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How To Remove A Trailer Ball Lock

A trailer ball lock helps prevent your trailer from getting stolen by preventing others from hooking it up to their vehicle. But you'll want to remove it when you finally need to drive or move your trailer. How do you do this? Get the job done by following the guide we researched below.

To remove a trailer ball lock, you can use its key or if you don't have it, try other methods too. Using a key is much easier. You only have to place it in the keyhole, turn it, and unlock it.

For misplaced or missing keys, you can still try removing them. You can use picks or a bolt cutter for this.

Removing a trailer ball lock seems complicated initially, but it will be easier if you have the correct information. In addition, because there are also other types of trailer hitch locks aside from the ball lock, we included them for you. Read these and more by scrolling down.

How To Remove Trailer Ball Locks

Car coupler for attaching a trailer and semi-trailer to a truck.

Trailer ball locks, most famously known as coupler hitch locks, are attached and fit into the tongue of a trailer's hitch.

Its design allows you to use it on your hitch's ball mount quickly, but removing it may confuse you. Don't worry; we've got the guide for you if you have its key or even if you don't.

Using A Key

Find the key to your coupler hitch lock, then follow these steps:

  1. Insert the lock on the ball lock's keyhole. Then, turn it counterclockwise. Doing this will then release the lock.
  2. Pull and remove the lock's hook.
  3. Get the latch out and remove the coupler lock.

Without Using A Key

You can try two different ways if your coupler hitch lock's key is missing and you need to remove it. You can either try using picks or, if it doesn't work out for you, use a bolt cutter as a last resort.

1. With Tension And Rake Picks

The easiest way you should first try is to use a Tension and Rake pick. Follow these steps to use them:

  1. Insert your Tension pick into the bottom of your lock's keyhole. Next, insert your Rake pick into the same keyhole.
  2. Move the Rake pick around the keyhole until you unlock the coupler.
  3. Get the hook out to unlock the latch and remove the ball lock.

This method is much preferable as it wouldn't cause damage to your lock, letting you use it again if you want to. However, there's no assurance that you can remove the lock.

2. With A Bolt Cutter

Big heavy duty bolt cutters.A pair of bolt cutters. The markings on the tool are specifications only. No visible brand names

Bolt cutters remove a lock to which you don't have a key or have forgotten the pin. You can also use it for trailer ball locks, so follow these steps to make use of it:

  1. Use a long and heavy-duty bolt cutter for your coupler hitch lock, as the material is quite thick.
  2. Adjust its jaw gap with a crescent wrench to turn its eccentricity bolt counterclockwise. As you bring its handles together, place paper between the cutter's jaws, then continue turning the bolt. Stop tightening the bolt when the cutting edges of the jaws press against the piece of paper you placed.
  3. Wear some gloves and safety glasses for protection.
  4. Hold the cutter's handles with both hands and the jaws facing away from you. Then, pull the handles apart to open the jaws.
  5. Direct the jaws' cutting edges into your coupler lock at a right angle. Then, tighten the jaws by bringing the handles together. If you haven't cut the lock after this, open the jaws slightly and try cutting the same spot on your first try.

Click here to see this bolt cutter on Amazon.

How To Remove Other Trailer Hitch Locks

woman couple a trailer (hooked) into a ball-type tow hitch

There are two other types of trailer hitch locks aside from a coupler hitch lock; a receiver and a latch pin hitch lock. Here are the guides on how to remove each of them:

1. Receiver Hitch Lock

There are two kinds of receiver hitch locks, one with a curved end and another with a straight one. But you can remove them in the same way.

Using A Key

If you have a key, the process is quite simple. Just insert your key into the lock's keyhole, turn it, and you'll be able to take out the lock's pin.

Without Using A Key

For receiver hitch locks without a key, there are different methods you can try to remove them:

  1. Use a screwdriver and hammer: Insert a screwdriver into your lock's keyhole, then hit it with your hammer multiple times until the lock opens.
  2. Use steel pipe: Place it over your lock and move it around.
  3. Use Southord pick: Vertically put it into the lock's hole. Then, place another Southord pick into the keyhole horizontally so you can cut the lock's internal pins.

See this pick set on Amazon.

2. Latch Pin Lock

This type of hitch lock connects the latch to your trailer's coupler. To unlock it, do these:

Using A Key

Removing a latch pin lock using a key is similar to unlocking a receiver hitch lock, except that you must keep turning the key counterclockwise until the lock opens.

Without Using A Key

Here's what you should do to unlock a latch pin if your key is missing:

  1. Insert your Tension pick into the keyhole, then put the Rake pick in the hole's center without removing the Tension.
  2. Move the Rake pick around, then try turning the Tension pick.
  3. Repeat step two until your latch pin is unlocked.

How Do You Remove A Trailer Ball From A Hitch?

2" trailer ball hitch mounted on the back of a vehicle, How To Remove A Trailer Ball Lock

A trailer ball's lock may not be the only thing you want to remove; you may also remove the trailer ball itself from the hitch. Here are the ways you can try to remove a ball hitch:

1. Turn the Mounting Nut

Turn the mounting nut of the ball hitch using a long-handled wrench. You can find this mounting nut under your hitch ball. Turn this counterclockwise so you can loosen it.

Check out this wrench set on Amazon.

2. Use a Blow Torch

With your welding mask and gloves on, use a blow torch on the mounting nut to loosen it further.

Tap here to see this blow torch on Amazon.

3. Use an Angle Grinder

Use an angle grinder with a rotating metal-cutting blade to cut the nut. 

See this angle grinder on Amazon.

Do You Need To Grease A Trailer Hitch Ball?

2inches trailer ball hitch mounted on the back of a vehicle

You don't need to grease your trailer's hitch ball. It will still work without doing this. But greasing it is essential as a part of its maintenance.

Locking a hitch ball to prevent anyone from stealing your trailer isn't the only necessary thing to do.

Greasing it will also help you ensure it doesn't rust easily and maintain its integrity. Additionally, it will serve as the ball hitch and a coupler's barrier, so it has fewer chances of wearing and tearing when you tow.

These are why experts recommend you grease your trailer's hitch ball twice a year, specifically every spring and fall. To apply it, use a dry graphite lube and put it into the ball.

If the hitch ball has rust, ball up an aluminum foil, dip it in white vinegar, and scrub the rust before applying the lubricant.

Can You Drive With A Trailer Coupling Lock On?

trailer coupling at the car

Coupling locks, or trailer ball locks, should only be attached to your trailer when it is not moving. Otherwise, it may damage the trailer's bumper when you turn. 

In Summary

Removing a trailer's ball lock, usually called a coupler hitch lock, can be easy or quite complicated, depending on whether you have its key.

If you have its key, you can use it the same way as a standard key. Insert it into the keyhole, turn it counterclockwise, remove the hook and the latch, and you should be ready to go.

Meanwhile, if you don't have a key, you can use Tension and Rake picks or a bolt cutter.

For Tension and Rake picks, insert both of them into the hole and try using it as a substitute for a lock. On the other hand, for a bolt cutter, tighten the jaws first, then try using it to cut the lock.

Read more insightful articles by checking out these posts about trailer hitches:

How To Keep Trailer Hitch From Rattling

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