My latest tow vehicle came with a Class 5 receiver hitch that was supposedly just a few years old.
Normally I immediately replace the receiver hitch but the truck was in such great condition & had been very well maintained that I put it on my " to do " list.
Every few days I look under the truck rear to check the receiver hitch - rear axle & differential - springs ....
Well I pulled into an Autozone parking lot last week & my receiver hitch literally broke.
Lucky for me I went about a foot on the jack.
Check your receiver hitch !
If it is older than a few years it might fail you without warning !
So what exactly failed on it? Did the side plates just fold up? It really doesn't make sense to me.
Glad you weren't heading down the road
Hauling large heavy loads all over the country,is it time to step up to a 5'th wheel rig? Bud.
Yeah, I'd be interested too, if it was the hitch, or, more likely, the "installation" that caused the failure. However, as Chad said,...whatever the reason, I'm glad it was a slow-speed "incident"!
A receiver hitch - like everything else - has a useful life.
I never thought about that until my receiver hitch failed.
One side tore & the other folded.
I would like to see more photos of this hitch when it is removed. What brand? I think they would want to see this. Strange,it does not look like a rust problem, more of weak metal or weld.
And- neither the safety chains or the breakaway switch would have helped. I never hook my breakaway cable to the hitch for this reason- always to a point on the frame or the bumper.
Just food for thought.
"A receiver hitch - like everything else - haste a useful life." Now that's the kind of disclaimer the lawyers love. I wonder if the design engineers at Reese are aware of this.
I had the receiver hitch all most totally fail on my 2006 Motor home. It cracked where the flange was broke that bolts to the frame. Caught it in time before it came off. The emergency chains were also attached to the receiver which would have done no good if it fell off.
This happened on the way to an HCCA tour. I noticed the receiver was hanging down and not level with the RV while checking things out before leaving an RV park. Was able to jack the receiver back in place, wrapped chain around it and the frame which held until I limped to my sons place where welding equipment was available.
I ground out the cracks, welded from both sides and then welded angle iron in place to prevent this from happening again.
A friend also had this happen to the receiver on his RV. The receiver manufacturer broke the flange too sharp, should have left a large radius and this may have not happened.
Check you receiver often and replace it if you see defects that could result in failure.
I think a person would be better off to have a hitch that did not have a limited life, and then there should be no worries. It looks like these receivers were made to minimum strength for the job.
The logic that everything has a useful life would mean that we should not be driving most of the older cars we enjoy.
Just a general observation, but I was listening to some news story today about the proliferation
of idiots using various electronic devices while driving and causing all sort of mayhem. One "specialist"
interviewed for the piece had his Phd in pointing out the obvious and went on a long dissertation
regarding personal responsibility and how there are "apps" a person can install that silence their
phones when in a vehicle.
Really ? Does this genius really believe that the people who see no issue with texting and driving
will be motivated to silence their phones via some app in a sudden burst of self awareness and
personal responsibility ? Wow.
It seems to this observer that while this may be a good and timely reminder of taking care of stuff
before all hell breaks loose, isn't it pretty much just an across-the-board good idea to always be looking
under our houses, eaves, vehicles, etc., seeing how the wiring enters the property, tree limbs growing
out to interfere, wind damage, sagging, whatever ! I regularly walk my postage stamp place and check
this stuff ... carpenter ants, damp spots, loose flashing, weeds coming up through cracks in the pavement ...
... it's all maintenance that may or may not cause death and injury, but will always cause damage and
cost money to repair if not attended to.
Maybe it is because my business is largely centered around repairing neglected stuff that I am in tune
with looking for trouble before it becomes trouble ? Just yesterday I demolished a deck that sat 5' above
a paved area, with some rather wonky stairs leading down. When I backed the 4th screw out of the
ledger on the house, the whole thing came down with a boom ! 4 screws were all that was holding up
one end of a half ton deck. Imagine the people and kids that could have been hurt as they unsuspectingly
jumped, played on, or just brought an armload of groceries up into the house on that deck ! Why had
no one ever thought to go check on how the underside of that thing was holding up ???
The Marine Corps ranted at us ... COMPLACENCY KILLS !!! Well, it kills at home just as much as in war.
Another military quote: "Don't be THAT guy !"
The receiver was made by Reese. Was marked made in USA. Was supplied by the RV manufacturer on a 32ft. Work Horse chassis. Very happy with the Work Horse chassis....not impressed with how Reese made the receiver.
My receiver was not very old and still had good paint on it when the flanges cracked. Never expected to see a heavy duty receiver fail like this. Would like to blame it on "made in China"....however, can't blame them on this one.
