Choosing a Hitch
Hitches ain’t Hitches….Choosing a hitch
When choosing an off-road hitch, there are many variables to consider. What angles will I encounter?, what towing capacity does your tow hitch have?, is your tow hitch certified with Australian ADR’s?, type of connecting mechanisms?, is your hitch easy to use?, is your hitch simple or fiddly?, Can I put a handbrake on it? What are your needs?
Well let me start with a couple of the things I think are an absolute must have with any off-road hitch.
Hitch Must Haves
- ADR approval
Your hitch must have an ADR Australian design rule stamp of approval. If you buy a trailer hitch without one in my opinion you have rocks in your head. Let me ask you a question. Would you drive a car without Australian standards approval? Same thing…you are towing a lethal weapon that if it comes off or breaks can do some serious damage. Download the ADR rules
- Hitch Connecting methods
I suggest using the old KISS (Keep It Simple Silly) method when it comes to hitches. Simply the greatest complaint of hitches Overall is its hard to connect..!!!! We all know our intention is to do some off-roading. Be aware of small tolerances and fiddly parts that have a potential to jam or create difficulties when coated with mud or bull-dust. Small parts also damage much easier. Do you ever remember rolling your camper or your old box trailer forward to hitch it up to the tow ball and it kind of got the better of you, was heavier than you thought and slammed into the bumper, number plate or tow ball. What if it slammed into your new off-road hitch? is there anything that could easily get damaged? How are you going to connect up now? Worth thinking about, it’s happened to all of us. Keep it simple and robust with large parts supported by quality bushing. Making sense?
Look for an offroad hitch that Ideally has 2 safely methods securing the connecting pin in place. A lot of hitches just use a lynch pin holding in the connecting pin. I don’t believe this is enough, there really needs to be some sort of backup safety device for securing the connecting pin in place and ensuring everyone’s safety.
- Easy to use
Easy to use is probably next for me after safety. If you have ever disconnected your hitch in a sandy or muddy situation, so you can get yourself unbogged, you will realise the need for it to be easy to reconnect. Some offroad hitches available give absolutely no room for error of any amount in misalignment while connecting, in fact most of them. Best get a trailer hitch that has an aligning tool on the body that helps guide all the holes into alignment.
What to Avoid
- No Bushing
Stay away from tow hitches that don’t have some type of nylon or urethane bushing (not another metal) in all major joints (especially the main rotational body on the trailer side) as these tow hitches may seem nice and firm now but a few thousand kilometres of off-road and you will need a set of earmuffs so you don’t go crazy. Grease in these joints only lasts a few seconds on corrugations and it all gets pumped out. If you buy one without bushing you “WILL” experience rattling and clanking.
- Fiddly Bits
Avoid tow hitches that have small fiddly parts and too many moving bits. KISS (Keep It Simple Silly). The more functions your tow hitch has, other than being a simple hitching devise the less reliable it will be. Complicated off-road hitches cost more, complicate hitching up, have potential for problems and easy damage, loosing bits and do they do the job better? do some homework and make up your own mind.
- Angle restrictions
Be careful of buying an off-road hitch that doesn’t have enough off-road angle ability. There are a couple tow hitches out there that just don’t have enough ability of road. To start with the standard tow ball hitch. If you are going to do any outback adventure chuck out the tow ball and get a proper off-road hitch. A couple others have limited off-road ability as I have experienced. During a trip in the Bungle Bungles I crossed a simple small washout that most anyone on a trip would encounter and I bent the connecting pin so badly it jammed and I couldn’t get it out of the hitch. I suggest making sure the off-road hitch you choose gets to at lease 45 degrees minimum and don’t be to adamant of getting over 70 degrees you most likely will never use it.
- Difficult Pin location
The last one is I recommend an off-road hitch that has the connecting pin load from the side not the top, as hitches that have connecting pins that load from the top have a handle sticking up that can limit off-road angles, prevent easy hitch up due to overhanging ute trays and spare wheels being in the way, they will also fowl with barn doors and tail-gates. Just one misjudgement with one of these hitches will cost you way more in repairs to your car, than the cost of the correct off-road hitch.
The OzHitch is designed to overcome all these above problems, so try one and see how much you love it.
N.B. Whatever you do and whichever off-road hitch you choose, please only use brand name hitches by the original manufacturers. Some poly block couplings amongst others are being copied and are NOT as good in quality. Original manufacturers have a whole lot of experience and time invested in giving you a better safer product. The copies may be cheap to buy but what is the real cost if it breaks and leaves you stranded or even hurts someone. I can assure you from being in the industry for 25+ years and having seen a whole lot of broken ones.
Stick to these simple rules and you will have a great off-road hitch experience.