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!
- 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 RVtravel.com 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?