How High Should a Trailer Hitch Be Off the Ground

When trying to tow a trailer, or wanting to use a hitch-mounted accessory like bike racks and cargo carriers, you need to make sure that the hitch receiver is sufficiently clear of the ground. What you might be asking yourself is, “How high should a trailer hitch be off the ground?”

If the receiver section of your vehicle’s hitch does not ride high enough off the ground, it can cause serious problems during loading and unloading. The receiver and tow vehicle’s hitch must ride high enough from the ground to avoid scraping, even on potholes and bumpers.

How high should a trailer hitch be off the ground

What is a Trailer Hitch Standard Height?

Typically, the standard height for trailer hitch height is about 17 inches, from the ground to the bottom of the coupler. In most cases, a couple of holes below that will give you more than enough clearance for loading your equipment.

Usually, head-bolt torque specs are not a big issue when towing. This is because the maximum load of a trailer hitch is below most vehicles’ gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR).

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However, under hard acceleration or with a fully loaded tow vehicle, there can be enough strain from the inertia that it will cause the hitch to shift around. This is why it’s important for the head-bolt torque to be checked if you tow more than usual.

When measuring, take into account that ground clearance may vary depending on how much weight is in the tow vehicle (e.g., gas tank full vs. empty). Also, take care when connecting your trailer to the hitch. Avoid any contact between the coupler and vehicle or other trailers. Lastly, make sure that your load is evenly distributed between the trailer’s front and rear axles.

When you’re towing a trailer, it’s important that the hitch be high enough off the ground so your vehicle doesn’t scrape on bumps and curbs. But how high is too high? And how do you know if you have the right hitch height for your vehicle? In this blog post, we’ll answer those questions and help you determine the proper hitch height for your needs.

What is a drop hitch

With a hitch receiver, you can add 2 inches to more than 10 inches of vertical space and attach a trailer more evenly. It fits into a standard receiver hitch opening and may add two inches to more than ten inches of vertical space with which to link a trailer.

This extra space is especially helpful when you need to add a hitch-mounted accessory such as a bike rack or cargo carrier.

The drop receiver allows for extra space that is helpful with any trailer (especially if it is large). It fits into a standard receiver hitch opening and can be added on to increase the amount of vertical space that you have.

This can be helpful for evenly connecting the trailer to the vehicle. The drop hitch is not as common in the US, but it is more popular in Europe and Australia because those are two areas where trailers are more common.

However, if your vehicle does not have this accessory installed already, they are easily installed so you can take advantage of the benefits they provide.

How to Measure Hitch Drop & Select a Ball Mount

What is the best method for measuring and selecting the appropriate ball mount for y our car or RV?

how to measure hitch drop

So, let’s check out how do you measure the drop on a trailer hitch?

When selecting a ball mount, it is important to get one that has the correct amount of drop or rise. This can be done by measuring the height of your vehicle’s hitch receiver tube and then measuring the height at the bottom of the trailer coupler. Subtracting these two heights will give you the amount of drop or rise.

proper hitch height for towing

Take accurate notes of the height of your car’s hitch receiver tube and level your trailer before measuring and noting the height of the coupler at the bottom.

Drop ball mount example
Receiver height 23-3/4”

Coupler height -18”

Ball mount rise needed 5-3/4 inch

Drop ball mount example
Coupler height 18”
Receiver height -15”
Ball mount rise needed 3”

The amount of drop required in your ball mount is the difference between the trailer coupler’s height and the receiver’s height.

trailer hitch receiver attachments

If the receiver of the car is lower than that of the trailer coupler, this measurement will show you how far up you’ll need to raise the ball mount.

If the vehicle’s receiver is lower than the trailer coupler, you will need a ball mount with rising. Conversely, if the trailer’s coupler is lower than the receiver, you will need a ball mount with a drop.

typical trailer tongue height

Keep in mind that not all ball mounts have both drop and rise adjustments, so be sure to double-check before purchasing.

How do you adjust the height of a trailer hitch?


Can you adjust the height of a travel trailer hitch?

The hitch of your travel trailer can be adjusted, but the receiver for your tow vehicle generally can’t. So you’re going to have to fit the trailer to match the height of the car.

What size ball mount Hitch do I need for my trailer?

Trailer hitch ball sizes have a direct relationship with the type of trailer you’re towing and the weight of your load.

– A 2″ diameter ball is used primarily on lighter-weight trailers, such as utility trailers, boat trailers and some travel trailers.

– A 2-5/16″ diameter ball is typically used for larger, heavier travel trailers (up to 10,000 lbs) or camping equipment (i.e., 5th wheel). This size also fits many larger crossover SUVs and full-size pickup trucks that require a 2-5/16″ ball.

– A 3″ diameter ball is used for larger trailers, such as horse trailers or large boat trailers (up to 16,000 lbs). It is also the correct size for most gooseneck applications.

– A 1-7/8″ diameter ball should only be used if your trailer has a reduced coupler size. This size is not as common as the others.

When selecting a hitch ball mount, it’s important to choose one that corresponds with the diameter of your trailer ball. If you have a 2″ trailer ball and try to use a 3″ hitch ball mount, the extra space will cause the mount to wobble and could potentially damage your vehicle or trailer.

To ensure compatibility and safety, always ensure you choose a trailer hitch ball mount of the same diameter as your tow ball.

How do you hook up a trailer hitch to a receiver?

In order to securely fit the receiver onto your class III or IV receiver hitch, you need to tighten the included pin and clip using a wrench. First slide the square washer through the holes in the receiver as shown here:    

Then slide one side of the U-shaped spring clamp over each of these two sides of the square washer (Note: The claws on each side of this clamp should be pointing down toward your car floor).      

Now slide the circular rubber cover over both sides of this assembly. Next slide one end of this steel pin through this hole in the rubber cover. The head of this pin should be on the outside of the hitch as shown here:

Finally, use a wrench to tighten the clip around the pin, as shown below. Now your hitch is securely installed and ready to use!

If you’re ever unsure about how to safely remove your trailer hitch, consult your car’s owner’s manual or contact a qualified mechanic. Always remember to unhook your trailer from the car before attempting to remove the hitch!

Some helpful tips when installing or removing a trailer hitch:

-Be sure to use caution when tightening any bolts or screws, especially if using power tools.

Is it better to have a trailer hitch too high or too low?

It depends on the size and weight of your trailer. You’ll need to consult with a professional to find out what’s best for particular setup. But in general, it should be level with the back of your car and about one inch lower than your rear bumper. When you find the right height for your trailer hitch, secure it in place or ask a mechanic to do it for you.

Should a trailer be level when towing?

In general, it is advisable to have a trailer as level as possible, as this will help to distribute the weight evenly and avoid any unnecessary strain on the tow vehicle or trailer. If travelling over uneven terrain, take care to adjust the trailer’s position so that it is still as level as possible. For heavier loads, it may be necessary to use a weight distribution hitch in order to ensure even loading. Failure to do so could result in damage to both the tow vehicle and trailer, and could even lead to loss of control.

What height should my tow ball be?

The hitch ball height on a trailer should be 25″ from the ground up to the center of the hitch ball. This height will allow for a secure lift and also avoid damage to your vehicle or other vehicles passing by.

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