Here's a typical fixed ball mount and additional parts, which are needed to tow a trailer. Hitch balls and pins and clips are usually sold separately.
Ball mounts connect your tow vehicle's hitch with the coupler on your trailer. To connect to the tow
vehicle, the ball mount slides into the opening on the hitch and is held in place with a
pin and clip. The ball mount has a platform with a hole in it
where a hitch ball is attached.
How to choose the correct ball mount:
Ball mounts have two weight capacities: gross towing weight (GTW) and tongue weight (TW). The gross towing weight is
the heaviest trailer and load that the ball mount can tow. The tongue weight is the maximum weight that can be allowed to push down on the ball mount.
Be sure to use a ball mount that has a capacity that meets or exceeds the weight of the heaviest trailer that you want to tow. You can often find the
maximum capacity of a trailer displayed on a label on the trailer. The gross trailer weight (GTW - sometimes referred to as "gross vehicle weight rating"
(GVWR) specifies the maximimum allowable weight of the trailer. The GVWR includes the weight of the trailer and its load. If you have a camping trailer, you
need to know how much it weighs when it is loaded for camping, including water, your gear, and anything else you take in your camper.
The tongue weight capacity of a ball mount must also be greater than the tongue weight of the trailer that you want to tow. Tongue weight can vary based on how a trailer
is loaded, although it is usually 10% - 15% of the trailer weight. If you're not sure of the tongue weight of a trailer, you can measure it. You can measure
tongue weight with a tongue weight scale, with a ball mount that has a built-in scale, at a commercial scale, or with a bathroom scale.
Shop for a tongue weight scale
Ball mounts of similar sizes and capacities are grouped into 1 of 5 classes. The best way to start searching for the correct ball mount is to determine which
class you need. You can see the sizes and capacities of the classes in the following table.
Note: The maximum capacity of a towing setup is limited to the capacity of the lowest rated component.
Shop for a ball mount
Your ball mount must fit into the receiver on your tow vehicle and must accept a hitch ball of the correct size.
Ball mounts are designed to fit into one of the following three common sizes of trailer hitch receiver openings:
Because receiver hitches are usually made in one of three common sizes, finding a ball mount to fit is easy.
However, if your hitch is 1-1/4" x 1-1/4",
you'll need to know its class to ensure that you find a ball mount (or drawbar) that will fit. Hitches that are 1-1/4" x 1-1/4" are classified Class I or Class II.
Because Class II hitches can carry more weight than Class I, some manufacturers
design their Class I hitches so that Class II accessories (including ball mounts) won't fit into them. This incompatibility helps to prevent overloading a Class I hitch.
If you have a Class I hitch, you'll have to make sure that any ball
mount you consider fits Class I hitches. If you have a Class II hitch, you can use a ball mount that fits both Class I and Class II hitches.
Note: Manufacturers often recommend a specific
ball mount be used with their Class I and Class II hitches.
If you don't know the class of your hitch, you may be able to determine it based on the hitch's maximum capacity. The capacity can be found on a sticker on
the hitch, or it will be stamped into the hitch. The pictured hitch shows
a typical location of a sticker. The maximum tongue weight of this hitch is 450 lbs. Most Class I hitches have a tongue weight capacity of 200 lbs, and most Class II hitches have a
tongue weight capacity of 350 lbs.
Shop for Class I and II ball mounts
A Class III hitch is a very popular size. The opening is 2" x 2", and the capacity - some Class III hitches can tow up to 8,000 lbs. - lets you tow
medium-size campers, lawn maintenance equipment, and medium-size boats. Different Class III hitches can vary quite a bit in maximum tow capacity and tongue weight, so you should
be careful to choose a ball mount with sufficient capacity to match your hitch and the load that you want to tow.
Shop for a Class III ball mount
These hitches have the same opening size as Class III hitches but have a higher weight capacity - up 12,000 lbs Gross Trailer Weight (GTW) and 1,200 lbs
Tongue Weight (TW). Be sure that any ball mount you use in a Class IV hitch has enough capacity to handle the loads that you want to tow.
Shop for a Class IV ball mount
Class V hitches have the largest capacity of all the trailer hitches - up to 20,000 lbs towing capacity and 2,000 lbs tongue weight. Most of them have
2-1/2" x 2-1/2" openings, but a few have 3" x 3". A few Class III ball mounts are 2-1/2" x 2-1/2".
Shop for a Class V ball mount
The most basic ball mounts do not come with a hitch ball, so you must supply your own. (Many adjustable ball mounts, however, do include 1 or more hitch balls.)
If you have to supply your own hitch ball, you must make sure that the diameter of the mounting hole of the ball mount is made to fit the diameter of the hitch ball shank. You
can install a hitch ball with a shank that has a smaller diameter than the ball mount's opening, but you should use a hitch ball bushing to take up the empty space and
to create a safe, tight fit.
