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Old 07-27-2021, 09:16 AM   #1
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Hitching up - safety latch wont engage

Epic fail trying to hitch up. Someone else hitched up before i went, not sure of the secret but not matter how many time i went up down, move vehicle inches, the safety latch would not engage. I had to pay for another night and leave the trailer (had to goto work) Looked like the ball was in the cup, obviously not right. Any tips would be greatly appreciated. Would anyone consider helping in real time over the phone? 2012 shamrock, the safety wraps around the tongue cup and has a spring loaded part on top that should drop down and align the pin holes so i can put the pin threw. Park ranger looked to be about 12 yrs old, so wasn't much help. Also, is there such a thing as AAA for rv's. What do you do when stuff breaks and you cant get it to a dealership?
Totally discouraged.
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Old 07-27-2021, 09:25 AM   #2
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Hitching up - safety latch wont engage

Did you try moving the vehicle forward slightly after dropping the hitch down onto the ball? Sounds like maybe the latch is catching on the rear of the ball. Happens if you’re too far back into the hitch cup.

Also, make sure the latch will drop and secure without being on the ball to rule out something binding up in the latch mechanism.
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Old 07-27-2021, 09:44 AM   #3
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Yes probably 10 times. Move vehicle inches forward and then backward. Yes the latch will drop without the ball. I even tried cranking the tounge support off the ground to have all the trailer weight on the ball...
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Old 07-27-2021, 10:39 AM   #4
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Real time help seems to be what you need.

Who hitched up the R/V for you when you went?
Could they show you how?

Many R/Vers in campgrounds are willing to be helpful.
Ask around, I'd gladly help you if I were in your campground.

Short of that, post some photos and we'll take a look and see if we see anything out of the ordinary.
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Old 07-27-2021, 11:02 AM   #5
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Clean the mechanism completely with a spray can of brake cleaner. Spray from the bottom up. Move the lever back and forth while spraying.
Lubricate the mechanism with spray can of white lithium grease. Move the lever back and forth while spraying.
Lower the hitch down into the ball and pull your vehicle forward slightly.
Things will loosen up over time.
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Old 07-27-2021, 11:46 AM   #6
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Might be too obvious, but are you sure the ball is the correct size for the cup? Are you sure the safety latch was engaged when you first disconnected at your campsite? There should be size markings on your ball and the trailer.
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Old 07-27-2021, 12:17 PM   #7
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Without hitching up, does the lever/latch operate in a normal way?
Is it possible the latch lever may be slightly bent?
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Old 07-27-2021, 12:42 PM   #8
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There are variations on what to do with a stubborn hitch.


I have had the same problem with 2 different trailer and the same Equal-I-zer hitch. In my case.

The problem is always worse when the trailer and truck are not perfectly level and not perfectly aligned with each other.

The fix is always this for me. Invariably.

Make sure trailer is chocked!

When lining up the ball under the trailer I only go under about 3/4 of the way. When you start to drop the trailer on the ball tension pulls on the ball. As soon as it drops in. I pull the latch. Works every time.

If you have problems unhitching. Make sure trailer is chocked! And put tension with the truck pulling forward slightly. When it finally releases it may scare you. Just dont overdo it.

Your mileage may vary, Good Luck.
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Old 07-27-2021, 01:08 PM   #9
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Also try to engage the latch while you are lowering the tongue, just don't try to engage it until about half way down on the ball. Generally it will go in somewhere between half and full down on the ball
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Old 07-27-2021, 01:34 PM   #10
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In answer to your second question, there are mobile RV technicians all over the country. The manager of the campground you are in should have names and numbers you can call to get a technician to come to your site. Good luck with your problem. Its probably a good thing you discovered the issue before a really bad situation occurred.
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Old 07-27-2021, 01:41 PM   #11
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Slide back and forth

It's not obvious when looking at the hitch, but the latch mechanism actually has to be free to slide back and forth in the hitch. As you lower the latch handle, the mechanism has to slide forward. Watching from the bottom, you can see that the latch does TWO things as the handle is lowered:
  • Fork comes up to retain the ball in the hitch, AND
  • Fork moves forward to surround the stem of the ball to retain the ball.
Watch what it does when you move handle with no trailer in place. Lubricate if necessary.
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Old 07-27-2021, 01:59 PM   #12
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always try to engage the ball so that the trailer cup just slips over the FRONT edge of the cup...

