Very stubborn Trailer Hitch Coupler

TerryV6TerryV6 Member Posts: 1,070
I've pulled big flat beds at work, loaded with equipment and machines. Never had trouble with the coupler.  But the one that is on our camper is a beast.  It just sticks, like its rusted.  At first I thought it was the way the trailer sat on the car, putting pressure on the mechanism.  But it is the same when unconnected.  You pull up on the tab, and then it is supposed to slide back... When I pull, I'm afraid I'll injure a finger or something.  Is this common, or a defect here?  I'm afraid of being at a campsite and being in an incline situation, putting more pressure on the latch, and we won't get it unconnected.  Our dealer had us play with it a bit, because he says he gets calls for help about this.  Should it be this hard?  I tried spraying a lube on it...
Terry & Jody...  2016 Dodge Ram 1500
2016 NuCamp 320 [email protected] Max S
[email protected]  Road   
Appleton,  WI





«1

Comments

  • jkjennjkjenn Member Posts: 5,865
    It is hard at first. Spraying it is a good idea as well as working it. I can't remember when it stopped being so stiff for me, but it does, eventually. Maybe put a couple of thousand of miles on it. I think some have used mallets before.

    2021 [email protected] 320 Boondock "Mattie Ross" | [email protected] Nights: 13 | 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk | [email protected] owner since 2014

  • VernaVerna Administrator Posts: 5,786
    I put vaseline on @RollingLagrimahitch and ball, and it worked so easily after that. She'll have to tell you if it was easier to take off. 

    Why vaseline? It doesn't stain clothing like oil. 
    Verna, Columbus, IN, 2019 [email protected] 400 Boondock Lite white/red, towed by a white 2019 Ford F-150 4x4 Supercab, 3.5L V6 Ecoboost; [email protected] Administrator
  • Michigan_MikeMichigan_Mike Administrator Posts: 2,594
    TerryV6 said:
    I've pulled big flat beds at work, loaded with equipment and machines. Never had trouble with the coupler.  But the one that is on our camper is a beast.  It just sticks, like its rusted.  Should it be this hard?  I tried spraying a lube on it...
    I agree, it is difficult and I was told that with use it will get easier and suspect it probably will.  I carry a small cats paw type tool with me and use that to pry the tongue hitch up if it sticks.  I've used pintle hitches and conventional HD trailer hitches too and this style is a lot different and will require patience as like you, when I pulled my trailer home from the dealer I was a bit shocked when the hitch wouldn't release and I sat there facing the prospect that I had a permanent trailer on the back of my tow vehicle.  
    Mike Smith 
    Linden, Mi
    2019 [email protected] 400
  • RatkityRatkity Member Posts: 3,757
    My coupler is a little different than my old popup that had the type you described, StBob. The popup one auto-locked the nut. Had to make sure it was lubed and adjusted properly. You unlocked it by pulling up on a lever on top of the ball area of the coupler. My [email protected] has the lever lock system behind the coupler head. I reached under there once to grease everything when I got my camper and discovered the difference, but I haven't investigated how to adjust the nut or catch on the pivoting lever-lock coupler.
    2017 820R Retro Toy Hauler from 2015 Tabitha [email protected] from 2009 Reverse LG Teardrop (but a [email protected] at heart)
  • Michigan_MikeMichigan_Mike Administrator Posts: 2,594
    edited April 2016
    ST_Bob said:
    There's usually an adjuster beneath the coupler that adjusts how snug or loose the coupling is on the ball.  They usually have a large Nylock nut that you can adjust to get it just right.  If it's too tight it will be hard to latch/unlatch.  Too loose and it'll bang when you hit bumps or start/stop.  REALLY loose and it won't stay on the ball.
    Bob,

    It's really not an issue with that adjustment, it's more the configuration/lack of familiarity and newness of these hitches that is the issue.  I also believe that not only with "break-in" time, but with familiarity they do eventually become easier to get on and off the ball.  I was a little shocked when I hauled my trailer back home to Michigan from Ohio as the dealer had hooked the trailer up for me, locked the hitch down (or so I thought) and when I did a walk around at our first stop I noticed that the hood portion of the hitch was not fully engaged and down onto the top of the tongue!  I played around with it and was able to hear the "snap" when it engaged and from that point on have made it a practice to stay focued on this task so as not to risk losing the trailer out on the interstate or during travel.  

    We have discussed this topic in length before (via other member's difficulties) and here is a link to the prior discussion - Fighting the tongue coupler

    Attached Image

    This video might help others who are frustrated and having difficulty getting the hitch hood to come up and off the ball.


