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Why Is My Trailer Getting Stuck to the Ball?

You know your luck is terrible when your trailer gets stuck to your ball hitch. It’s every RVer’s nightmare. Even though you’ve made the right plans, not being able to remove a camper will ruin them. 

Whether you’re towing a flatbed or a fifth wheel, the pieces must fit together correctly. With the right formula, you’ll never have to deal with this experience.

Keep your towing problem free by checking out the tips for a perfect fit we’ve got here. 

Let’s check it out!

What is a Hitch Ball?

Unless you’re a semi-driver, you’ve probably only towed a trailer using a hitch ball. Machined from an alloy of chrome, stainless steel, and zinc, these shiny guys are a common sight on the road. They’re a convenient way to connect whatever you need to haul to your truck. In fact, most are even close to the same width. 

Typically, several factors come into play when choosing the right one. First, you’ve got to have the correct receiver on your rig. Then, you need to know the towing capacity of your vehicle. Finally, you need the weight of what you’re connecting.

With this information, choosing the right one is a breeze. You just have to ensure the connection can handle the heaviest thing you’re towing. Sizes range from 1 ⅞” to just over 2″ in diameter. The smallest will tow up to 12,000 pounds, the largest up to 21,000 pounds. 

ball hitch
Before you hitch up and head out, make sure you’re caring for your hitch ball correctly.

Why Does a Hitch Ball Get Stuck on a Trailer?

One of the best features of a hitch ball is easy attaching and removal. Most of the time, it’s as simple as pulling the lever on the trailer coupler and lifting or using a jack to disconnect it. Without proper maintenance and fit, you could find yourself in a pickle.

Rust and Corrosion

When your hitch ball is stuck to your trailer, rust is the most likely culprit. Especially in humid climates, rust builds up between untreated metals, fusing them. Most have a coating to prevent rust, but it wears off over time. Applying a layer of polish regularly can prevent buildup from occurring. 

Wrong Equipment

Newbies frequently assume that hitch balls and receivers are a standard size. If you’re not checking to ensure the correct size, you might get stuck in this situation. Getting the right components in place gives you peace of mind when on the road. 

Position of Vehicle and Trailer

Because a hitch ball holds the weight of your trailer, even a fraction of an inch could mean you’re stuck. If you accidentally crammed the receiver in at the wrong angle, it could be simple to fix. Move your vehicle forward or back, and it may release. 

A good rule is to make going in reverse your last move before parking. This releases pressure on the connection. 

Pro Tip: Get the inside scoop on if you should Grease Your Hitch Ball When Towing.

Rusty ball hitch
Rust may be causing your trailer to get stuck on your hitch ball.

How to Fix a Trailer Stuck to the Hitch Ball

So, let’s say you just got home from a long road trip, and you’re trailer is stuck to the hitch ball. Before you break out the blowtorch, try this process and see if you can’t get things freed up. 

Inspect the Hitch and Coupler to Identify the Issue

The first move you should make is to inspect the mechanisms involved. These include a hitch ball, coupler, and coupler release. A quick examine will tell you if things have rusted through or if you loaded on too much weight. If you don’t know just by looking, you may have a more complex issue on your hands. 

Adjust Position of Vehicle

After inspecting the problem parts, your next step is to adjust the vehicle’s position. Hitch balls hold a lot of weight when towing. Your tow vehicle might be too far forward to release. In this case, roll back just a bit to take the pressure off. A trailer off-level causes binding, which makes removal impossible. Moving around can fix the issue. 

Use Jack to Raise and Lower Trailer

Most trailers have a sweet spot that makes them easier to remove. Using the tongue jack, find the place where you can remove the hitch ball. Exactly where it needs to be for quick removal changes based on the slope of the ground. Once you’ve found it, you should be able to raise the coupler with ease. 

Lubricate the Ball and Coupler

For nearly impossible situations, lubrication can make all the difference. Especially if you’re dealing with rust or water, something like WD-40 can save the day. Spray the lubricant directly into the fused mechanism to remove rust. Make sure you cover all the connecting pieces. Once it’s free, apply a trailer ball hitch lubricant to keep things from getting stuck again.

Use a Hammer

Keep a rubber mallet handy for seriously sticky situations. Sometimes the impact is enough to knock loose the rusty parts. Don’t use a metal hammer; the force will damage your coupler and leave you stuck all over again. Stay clear if you take this approach. It’ll release with some force. This might seem like overkill, but trust us. 

Rock the Trailer Gently

Rocking your camper forward and back may release the fused parts. Often, this approach comes after a hammer and swearing. All joking aside, make sure that you’ve balanced your trailer before trying this. Catastrophic failure may occur and cause a lot of damage. Steer clear when giving this one a shot.  

Rusted ball hitch
Keep your ball hitch lubricated to stop your trailer from getting stuck.

How Can You Avoid Getting a Trailer Stuck on the Ball? 

Of course, prevention is the easiest way to keep this problem away. Make sure you get the correct hitch size from the coupler. Manufacturers usually stamp it on. Then, lubricate your connections regularly with dry lube. This will prevent damage from water or binding. 

After travel season, remove your hitch ball and store it in a dry location. Covering your trailer coupler in storage makes a difference, too. You’ll thank yourself when you’re ready to head on the road in the spring. 

Pro Tip: Does size matter? Find out Will Ball Hitch Size Affect My Towing Capabilities?

Don’t Let a Trailer Stuck on the Ball Ruin Your Trip

A stuck hitch ball can easily ruin your day if you don’t take steps to prevent the problem. Never skip preventative maintenance, check your load, and have WD-40 on hand for emergencies. However, if it’s already too late, these simple steps may help in your hour of need.

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