Nothing can ruin a well planned trip worse than a broken trailer hitch. Follow these three simple rules to make that trip of a lifetime filled with great memories.
1. Even Out the Weight
Probably the most important thing to remember is to make sure the weight of your trailer is evenly distributed. Make sure that you don't have everything loaded to the front or the rear inside the trailer. Too much weight in the front will put too much of a load onto the tongue of the hitch, and your truck. Even worse, too much in back will cause the trailer to constantly pull up and increase the swaying in corners or a crosswind.
2. Tongue Weight
Once you have the weight distributed correctly in the trailer, you also must know the tongue weight your truck is weighted for. The tongue weight should be in the range of 10 - 15% of the total weight of the trailer that you are pulling, but always withing the truck's limit. This is the trailer weight, plus everything that you loaded into it. If you have a height adjustable hitch, like in the picture, you can fine tune the weight by adjusting the height.
3. Properly Maintain Your Hitch Ball
Your hitch ball is going to need replacing at some point, but make sure that this is later, rather than sooner. Regular inspections will go a long way to prevent failed ball from ruining your trip and having astronomical repair costs. Make sure that the ball fits tightly into the hitch socket and that the bolt for the ball is as tight as you can get it, 150lb-ft to 450lb-ft depending on size. You should hear no banging or clanking when moving your trailer when it is attached. If you do, stop and check it out before the situation becomes a show-stopper. Make sure that the ball is properly torqued and well-lubed. Spray some WD40 on the ball and moving parts after every use to keep it free of rust. If rust is present, use a wire brush to remove as much as possible and use Moly-grease or other lubricant to preserve it's condition for as long as possible.