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A trailer ball provides the pivot for any successful towing operation and is the most important component in the rig setup.



What Is a Trailer Ball?

Also known as a trailer hitch ball, it is one component in a system designed to connect a trailer to a towing vehicle. The trailer ball is bolted to the ball mount, which is in turn connected to the trailer hitch, the device that is securely attached to the towing vehicle. The ball itself provides the means to attach the coupling of a trailer so that it can be maneuvered through a variety of different angles when in motion. The ball effectively allows the caravan or trailer to turn freely as needed.

How Does a Trailer Ball Work?

A trailer ball is specifically designed to be compatible with a certain type of trailer. It needs to be matched up with the listed hitch ball size diameter, as well as the maximum towing capacity of the device to be towed. It’s important for the ball to match the specifications exactly to ensure a safe towing operation.

The ball has a threaded shank enabling secure fitment to the mount and is chosen according to the diameter of the hole. The maximum towing capacity will dictate the diameter of the ball itself. It’s important to attach the ball securely to the hitch by setting the wrench at manufacturer provided torque, and it’s advisable to apply a layer of grease between the ball and the coupling.

How Is a Trailer Ball Made?

These components can be made from a variety of different metals and can be chosen according to their intended use and available budget. At the low end of the scale, the ball will be manufactured from steel covered with chrome, although these are not heavy duty and the coating may wear off to permit corrosion. Stainless steel balls can help in avoiding corrosion. For heavy duty use, forged steel balls are the best choice, but all components are carefully machined to high tolerances.

Why Does a Trailer Ball Fail?

  • The wrong size of ball may be chosen for the hitch.
  • The ball may be underrated for the tow load.
  • The mounting may come loose and allow the ball to fall off.
  • The ball may wear out if it is insufficiently lubricated.

What Are the Symptoms of Failure?

  • The load may eventually come loose and pull against the safety chains.
  • The load may be difficult to tow or turn due to insufficient lubrication.

What Are the Implications of Failure?

  • If the ball were to fail, the rig could be stranded.
  • Catastrophic failure during towing could lead to an accident

While any heavy-duty truck or SUV may be able to tow a variety of different trailers, the configuration will rely on the correct trailer ball dimensions in terms of diameter, shank length/diameter, and maximum rating.

If you have questions or concerns about trailer balls or any of your vehicle’s towing components, come into your local Pep Boys where we can answer any question, help you find any part, or perform any vehicle service you might need.