The Pieces and Parts Needed to Tow a Trailer

Triple ball and hook mount

Hitch it up and go.

That’s all it takes, right? Stick a ball through the back bumper, drop a trailer on to that ball and drive away. No worries…

Well, not quite.

A competent hitch system is made up of several components. Let’s explore what goes into having a tow system that will do the job and do it safely.

The components

To safely hitch a trailer to a vehicle, you need the following components:

On your vehicle you need:

The hitch

the hitch
This is the connection between the tow vehicle and he trailer.

The hitch is the component that enables and creates the connection between the trailer and your vehicle. It is bolted to the frame of the vehicle so that it forms a stable and strong connection. All the forces of towing, accelerating, braking, tilting, and more that act on the vehicle as a result of towing are carried and absorbed by the hitch. It is important to get the correct kind of hitch for the type (weight) of towing that you are going to do. Hitches are made grouped into five classes with 1 being the lightest and 5 being the heaviest. Most trucks are set up with a class 3 hitch.

The ball mount

Ball mount
As the word implies, this is the piece on which you mount the tow ball.

A ball mount–as the word strongly implies–is the piece to which you attache the trailer ball on which the trailer coupler is attached. Two important things are drop and weight capacity.

Drop refers to how many inches below the receiver the ball mount sits. Common distances are 2 -10 inches, and usually available in 2-inch increments.

Ball mount drop.
The “Drop” is the distance in inches between the receiver and the ball mount
From Straight to Extreme Drop
Select the correct drop to bridge the difference in height between the tow vehicle and the trailer.

The ball

The trailer ball fits in the trailer coupler and connects the vehicle and the trailer.

The ball is the connection between the trailer and the tow vehicle. Trailer balls come in three principal sizes or diameters:
1 7/8
2 5/16
Two and 2 5/16 are the most common sizes and pretty much all trailers 12 ft in length and over have couplers that require a 2 5/16 ball.
The ball is secured to the ball mount with with a large nut and a lock washer. A 2 5/16 ball with a 1 1/4-inch shank will have a nut that takes a
1 7/8-inch wrench and if it’s a 1-inch shank, the nut will require a 1 1/2-inch wrench.

At Load Runner Trailers in Orlando we can install hitches, swap out ball mounts and trailer balls, install brake controllers, hitch systems, and much more. Give us a call at (407) 258-3266 to find out what we can do to make your trailer experience easier and more profitable.

How to Tighten Lug Nuts

How to Tighten Lug Nuts

Trailer wheels come in three common configurations:

  • Five lug nuts: 3,500 lbs axles
  • Six lug nuts: 5,200 lbs axles
  • Eight lug nuts: 7,000 lbs axles and 10,000 lbs axles

The basic objective when attaching a wheel to a trailer axle is to ensure that it stays on. Watching one of your trailer wheels separate from the trailer and roll off into a ditch–or heaven forbid–into an oncoming car is both fascinating and terrifying at the same time (emphasis on terrifying for the gal/guy in the oncoming car).

So how difficult can that be?

Not very, but you should still do it the right way. Lug nuts should actually be tightened in a specific order to ensure that they stay snug to the wheel equally and securely.

So what is the right way?

Funny, you should ask… Here follow three easy-peasy diagrams that show you how to properly tighten lug nuts.

Eight Lug fastening pattern: for 7,000, 10,000, 12,000 lbs axles.
Graphic showing how to tighten a six lug wheel.
Six lugs fastening pattern: 5,200 lbs axle.
Five lug nut tightening pattern. This is for a 3,500 lbs axle.

Trailer Safety IQ Test

Trailer Safety IQ Test

Take this quick test of your trailer safey IQ.

Instructions: Read the question, think hard about your answer and then:

If your answer corresponds to option 1, slide the blue button to the left

If your answer corresponds to option 2, leave the blue button where it is.

If your answer corresponds to option 3, slide the blue button to the right.

Good luck, Einstein!

