How Drop Hitch Receivers Work

Installing Drop Hitch Receivers
Believe it or not, attaching a trailer to a vehicle using a drop hitch receiver is quite easy.
Believe it or not, attaching a trailer to a vehicle using a drop hitch receiver is quite easy.
Brad Wieland/

Many manufacturers of drop hitch receivers and other towing equipment try to make their products as "bolt-on" as possible. In other words, the products are designed to attach to your vehicle with simple tools, no complicated wiring, and little to no modification to the component itself or your vehicle. If welding is required, it definitely is not a bolt-on mechanism.

­Experienced wrench-turners, however, know that "bolt-on" often means there may be some light to moderate filing, sawing, jimmying and crow barring in order to make a part fit perfectly and flush. Installing drop hitch receivers and other towing equipment can directly affect the safety and performance of your vehicle. It's imperative that you follow the torque specifications for fasteners and use locking washers as directed. You should call in a professional if you're an inexperienced installer or feel uncomfortable performing such work.

That said, the procedure for installing a drop hitch receiver is pretty straightforward. In fact, a drop hitch is even easier to install than a "bolt-on": It merely requires inserting into the car or truck's normal receiver hitch and securing with a locking pin. [Source: Blue Ox]

That said, you can purchase an assortment of hitch accessories that enhance safety and control of a load, including weight distribution hitches, sway control devices and stabilizers. While these may be a bit more complicated to install, they can further ease some of your worries while towing a trailer: Wind gusts, passing trucks and inconsiderate drivers make towing much more demanding than normal driving. Slowing, stopping and turning require greater care and advanced planning when you're towing a trailer. The additional hitch accessories mentioned are designed to give back to you a bit of stability and control. After all, whether you're towing a boat, an RV trailer, ATVs or horses, you're supposed to be having fun!

For more towing tips and resources, please see the links below.

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More Great Links:


  • Blue Ox. "Installation Instructions." (10/6/2008)
  • California Department of Motor Vehicles. "Towing Your Trailer Safely."(10/5/2008)
  • "Towing Tips, Specs, and Definitions." (10/6/2008)
  • "Choosing the Correct Ball Mount." (10/4/2008)
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "Towing a Trailer: Being Equipped for Safety."(10/7/2008)
  • Caravan and Camping Industry Association (Australia). "Towing Your Trailer." (10/7/2008)