if the TV ball is TOO FAR BACK in the ball cup of the trailer the latch mechanism will raise up because the ball is up against the lock mechanism and become immobile

in this case the only thing to do is to raise up the trailer, move the TV forward, operate the lever mechanism to release it, then back up again with the TV only far enough to catch the FRONT edge of the trailer ball cup... let the trailer cup slip over the edge of the ball, and while cranking the trailer down... try to engage the latch...

newbies that help me hook and unhook my trailer just do NOT GET the concept and always tell me to pull too far back, so that the latch is compromised for that try... back to square one, up with the trailer, move TV forward, release the latch again... then TV back, etc...

I tried to make a simple diagram of what I am trying to explain with words... hope this helps
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Old 07-27-2021, 02:25 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by U.S.ArmyVeteran View Post
There are variations on what to do with a stubborn hitch.

The fix is always this for me. Invariably.

Make sure trailer is chocked!

When lining up the ball under the trailer I only go under about 3/4 of the way. When you start to drop the trailer on the ball tension pulls on the ball. As soon as it drops in. I pull the latch. Works every time.

If you have problems unhitching. Make sure trailer is chocked! And put tension with the truck pulling forward slightly. When it finally releases it may scare you. Just dont overdo it.

Your mileage may vary, Good Luck.
This. Exactly how I do it. Most balls have a flat spot on top. You want the flange around the coupler to just cover the flat spot. As you lower the tongue jack, weight comes onto the ball & the truck will squat a bit and the coupler drops onto the ball. Drop the latch immediately.

Jeff
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Old 07-27-2021, 02:39 PM   #14
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As mentioned above, once the hitch is partway over the ball, release the latch. Usually mine will snap in place as I continue lowering. We did have to grease the hitch and the ball as well. That significantly helps.
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Old 07-27-2021, 07:54 PM   #15
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Hitch

I have one trailer that is sometimes stubborn when both hitching and unhitching. It sounds similar to what you are experiencing.

What works for me when this occurs hitching:
I chock the trailer wheels, with the hitch about 1/3 down on the ball, I slightly pull the TV forward, maybe 1-2 inches. I then lower the trailer further onto the ball and immediately latch as it goes the last 1/3 onto the ball.
As others have said, lubrication helps after completely cleaning the hitch and then lubricating.
Then remove the chocks by slightly reversing the previous 1-2 inches.
My one trailer is a challenge where no other trailer gives any trouble at all. I hope this helps your situation.
Best of luck.
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Old 07-28-2021, 07:32 AM   #16
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This has been very helpful, thank you all. I've been delayed getting back to try again. Im expecting to go sometime today. .brake fluid cleaner and white lithium grease, can i get them at a Hime Depot or would that be an auto supply store? Specific brand work better than others?
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Old 07-28-2021, 07:47 AM   #17
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Quickie rule: The coupler should reach for the ball. (Diagram above seems mis-labeled as the coupler should be slightly aft of the front edge of the ball.) There trailer can move forward a fraction of an inch and slide over the ball even if chocked.

-- Chuck
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Old 07-28-2021, 08:42 AM   #18
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brake fluid cleaner and white lithium grease, can i get them at a Hime Depot or would that be an auto supply store? Specific brand work better than others?
auto arts store

get the cheapest you can as this is not rocket science we are working with

do NOT use more then a thin coat of grease... very thin... make sure you get it into the latch mechanism

I use spray lube grease like this below... brand is not important
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Old 07-28-2021, 09:59 AM   #19
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Not sure why brake fluid cleaner is needed or recommended. Just wipe out the coupler and ball with paper towels.

Should be able to find the grease in a little tub or jar (lasts a lifetime) -- apply it with a paper towel as well. Application and cleanup in one step.

-- Chuck
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Old 07-28-2021, 10:19 AM   #20
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Not sure why brake fluid cleaner is needed or recommended. Just wipe out the coupler and ball with paper towels.
Clean out the rust particulate that is probably up in there. Rust dust will act like chalk on weightlifters hands preventing slippage. Once it's all clean, I totally agree- wipe on/ wipe off Karate Kid!
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