Check Your Trailer Safety IQ
1 for Never, 2 for sometimes, 3 for always
1 for not important, 2 for MEH, 3 for Super important.
1 for "of course it can; it has a hitch!", 2 for The dealer said it could 3 for, "I looked it up and I know it can."
1 for "of course it can; it has a hitch!", 2 for The dealer said it could 3 for, "I looked it up and I know it can."
1. Brakes are for sissies 2. Brakes are helpful. 3. Brakes are crucial.
1 Yeah, but they missed the mark. 2 Not sure why they're there...? 3 I won't use the trailer if the lights aren't working properly.
1 No, spare tires are silly. 2 I don't know how to change a tire, so no... 3 If you have a spare, you won't need it.
1 Why not, I will spend less time on the road if I do.. 2 I have to keep up with traffic. 3 Trailer tires are generally rated for a max of 75 mph.
1 I shouldn't have to; I bought a quality product. 2 Only when it becomes obvious that something is about to go haywire. 3 Prevention is the best cure.

Why Did My Trailer’s Axles Give Out?

Why Did My Trailer’s Axles Give Out?

Calculate Your Safe Cargo Weight

What could possibly have gone wrong here?

The trailer dealer clearly explained that your dump trailer could hold 13 cubic yards.


You filled it with 16 cubic yards of concrete.  That trip didn’t even last a quarter of a mile…


The answer is density.   Density = lbs/cubic ft.

Think concrete vs down feathers.  A trailer-full of concrete weighs way more than a trailer-full of down feathers.  Concrete weighs 150 lbs per cubic ft,

So, what to do?  You need to know how much a cubic yard weighs of the stuff you routinely haul.  The calculator below will help you figure out how much of that stuff you haul you can actually and safely put in your trailer.  Run your numbers here.

How much does a cu yd of this weigh?

Now, let’s do one more set of calculations.  Let’s figure out how much your trailer actually can carry safely.

The calculation goes like this:

Carrying capacity of axle(s) — weight of trailer =  safe cargo weight

So, now run the safe trailer towing numbers here:

Can My Truck Tow This?

Is the weight bueno or no bueno?  If your cargo weights are putting the trailer way over what it can safely tow, please don’t do it.  Make a second trip instead.

Gross Vehicle Weight Confusion?

It’s gross alright… GVW, GVWR, GCW, GCWR, GAW, GAWR…?  Really? All you want to know is, “can I tow this trailer with my Mini Cooper or Ford Super Duty?  Does it really have to be this complicated? Is it even important? Relax. It’s not really that complicated, and, YES, it is that important.We willl help you sort this out. Let’s start by breaking down some acronyms.

GVW–Gross Vehicle Weight.  It’s the weight of your car or truck–including the weight of standard amount of people, fuel , and luggage.  Also known as the curb weight. You’ll find it on the sticker on the jamb of the driver’s door.

GVWR–Gross Vehicle Weight Rating.  Plain and simple: if you exceed this weight, your vehicle’s engine, transmission, brakes, and/or suspension are being taxed beyond what they were designed to take.

Actual weight > GVWR, NO BUENO.

Use this handy calculator to see what your vehicle can do.

Can My Truck Tow This?

GVW–Gross Combination Weight.  The combined weight of your vehicle, your trailer, and what you have loaded on that trailer.

GCW = Weight of vehicle + weight of trailer + weight of trailer cargo

GCWR–Gross Combination Weight Rating.  It’s the weight of the whole enchilada: vehicle, people, luggage, fuel, trailer, trailer cargo. Exceed this and you are asking for trouble. What kind of trouble?  Take your pick: engine, transmission, suspension, brakes, vehicle axles, trailer axles, etc…


GAW–Gross Axle Weight.  This refers to the axles of your truck.    It specifically shows the weight that your vehicle’s front and rear axles can bear. They are likely to be different because the front axle bears more of the engine’s weight, for instance.

GAWR–Gross Axle Weight Rating.  You will find this on that same sticker in the driver’s door.  There are two numbers, one for the front axle and another for the rear.  If you put more weight on the axles than this rating indicates, you risk creating dangerous vehicle handling conditions and you might also risk damaging the engine, transmission, and/or suspension of the vehicle.



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