In this post, we will explain how to stop your trailer from rattling by using a trailer hitch anti-rattle device. If you tow a boat, caravan, campervan, bicycle, or box trailer you may sometime come across your trailer hitch jumping around and vibrating. This is because there is too much play from the ball connection point and the socket.
You can also get trailer hitch rattles from the adjustable drawbar connection point into your vehicle so it is important to first realize where the noise is coming from to determine the fix.
In my case, I had a rattle when going over small bumps in the road as well as hard braking I would hear a clunk or rattle. There were two issues at play here:
- Incorrectly adjusted tow ball and hitch.
- Not enough weight on the drawbar from the trailer.
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How to eliminate hitch vibrations using the trailer hitch anti-rattle clamp
If you have too much rattle in your ill-fitting drawbar you can use a product called a Hitch Clamp. It is the ultimate trailer anti-rattle device.
These are cheap square U-bolt clamps that are designed to clamp over the drawbar and the hitch tube. It will pull the two pieces of metal into each other so there is zero play in the hitch.
Usually, I find the tow hitch rattles due to not having enough weight on the tow ball causing it to bounce around. Often this is when I carry a bike on the back of the car towball.
The hitch clamp solves the rattle problem by clamping down the sliding drawbar. Often these drawbars are only held in with a quick removable pin. This is where you can get some rattle due to oversized tolerances.
They are made this way so you can quickly remove the tow hitch to adjust the length or to install a hitch safe. Even if you get dirt or rust in your car tow hitch you still should be able to adjust it easily.
How to adjust your trailer hitch.
Start by fully cleaning the hitch ball and socket with some brake cleaner and a rag. This will get rid of all of the old dirt and grease.
Next, lightly grease up the ball and socket with some bearing grease. If you don’t have that you can use Lithium grease or Vaseline. This will help you slide the trailer onto the tow ball, plus it will stop the metal-on-metal screech.
Now push the tow trailer hitch onto the car ball and secure it into position. If the trailer is light enough you can try to lift it up. You will see some play on the ball hitch. This is what we want to eliminate.
To adjust the ball and socket we need to first loosen off the lock nut to the adjuster and screw in or out the play reducer. (Model depending)
Only make a small 1/2 turn and test for movement. You will want 1-2mm of play otherwise the trailer hitch will be stiff to move and you will hear squealing noises when going around corners. This is metal on metal.
I have also found that if I adjust my trailer hitch play too much then I will have an issue removing and installing the trailer onto the car tow ball.
How to set boat trailer tongue weight
If you have too little tongue weight it may lead to swaying, rattles, and fish-tailing at cruising speeds. Too much drawbar weight and the tow vehicle can become difficult to steer. This is because it pushes the rear of the vehicle down and the front up.
Your tongue weight should be around 10 percent of the total trailer weight. So if your trailer and boat weigh 600kg you would want around 60kg of tongue weight.
So how do we measure the tongue weight? There are a couple of methods to use. If you have a small boat or jet-ski you can use a set of 300kg fishing scales. Attach the scales to the end of the trailer drawbar and lift it up to the same level as the car tow ball. Read the weight and adjust as necessary.
If it is too heavy for one person to lift you could use a thick piece of wood or metal bar pushed through one end of the weigh scales. The other end is connected to the trailer tongue with a person on each end. This will halve the weight each person needs to lift. It is an out-of-the-box thinking.
Another way is to use some body weight scales. But make sure they are rated for at least 150kg to avoid damage. Place a hard object like a garden tile on the weigh scales and then lower the trailer hitch onto it. Make sure you measure the weight as the same level as the car tow ball. Use the jockey-wheel for height adjustment when lowering.
Once your drawbar weight is correct it will be safe to use the trailer hitch anti-rattle device.
Factors That Can Affect Towing Weight
- Position of the boat on the trailer.
- By moving the boat forward or back on the trailer your tongue weight will change up and down accordingly.
- Moving the boat further forward will increase towing weight.
- Moving the boat back will decrease towing weight
- Load inside the boat including fuel.
With the steps mentioned above, I’m sure you will be able to get rid of the annoying trailer rattle. Most of all it will make your trailer setup safer and minimize the tow ball hitch point jumping off.
Once a year I grease my tow ball and my trailer wheel bearing buddies. Keeps everything running smoothly and quietly.
Losing a trailer is dangerous and can cause a huge amount of damage to lives and equipment. Don’t forget to lock up your trailer to stop it from getting stolen.
Get your trailer set up right the first time. Maybe I will see you on the road one day. Happy travels.
I am a qualified Industrial Electrician for the past 20 years and I love to share my knowledge on home repair and maintenance jobs.
I love fast toys like Motorcycles, Cars, Jetskis, Boats, and Computers so writing about them is easy. Working on them is fun.
To keeps costs down I do all my own mods, repairs, and servicing. These skills I want to share with everyone. DIY is a skill everyone can learn.