Trailer Hitch Bottoming Out: Can I Bottom Out The Hitch?

When it comes to trailer hitches you can expect to encounter different problems. It just goes with the territory. It is not that the hitches are badly designed or that it is always user error. Sometimes the environment creates problems you didn’t think about.

It is possible to bottom out your trailer hitch. It will depend on the design of the hitch, how much drop it has as well as how roads, driveways, etc., are designed. Plus, there may be other factors involved.

To learn more about this important issue, just continue to read our article. It explores the topic so you can avoid this problem when you start towing a trailer. Depending on the situation, you may experience this even when you thought you fixed the issue.

Can I Bottom Out The Trailer Hitch?


This is a very common problem so if it happens to you, you are not alone. The cause of the problem is clearance. If you do not have a lot of clearance, then you will run into this problem going over speed bumps, potholes, badly designed entryways into parking lots, or even your driveway.

Many hitches have roughly 17 inches of clearance from the ground to the bottom of the hitch receiver. You would think that is enough but many hitches come with a drop.

A drop is how low below the receiver the hitch actually rests. Some have a 7-inch drop and others have more. What complicates the problem is the manufacturers’ recommendations.

Those manufacturers include the hitch maker, the receiver maker, and the truck maker. All have their specifications on how the hitch should look and where it should be.

In other words. Simply turning the hitch over is not the best idea. It may be the easiest but it will also cause problems for you. This move may not be recommended by any one of those manufacturers.

What If My Trailer Hitch is Too Low?


This is another common problem as the hitch drop is most likely the source of the problem. But before you can do anything about this situation, you need to check the different recommendations by the different manufacturers involved.

If you are lucky, the hitch and the receiver may be made by the same company. That will make altering the situation a lot easier. But before you proceed with the alterations you need to check the truck maker’s recommendations.

All three may allow a simple flipping of the hitch so that you get more clearance. If they don’t, then you may void any warranty you have. The added stress of this change can put extra stress on other key parts causing them to fail.

Towing a trailer comes with all sorts of details you have to figure out before you go on your next road trip. There are adjustable tow hitches that can help alleviate the problem. There are regulations you can read that you need to follow.

Trailer Hitch Bottoming Out


If you try to solve this problem, you may adjust the hitch to a point that is too low for the tow vehicle. This would put stress on the suspension and you will get more trailer sway.

If your adjustment puts it too high, you also get too much stress on your suspension as well as wearing out your tow vehicle too quickly. You will find you have less control over your trailer at highway speeds.

Here are some instructions to help you solve the problem:

1. Park your tow vehicle and trailer on a flat, firm surface to avoid getting wrong measurements as a result of tilting.

2. Measure from the ground to the top edge of the hitch receiver of your tow vehicle.

3. Then measure from the ground to the bottom edge of your trailer’s tongue (or coupler).

4. Next, take the height of the receiver you recorded and subtract it from the height of the coupler.

5. If the measurement is positive, you need to raise the height of your trailer’s hitch.

6. If it is negative, you need to drop the height of your trailer’s hitch. (taken from )

How Far Off The Ground Should My Hitch Be?


The standard clearance you should have is 17 inches. You get this by measuring from the ground to the bottom of the receiver or coupler. But that is under ideal conditions and very flat ground.

Unfortunately, the ground around the nation is not flat all the time. You will have speed bumps, bumps in the road, potholes, bad driveway entrances, inclines, and other obstacles to go over.

If you have plenty of clearance, those obstacles should not be a problem. The problem may come in with the drop that many hitches are built with. They can cut that clearance by 7 to 8 inches approx. And make towing problematic.

How Much Drop Should My Hitch Have?

The amount of drop you will need will depend on your vehicle and how high or low it rides. There is no one size fits all answer here. It will depend on the height of your vehicle as well as the height of your trailer.

The key here is to make sure your trailer and tow vehicle are level once you have added the hitch to the coupler. If y u are not sure how to figure out the drop in the hitch, here is an equation to help you:

Measure the clearance of your receiver from the ground to the inside of your hitch then subtract the measurement you get when you measure from the ground to the bottom of the trailer coupler.

The result is your drop.

Some Final Words

Bottoming out is going to happen even if you have the perfect clearance. The reason it will happen is that the ground is not ideal everywhere you go. The best thing you can do is keep your tow vehicle and trailer level as you drive.

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