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Old 08-16-2013, 02:41 PM   #1
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Exclamation Do I have a problem??

We are now the proud owners of a 2010 Highlander after having our Rav4 written off because the person behind me wasn't paying attention to the traffic...BUT...

We are heading over to the Island on Monday, so I decided to do a trial run with the trailer just to see if it towed any differently with the Highlander. Well, it did and I would like some input as to whether or not it is just different or whether I need to do something.

Question 1:
The hitch (weight distribution) seems looser in the receiver (part attached to the vehicle) than it was with the Rav. (hope I have the terms right!) It is a new hitch on the vehicle but the old WD hitch and ball. Would that be causing the occasional clunk we heard coming from back there if I braked a bit sharply - not slamming on, just not the slow graceful glide to a stop one usually attempts to achieve? Is it a problem?

Question 2:
When cranking up the jack to disconnect the coupler from the ball, the back end of the Highlander is being lifted up until it eventually drops off, rather than the coupler just lifting up off the ball. Our driveway is flat then slopes downwards a bit right about where the hitch is located so the vehicles are very slightly off being on the same plane. Would that be causing the problem? Is it a problem? With the Rav there was a little bit of lift, but it seems much more pronounced now, and I don't want to do any damage to the vehicle.

Apart from these 2 issues, everything seems great and "Doodle Bug" follows beautifully behind its new TV.

Any suggestions/opinions/comments would be welcome as I would like to head off on Monday worry free!

Pam
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Old 08-16-2013, 02:52 PM   #2
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pictures may help...
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Old 08-16-2013, 03:41 PM   #3
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This is the best I can do right now as the hitch is not in the receiver ( too heavy for me, so have to wait till my son gets home to put it in ). The pics show the angle the vehicles sit at. The trailer is jacked up to level.

IMG_2299.jpg

IMG_2300.jpg
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Old 08-16-2013, 03:47 PM   #4
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We hitch at roughly the same angle and it's been tricky a few times to get the coupler to catch the ball right so it can get locked closed all the way. I googled it when it first took us 20 minutes to hitch (our third time doing it) and found the suggestion to keep the ball as far forward in the coupler as possible, which has helped a lot. It just seems to work better, so we line up but stay maybe an inch forward of where we think we'll need to be, lower the coupler til it's just above the hitch, and then move the TV to where the front curve of the ball is in alignment with the front curve of the coupler before dropping it all the way down.
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Old 08-16-2013, 03:52 PM   #5
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I don't have a slope as bad as that, but I found it easier to remove the WDH bars on level and then back it into the driveway and unhitch. At times you have to jiggle the trailer or the WDH to get the coupler to let go. Or let the tow drift forward a quarter of an inch.
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Old 08-16-2013, 04:27 PM   #6
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You should always remove the w/d bars when backing up, at any time. With your slope, I would hitch up the trailer and pull it down to the street where it is level and then install the w/d bars.
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Old 08-16-2013, 04:39 PM   #7
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Hi: dpsmith... There most certainly will be a diff. of suspension from the Rav4 to the Highlander.
In my limited know how for a straight trailer & hitch the coupler might be a little too tight for the ball, although they have been together before. The hitch being new or vehicle height difference may be a factor. Alf
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Old 08-16-2013, 04:58 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
You should always remove the w/d bars when backing up, at any time. With your slope, I would hitch up the trailer and pull it down to the street where it is level and then install the w/d bars.
I've heard some anti-sway bars ( if that's what they are called ) need to be removed for reversing, but, I've never heard that for WDH and I do not remove mine when backing.
That said, if the trailer and tow are on different angles, it can be difficult and sometimes dangerous to remove them, if they let go with force.
I install and remove with tow and trailer on the level.
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Old 08-16-2013, 05:41 PM   #9
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The part of the WD hitch system which plugs into the receiver is usually called the "shank".

I think there's quite a bit of variation in receiver sizing, and the new one might be a bit bigger, leaving more free play.

It sounds like the latching jaw at the back of the coupler is catching on the ball as the trailer tongue is raised, and perhaps the longer Highlander sits in the driveway at a more nose-down angle to the trailer, causing more interference. Is this a problem: on one hand the coupler's vertical strength should be at least half the coupler's trailer weight rating (which would be enough to lift the Highlander right off the ground); on the other hand it has that strength when properly latched, not necessarily when open.

