How To Get Trailer Hitch Off The Ball [Inc. Troubleshooting When Stuck]

It's time to unhitch your travel trailer from the tow vehicle, but you're wondering how to remove the trailer hitch from its ball. We researched this concern for your convenience and found the following answer.

First, check the product owner’s manual for the specific steps in removing your specific trailer hitch model from its ball. However, you may only need to loosen the nut on the ball to disassemble the setup.

However, you might find it more challenging than expected to get the trailer hitch off of its ball. If so, you may need to apply other techniques to remove it. Continue reading as we talk about these possible solutions in greater detail.

How Do You Get A Stuck Hitch Off The Ball?

You have different options to get a trailer hitch unstuck from its ball. Some of the methods you may apply are:

woman couple trailer s hooked into car pick up truck, How To Get Trailer Hitch Off The Ball [Inc. Troubleshooting When Stuck]

Method #1: Apply Penetrating Fluid

Also called penetrating oil, this product helps reduce surface tension between two objects, loosening them. In particular, products like WD-40 can help in loosening a tight nut that might prevent you from removing the trailer hitch from its ball.

An alternative to WD-40 is white lithium grease. It’s a multi-purpose product that can help lubricate surfaces. Plus, it also generally has high heat and water resistance.

Warning: Standard WD-40 isn’t a lubricant but contains lubricating properties. Excessive application of this formula may promote gunk buildup.

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Method #2: Tap With A Hammer

If you’re dealing with light rust or debris on your trailer hitch, you may be able to remove some of those substances with a rubber mallet or sledgehammer. Bear in mind that you shouldn’t hit the trailer hitch ball.

Instead, use your preferred tool to tap the trailer hitch receiver’s sides. You may also hit the area behind the ball to help loosen and remove some of the rust and debris.

Try to remove the trailer hitch after hitting those locations a few times. If the component doesn’t come off, try hitting it a few extra times. Repeat these steps until you can remove the hitch.

Warning: Be careful when swinging a rubber mallet or hammer. A lengthy backswing may put you at risk of hitting other areas of your tow vehicle.

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Method #3: Use An Air Hammer

An air hammer is a tool using pressurized air to apply force to a material or surface repeatedly. However, you also need an air compressor for the tool to work. You might be able to rent this kit if you find it difficult to extend your budget constraints.

With an air hammer in hand, set the compressor to pump out 90 PSI of air pressure. Place the air hammer next to the trailer hitch’s side and squeeze the tool’s trigger. Maintain pressure on the trigger for about 15 seconds. Then, try to remove the hitch from its ball.

If done correctly, the repeating forces applied by the air hammer can help loosen and remove debris buildup, including rust.

Note: You may choose to set a lower air pressure than 90 PSI. But it might take longer than expected to complete this task. On the other hand, it’s often unwise to set the air pressure at a higher level than recommended. Otherwise, it might put the air hammer at risk of malfunctioning or breaking.

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Method #4: Cut The Trailer Hitch

If you still can’t get the trailer hitch off the ball after applying the previous techniques, perhaps it’s time to cut the assembly from your tow vehicle. You can use a reciprocating saw for this method.

With the saw in hand, cut through the trailer hitch, which should include the ball. Next, use a chisel or a rubber mallet to help remove rust and debris.

Note: Make sure you’re wearing proper safety gear when handling power saws. Work gloves and safety goggles are two examples that help protect you from shrapnel.

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If you have a U-Haul hitch, you can also read our post on how to remove that assembly from your car. We also tackled other pieces of information in that post that might be useful for you, such as how to replace a ball mount in a hitch receiver.

How Do You Maintain A Trailer Hitch?

cars tow bar design hitch close up

Rust can be a headache to many trailer hitch owners. But following proper maintenance practices can help prevent rust buildup on the assembly. Some ways to help prevent this reaction on your hitch are:

Remove The Hitch Assembly When Not In Use

Leaving the trailer hitch mounted on the tow vehicle despite it not being in use may increase the risk of it rusting. If you can’t remove the hitch assembly, invest in a quality trailer hitch cover to help protect it from corrosive weather.

Check out this trailer hitch cover on Amazon.

Apply A Rust-Preventing Product

Apply a corrosion-preventing solution to the trailer hitch assembly to help safeguard it from rust. This product prevents moisture retention and debris buildup, which may otherwise become the catalysts for rust.

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Paint The Trailer Hitch

camper trailer hitch connected truck ball

In particular, use rust-stopping paint on your trailer hitch assembly. Make sure to paint the exposed parts with your preferred paint. Disassemble the hitch if possible before painting. That way, you can cover each component with the paint and reduce corrosion hazards further.

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How Do You Remove Rust From A Trailer Hitch?

trailer hitch on back car pick up truck

Removing rust from your trailer hitch can help prevent the corrosion from spreading. In this section, you’ll learn the general steps to assist you in completing this task:

What You’ll Need

  • Rust removing solution
  • Bucket or similar container

Step-By-Step Guide

  1. Remove the trailer hitch from your towing setup if you can.
  2. Pour the rust-removing solution into a bucket or container.
  3. Dip the rusty trailer hitch into the solution.
  4. Allow the hitch to sit in the solution for about 18 hours.
  5. Remove the restored hitch and let it air dry.

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You can also watch the video below if you need a visual reference for this procedure:

How Do I Know What Trailer Hitch To Buy?

weight distribution trailer hitch hooked truck

Replacing your old trailer hitch can be ideal if it’s giving you frequent problems. Keep reading this section to know the factors to think about while searching for your next tow hitch:

Hitch Class

Generally, five hitch classes exist. Each category has a designated weight range. So consider the load you’re hauling with your tow vehicle as you look through the different hitch classes on the market.

Here are the different hitch classes and their gross trailer weight (GTW) capacities:

  • Class 1: A maximum of 2,000 pounds GTW
  • Class 2: A maximum of 3,500 pounds GTW
  • Class 3: A GTW range of 3,500 to 12,000 pounds
  • Class 4: A GTW range of 8,000 to 14,000 pounds
  • Class 5: A GTW range of 16,000 to 20,000 pounds

For example, if you’re hauling a travel trailer, you’ll likely need a trailer hitch within the Class 1 to Class 3 category. These hitches can be your ideal options since travel trailers often have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) range of 1,200 to 9,000 pounds.


Trailer hitches are assemblies often exposed to the elements. So tow vehicle users may look into buying a model with a visually appealing look.

On the other hand, some trailer hitches have designs that you can conceal. Selecting these choices may also help improve the assembly’s lifespan since it might not come into direct contact with harsh weather.


Different trailer hitches come in varying sizes. So it’s ideal to select a model that fits your tow vehicle and hauled load’s specifications.

Typically, trailer hitches come in four different size categories: 1-1/4, 2, 2-1/2, and 3 inches. Take note that a hitch size speaks of the dimensions of the receiver. Plus, using the correct hitch size may allow you to install accessories for your towing setup.

Final Thoughts

woman couple trailer s hooked into car pick up truck

Normally, you may only need some standard tools, such as a wrench, to remove a trailer hitch from its ball. However, if you’re dealing with a stuck hitch, you might need to apply certain methods to disassemble the setup.

If you’re looking for answers to other hitch concerns, check out these other great posts:

Does Weight Distribution Hitch Reduce Tongue Weight?

How To Reduce 5th Wheel Hitch Weight

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