Most hitch ball shanks are 1 of these 3 sizes:
Shop for a reducer bushing
With the many different tow vehicles and trailers out there, it's rare that any vehicle and trailer line up perfectly for towing. To help match up tow vehicles with trailers, ball mounts are
made in a variety of sizes. They come with different amounts of rise and drop to compensate for differences in height, and they come in different lengths to position a trailer closer to or farther
from the tow vehicle. To find a ball mount with the proper dimensions for your tow vehicle and trailer, you need to measure. Read about how to measure, below.
For safe and comfortable towing, the trailer should always be as level as possible. A level trailer handles well, promotes even tire wear, and minimizes strain on both
the trailer and tow vehicle. To help you tow your trailer level when trailer and vehicle heights differ, some ball mounts are made with a built-in rise and drop. See how
to determine whether you need a ball mount with a rise or drop, below.
With the tow vehicle parked on level ground, measure from the ground to the top of the receiver opening.
With the trailer level, measure from the ground to the bottom of the coupler.
If the hitch height is greater, use a ball mount with a drop; if the coupler height is greater, use a ball mount with a rise. Select a ball mount that has a rise or drop
measurement that is closest to the difference between the hitch and coupler heights.
Rise is the distance from the top of the shank to the top of the ball platform when the ball mount is oriented for greater coupler height.
Drop is the distance from the top of the shank to the top of the ball platform when the ball mount is oriented for lower coupler height.
The length of a ball mount is measured from the center of the ball hole to the center of the pin hole. This length will
determine how much clearance is available between the vehicle and the trailer. A longer ball mount may be needed to clear a spare tire on your vehicle or to
allow you to open a truck tailgate while a trailer is hooked up.
If you need to tow different trailers, you should consider an adjustable ball mount. These ball mounts are made to help you switch between trailers of different coupler heights and
ball sizes. They can adjust in height, and some have 2 or 3 balls to accommodate different trailers. Adjustable ball mounts can save you the trouble and expense of using a separate
ball mount for each trailer.
This 14.5K ball mount by Weigh Safe can adjust and can measure trailer tongue weight by means of a built-in scale. It adjusts to a maximum 6" drop
and maximum 7" rise. It also has 2 interchangeable balls - 2" and 2-5/16".
This Fastway aluminum ball mount can adjust to a maximum 6" drop and maximum 7" rise. It also has 2" and 2-5/16" balls.
Shop for your favorite brand of adjustable ball mount, below.
Most ball mounts are made of either steel or aluminum. Aluminum ball mounts are usually machined from a solid piece of aluminum. They are lighter and more resistant to corrosion than
steel ball mounts - important considerations if you are changing ball mounts frequently or operating in a marine environment. Most steel ball mounts are made of welded steel
plates and painted to prevent corrosion. However, the ball mounts with the highest capacities are made of forged solid pieces of steel.
Aluminum ball mount
Steel ball mount
Ball mounts are usually held in place on a hitch by a pin and clip. A pin and clip is easy to use but not secure - anyone could pull out the pin and take your ball mount. To help prevent theft,
you can use a locking hitch pin, or you can consider a ball mount with a built-in locking pin.
Locking ball mount
Locking hitch pin
Shop for a locking ball mount or a locking hitch pin
The standard types of ball mounts are fixed at a set rise and drop and have a hole to mount a hitch ball and another for a hitch pin to secure the ball mount to your hitch. But
some ball mounts are made with additional features to help make them more useable and convenient. See some of these features, below.
Built-in anti-rattle devices keep the ball mount tightly attached to the receiver so it doesn't shift around and clunk or rattle.
To tow safely, you should have your trailer's weight distributed so that 10% - 15% of the total weight is pressing down on the hitch ball. Rather than take a chance
estimating the weight, you can depend on the built-in scale in the ball mount by Weigh Safe to be sure the weight of your trailer is distributed properly.
A cushioned ball mount acts as a shock absorber to reduce bounce and vibration, protecting your vehicle's driveline and hitch assembly, and your
trailer s contents.
A dual purpose ball mount lets you take a hitch-mounted accessory and tow your trailer at the same time. This type of ball mount is great for taking your bikes
along while towing your camper.
Combination ball mounts allow you to haul with a ball or pintle hook.
Adjustable ball mounts let you change the height of the hitch ball to match the heights of different trailers, saving you time, expense, and inconvenience
when compared to using multiple fixed ball mounts.
Ball mounts with multiple balls let you switch among different trailers that have couplers of different sizes. They are available with
either 2 balls or
Ball mounts with built-in locks can lock onto your hitch to help prevent theft and to free you from keeping track of a separate lock.
Very broad selection and outstanding service.