then you need to run a separate ground to your tow vehicle.

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