The other day I was looking at my travel trailer ball when I wondered if it was a universal size, or if it was specific to my travel trailer. So, I did a little research to find out.
So, what are the most common travel trailer ball sizes? Almost all travel trailer hitches require a 2 and 5/16″ ball size to support the weight of the larger trailers. Smaller 2″ balls are common in teardrop trailers because of their lower weight rating. The correct ball size should always be used because a smaller ball could allow the coupler to bounce loose.
It is not just the ball size that towers need to be aware of when towing, the gross weight each ball can hold is different. Towers will also need to match the appropriate coupler size with their ball.
2″ Balls vs. 2 and 5/16″ Balls
The size of the ball can affect how much weight can be towed and what sort of jobs it can perform. The larger size (2 and 5/16″) typically has a higher towing capacity. The 2-inch size is typically seen as a good size for lighter duty jobs.
This does not mean that all 2″ balls and all 2 and 5/16″ balls are created equally. Some 2″ balls are given a different weight rating than other 2″ balls.
So, what is a weight rating, and why is it important? A weight rating is given to each ball produced specifying the amount of weight it can support while towing. It is important because it affects the load you can pull.
|2″||3,500 lbs to 8,000 lbs|
|2 and 5/16″||6,000 lbs to 40,000 lbs|
If you look at this chart, you can see that some 2″ balls are rated up to 8,000 lbs while some 2 and 5/16″ balls are only rated at 6,000 lbs. That means that some 2″ balls can pull more weight than their fellow 2 and 5/16″ balls.
The size of ball needed really depends on the weight of the load you are planning on towing. If you are needing to pull more than 8,000 lbs, then a 2 and 5/16″ ball is needed, but if you need to pull 7,000 lbs, you could go with either a 2″ ball or a 2 and 5/16″ ball.
But not just any 2″ ball or 2 and 5/16″ ball, you need to confirm that it is rated for the weight you will be towing.
Is That Weight Rating Flexible?
When deciding what amount of weight you are pulling, it is imperative that you do not estimate. If you have a 2″ ball rated at 4,000 lbs, it really can only pull 4,000 pounds and not 4,050 lbs.
Do not try to stretch how much weight your ball can tow. This can make you and others on the road unsafe if your ball breaks trying to support too large of a load.
The best thing you can do is find out your gross trailer weight. This is not an estimate this is actually the exact fully loaded weight of the trailer (or camper) you’re towing, including all gear placed on it.
If your trailer has a product number on it, you can look it up to find out exactly how much it weighs. Then, all you need to do is weigh the items you are planning on towing.
Exact measurements are always better than estimates if you want to be safe while towing.
Even if you select a ball hitch that will tow the amount of weight you are planning on, your hitching system is only as strong as it’s the lowest-rated piece. It doesn’t just depend on the ball. What do I mean by that? There are three parts of your towing process that get weight ratings.
Just like the rating on your ball hitch, these ratings affect the amount of weight you can tow:
- Hitch Rating
- Hitch Ball Rating
- Ball Mount Ratin
Each piece of your towing equipment (the ball, the hitch, and the mount) has the weight rating written on it.
If you are struggling to figure out the rating on each piece of equipment, please refer to this video:
If your hitch or your hitch mount is rated lower than the weight rating on your ball, then you cannot pull the weight your ball can support.
That also means that if you have a ball that is rated to haul 8,000 lbs and pair that with a mount that is rated at 10,000 lbs you cannot haul 10,000 lbs. The weight you can tow is 8,000 lbs.
The weight towed should never exceed the ball, the mount, the hitch, or your vehicle tow ratings.
If you are trying to tow 20,000 pounds with a Prius, I assure you that you are going to be disappointed. Prius’s can’t even tow 2,000 lbs. Even if you have a 2 and 5/16″ ball rated for that weight, your vehicle weight rating needs to be able to accommodate that weight.
If you are purchasing a ball, you need to know a few things before buying:
- The weight of what you are pulling
- The size of your coupler
- How level your trailer is with the ball mount
Your coupler is what fits over the ball. It should be made for the ball you are purchasing. Not just any coupler can fit any ball.
Some towers think that if they have a 2 and 5/16″ coupler, they can have a 2″ ball. That is DEFINITELY not the case. 5/16ths of an inch is significant enough to to make towing unsafe. Your ball can bounce loose of a too large coupler which could cause a nasty accident.
If you already have a coupler, be sure you are purchasing the appropriate size ball. If you have a 2″ coupler but are planning on towing 9,000 pounds, meaning that you need a 2 and 5/16″ ball, you have to buy a new coupler to accomodate your larger ball.
High Rise Balls
Your trailer and your ball mount need to be level with one another to ensure safe towing.
This can affect the type of ball that you purchase. There are standard rise balls and high rise balls. High rise balls can add an extra 1-2″ of height to your ball which is necessary if your coupler is 1-2″ taller than where a standard rise ball would be.
If the difference between the two is that small, then you could find yourself purchasing a high rise ball (which comes in both the 2″ and the 2 and 5/16″ sizes).
If your coupler is higher than the 1-2″ that a high rise ball can provide, or lower than where the ball sits, then instead of getting a different kind of ball, towers will need to purchase a drop or rise mount.
Types of trailer balls
Throughout this post, we’ve largely been discussing the sizing of balls, but there are a few different trailer ball purchase options that can expand your towing options
There are three types of trailer balls purchase options:
- Standard Ball
- Switch Trailer Ball
The standard ball is the most common ball. It is your basic trailer ball that you screw into the mount with a washer and nut. If you are wanting a different size or one with a higher tow rating down the road, you’ll need to purchase another ball.
Switch Trailer Ball
The switch trailer ball brings a bit more versatility than standard. This is a single shank (the skinny part just below the actual ball) with multiple screw-on, interchangeable trailer balls. With this option, you just have to make sure you screw in the shank and ball tightly, rather than just the shank.
This allows interchanging of various ball sizes which is really handy if you have multiple trailers or campers with different coupler sizes.
Tri-Ball is actually more of a mount as opposed to a ball per se. This mount has three different sizes of trailer balls welded right into it.
It is obviously heavier than your standard mount, but it is helpful if you are needing to haul items with varying weights and capacities.
To change the ball size, all you have to do is un-attach the mount and quarter turn left or right for the size you want, then re-attach it.
What are the classes of trailer hitches? Classes of hitch receivers range from class I-V. Classes are determined by weight capacity ratings and tongue opening size. Class I and II have 1 and 1/4″ receiver opening and rate up to 3,500lbs towing capacity for small utility trailer, boats, campers. Class III has a 2″ receiver opening with tow ratings up to 6,000lbs for mid-size utility trailers and campers. Class IV has a 2″ opening and with a weight capacity of 10,000lbs for heavy boats and toy haulers, and are usually installed on heavy-duty pick-up trucks and SUV’s. Class V have a 2 and 1/4″ receiver opening with a weight capacity rating of 12,000lbs and are for hauling large boats, campers and anything your heart desires.
What is the most common Trailer hitch size? 1 and 1/4″ x 1 and 1/4″ or 2″ x 2″ are the 2 most common receiver sizes. the 2″ size is more commonly used on large SUV’s or Trucks for hauling most anything you want. 1 and 1/4″are more for the light hauling of small trailers and mid-size boats.