Learn How to Remove Rusted Tow Hitch Using Different Methods

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Leaving a tow hitch suffering from rust is basically inviting more trouble to deal with later. Once you are sure there’s a sign of corrosion, it becomes crucial to clean the thing ASAP.

However, some of us cannot afford time for that much maintenance. And as a result, one day it won’t be coming out due to too much rust. You’ll need to find out how to remove rusted tow hitch next.

To remove a rusted tow hitch consider using a penetrating spray, air hammering, and a wrench. If it is not very serious, you should be able to get the tow hitch out yourself. However, it may need removal by an expert if the rust condition is serious.

Also, you can remove rusted tow hitch using multiple tools and methods. But the most likely to work ideas are what I’ll be covering today.

Exactly How to Remove Rusted Tow Hitch?

Depending on how bad the rust is, you may need to use one or more of these items. Here’s the full procedure to follow:

  • The best item for rusted tow hitch removal is a penetrating spray. You simply need to spray all over the hitch ball. 
  • If you are also dealing with a rusted hitch receiver then target the hole for spraying liberally. And that’s how to get a rusted receiver out of a hitch. Sometimes the spray alone is not enough, and then you need to apply force, basically the next step.
  • You need an air hammer, not the regular hammer. And then it is all about striking. Try rapping the sides of the receiver initially. Then, grab firmly the bottom of the receiver and use the air hammer. Don’t go beyond the set time limit, 10-15 seconds is just right.

If you don’t have an air hammer, the Ingersoll Rand 114GQC Air Hammer can be a great pick. I also love the Chicago Pneumatic CP7150 Kit, as it also includes more than just the air hammer.

  • And that was basically how to get a stuck receiver hitch out. By the way, you can always protect the receiver hitch and the opening of the receiver against agents that causes rust by using a non-solvent-based solution.
  • Consider pulling the ball mount out as soon as it starts to loosen up. Again, hammering will help a lot if there’s trouble while you pull.
  • Go with a spray such as WD-40 in areas around the ball nut. Don’t forget the thread areas as well. 
  • Use a wrench after that to gradually remove the nuts. As long as it is not emerging, you have to keep spraying and try again. 
  • Some people also use an additional pipe for extra leverage on the end of the wrench. It helps a lot in removing rusted tow hitch. 

How About Painting Rusty Trailer Hitch Instead of Removing It?

No, you cannot avoid the removal, unless the trailer hitch has very minimal rust on it. Then it would be fine to get covered by paint.

Painting a rusty trailer hitch is a great decision for solving the rust problem by the way. And that means the rust has not completely made the existing hitch unusable. So yes, there’s no problem with this route. 

And you can try powder coating with a sandblasting session for the purpose. It is a good option but you must carry out the procedure correctly. Keep in mind if you don’t pay enough attention to surface prep then chips can show up with powder coating.

Also, if you are painting yourself, then consider removing every last bit of oil or grease from the surface and then go with a metal primer. 

Many people swear by the amazing results from Appliance epoxy paint, as it’s great for rattle canning and for providing extreme durability. The cheapest solution would be spray painting for sure, and if the rust is slightly critical then go with a rust stopper first.

Removing the hitch is, however still applicable.

According to FordTouchUpPaint,

“Without removing the hitch there may be hidden rust that can compromise its strength. Strength is critically important for a hitch and not having it can lead to an expensive situation if it should fail”

So just don’t skip the removal, even if you consider painting over the rust.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you remove a tow hitch safely?

Yes, you can as long as you know how to remove a tow hitch safely. Usually, with hitch receivers, the removal is super simple. If it’s a hitch ball mounted with a bumper, then half a minute and a wrench are all you need.

Should you remove a tow hitch when not using it?

You should consider it. Because leaving the tow hitch may make it vulnerable to damage over time due to contact with weather elements. Something that causes rusted tow hitch situations.

Why is the trailer hitch stuck?

A trailer hitch can get stuck due to many reasons. Maybe the hitch ball is too big. Or it can be due to some build-up as well. You can easily remove the hitch ball using vinegar. Let it soak in a vinegar solution. If it still does not come out easily, then hammering will help to break free of it.

How to calculate the cost to remove the trailer hitch if it’s too rusted?

Consider 1 or 2 hours of labor for estimating the cost for a rusted tow hitch removal done by a professional.

Wrapping Up

And that’s how to remove rusted tow hitch. You have all the necessary information to now go and start working on it. Of course, go ahead and research further if you feel like it.

I’ll be leaving for today, and there will be more on tow hitches soon! Take care.

About the Author: Brian Silvestro

Brian Silvestro is the founder and chief editor of OffroadersArena. He spends his free time tending to his BMW iX SUV and explaining its merits to anyone who'll listen.

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