Adjustable hitches are the golden ticket to towing just about anything. While they might appear to be a simple part with little upkeep, there are a few key steps to keep your hitch operating flawlessly. Whether you’re launching a boat in the local lake or pulling a travel trailer across the country, here are the maintenance tips for adjustable hitches you need to know.
Maintenance Tips for Adjustable Hitches: Ensuring Longevity and Performance
Similar to maintaining your trailer, a thorough inspection should be completed at least once a year. No matter the weight capacities of your hitch or trailer, detailed inspections shouldn’t be ignored, even if you’re pulling light loads. To start, you’ll want to remove the hitch from the towing vehicle for easy access to each part. The hitch should slide out easily, but if it catches anywhere, check the receiver hitch for rust and corrosion.
Before the visual inspection, it’s a good idea to separate the individual parts of the hitch. Start by removing the hitch pins and you’ll then be able to slide the ball mount off the hitch. This should move freely and you want to take note of any corrosion or exposed metal.
Take a soft brush or cloth and wipe away the grime accumulated anywhere on the hitch, ball mount, and pins. Pay close attention to the drop bar since dirt and grime buildup increases friction where the ball mount travels up and down.
The Visual Inspection
Proper hitch maintenance wouldn’t be complete without an inspection. With the individual parts separated, look for cracks, exposed metal, rust, and corrosion. Pay close attention to the moving parts and any damage that could affect the structural integrity of the hitch or trailer ball. On the ball itself, check for noticeable wear near the top and bottom. Don’t forget to check the pins too – they should be straight and in good condition. If anything shows signs of structural damage, you’ll want to remove and replace it with a new part.
The good news is you’re unlikely to find anything concerning assuming you’ve got a high-quality hitch. For example, the Trailer Valet adjustable hitches have a Signature Wrinkle Black Powder Coating with a 700-hour corrosion resistance rating. This means you’ll get way more worry-free use out of them compared to other hitches that rust and corrode soon after exposure to a humid environment.
If you have locking hitch pins, take the key and ensure the locking mechanism rotates smoothly. If there’s any friction, apply a small amount of dry lubricant and work the key back and forth a few times. A dry lubricant will keep the lock operating smoothly without attracting dirt and dust. There’s nothing worse than trying to lock or unlock a hitch pin when you’re ready to hit the road, only to find out it’s stuck or damaged. Just like the hitch itself, going with high-quality pins reduces this risk thanks to superior components and dust covers.
Reassembling the Adjustable Hitch
Before putting the hitch components back together, use a penetrating lubricant to prevent rust on any exposed metal. Be sure to leave a thin coat since excess lubricant collects dirt and dust, which increases corrosion by trapping moisture.
If you won’t be towing anything for some time, it’s a good idea to store the hitch away from the elements. This is especially true if you live in areas with harsh winters or coastal regions where humidity, salt, and changing temperatures wreak havoc on metal.
As you slide the ball mount back onto the vertical drop bar, check to make sure it moves smoothly from top to bottom and the pins insert easily. After sliding the hitch into the receiver, make sure there is a small amount of play where they connect. This reduces stress on both the hitch and receiver, especially when towing heavy loads. If you noticed wear and tear on the hitch ball during inspection, apply grease to reduce friction when towing.
Your hitch is now ready for any adventure. All of these maintenance tips for adjustable hitches can be completed in only five to ten minutes. More importantly, they could save you from a huge headache down the road and you’re practically guaranteed your adjustable hitch will last longer. At the very least, you’ll ride with confidence knowing your hitch is in tip-top shape.