I don't know which coupler is on a 2004 17'; at least some recent Escape models use a coupler with a wrap-around yoke, while others might be a more common lever-latch design. Personally, I would be less concerned about damaging the jaw of the yoke style than most others. If I wanted a coupler which would tolerate this even better, I would consider a different design, such as the Quick-Bite or the highly regarded (but I didn't like it when I tried one briefly) forged Bulldog; these designs don't have a rear jaw - they clamp around the sides - and seem less likely to have difficulty with pitch angle. Changing the welded-on coupler is not trivial, and the premium designs are not cheap... to me it would be mostly an excuse to try the Quick-Bite.
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Old 08-16-2013, 05:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
You should always remove the w/d bars when backing up, at any time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaglo View Post
I've heard some anti-sway bars ( if that's what they are called ) need to be removed for reversing, but, I've never heard that for WDH...
Friction-type sway control devices are typically removed for backing to avoid jamming, but like Glenn, I have never heard of such a requirement for a WD system. At least for a common bars-and-chains WD system, I can't think of any mechanical reason why backing up would be a problem.
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Old 08-17-2013, 07:41 AM   #11
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Thoughts on question #1: You mentioned it's clunking when braking. There are two diameters of locking pins available to hold the hitch in the receiver. Any chance you have a 1/2" pin in a 5/8" diameter hole? I only have experience with the Andersen weight distribution hitch (on a Highlander with Reese hitch receiver), but it seems to me if the hitch is adjusted properly, there is enough vertical load on the hitch that it wouldn't move fore and aft very easily when braking. We don't get any clunking noises at all.

Thoughts on question #2: We've only had our Escape a few months, and one of my initial aggravations was getting the hitch to unlatch (it's the standard Escape wrap-around style). Sometimes I had a devil of a time getting the latch to move up and slide back to release the ball. As someone else mentioned, it doesn't work well if there is horizontal tension on it, either pulling or pushing against the ball. The contoured edge of the hitch, or the latching piece behind the ball, wants to stay hooked under the ball. It just takes a little fiddling around, letting the car move an inch maybe, to reduce that side force and everything works fine. The same applies for hitching up, but it's generally not as finicky. Trying to hitch and unhitch, especially unhitching, requires extra care on a slope to get the hitch to come off the ball. This of course is after having the trailer well chocked.
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Old 08-17-2013, 12:40 PM   #12
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We had the same problem. It may just need some lubrication. A white lithium spray grease solved it for us.
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Old 08-17-2013, 12:44 PM   #13
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Mine used to stick also. I sprayed in some lubrication and it works just fine now. I also grease the ball before every use and wipe it off when I de-couple.
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Old 08-17-2013, 01:41 PM   #14
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I applied a little lube to the locking part of the hitch on our way home from the factory, and it did work better. I don't grease the ball with the Andersen hitch because the ball turns with the trailer, but it might come unhitched a little easier with some dry lube on it of some sort.
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Old 08-17-2013, 07:41 PM   #15
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Thanks for the feedback and suggestions. We tried putting more grease on the ball and just connecting/disconnecting without going anywhere and it did seem to help. Will have to see what happens when we are on a more level "playing field" (ie at the campground). Our hitch is the standard lever type not the wrap around.

Re: backing up with the WD hitch. I've never had any problems backing up with it in place.

Also re hitches: Was at the RV store looking for a couple of things (like a lock) and the person said a fellow had been in that morning looking for hitch locks for their horse trailers because someone had gone around pulling the pins out of the hitches at a horse show so that when the truck pulled forward, the front of the trailer dropped to the ground! Sick people who do these things . Has anyone had trouble with tampering or theft of a hitch when left attached to the truck? I'd been warned that it could happen which was why I was looking for a lock in the first place... I leave the hitch in while we're tootling around because it is too heavy for me to lift in and out. (When we're home it is stored in the garage.)

Pam
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Old 08-17-2013, 08:04 PM   #16
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Quote:
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Has anyone had trouble with tampering or theft of a hitch when left attached to the truck?
No. It is possible, but have you had anyone take the wheel nuts off of your car? That's possible, too. Other trailer risks include unplugging the electrical cable and unhooking the safety chains... it isn't practical to lock everything.

The risk that someone has - maliciously or otherwise - changed something in your hitching equipment is a good reason to do a quick visual inspection before each departure.
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Old 08-17-2013, 10:03 PM   #17
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I have a locking hitch pin that serves 2 purposes. One is that it is an antirattle that locks the shank to one side and the other is that it has a lock to hinder removal. See pics
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Old 08-17-2013, 11:41 PM   #18
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I had a locking pin on my receiver which I left in place over the winter. I had one of those break light fixtures in the receiver and did not want it to walk away. The next time I went to remove it in the spring it was rusted on and nothing I tried would free it up. Finally had to go to a garage and get them to torch it off for me. Lesson learned - either find some good lubrication for the lock or exercise it often to make sure it does not freeze up from corrosion.

I don't think I will be getting another licking pin in the future unless I make sure it is only in place for short periods while towing and definitely not in the winter when it is always wet here and salt is on the roads up to Whistler all winter.
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Old 08-18-2013, 12:56 AM   #19
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I have used a locking ball mount pin for trailer trips, but I wouldn't leave any ball mount in place long-term.

Quote:
Originally Posted by techfan View Post
I have a locking hitch pin that serves 2 purposes. One is that it is an antirattle that locks the shank to one side and the other is that it has a lock to hinder removal. See pics
The classic J-Pin. This seems like a simple and effective design, but it requires an extra hole on one side of the receiver. This is a Cequent (Reese, Draw-Tite, Hidden Hitch) idea; I don't know if anyone else has it, and I don't know if even all of their 2" receivers have it.
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Old 08-18-2013, 08:32 AM   #20
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