    Mike Smith 
    Linden, Mi
    2019 [email protected] 400
  • RollingLagrimaRollingLagrima Member Posts: 436
    Vaseline does help (thanks Verna!) but it is still quirky. :)

    I have found through trial and error though that problems arise if you try to "unhitch" before manually pulling back the hood!all the way.

    A "couple" (ok more than a couple) of times I have cranked down the wheel to the ground, un hooked the chains, unhooked the 7pin plug and then proceeded to continue to crank the jockey wheel crank which everything i have assuming the coupler would rise up off the ball on its own once It got high enough.  This is how my simpler Silver Shadow worked.  This will not work in this [email protected] coupler.  You wind up (pun intended) raising the back end of tour TV before you figure out you will never dis-engage this way.

    My new routine involves attaching the wheel, leaving it up high off the ground, unhooking chains, 7 pin (all of this after chocking) and then pulling the hood up manually and back while there is no pressure on the coupler coming from underneath from the jockey wheel post assembly. Once the hood is back, I then start cranking the jockey wheel crank lowering the wheel to the ground at which point the coupler does pop off because the hood is already back.

    Also when I hitch up, my final step is put that jockey wheel retaining Pin through the holes on the hood assembly.  If I cannot get the pin through, I know the hood is not fully seated in the down and correct towing position and I do not pass go.

    I know this is kind of long-winded, but posts like this helped me when I was starting out as a complete towing newb with my SS.  Hope it helps somebody.

    I do also carry a rubber headed mallet and claw, but seem to be needing them less and less. This may be due to wearing in the coupler over time, or it may be that I am trying to crank lift my TV less frequently... ;)
    Sally, "[email protected]" 2016 [email protected] Sofitel Maxx-S (plata=silver; SP), previously Little Guy 2014 Silver Shadow LE, TV -- 2013 Chevy Avalanche + two hounds.
  • Michigan_MikeMichigan_Mike Administrator Posts: 2,594
    edited April 2016
    My new routine involves attaching the wheel, leaving it up high off the ground, unhooking chains, 7 pin (all of this after chocking) and then pulling the hood up manually and back while there is no pressure on the coupler coming from underneath from the jockey wheel post assembly. Once the hood is back, I then start cranking the jockey wheel crank lowering the wheel to the ground at which point the coupler does pop off because the hood is already back.

    Also when I hitch up, my final step is put that jockey wheel retaining Pin through the holes on the hood assembly.  If I cannot get the pin through, I know the hood is not fully seated in the down and correct towing position and I do not pass go.

    I know this is kind of long-winded, but posts like this helped me when I was starting out as a complete towing newb with my SS.  Hope it helps somebody.
    Good post Sally and with some great tips above!

    If you are able to get the hood up and back that disengages the internal holding mechanism as that part of the coupler (where Bob said the adjustment point is located/under the hood) is contoured to fit precisely around the round shape/contour of the trailer ball.  That makes good sense and I think for many new trailer owners the frustration and inability to disengage the hitch lock lies in the mechanics of this hitch and latching mechanism and people's unfamiliarity in how the hitch works.  I experienced this firsthand myself and the anxiety meter shot through the roof about 9 PM at night after I hauled my new trailer home.  Thank God I had the dealer's cell phone number as he helped bail me out in the darkness of my driveway!   :o

    Your final tip and step above in "putting the retaining pin through the hole" is invaluable since this is a "must-do safety measure" that will ensure that the hood coupler will remain in place and will never come off during travel, unless of course a catastrophic accident/life altering event suddenly occurs that creates forces well beyond the coupler's rated ability.  

    Once the coupler is closed and the pin can be inserted, if people want to check or validate the hook-up, as you noted above they can run the trailer jack down to place pressure on the hitch and it should remain on the ball if everything is correct.  

    Thanks for taking the time to share your experience and technique and agree, the coupler should become easier with use and after a good break-in period.  
    Mike Smith 
    Linden, Mi
    2019 [email protected] 400
  • jkjennjkjenn Member Posts: 5,865
    I agree about the breaking in period. I took my [email protected] on a 2 week+ trip shortly after I picked it up and it was mostly broken in by the end. Not sure if it makes an impact, but I also use a graceless ball. It has been super!

    2021 [email protected] 320 Boondock "Mattie Ross" | [email protected] Nights: 13 | 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk | [email protected] owner since 2014

  • TerryV6TerryV6 Member Posts: 1,070
    "We have discussed this topic in length before" 

    I did do a search,  but for 

    Trailer Hitch Coupler

    Not tongue coupler... 

