Hitch Ball Sizes and Guidelines (with Drawing)

Hitch Ball Sizes

A hitch ball, also known as a towing ball or trailer ball, is a type of towing accessory. It allows users to attach trailers and caravans onto the backs of their trucks for traveling or living out of.

There are four common hitch ball sizes: 1-7/8 inches (4.8 centimeters), 2 inches (5 centimeters), 2-5/16 inches (5.8 centimeters), and 3 inches (7.6 centimeters).

If you would like to learn more about hitch ball sizes, please feel free to continue reading. I will explain the different hitch ball sizes in greater detail and how to choose the appropriate ball mount for your towing needs.

Hitch Ball Sizes

Taking a Closer Look at Hitch Balls

Earlier, I mentioned how the four common hitch ball sizes range from 1-7/8 inches (4.8 centimeters) to 3 inches (7.6 centimeters). However, this only describes one-third of a ball hitch size.

When looking at different ball hitches, there are four measurements you have to take into account: the ball diameter, the shank length, and the shank diameter.

Ball Diameter: The width or diameter of the ball-shaped attachment.

Shank Length: The length of the threaded stem.

Shank Diameter: The width or diameter of the threaded stem.

So, when looking at hitch balls, you should bear all three of these measurements in mind.

Here’s a quick hitch ball chart that you can use to learn the sizes of different hitches and their respective towing weight capacities.

Ball Diameter Shank Length Shank Diameter Gross Towing Weight
1-7/8 in. (4.8 cm) 1-5/8 to 3 in. (4.1 to 7.6 cm) 3/4 to 1 in. (1.9 to 2.5 cm) 2,000 to 3,500 lbs. (1,134 to 1,588 kg)
2 in. (5 cm) 1-3/4 to 3 in. (4.4 to 7.6 cm) 3/4 to 1-1/4 in. (1.9 to 3.2 cm) 3,500 to 12,000 lbs. (1,588 to 5,443 kg)
2-5/16 in. (5.8 cm) 2-1/8 to 3-1/2 in. (5.4 to 8.9 cm) 1 to 2 in. (2.5 to 5.1 cm) 6,000 to 30,000 lbs. (2,722 to 13,608 kg)
3 in. (7.6 cm) 3-1/4 in. (8.3 cm) 2 in. (5.1 cm) 30,000 lbs. (13,608 kg)

Choosing a Ball Mount

Choosing a Ball Mount

As you can see, there isn’t a single hitch ball size for everything. So, picking the fitch hitch ball you lay your eyes on might not be the smartest thing you can do.

When choosing a hitch ball size, there are three key considerations to keep in mind—namely, how much weight your car will tow, what size receiver tube is on the trailer hitch, and how much rise or drop for a safe towing center.

The entire process, taken from RealTruck.com’s YouTube channel, consists of the following steps:

  1. Determining the Towing Weight
  2. Measuring the Receiver Tube Size
  3. Measuring the Receiving Height
  4. Measuring the Coupler Height
  5. Calculating the Rise and Drop Level
  6. Selecting the Hitch Ball
  7. Choosing the Final Ball Mount 

Determining the Towing Weight

The first thing you should know is how much weight your vehicle is towing, including the weight of the trailer.

The trailer will usually have a maximum gross and net weight rating stamped onto it somewhere. If it doesn’t, or if you purchased your trailer second-hand, you can take it to a certified scale to get it weighed.

For this example, let’s assume that the trailer weighs 2,500 pounds.

Measuring the Receiver Tube Size

Next, you should measure the receiver tube on the trailer hitch. You can do this by simply kneeling down behind your car and measuring the size of the receiver tube’s opening. The diameter will give you a good idea of what size shank you need for the ball hitch.

For instance, a 2-inch-wide receiver tube will need a 2-inch-long shank on the ball mount.

Measuring the Receiving Height

The receiver height is the distance from the ground to the top-inside edge of the receiver tube.

For this example, let’s assume the receiving height is 21-3/4 inches.

Measuring the Coupler Height

Next, we need to measure the distance from the ground to the bottom of the trailer coupling. The coupling is the portion of the trailer that connects to the hitch ball.

To measure the height of the coupler, you first need to use the hand crank and a level to level the coupler until it is parallel to the ground.

Let’s assume that you have a coupler height of 15-1/2 inches off the ground.

Calculating Rise and Drop Level

Next, we have to calculate the rise and drop level by subtracting the coupler height from the receiving height.

If the difference is negative, then you will have to compensate for the amount of drop needed for the trailer. A positive difference indicates that you need to compensate for the amount of rise.

So, in this example, if we subtract 21-3/4 from 15-1/2, we should have a difference of -6-1/4 inches. Rounded to the nearest inch, this means we need to look for a ball mount that has a 6-inch drop.

Selecting the Hitch Ball

Now, we can finally move on to choosing the correct hitch ball size. Coupler manufacturers will usually label their products to show what hitch ball size the coupler works with.

The most commonly used hitch ball size is 2 inches (5 centimeters), but you will have to select a hitch ball size that matches your total gross towing weight.

Choosing the Final Ball Mount

Now that we have all the measurements, you can now determine the correct ball mount size.

The ball mount should have a gross towing weight of 2,500 pounds, have a drop of 6 inches, have a 2-inch shank, and a ball hitch with a shank that matches the hole size in the ball mount.

Conclusion

Hitch balls typically come in four sizes:  1-7/8 inches (4.8 centimeters), 2 inches (5 centimeters), 2-5/16 inches (5.8 centimeters), and 3 inches (7.6 centimeters). The correct hitch ball size ultimately depends on your towing setup. I’ve also included a brief guide that will help you determine the correct ball mount and hitch ball size.

If you found this guide helpful, make sure you share it with your friends on your socials. Also, feel free to drop a comment and let us know what type of ball mount you use for your trailer.

BaronCooke

Baron Cooke has been writing and editing for 7 years. He grew up with an aptitude for geometry, statistics, and dimensions. He has a BA in construction management and also has studied civil infrastructure, engineering, and measurements. He is the head writer of measuringknowhow.com

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