Are you going bananas trying to figure out how to measure hitch drop? Say no more! This is where my easy-peasy, smooth-as-silk article comes to your rescue.
I’ve scoured the internet, poring over videos and articles to find the perfect way to master this task. I’ve read so many articles my head was spinning, but I finally crafted my own version that’s a piece of cake for beginners and has just the right touch to get you started.
In this article, I’ll walk you through a step-by-step guide on measuring your drop hitch, and as a bonus, I’ll also cover rise hitches. If that piques your interest, buckle up, because this ride’s for you!
Before diving into the nitty-gritty, it’s crucial to wrap your head around how a hitch works and why it’s necessary. If you’re new to the game, give the next paragraphs your full attention. If you’re a seasoned pro, feel free to jump straight to the steps.
Why on Earth Should I Measure for a Drop Hitch?
I hear you – why bother going through all this rigmarole just to measure some trailer and coupler height? Can’t we just slap a trailer onto the ball mount, pile in our cargo, and hit the road?
In a word: Nope, that’s playing with fire.
As much as we’d like it to be that simple, life’s not always a bowl of cherries. No trailer will fit every receiver mount or vehicle that needs to lug around a load.
Sure, you might strike gold and have your makeshift trailer magically match your vehicle or mount receiver, but let’s be honest – that’s rarer than hen’s teeth and not something I’d endorse.
In today’s market, vehicles and trailers are as plentiful as stars in the sky. And when you factor in the different varieties, well, let’s just say you’d have better luck finding a needle in a haystack.
Safety is also a big concern. If the heights don’t match, your trailer will dip downward, causing trouble every time you hit the gas. If your mount receiver’s height is taller than your trailer’s, your vehicles won’t be level, putting extra strain on the trailer’s rear.
Since hitch drops and rises aren’t one-size-fits-all, you’ll need to know the difference. To determine whether your vehicles are level or not, you’ve got to measure the drop hitch.
That’s where my handy-dandy guide for calculating the drop hitch swoops in to save the day!
The Hitch Drop (and Rise) Measuring Tango
This might’ve been a quick one-minute read with just a few steps, but hey, I’m all about going the extra mile to make things crystal clear. So, let’s get ready to rumble with this slightly longer (but oh-so-worth-it) guide.
To measure your drop hitch, you’ll need to measure your trailer hitch’s height and your coupler’s height. The hitch’s height is tied to the tow vehicle, while the coupler’s height is all about the trailer. But before we dive in, let’s make sure you’ve got everything you need to get the ball rolling:
Essentials for the job:
- Your tow vehicle and trailer, parked on level ground
- A trusty measuring tape
- A ruler or scale
- Cargo, loaded up for accurate measurement
- A trailer kickstand or jack to keep things stable
Once you’ve got your gear ready to go, follow these steps to hitch-drop (and rise) measuring success:
Step 1 – Find Your Level-Headed Happy Place
First things first: park your tow vehicle and trailer on a nice, flat surface. If your trailer’s higher or lower than your towing vehicle, don’t worry – a ball mount can bridge the gap.
It’s a smart move to load up your cargo beforehand, so you can see how everything will shake out in real life. The first step is easy-peasy – just be precise with your measurements.
Hitch height is measured from the pavement to the inside wall of the receiver opening’s top. Since you’re measuring from the inside of the receiver opening, the hitch’s thickness doesn’t throw a wrench in the works. Go ahead and install the hitch before you start measuring.
Coupler height, on the other hand, is measured from the pavement to the coupler’s bottom surface. Time to break out that measuring tape and size up the hitch and trailer heights!
Measure the distance from the ground to the top of the hitch receiver’s inside. Let’s call this measurement “A.”
Measure the distance from the ground to the coupler’s bottom. We’ll label this measurement “B.”
Do a little math: subtract the hitch height (A) from the trailer height (B). This result is your drop value.
Whatever number you end up with is the drop your trailer needs. If your coupler height (B) is taller than your hitch height (A), you’ll need a rise hitch instead of a drop hitch. But if your hitch height (A) is greater than your coupler height (B), you’re in drop hitch territory.
Step 2 – Sizing Up Your Shank
Time to get the scoop on your shank size! If you’re still scratching your head about shanks, I’ve got a whole article dedicated to the nitty-gritty – give it a look!
Shanks come in all shapes and sizes, but the key is finding one that fits your trailer hitch’s receiver tube like a glove. So, let’s get down to business and measure that receiver tube opening.
Here’s the lowdown on measuring:
- Measure the rise, which is the distance from the ball platform above the shank’s top.
- Measure the drop – it’s the flip side of the rise, below the shank’s top.
- Calculate the length from the pinhole center to the ball hole center.
- Measure the hole size, as the trailer ball shank needs to snugly fit in the ball mount.
Step 3 – Weighing In on Weight Capacity
With the shank sorted, let’s shift gears and tackle weight capacity.
There are two critical factors to keep in mind before crunching numbers: tongue weight and gross trailer weight.
Tongue weight is the weight of the trailer measured at the coupling point, while gross trailer weight is the combined weight of the trailer and its cargo load.
When picking your ball hitch, make sure it can handle both the gross trailer weight and tongue weight. Better safe than sorry – choose a ball hitch that goes above and beyond the tongue weight. Reach out to the manufacturer for the inside scoop on specs.
Step 4 – Tracking Down the Perfect Trailer Ball
You’ve made it to the home stretch! With steps 1-3 under your belt, you’re ready to hunt down the right trailer ball. Easy peasy – just make sure the trailer ball diameter matches your coupler’s size.
And that’s all she wrote! You’ve got everything you need to ace the drop hitch measurement game. I’ve done my best to break it down and spell it out, so the ball’s in your court now. Best of luck, and happy hitching!