Close up of a weather hitch ball reflecting camera man in metal.

Should You Remove Your Hitch Ball When Not in Use?

Travel trailers and pop-up campers typically connect to the tow vehicle using a hitch ball. This piece of equipment mounts on the bumper of a towing vehicle. Depending on how often you plan to pull a camper or trailer, you might wonder if you should remove your hitch ball each time. Let’s take a closer look and see if you should start removing your hitch ball.

Are Hitch Balls Easy to Remove?

Removing a hitch ball mounted to your bumper only requires a wrench and about 30 seconds of your time. Simply unscrew the nut that secures the hitch ball to the bumper. However, it can be even easier if you’re using the hitch receiver to mount a hitch with a ball.

Hitches mounted to the receiver on the rear of a tow vehicle typically use a pin and cotter pin to secure them to the receiver. Simply remove the cotter pin and pin from the receiver to remove the entire hitch assembly, ball included, from the vehicle. No matter your setup, it shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds to a minute to remove it. It really is that easy.

Are There Any Disadvantages to Keeping Your Hitch Ball On?

When you keep your hitch ball on your vehicle, you increase your hitch ball’s exposure to the elements. This can lead to rust and accelerate your need for a replacement. When you’re trusting your hitch ball to connect thousands of pounds to your tow vehicle, you want it in the best possible shape.

You should always make sure the license plate on your vehicle is visible when driving down the road. By removing your hitch ball when you’re not using it, you can avoid unnecessarily getting pulled over by police.

If your hitch ball extends past your bumper, it may not be easily visible. This can be especially troublesome when backing up your vehicle. You may think you have room to maneuver, but the extension of the hitch ball hits another vehicle or personal property. 

Driver safely backing up vehicle using the back up camera to check their surroundings.

Why Would You Want to Remove Your Hitch Ball?

If you decide to leave your hitch ball on, you should be aware of a couple of things. First, some states prohibit anything that restricts the view of your license plate. Law enforcement can stop you or issue a citation for obstructing the view of your license plate.

While it may be hard to believe, there are reports of hitch balls being stolen from vehicles. If you’re not using a hitch lock, a thief could steal your hitch ball in a matter of seconds. Depending on how often you use your hitch ball, you may not notice that it’s even missing.

Finally, there will likely come a time when you’re moving around your truck and forget that your hitch ball is still attached. These hitches are often at just the right height to hide from view. It only takes one time running your knee or shin into a hitch ball to convince you not to leave it attached.

The back of a large, white pick up truck with a ball hitch parked in a neighborhood.

Should You Remove YourHitch Ball When Not In Use?

Because hitch balls are so easy to remove, we suggest removing them when not in use. If you plan to use your hitch regularly, you may consider leaving it in place. But it’s wise to invest in a quality hitch lock to prevent theft. Keep your knees, shins, and other property safe by knowing when you have your hitch attached to your tow vehicle.

Using a hitch ball can be an easy way to connect your travel trailer or pop-up camper. Make sure your hitch ball is in good working order before each trip. Limiting its exposure to the elements and thieves is a good enough reason to remove it when not in use. However, a quality lock can keep it secure if you regularly use your hitch ball for towing. Do you remove your hitch ball when you’re not using it?

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