Hitch Pin vs Receiver Pin: How to Use a Hitch Pin Clip Safely

Pulling a trailer often depends on small parts. In the case of keeping the hitch and the tow vehicle united, you need a good hitch pin. While it is rare, you can have the trailer pull the ball mount out if there is no hitch pin. Make sure it is there is a safety move.

Depending on the design, to use the hitch pin safely, you have to make sure that it goes through all the holes correctly and comes out the other side with ease. That little pin is enough to hold the hitch receiver in place.

To learn more about the hitch pin, just continue to read our article. It has the information you need to know about so you can use this vital part safely and correctly. Take a few minutes to learn about this important topic.

What is a Hitch Pin Called?


The hitch pin is usually an ‘L’ shaped design that slips through two or more holes to hold the receiver hitch in place. It is a strong little device that makes sure nothing bad happens while you are in transit.

There are different designs for this part and sometimes those designs include the name of the locking pin that holds it in place. There are the linch, clevis, detent, snapper, and toggle pins but these are all designed differently than the hitch pin.

There are varying uses for these different styles of pins and their flexibility allows you to secure more than just the receiver hitch. One safety feature you should consider would be to get one that locks.

There have been many reports of theft when owners have stopped for a day at the beach or a picnic.

Hitch Pin vs Receiver Pin

These two pins seem to be the same thing except for the name. They come in different designs, sizes, and many of the same abilities. For example, one receiver hitch pin design is a quick-release model.

Just push the button and the pin should release. When you are looking for either name, sometimes retailers simply say, quick release pin. They do not use the words hitch or receiver in their descriptions.

Despite their different names, they both serve the same purpose to keep your receiver hitch in place. While you may think that theft of these pins is low. Check the different discussion forums to see that this is a common occurrence.

Protecting your trailer does mean protecting these smaller, more vulnerable parts.

Do I Need a Hitch Pin?


The answer to this question is yes you do. It is possible to use bolts, nuts, and washers to handle the task but those alternative parts may allow too much play when you are towing.

Hitch pins, are specifically designed to stop that play and keep your trailer steady as you go down the road. They are probably stronger than a bolt is as they are made specifically to handle the stress and weight on that side of the towing aspect.

To use a bolt, you need one that is not made from zinc or a zinc alloy. You would need grade 5 or 8 steel bolts to handle the job of a hitch pin. While we have been saying you should get a lock for your linch pin, those locks can be removed with a good hacksaw blade.

You may want to consider removing the pin and putting it in a safe place in your truck.

Are All Trailer Hitch Pins The Same?

The answer to this question would be determined by how you would define the term same. They all have the same duty but there will be different sizes, and different styles but the purpose remains the same.

One reason for the different designs is that all trailer receiver hitches are not the same nor designed in the same way. Another reason is that some of these hitch pins are lockable while others are not.

You can try using alternatives, but they may not work as well as a true hitch pin. The designs are geared for the size of the hitch you are using. It is best to pick a pin that is designed for your specific hitch. That way you won’t have any doubts about its effectiveness.

How Does a Pin Hitch Work?


In most hitch cases, the hitch pin may be a long cylinder with a little bend at the end. That L shape helps keep the pin in place while you tow your trailer. All you have to do is insert it through the different holes and it will work for you.

There should be holes on the receiver hitch and the ball hitch that line-up. Once you get them aligned, you just slip the hitch pin through all 4 holes and put the cotter pin through the hole in the hitch pin.

That should keep the hitch pin from slipping out as you drive. That is all there is to it. The key and what makes this task easy is lining up the 4 holes correctly. You should see light coming through from the other side when it is done right.

How To Use a Hitch Pin Clip

People may call it a clip and that term can be confusing as the correct term for the clip is cotter pin. The cotter pin is the security pin that holds the hitch pin in place.

All you have to do is slip the end of the pin through the 2 holes on the hitch pin. There are 2 ends that are very tight and if they are stiff, you may need a flat head screwdriver to pry the two ends apart to get one end through the holes.

The two tight ends go on either side of the hole to make sure the cotter pin remains in place. If the cotter pin remains in place, then you know the hitch pin will as well. It is easy but sometimes people have trouble slipping the one end through the hole as the two ends are very tight.

Where Does a Hitch Pin Go?


There are actually two hitches on your tow vehicle. There is the receiver hitch and the ball hitch. The ball hitch can come off in most cases in case you need to change the size of the ball.

This will save you work as you will not need to remove the receiver hitch to accommodate the new ball hitch. It is called the receiver hitch because you slide the end of the ball hitch into its opening.

You need to slide that ball hitch back far enough to align all the holes. Once that happens you can slide the hitch pin into place. The location of that connection is right near or just under your tow vehicle’s rear bumper.

Locking Hitch Pin Clip

Many owners recommend this device as the cost can add up when you experience more than one theft. There are locking cotter pins and it may be a wise move to get a lock for them.

In some cases, the lock only slows the thieves down a little. They just bring a hacksaw with them and cut through the lock and steal both the clip and the hitch pin.

If you do not need it, just remove both parts and secure them in some place safe inside your tow vehicle or trailer. If you want to use one of these pins, they are on sale everywhere.

From big box stores to little hardware stores, you can find both the locking pin and the lock. Their costs are reasonable and should not make any impact on your budget.

Hitch Pin With Padlock Hole


There are some of these and you can use a small enough lock to secure the hitch pin in place instead of using the cotter pin. Or you can go to Amazon and find a hitch pin with a built-in lock.

There are many different designs for this option and they may slow thieves down a little. If they use a hacksaw, to bypass the lock, they may ruin the hitch pin at the same time.

Locks are locks and there is always some way to get around their mechanisms so consider these products carefully. It may be best to keep the hitch pin out of sight when you are parked and do not need to tow your trailer anywhere.

Some Final Words

Some of the most important parts of a travel trailer are small. If you buy the right ones, those small parts make big contributions to your vacation time. The hitch pin is one of those parts and you do not want to go cheap here.

Get a good one that fits your receiver hitch and then hide it away when it is not in use. Sticky fingers lurk everywhere.

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