How to Get a Rusted Trailer Hitch Ball Off In 5 Minutes Or Less

It’s happened to all of us at some point: you go to use your trailer hitch and realize that the ball is rusted on so tight that you can’t get it off! Knowing how to get a rusted trailer hitch ball off quickly is important so you can get back to preparing everything else for your trip.

In this guide, we will walk you through how to remove a rusted trailer hitch ball in minutes.

Follow these steps and you’ll have that pesky rust problem solved in no time!

How To Get A Rusted Trailer Hitch Ball Off

Time needed: 5 minutes

How To Get A Rusted Trailer Hitch Ball Off Quickly

  1. Gather Your Supplies

    You’ll need the following items to remove your rusty trailer ball:
    -Penetrating Spray like Blaster PB, CRC Freeze Off, or WD-40 Specialist Penetrant
    -Wire Brushtools needed to get a rusted trailer hitch ball off

  2. Spray The Rusted Trailer Hitch Ball Connection Point

    Spray the trailer ball’s shank and nut with a penetrating spray.

    Spray plenty of it around the rusted connection points, allowing it to get in to the small crevices so it can free up the hitch ball off the mounting plate.

    This spray makes the metal cold, causing the rust to come loose as the metal contracts.spray hitch

  3. Tap With A Hammer Or Thin Chisel

    You can tap the ball mount with a hammer or get in small spots with a chisel to help knock any extra rust loose before attempting to loosen the nut.hammer

  4. Get Excess Rust Off With A Wire Brush

    Use a wire brush to clear away small rust particles from the threaded shank, paying attention to small cracks.
    wire brush

  5. Remove The Rusted Trailer Ball

    Use a wrench to loosen the nut from the ball shank.

    You may need to use some force or tap the wrench with a hammer to get past any stubborn rust deposits.

    Once the nut is off, take the trailer ball off the ball mount and get back to what you were doing before you got sidetracked with this rusty trailer ball!rusted trailer ball removal

  6. Repeat As Necessary

    If at first you don’t succeed, try again!

    It may take a few times of spraying and clearing the rust off before the nut will finally move, but don’t give up.repeat symbol

  7. Clean The Ball Mount

    Now that you’ve removed the rusted hitch ball, you should take a few seconds to clean the mount and clear away any remaining rust.

    Spray, chisel, and brush the mounting plate to get the last bits of rust off before you install your new trailer ball.
    clean trailer ball mount

What If Your Rusted Trailer Ball Is Still Stuck?

If you’ve tried the above method and you still can’t get the rusted trailer ball freed from your hitch, it’s time for more drastic options.

Both are going to require a bit more work, though.

Replace The Ball Mount

The easiest thing you can do is replace the trailer ball mount.

Just take the entire hitch accessory out of your receiver hitch, and buy a new ball mount and trailer ball for your hitch.

Just make sure you get the right receiver tube for your receiver hitch size, and that you also buy the same trailer ball size as the one you’re replacing.

Cut The Trailer Ball Off

This is not going to be easy because you’ve got the collar of the trailer ball right up against the mounting plate, and the ball nut and washer tight up against the other side.

This will make finding a good place to cut the trailer ball off pretty hard to find.

If you can find a good place to cut it off, you’re still looking at cutting through a shank that is anywhere from 3/4″ to 2″ in diameter depending on the size of your hitch ball.

Prepare to put in some elbow grease with this method!

Replace The Hitch

If both your trailer ball and the hitch accessory won’t come loose, you may be better off just replacing the entire tow hitch.

Use the penetrating spray on any stubborn or rusty bolts that are mounting the hitch to your vehicle, and install a new one.

This is a bit more costly than the other options, but it’s a good last resort.

How To Remove Rust From A Trailer Hitch Ball

trailer hitch ball rust removal before and after

So far in this guide we’ve been talking about how to get the rusty ball off the hitch mount, but what about if you’re trying to get rust off the trailer ball itself?

A rusty trailer hitch ball can cause problems connecting your coupler, and can also leave rust deposits in your coupler, causing problems.

Additionally, you run the risk of having your hitch ball and trailer coupler rust together too!

Removing rust from a rusty trailer hitch ball is pretty simple:

Remove the ball from it’s mounting plate or receiver hitch accessory.

In a plastic tub, soak the trailer ball in a rust remover bath like Blaster Metal Rescue or RustAid.

Let it soak overnight or as long as the manufacturer’s directions specify.

Remove it from the rust remover bath, rinse it off, and pat dry.

You’ve now got a rust-free trailer hitch ball.

How To Prevent Trailer Hitch Ball Rust

shiny new trailer hitch ball

As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Maybe you’ve had to go through the hassle of trying to get a rusted trailer hitch ball off, or you want to steer clear of that task.

Either way, protecting your trailer ball from rust is what you need to do.

Use Trailer Ball Grease

Using trailer ball grease will protect the hitch ball from rust and also make sure it pivots easily and smoothly while inside your trailer coupler.

Store It When Not In Use

Take your trailer hitch ball (or the entire mount) out of your receiver hitch when not in use, and store indoors away from moisture and wet weather.

Cover It Up

If removing it every time is too much of a hassle for you, you can get a ball mount bag or ball cover to protect the ball when a trailer isn’t on it, while still leaving it on your hitch.

Use Rust-Resistant Paint

There are many metal-safe rust-resistant spray paint brands out there that you can use to keep your trailer ball from rusting.

Applying a few coats takes less than 10 minutes, and sure beats dealing with bigger problems later.

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