When it comes to connecting a truck to a light or medium-duty trailer, fleets have two primary options: a ball hitch or a pintle hitch. But how are they different, and what makes the most sense for your application?
A common ball hitch – as the name suggests – is a steel ball that accepts an appropriately-sized tongue, which is secured on top of the ball with a latch inside the tongue. It is safe when weight limits are within spec and the ball is properly secured but can also be very difficult to connect; lowering the tongue on top of the ball requires precision that can take time when an operator is alone. More importantly, a ball hitch has a much lower weight capacity rating (21,000 pounds GTW), making it irrelevant for the heavy-duty industry as well as many medium-duty applications.
A pintle hitch is a pincer-type device that closes around a lunette ring or drawbar eye mounted on a truck or trailer. Its larger weight capacity (up to 150,000 pounds GTW) is a tremendous edge, useful for even the most demanding loads. The large lunette ring/drawbar eye makes it ultra-easy to connect, giving a lone driver a more forgiving option.
The pintle hitch offers a much higher safety profile as well, allowing for more secure play over rough and uneven terrain. Its rugged construction can take a beating while making it easy to inspect for damage. Additionally, a quality pintle hitch offers a heavy-duty locking bolt, giving drivers extra safety and confidence down the road. The ball hitch may offer a basic cotter pin, but this lightweight part cannot compete with the strength of the pintle hitch’s locking bolt.
When selecting a pintle hitch, companies and fleets should be mindful of the choice they make. There are suppliers on the market that offer several unique latch designs, giving the end user valuable options for their specific application. It is also important to know the rating capacities of any pintle hitches you are considering. Weight plays the biggest role in choosing an appropriate pintle hitch, so make sure you know how much you’re hauling before investigating potential options. Finally, choose a supplier that offers tremendous quality control. While some use untested parts coming from overseas, others have rigid testing standards for every single component. When a company spends countless hours inspecting each individual part, it greatly reduces the chances of coupling failure.
This article is sponsored by Premier Manufacturing Co. For more information, visit https://www.premier-mfg.com/