Ford F-150/F-250: How to Avoid a Broken Hitch

The hitch is made for heavy-duty work, but it can still break on your Ford F-150 or Super Duty. Learn what causes hitch breakdown and what you can do to stave them off.

By Scott Deuty - December 12, 2014

This article applies to the Ford F-150 (2004-2014) and F-250 Super Duty (2005-2014).

The ball joint is the most vulnerable part of a hitch, although the socket, hitch ball, and clamping mechanism are all subject to failure. Over time, they will break, but there are things you can do to preserve their life and keep them from breaking while on the road. And if they do, don't panic. Replacement parts are available. Make sure that you get the correct replacement parts for your style of clamp and that it is rated for the load you are towing. In addition to the hitch assembly, the mounting pin, equalizer mounting, and frame mounting are all subject to breakage. When replacing them, it is a good idea to consider upgrading to more durable hardware. It is desirable for the hitch rating to exceed the tow vehicle’s rating as an added measure of reliability. However, do not exceed the overall Gross Combination Vehicle Weight Rating (GCVWR).

Assess the Weight

Hitch breaking can be caused by a number of things. Every hitch has certain weight capabilities.

Weight Distribution

Improper weight distribution can result in hitch breakage. If you add too much weight to the front of the trailer, it will put all the weight on the hitch. The hitch is made to pull, not carry, the weight. It is recommended you distribute the weight in the middle of the trailer to keep it even. Also, consider purchasing an equalizer hitch, which helps with the sway.

Figure 1. Distribute the weight properly.

Tongue Weight

Bad tongue weight measurements can not only affect the handling of you truck, but also break the hitch. After you have distributed the weight probably, you need to set up your tongue weight to avoid hitch overloading.

(Related Article: How to Calculate Tongue Weight -

Figure 2. Trailer tongue location.

Replace a Worn Hitch Ball

Be sure to have a tight fit in the mounting hole with the pin. If not, replace the pin, the hitch, or both. Once wear starts, it only gets worse. There is no way to reverse it. The ball can be easily replaced with a pipe wrench and either a socket or combination wrench. It is important to use a lock washer and torque the ball to the appropriate rating as per manufacturer specification. Place the hitch in the vehicle or a vise in order to generate enough torque for a secure fit. Mounting pins become warn, and mounting holes can egg shape over time.

Pro Tip

Preventive maintenance goes a long way. Use a little grease on the ball. Spray lubricant on the hitch assembly, hitch pin, and lock. Check for slack regularly and tighten if necessary. If you hear banging or feel tugging, check the hitch immediately before the situation worsens.

Figure 3. Hitch ball.

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