A hitch extender is a special towing accessory that enhances the hitch receiver opening of a vehicle. It fits right with the hitch receiver, and you can easily tow anything without restricting access to the tailgate.
Are Hitch Extenders Safe?
Yes! Using a hitch extender is safe, provided you use it properly. There are several benefits of using a hitch extender, such as it curtails the risk of the trailer bumping into the tow vehicle on tight turns.
I also use a trailer hitch extension to tow a bike rack, as it helps me with the tailgate access without removing the rack. In this post, you’ll find everything you need to know about using a hitch extender.
Does a Hitch Adapter Reduce Tongue Weight?
Yes! Using a trailer hitch extension can reduce the tongue weight to up to 50% in some cases. When you use a hitch adapter, it increases the existing hitch’s length, which then increases the leverage on the hitch receiver. (Answer to the subtitle goes first).
There is much more movement around the receiver with an extender around it, which is the reason for the reduced capacity.
If the trailer hitch is rated 2,000 lbs tongue weight, you can only two 1,000 lbs weight with it after using a hitch extender. For specifics enter your exact weights and dimensions in this trailer calculator. It would be wise to add in a 10% safety margin or more for older vehicles. Read below for more external factors to consider when hauling close to max capacity.
How Close to Maximum Tow Capacity is Safe?
If you want to tow max load at a time, you should only tow 70-80% of your vehicle’s maximum tow capacity for safe driving.
The maximum towing capacity refers to the GPW or gross pulling weight a vehicle can successfully tow behind it. It is essential to understand how much weight you can tow with the vehicle, as towing more load can rip apart the frame while damaging the suspension and voiding the manufacturer’s warranty.
There are a lot of misconceptions going on around when it comes to how much weight is safe for hauling with your truck. Some people say you can tow close to the 100% towing capacity of the vehicle, whereas some say 50% is acceptable.
It depends on what you are hauling, so if the load is secure and not moving around you can get to 100%. Weather will lessen your towing capacity. If you are driving through crosswinds you may want to limit what you haul. A simple gust could make you lose control at 100% weight.
Other safety factors with hauling trailers consider are:
- Road conditions
- Road grade
- Vehicle condition (is it up for new brakes or some type of fluid change?)
- Driving ability
- Passengers causing a raucous
- When you use a hitch extender, the vehicle’s towing capacity gets reduced, and you can even tow fewer loads with it.
50% of the towing capacity gets reduced with a hitch extender, and you can only use its 70-80% if you want to tow the trailer using an extender.
Tips for Driving Safely with a Big Load and Hitch Extender
Start Slow (Start Driving Your Loaded Trailer Slowly)
Always start slow when you have a big load on the trailer. Pressing the gas pedal can create difficulties while driving. Start slow and then achieve good speeds gradually when you hit the highway roads.
Set The Side Mirrors
Set your side mirrors to see your travel trailer and road conditions behind you. Set the side-view mirrors correctly, so you get an unobstructed view of the vehicles coming from behind. Try to avoid carrying a load that can block your view, as it is not safe for driving.
Check The Tires (Check Your Tires After Loading Your Trailer With An Extender)
Inspect the car and trailer tires thoroughly before moving. Sometimes the tire pressure gets reduced due to the big load. Driving with a flat tire can be extremely dangerous.
Don’t Overload The Trailer!
Never overload a trailer, no matter if you are using a trailer hitch extension or not. Always carry a load that’s 20-30% lesser than the recommended weight you can carry on the trailer.
What Happens If You Tow Something Too Heavy?
You will experience difficulties in taking tight turns as the trailer will wobble vigorously due to the heavy load. There are many other things as well that happen to your truck when you tow something beyond its capacity.
Carrying something beyond the maximum towing capacity can result in several mishaps, including transmission overheating. Furthermore, the heavy load can damage the vehicle’s suspension system and can rip off the entire frame of the trailer.
In some cases, the hitch receiver can also rip apart from the car’s frame, and it can have severe consequences. Always carry a load that’s lighter than the maximum towing capacity of your truck.
Hitch Extender With A Height Discrepancy
Sometimes your trailer coupler height is higher lower than your truck’s hitch mount. With so many models of trucks and trailers standards are not met so you may need a mount with a certain sized drop. There are many and you will need to find out the length of the drop for your current setup.
There are many solutions to any situation. Be sure to measure correctly and you won’t have any problems finding a high-quality extender (for this article) with a drop. For a detailed description for you to geek out on, Torklift Central explains it better than most, so I won’t.
This post rounds up the basics of using a hitch extender and how it impacts the towing capacity of a vehicle. Are hitch extenders safe? It is essential to buy a good-quality hitch extender that can bear the load and other wear and tear to stay safe and responsible.
A simple error that often occurs with newer haulers is to secure the extender properly to the receiver, and then attach the trailer with it to have a safe driving experience. Lastly, if you aren’t sure how to use a hitch extender, check out this video and learn pretty quick:
Thanks for reading (and watching) and stay dirty