What is Hitch Ball? Choosing Trailer Hitch Ball Sizes

Disclaimer: We may earn a small commission from sponsored links in this article at no additional cost to you.

Last Updated on July 31, 2022

There’s more than just one convenient reason behind why someone would need a trailer. And if you are one of those who is planning to get a trailer or probably got it, there’s a mistake you don’t want to make regarding it. Using the wrong trailer hitch ball.

Now if you are not sure what we are talking about, hang on there for a few minutes more. 

Because today we have decided to clear what is hitch ball, what size should you choose, and everything that falls under the right hitch ball selection?


What is Hitch Ball?

It’s an attachment that can be used for connecting a trailer to a hitch. It’s usually ball-shaped. And many refer to a hitch ball as a tow ball or even a trailer ball.

The ball that exists helps the trailer to pivot. As a result, the turnings during towing will be a lot smoother. Now for most of the cases, the hitch ball diameter is standard fairly. However, when it comes to the hitch ball mount weight rating, things get a little tricker as those may differ.

And to give you a clear note, the hitch ball rating is as crucial as the receiver hitch rating. So, there’s no way you get to skip being serious on this matter.

This brings us to the next part, what size of hitch ball you should get.

How To Choose The Right Trailer Hitch ball Size

There are more than a couple of matters that need some severe discussion that would play the most important factors in your hitch ball selection. 

To be more specific, regarding the size of the hitch ball, you need to decide based on a few factors, which are:

Diameter & Capacity of Trailer Coupler

You should find the hitch ball size or diameter as well as the max towing capacity mentioned on the frame, tongue, or coupler of the trailer. And the capacity and diameter should match each other. It shall never exceed the limit mentioned on the coupler.

For example, if a trailer hitch coupler comes with a listed diameter of 2” and a capacity of 3500 lb. then the hitch ball should be the same diameter and provide the capacity required.

Also, keep in mind that all the measurements are quite crucial to take into account. But the ball diameter is the first and foremost one to consider. That’s where it all begins. There are multiple diameters available for hitch balls you can pick from.

The Dimensions of Hitch Ball Shank

Precise measurement of the shank diameter is also a key element to near skip.

For Your Information – Shank is the ball underneath an extended threaded bolt. There should be a nut threading here for keeping the hitch secure.

Consider that the tractor you want to mount the hitch ball onto comes with a ¾ inches shank opening measurement. Then you require the ball’s shank to be the same, ¾ inches as well.

Too wide shank won’t fit the right way. While with a shank that is too narrow, there will be too much wiggling of the ball. And that is going to end up giving issues as well.

The length of the shank is also critical!

The shank needs to have the right length so that threading through the hitch is possible appropriately. This will also let the rope tighten off the nut and lock the washer. By doing hitch measurement, you can find the shank length.

Another helpful piece of advice, we feel like, is about keeping the shank extended past but by 1 thread at least.

Here’s some recommendation on torque values for hitch ball attaching based on the shank diameter:

  • 450 ft-lb for 2-5/16” shank diameter.
  • 250 ft-lb for 1” shank diameter.
  • 150 ft-lb for 3/4” shank diameter.

Also, Consider the Weight Capacity

We already gave you a little hint on the capacity matter but it needs more emphasis. Some people end up assuming the hitch ball’s weight capacity, which is wrong. There are ratings provided that you should follow without assuming things.

For example, towing 2000 pounds is a common rating for any light-duty 1 7/8-inch hitch ball. With the increase in ball size, the increase in weight capacity is also visible. A few tough ones will be able to take 3000 pounds.

Keeping your trailer’s rating in mind is also important when you are analyzing the weight capacity. Perhaps it fails to carry the amount you are planning to go for. And same goes for the vehicle’s hitch, it should be able to take the ball and weight as well.

There’s practically no use with the 12000 pounds of rating on the hitch ball when the hitch on your vehicle is only capable of handling 5000 pounds.

And that sums up all the measurements that play major roles in picking the right hitch ball. 

Checking the specification of the trailer and also the vehicle is important, as you have just seen. And you should take into account everything necessary for investing in a sturdy hitch ball that will last a good period.

How to Measure Hitch Ball Size?

If you have a hitch ball already and need to replace it, then taking measurements shall help.

The first step of measuring the size of the hitch ball consists of the diameter of the ball. It is something that must be stamped on the ball top. And if not, then you require using a ruler or tape measure for finding out yourself.

The diameter you find will need to match the coupler of the trailer.

After finding the diameter, look for the shank size of the hitch ball. Soon after that, you also need to find out the shank’s length. That can be done by measuring from the base bottom to the threads’ end.

And the final measurement is about the base’s thickness. This typically refers to the needed rise in the trailer ball for making a hitch connection.

Once you find out all three measurements, you should be ready for selecting a hitch ball size.

Different Sizes of Hitch Ball

There are four categories to talk about when it’s regarding the trailer hitch ball sizes. These are the 3, 2-5/16, 2, and 1-7/8 inches diameter balls.

Again, the weight capacity will vary depending on the ball size. And it can range from 2000 to 30,000 pounds.

That’s why with each size, you get different towing applications, and hence each suits varying types of trailers.

The Standard Ball Size?

If you are wondering what is the most common size trailer hitch ball, then the answer is the 2-inch diameter one. 

From boat trailers and utility trailers to campers, this size is used for several popular trailers. This is because the weight capacity of 2-inch trailer balls is pretty wide. And ranged from 3500 to 12000 pounds.

Ball Hitch Size = Coupler Size

The couplers inside the opening must be similar to the trailer ball’s diameter. And this is necessary. In case you get a different size than recommended, serious safety issues can follow you. 

So, make sure you keep the wiring safe by getting the same size. Also, a few others might allow adjustments. So that there’s less play in ball connection. If you got one of those, things can be easier.

Frequently Asked Question

Can you use a 1-7/8 ball on a 2-inch hitch?

Not at all! There is a chance of disconnection between the mechanism and that can lead to serious towing issues late on. The same goes for someone wondering can a trailer that requires a 2-5/16-inch ball be towed using a 2-inch ball. However, if there is an adjustment mechanism available with the coupler, issues can be resolved.

What is a hitch ball made of?

The hitch ball is made of zinc, chrome, and stainless steel.

Should I Lube hitch ball?

Yes, you should! With lubricating the hitch ball, you can open doors for better twisting and turning. Also, this helps in preventing any corrosion or damage to the part.

Do trailer hitch balls wear out?

Yes, with constant use, the hitch ball will wear out at some point. But you can slow down the wearing out by taking good care of the parts. And that includes lubrication of the hitch ball. Greasing the ball will allow the vehicle to easily follow as there’s less friction when the coupler rotates.

Wrapping Up

And now you know what is hitch ball & what size should you choose in depth. The hitch ball mount bolted hitch ball got some serious job of acting as the connection point of the coupler. 

And to give a smooth turning whenever you tow, the hitch ball needs to be the right one. So, don’t take it lightly. 

Give your best to find everything necessary on this matter. And only when you are sure, go for a purchase.

More Hitch Guides:

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.

Leave a Comment