How Do I Measure For A Drop Hitch?

A drop hitch is an important accessory for towing trailers. It allows you to adjust the height of your trailer coupler to match the height of your tow vehicle hitch so that the trailer sits level when connected.

Measuring for the proper rise or drop for your drop hitch is vital for safe and comfortable towing.

How Do I Measure For A Drop Hitch?

How Do I Measure For A Drop Hitch

Why Do You Need To Measure for Trailer Hitch Rise and Drop?

There are a few key reasons why properly measuring for trailer hitch rise/drop is so important:

  • Safety: An imbalanced trailer that tilts up or down can sway and wobble dangerously at high speeds. It also reduces steering responsiveness in your tow vehicle.
  • Prevent Uneven Tire Wear: A trailer that isn’t level causes uneven tire wear on both the trailer and tow vehicle. This costs more money over time.
  • Improve Handling & Comfort: A level trailer setup tows quieter, handles better, and puts less strain on both the tow vehicle and trailer.
  • Avoid Cargo Shifting: Cargo in a trailer can shift around when the trailer isn’t balanced, making things worse.

So in short, measuring for the proper rise/drop ensures safe, balanced trailer handling, reduces wear and tear, and provides a smooth, comfortable towing experience.

Why Having a Drop Hitch is Important for Towing?

  • Allows adjustment of coupler height to match hitch height for a level towing setup. This is vital for safety and handling.
  • Fixed drop hitches provide a set amount of rise/drop. Good for one trailer.
  • Adjustable drop hitches allow flexibility for towing different trailers.
  • Drop hitches come in 2 to 12-inch rise/drop adjustments.
  • Works with standard receiver hitches. Some integrate adjustments into the tow bar.

Potential Issues That Can Come Up When The Trailer Is Not Level:

  • Safety hazard – trailer swaying and difficulty controlling the vehicle
  • Uneven tire wear – on both trailer and tow vehicle
  • Noisy towing
  • Difficult handling
  • Increased strain on components leading to damage over time
  • Cargo shifting in the trailer exacerbates issues

An imbalanced trailer that tilts up or down leads to some significant issues that can make towing dangerous, damaging, and uncomfortable.

What Drop Hitches Help With?

  • Compensate for the difference in hitch receiver/coupler heights.
  • Adjust the height of the hitch receiver to match the coupler.
  • Allow level trailer set up for safe, smooth towing.
  • Reduce wear and tear and potential damage over time.

What Do You Need to Measure For A Drop Hitch?

You will need:

  • Tape measure or ruler
  • Level ground to park vehicles
  • Trailer loaded (or weight simulator)
  • Trailer jack/stand to level trailer

The two vital measurements are:

  1. Hitch Height – From ground to inside top of hitch receiver
  2. Coupler Height – From ground to bottom of the coupler

Take measurements with a trailer loaded to riding height for accuracy

How Do You Measure for Rise and Drop for Your Ball Mount or Drop Hitch?

Follow these steps:

  1. Park tow vehicle and loaded trailer on level ground
  2. Use the trailer jack to get the trailer sitting as level as possible
  3. Measure hitch height from ground up to inside top of hitch receiver
  4. Measure the coupler height from the ground up to the bottom of the coupler
  5. Compare measurements:
    • If hitch height > coupler height, you need a drop hitch
    • If coupler height > hitch height, you need a rise hitch
  6. The actual rise/drop amount needed is the difference between the two height measurements

An Example Of How It Works:

  • Hitch Height: 15 inches
  • Coupler Height: 12 inches
  • 15 – 12 = 3 inch difference
  • Therefore, need 3 inch drop hitch for a level towing setup

How Do You Measure the Rise and Drop On Your Hitch or Tow Ball Mount?

  • For tow ball mount:
    • Measure from the top of the shank to the top of the ball platform
    • That distance is the mount drop/rise amount
  • For drop hitch:
    • Measure from the top of the shank to the top of the receiver opening
    • That distance is the drop/rise amount

Compare to the calculated rise/drop needed for your setup

Top 10 Drop Hitch Brands

Brand Type Adjustability Rise/Drop Range Price Range
Curt Drop hitches & tow ball mounts Some models 2-8 inches $50-$250
B&W Hitches & tow bars Select models 4-14 inches $150-$500
Andersen Hitches Hitches & sway controls Yes 1-14 inches $150-$350
Blue Ox Hitches & baseplates Some models 4-10 inches $100-$400
Husky Towing Tow ball mounts No Fixed drop $15-$70
Draw-Tite Hitches & tow bars Some models 4-10 inches $80-$300
Pro Series Hitches & tow bars Yes 4-18 inches $60-$180
Reese Hitches & brake controls Some models 2-12 inches $50-$450
Weigh Safe Hitches & weight distribution No Fixed drop $80-$175
Fulton Hitches & tow bars No Fixed drop/rise $25-$120


  • Q: How do I know if I need a drop or rise hitch?

A: You need a drop hitch if the hitch height is greater than the coupler height. If the coupler height is greater, you need a ride hitch.

  • Q: Can I just eyeball the rise/drop needed?

A: No, you should precisely measure the hitch height and coupler height to calculate the exact rise/drop needed.

  • Q: Do I need special tools to measure?

A: No, just a simple tape measure or ruler is needed to measure the heights.

  • Q: Should the trailer be loaded when I measure?

A: Yes, you want the trailer loaded to normal riding height to get the most accurate measurements.

  • Q: What if there’s no exact match for my needed rise/drop?

A: Pick the drop hitch with the rise/drop measurement closest to what you need.

  • Q: Are adjustable drop hitches better?

A: Adjustable hitches are great if you’ll be towing multiple different trailers. For one trailer, a fixed drop hitch is fine.

  • Q: Can I use the same drop hitch flipped over?

A: Yes, most drop hitches can be flipped to provide the opposite rise/drop height.

  • Q: Will a drop hitch fit my receiver hitch?

A: Most drop hitches fit standard receiver hitch sizes but double-check dimensions to confirm compatibility.

  • Q: Where should measurements be taken from?

A: Hitch height from the inside top of the receiver. Coupler height from the bottom of the coupler.

  • Q: How often should I check the measurements?

A: Redo measurements if you get a new trailer or make changes to tow vehicle/hitch setup.

Suggested Guides:


Installing the proper drop or rise hitch for your towing setup is crucial for safe trailer handling.

Carefully measuring the hitch height and coupler height while the trailer is loaded allows you to precisely calculate the amount of drop/rise needed to achieve a level towing setup.

Equipping an appropriate drop hitch receiver and verifying correct rise/drop dimensions takes the guesswork out of the equation.

Taking the extra time to measure for drop hitches helps ensure smooth, worry-free towing every time you head out on the road.

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