Les--I know you said that the chassis was no problem but it would be wise for others to also check this on their RV. I saw where on one Rv (class A) the extended frame was so weak that when pulling a trailer the tongue load eventually caused the extended frame (angle Iron) to bend and caused the rear of the RV to crack on the sides. When I saw this I looked at my 32 ft class A and could see where this could happen to me. The back 6 ft is not the frame but angle iron attached to the chassis frame. I welded 10 inch I beam onto the frame and boxed it in. I feel much more comfortable when pulling my 16 ft trailer with my Ts inside or my 24 ft trailer with my Marmon inside. Just my .02.
Thanks Jim. I need to check our two pickups closely. Who would have thought...:.
It looks to me as if the towbar is upside down as
are the swaybars. In this position the towing load is additive to the down load on the towbar.
This could easily cause such a failure. Most
towbars that I have seen have a warning about
making sure that the towbar is correctly installed.
There are materials like for example aluminum that has a finite lifespan since repeatedly applied high cyclic loads eventually causes material fatigue regardless how you design an aluminum part. That's why airplanes are checked for cracks at certain intervals.
But steel, designed with enough strength for the job and built with proper radii and surface finish should never crack from metal fatigue - if it does without constant overloading it wasn't properly designed. (The Model T crankshaft is a common example where metal fatigue eventually gets to it since it wasn't designed thick enough to reach the safe zone where there isn't any fatigue limit on steel)
The hitch itself looks like an EZ Lift design. The bars look like Allen Wrenches and can't be installed upside down because they click into blind sockets.
I om on the road over 300 days a years towing daily over potholes - chuckholes - you name it.
That use shortens the life of everything on a tow vehicle.
Every year the roads get worse.
Every year I wear out a weight distribution hitch & have to replace it.
I used to believe receiver hitches would last for the life of the tow vehicle they are attached to.
Now I will replace my receiver hitch every 2 years.
Considering the alternative it is cheap insurance.
If you are referring to the receiver shank - can be installed in either direction to increase or decrease the tow ball height.
I replaced the weight distribution system when I replaced the receiver hitch.
I installed a Class 5 Curt 15300 receiver hitch rated at 16K:
I know there was a few years of Chevy trucks, 98-99 I think, that the area of the frame that the hitch was bolted to would crack and break. Kinda scary to think the frame would not hold up to a factory designed and installed hitch.
I had a 2000 Silverado with a poorly designed aftermarket hitch that tranferred the load to just the bottom of the "C" channel and too far forward of the hitch, creating a very long lever-arm. The previous owner had overloaded it and bent the bottom of the frame all up but did not bend the vertical (most structural bearing) part of the "C" channel.
I found a correct factory GM hitch which was lighter in weight, but WAY better in design. It spread the mounting bolts further apart, and also tied to the bumper making it a structural part of the hitch as well. I put some heavy loads on it, and never had a problem.
I don't think it's so much a matter of "useful life" but rather how well it was engineered. There will be rust and fatigue issues that will effect its useful life, but a well engineered product will be less effected by those issues than something built by people who don't understand structural engineering.
The rear frame extension on my 2006 Workhorse chassis is a formed C section like the original frame. It's not angle iron....made like the frame.
Even though I reinforced the receiver, still check it before towing my enclosed trailer.
The friend of mine that had his fail was also on a Workhorse chassis.
If you are towing with a Workhorse chassis...double/triple check your receiver.
Been there done that. This was on our F800. Saw it as we pulled in to the house. Got lucky
I think I may have started to understand something here.
When tubing is welded sometimes you make a trap for moisture. It can freeze and expand and cause a small crack maby? Or is condensation rusting the inside of the tubing out? salt on the roads collecting? I know we had some of the tubing on the trailer at work to freeze and bust.
Mack, if the tubing is welded correctly, moisture can't get in there, it should be water tight. If the tubing on the trailer that froze and busted, it had to have a way for the moisture to get in there. Moisture can not collect in a sealed tube. Good point though. Dave
I had a old welder tell me never weld all 4 sides of anything, leave the bottom side open so water or condensation can not collect behind the weld cause it will freeze and this will push the weld apart.
There was a lot of leverage on the hitch shone and a bolt or two up to the bumper or a added brace would have helped.Motor homes with those long overhangs also put a lot of leverage on a hitch. I think flexing and metal fatieuge had more to do with the failure than salt or freezing! Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
Eugene, that is a common mistake by many people. Condensation happens when a hollow object warms and cools. When it cools, air is drawn inside, along with any humidity, when it warms up, the air expands again leaving the moisture inside. Over time, it builds up. If the object is sealed, moisture can't get in there. Ever see a tubular driveshaft that had any water in it when cut open? Dave