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Why Do Hitch Extenders Reduce Hitch Capacity but Long Ball Mounts Do Not


Hi, I have a general question about how these items affect hitch capacity. I have been looking at a lot of your expert answers and am confused on the theory. Pretty much everywhere in your technical help I see that a hitch extension will reduce hitch capacity by 50. The reason stated is because the hitch extender moves the load out farther from your vehicle, applying more leverage to your hitch. I understand that theory even though I imagine the 50 figure is just a safe level for liability. I would think there would be a differnet percentage for each length of extension. The problem I have is that it seem like a longer shank or ball mount would do exactly the same thing but I dont see that mentioned. Each hitch has a maximum hitch weight spec. and a maximum trailer weight spec. At what ball distance from hitch is this specd at? There must be some standard because, like you say, the further the load is moved out from the hitch, the more leverage there is. One last confusing point was this comment, Using an extender in a 2-1/2 inch receiver does not decrease the tongue weight capacity of the hitch like it would with 2 inch hitches. Why should that matter? Shouldnt it still be 50? Thanks for taking the time to explain this.

Expert Reply:

This is a great question that there isn't exactly a great answer for. Hitch extenders not only put the weight further away from the hitch which would increase the leverage on the hitch, but they also add movement to the assembly which will increase the impact of the tongue weight since there will be play between the hitch and hitch accessory. Think of how a jack hammer works to help visualize what I mean.

I wish there was an exact figure as to how much the tongue weight gets reduced by based on the distance away from the hitch pin hole, but none of the manufacturers are willing to get that specific. 50 percent is a conservative number that is easy for people to remember and adhere to and won't get them in trouble.

Longer ball mounts typically have lower capacities than standard ball mounts, so that is generally how they reflect the lower capacity from the increased leverage.

2-1/2 inch hitches also follow a similar train of thought. While the rule doesn't necessarily apply to the hitch it does apply to the extension pieces. If you look at extender like part # RP45292 you will see it has a much lower capacity than a 2-1/2 inch hitch and based on the differing length its used at the capacity changes as well.

expert reply by:
Jameson C

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