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Trailer Hitch Balls Cover Image

Trailer Hitch Balls

A trailer hitch ball is bolted to your hitch's ball mount and provides the attachment point for your trailer's coupler. The ball allows the trailer to pivot to provide smooth turning while towing. Trailer hitch balls are sold in various shank lengths and diameters, ball diameters and weight capacities to meet your towing needs.Learn more about the following hitch ball topics:

Choose a Hitch Ball to Fit Your Trailer and Ball Mount

To choose the right hitch ball for your application, there are a few things you need to consider.

Trailer Coupler Diameter and Capacity

Most trailers list hitch ball size (diameter) and maximum towing capacity on the tongue, coupler, or frame. Your hitch ball diameter and capacity should match or exceed those listed on the coupler. The most common hitch ball diameters are: 1-7/8", 2", and 2-5/16".
Trailer Hitch Coupler - 2" ball with 3,500-lb capacity required
Pictured above: A trailer hitch coupler with its diameter and capacity listed. Your hitch ball should match these specifications; therefore, you should use a 2" hitch ball with a capacity of at least 3,500 lbs.
Trailer Hitch Ball Specifications (2" diameter and 6,000-lb capacity)
Pictured above: A trailer hitch ball with its diameter and weight capacity listed. This ball would be appropriate for use with our 2" coupler.
Hitch ball specifications by diameter:
1-7/8" Diameter
1-7/8" Diameter Hitch Ball
  • Capacity: 2k - 16k lbs
2" Diameter
2" Diameter Hitch Ball
  • Capacity: 2k - 30k lbs
2-5/16" Diameter
2-5/16" Diameter Hitch Ball
  • Capacity: 6k - 38k lbs

Hitch-Ball Shank Dimensions

Not only must the hitch ball fit your trailer, it also must fit your ball mount. Ball mounts have a platform that has a hole in it to receive the ball. The ball has a threaded shank that allows you to bolt the ball to the ball mount. (Most balls also come with a lock washer and bolt for attaching the ball.) Ball mounts vary in the thickness of the platform and the diameter of the hole. To fit different ball mounts, balls are available in a variety of shank lengths and diameters. Ball mounts do not usually list these two values, so you will have to measure. Common diameters are 3/4", 1", and 1-1/4", but there are a few balls available in several less common sizes. Once you know the diameter of the mounting hole in the ball mount, choose a ball shank diameter of the same size. Hint: When choosing shank length, consider that the shank must not only pass through the ball mount, but it will have a lock washer and nut on the end. To ensure safety, the shank should extend past the nut by at least 1 thread.
Ball mount hole and platform measurement
Hitch ball shank length
Recommended Torque Values for Attaching a Hitch Ball
3/4" Shank Diameter: 150 ft-lb
1" Shank Diameter: 250 ft-lb
2-5/16" Shank Diameter: 450 ft-lb

Hitch Ball Construction

Hitch balls are made of several different materials and finishes, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
Chrome-plated hitch ball
Chrome
  • Steel ball with chrome coating
  • Popular
  • Economical
  • Chrome can wear off and allow rust to form
Stainless steel hitch ball
Stainless Steel
  • Rustproof material stands up well to water and salt exposure
  • More expensive than most other kinds of hitch balls
Zinc hitch ball
Zinc
  • Steel ball with zinc coating
  • Corrosion-resistant finish stands up well to water and salt exposure
  • Cost less than stainless steel hitch balls
Raw steel
Raw Steel
  • Heat treated or forged steel for superior strength
  • Heavy-duty use
  • May be machined
Nickel
Nickel
  • Steel ball with nickel coating
  • Corrosion resistant finish
  • Non-magnetic
  • Plating method is less harmful to the environment than chrome electroplating
Related ArticlesRelated ProductsUpdated on: 6/23/2021

Questions and Comments about this Article

Jrtjh

There is an error in your "shank diameter" graphics. The last one indicates a 2 5/16" shank diameter. That should be either 1" or 1.25" shank diameter... Otherwise, a good article.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Les D.

@JRTJH Thank you for your interest. We strive to have accurate and up-to-date informatin in our guides. Can you be more specific what area you are referring to please.

Reply from Josh

@LesD The third shank diameter you list are incorrect. Under the "Recommended Torque Values for Attaching a Hitch Ball" table.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from David B.

Thank you for letting me know. I have sent the update to fix it.



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