    And,  this stiffness is present when not attached.. 
    I have viewed the video,  so I know how the hood is supposed to work.. Trying to lift it up bare handed can be a trick because of the small grabbing area.   I just am glad this is experienced by others.   Will carry a rubber hammer and some kind  of claw. I can see my wife having a real problem with this...  Outside now,  applying Vaseline... Grin

    Terry & Jody...  2016 Dodge Ram 1500
    2016 NuCamp 320 [email protected] Max S
    [email protected]  Road   
    Appleton,  WI





  • RollingLagrimaRollingLagrima Member Posts: 436
    Put the hood on an exercise regime. 100 up. 100 down. Every day.! :)
    Sally, "[email protected]" 2016 [email protected] Sofitel Maxx-S (plata=silver; SP), previously Little Guy 2014 Silver Shadow LE, TV -- 2013 Chevy Avalanche + two hounds.
  • TomStephens1TomStephens1 Member Posts: 88
    It absolutely does loosen up. I've been on only three trips since we bought our new CS-S in October and had problems on the first two of them. It worked fine by the third camping excursion.
  • TerryV6TerryV6 Member Posts: 1,070
    I had to laugh when I read Sally's post... I also started raising my car off the ground when I lowered the wheel.  I was used to the other hitch types, where that's all you had to do when you pull the lever up.  It's nice to see honesty in posts where you can say, hey, I did that too.
    Terry & Jody...  2016 Dodge Ram 1500
    2016 NuCamp 320 [email protected] Max S
    [email protected]  Road   
    Appleton,  WI





  • HappyHappy Member Posts: 7
    I'm new to towing alone -- my husband used to do all the physical stuff.  I'm not as strong so I need to rely on brain power, not muscle.  

    My original question here was going to be about being unable to hitch up to the truck.  I couldn't get the ball of the hitch to go all the way into the trailer part (don't know the right names...)  It would sit halfway, enough that I could actually move the trailer a little, but not all the way.  I applied a lubricant (for hitches) but that didn't solve the issue.  Finally, I spritzed the entire thing with WD40 and it slid right in.  Successfully pulled it around all day.  

    In the evening I returned to my camping area (my mother's backyard just now) and tried to unhitch.  I can pull up the latch (again, don't know the right name) but when I crank up the jockey wheel it does not come loose.  I jumped on the bumper (but my few pounds doesn't make much impact) I moved the truck back and forth, I pounded with a rubber mallet (but in random places not knowing what to really hit.)  Nothing worked.  I gave up finally and just left it hitched.  

    But I need to be able to do this.  And I can't rely on muscle.  Do I need a prybar of some type?  Does the truck have to be perfectly straight with the trailer?  (that is my 80-year-old mother's theory)  Does it have to be done under a full moon on a Tuesday?

    Why is this so hard?
  • marknjudymarknjudy Member Posts: 378

    Just a point of clarification: when you say you cranked up the jockey wheel, do you mean cranked it up off the ground? Or do you mean cranked on it to raise the hitch upward?

    If you raised the jockey wheel off the ground, you need to lower the wheel to the ground and then enough that you see that the back end of the TV isn't being pushed downward. That usually works for me.

    If you lowered the jockey wheel to the ground, try lowering it slightly. You may have raised the back end of the TV up enough to create a load on the ball and hitch.

    If you have the hitch more or less neutral, and it still doesn't work, try moving the TV forward a couple of inches, but don't slam on the brakes or the trailer will just put it back in a bind. Ease forward just a smide.

    If that doesn't help, I'm at a loss.

    Mark - 2016 [email protected] Max S (Silver/Red), 2012 F-150
  • SubismSubism Member Posts: 39
    I have found my hitch to be difficult to get to fully seat on the ball and also to unlatch. It may be that the lever/latch on the hitch is not all the way up and not releasing the ball. I would see if you could pry it up a little further. Don't use too much force (try a screwdriver under the latch, not a long prybar). If that is the issue it will not take much effort; if it doesn't move then the issue is elsewhere.
    Marc and Angie in Burlington, NC. 2018 Ford F150 FX4 3.5L Ecoboost, 2016 320 S Max
  • Sharon_is_SAMSharon_is_SAM Moderator Posts: 5,463
    Isn't the movement to remove the coupler from the ball to pull up first, then slide back?
    Sharon / 2017 [email protected] CSS / 2015 Toyota Sienna Minivan / Westlake, Ohio
  • NomadNomad Member Posts: 7,213
    What SAM said - If it is too tightt go up and back, I use a claw hammer to pry i up - The claw under the very front lip of the hitch.


