There are several hitch accessories that are recommended for drivers to use when towing a trailer longer distances. Although there are several hitch accessories you don’t necessarily need for shorter hauls, long distance towing is a more serious undertaking, especially when using highways and interstates at high speeds. Continue reading to learn a little about some of the most popular and recommended tow hitch accessories, and who to contact for additional towing advice and information you can trust.
What You Should Have for Trailer Towing
➾ Ball Mounts
The hitch receiver and ball mounts are entirely separate assemblies. A ball mount should slide into a hitch receiver and be secured with a locking pin. Always be sure to use a ball mount that matches your hitch class. This is the amount of weight your truck can pull, of course. Class I hitch pulls up to 2,000 pounds, Class II hitches pull up to 3,500 pounds, Class III’s pull up to 5,000 pounds, and so forth. You can find class V hitches that can pull more than ten thousand pounds!
➾ Hitch Balls
Hitch ball shanks fit through a hole in a ball mount, and secured with nuts and washers. Because these holes in ball mounts come in different sizes, it is important to check the shank diameter of your hitch balls before trying them out or purchasing them.
Although couplers are technically part of a trailer, they are an important accessory to mention because a trailer cannot be connected to a vehicle without them. They are attached at the end of the tongue, and must match the size of hitch ball diameter. They must also be able to handle that total weight of the load in haul. This is called the gross trailer weight, or GTW.
➾ Safety Chains
One of the most highly recommended accessories for any tow are safety chains. Just like couplers, safety chains are located at the tongue of the trailer, but on each side. They serve the purpose of keeping a trailer connected to a vehicle, while providing extra security and safety when towing a trailer. In fact, most states require them under law.
➾ Locks, Pins, and Clips
As mentioned before, pins are used to secure ball mounts to hitch receivers. Then a clip is placed over the head of the pin to prevent it from slipping out of place. Hitch locks are popular alternatives to pins and clips, as they do the job of both; but they also protect the ball mounts from thieves.
➾ Tube Covers
Customizable and fun to use, hitch tube covers are another popular and useful accessory for towing a trailer. When tow hitches aren’t being used, they can collect dirt, mud, and grime. This exposure can cause pre-mature corrosion and deterioration of your tow hitch. The solution for this issue is using a hitch cover! They are steel or plastic tube covers that protect your tow hitch from overexposure to natural elements and harsh weather conditions. Simply insert them into the ball mount hole when not in use. They are fun because they come in a variety of colors and patterns that you can match to your truck or your personality!
➾ Hitch-Mounted Cargo Carriers
Hitch-mounted cargo carriers are another accessory that can be useful when not towing a trailer. They are like a mini-flatbed trailer because they offer a flattened platform capable of holding up to 600 pounds of cargo weight. Cargo carriers simply connect to the hitch receiver on one side, providing the platform deck on the other! There are two types of carriers, open-style and enclosed. Talk to your local wrecker service for details and advice on which style to use for your truck or SUV.
➾ Extenders and Adapters
Extenders and adapters are used as accessories to hitch-mounted accessories, like cargo carriers. When a ball mount doesn’t fit the size of a receiver, a tow adapter might be used. And when you need to increase the clearance of a cargo carrier or other hitch-mounted device, an extender might be used for this. Extenders are important for trucks and vehicles that have something hanging over the bumper, like a tire or camper shell.
➾ Weight Distribution Systems
Weight distribution systems are great towing accessories to consider when you need to tow a large amount of weight. This means loads heavier than 3,000 pounds or so. In this case, you would of course need a Class VI or V trailer hitch. These systems come with shanks, hitch heads, and spring bars.
➾ Trailer Jacks
Trailer jacks do not actually mount to the hitch, but they make the hitching process much safer and much easier. They are mounted to the trailer, on the tongue, in close proximity to the coupler. They allow you to raise and lower the trailer from the hitch ball with a crank.
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