  • Michigan_MikeMichigan_Mike Administrator Posts: 2,594
    I remember the panic stricken anxiety I felt when I first encountered that situation.....  smilie   smilie   smilie

    But there is hope as it does get better and easier.   smilie
    Mike Smith 
    Linden, Mi
    2019 [email protected] 400
  • AlanAlan Member Posts: 120
    Apropos of nothing in particular, my DW and I love the new hitch! You absolutely know when it is on properly! That is really important to us.
  • minischminisch Member Posts: 3
    edited November 2016
    I have the same problem when hitching & unhitching. First time on my own hitching up, the trailer was sitting on top of the ball. When I bent over to look closer, I leaned against the truck, that was just enough to cause trailer to drop on the ball, scared the heck out of me when it dropped on. Then the rest was easy. I definitely need to practice, thinking I need to put the ball farther back toward trailer when hooking up. Was used to old trailer that would grab forward onto ball.
  • NomadNomad Member Posts: 7,213
    In order to get the hitch slider and latch down, you need the ball as far forward as possible. I've gotten down but back too far, hooked the chains and pulled forward a bit to get it to drop.
    Second the like this hitch - Once down/locked it's not coming off.


  • HomebodyatheartHomebodyatheart Member Posts: 2,205
    PXLated, do you know of anyone who might make a youtube video of this procedure for us newbies? I didn't see one online, but I could have missed it. Hitching up and un-hitching would be good, since there seems to be an art to it. Thanks!
    2017 [email protected] 320 Max S silver and cherry red, [email protected] ("Bug" aka my [email protected] pod), TV 2015 Toyota Highlander aka Big Red
  • NomadNomad Member Posts: 7,213
    Don't have the bandwith for a vid and not sure pics would do it. If your hitch is new it's harder but the key is getting that ball seated forward. Once I discovered that haven't had a problem. Haven't cussed at my hitch in a very long time :-)


  • lapowers57lapowers57 Member Posts: 187
    I received a bad hitch with my [email protected] this summer.  Fought with it for awhile.  It wouldn't go down on the ball but I found that there was a small latch inside that if I pushed on it the hitch would sit down on the ball easily.  Once on it was necessary for me to kick the latch hard to make it close completely.  Opening the latch often required some type of pry bar or hammer claw.  When I took it in for some other warranty work I had the dealer check the hitch and they agreed it was not right.  They got it warranted.  The new hitch is better and I am hoping that after a few more trips it will break in.  Never hesitate to ask the dealer or call PV as I have found them more then willing to make things right.  
    2016 [email protected] [email protected] S grey/red 16 Foot Airstream, towed by 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee V6 4x4, Central Connecticut



  • PhotomomPhotomom Member Posts: 2,206
    PXLated, do you know of anyone who might make a youtube video of this procedure for us newbies? I didn't see one online, but I could have missed it. Hitching up and un-hitching would be good, since there seems to be an art to it. Thanks!
    @jkjenn did one. Sorry, don't have the link at hand.
    John and Henrietta, Late 2016 [email protected] S Max in Western New York
  • JustJohnJustJohn Member Posts: 171
    I suggest you spray the hitch inside and out with a silicon spray. Really soak it and allow to dry. Also lube the ball with a spray lithium grease. WD 40 is not a lubricant. I had the same problem with my hitch but judicious use of the proper lubricants solved the problem.
    2016 Outback.....North East N.C...... Former 2012 Silver Shadow
  • rfuss928rfuss928 Member Posts: 576
    If this problem is on an older [email protected] with the ALKO chassis (the jockey wheel comment makes me suspicious) the problem and solution is a bit different than what is happening with the LG [email protected] 

  • TabberJohnTabberJohn Member Posts: 559
    edited November 2016

    If you have a recent [email protected] the hitch coupler will look like this when the latch is closed.


    The coupler latch must be in the fully open and back position before you hitch or unhitch the ball.

    If the latch appears stuck when closed you can insert a large screwdriver or something similar at the front lip (red arrow) to pry it up.
    The crucial thing is the latch lifts up and then must move BACK before the coupler can release the ball. 
    If your latch moves with difficulty make sure to lube/grease it so it's easy to move in the future.

    There is also a video for the Atwood Trailer Coupler. See Michigan_Mike's post above.

    2015 [email protected] Max S (White/Silver) -> 2014 Ford Escape 2.0L (turbo, AWD, factory tow)
  • HomebodyatheartHomebodyatheart Member Posts: 2,205
    Thank you both so much for the information. I know it will come in handy!
    2017 [email protected] 320 Max S silver and cherry red, [email protected] ("Bug" aka my [email protected] pod), TV 2015 Toyota Highlander aka Big Red
Sign In or Register to comment.