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CURT adjustable trailer hitch buyers guideCURT adjustable trailer hitch buyers guide

The Complete Buyer's Guide for Adjustable Trailer Hitches 

Every tow is different. For this reason, it's important to have an adjustable trailer hitch that can perform for differing load and trailer types.  

If you often change trailer types or if your trailer cargo differs in weight often, you might consider investing in an adjustable trailer hitch. 

An adjustable hitch is perfect for towing different types of trailers with varying cargo capacities. It can adjust in height and provide a level tow when towing trailers that vary in size and weight. It also allows you to tow trailers with different ball sizes as well.  

An adjustable trailer hitch is certainly worth the investment. However, there are many different types out there with varying features and price points, and it can be tough to decide which one works best for your application.  

In this buyer’s guide, we will explain what an adjustable trailer hitch is, discuss the advantages and show the unique parts that make adjustable hitches work so well.  

We will then show you how to measure and calculate your drop or rise number step-by-step. We'll also cover hitch installation and help you to determine how high to set your coupler.  

We'll also give some tips for choosing the best adjustable trailer hitch for your needs that will help you choose which one is best for you and your application. 

Follow along for everything you need to know! 

What is an Adjustable Ball Mount?

The feature that distinguishes an adjustable trailer hitch from other types of hitches is the unique ability to raise and lower the ball. This promotes level, even towing and prevents your hitch point from sagging.  

Adjustable trailer hitches have an adjustable ball mount shank that can be adjusted up when towing a low-riding trailer or lowered down when towing a high-riding trailer. This unique feature allows you to quickly level out your trailer and allows you to adjust the ball height depending on the trailer load, ensuring a level tow. 

This is an adjustable trailer hitch: 

CURT 5-1/2" HD Adjustable Trailer Hitch Ball Mount with Dual BallCURT 5-1/2" HD Adjustable Trailer Hitch Ball Mount with Dual Ball

Level towing ensures that your trailer is parallel with the ground. This is important in providing equal weight distribution and gives the driver better control while also helping to prevent trailer sway.  

An adjustable trailer hitch is also known as an adjustable drop hitch, an adjustable tow hitch or a weight safe hitch, and is a powerful and versatile tool that helps to level the trailer, therefore helping to prevent hazardous and unsafe towing experiences. 

Trailers that ride too high or too low can cause unsafe towing conditions that increase risk of sway and decrease effective braking distances. Overall, an unlevel trailer can be unstable while in motion. 

Adjustable trailer hitches come in varying styles with differing features and towing capacities and are offered in steel and aluminum construction. Some adjustable hitches are rated for as much as 20,000+ lbs. when combined with a weight distribution system. 

The Advantages of an Adjustable Trailer Hitch

Adjustable trailer hitches offer a huge advantage over standard, fixed height hitches by offering a one-size-fits-all design. These hitches adjust to and work with multiple trailers and their varying cargo capacities and tongue weights.  

This means one hitch can level numerous trailers, even when they are loaded with different weights. The dual ball feature on CURT adjustable hitches also allows you to tow trailers with 2" or 2-5/16" couplers.  

With a CURT adjustable trailer hitch, you can tow many types of trailers safely and securely without the hassle of carrying multiple hitches! 

Pros & Cons of Adjustable Trailer Hitches


  • Tow multiple trailers with just one hitch 
  • Levels multiple types of trailers quickly 
  • Prevents the need to carry multiple hitches and ball accessories 
  • Integrated shock-absorbing tech provides a smooth and rattle-free tow 
  • Less expensive than purchasing numerous hitches and balls 
  • Adjustable ball mount can be moved higher or lower on the go


  • More expensive up front compared to a standard, set hitch 
  • Heavier than a standard, set hitch 
  • Initial setup and configuration is required 

Varying models of CURT Adjustable Trailer Hitches:

Parts of an Adjustable Trailer Hitch

There are varying styles of adjustable trailer hitches with unique features, but all adjustable hitches share some basic parts and features. See the graphic below that details the important parts of an adjustable hitch that make it beneficial for towing: 

Adjustable Trailer HitchAdjustable Trailer Hitch

Adjustable Channel or Shank
Every CURT adjustable trailer hitch includes a vertical channel or shank which allows the coupler, also known as the tongue, to raise and lower to the necessary height. This feature is the essential element that is adjustable and allows the hitch to level the trailer depending on height and payload. 

The shank is the part that inserts into the receiver tube of the tow vehicle and is secured into place with a pin. The shank sits horizontally and is not adjustable.  

Coupler or Tongue
The coupler, also known as a tongue, is the part that the trailer ball is mounted to. The coupler attaches to the adjustable shank and is the part that is held into place with pins and rises or drops for adjusting trailer height. 

Dual Ball
CURT dual ball attachments provide the benefit of having a single coupler that has two different ball sizes, which means you can pull trailers with either a 2" or a 2-5/16" coupler while only carrying one piece. The adjustable ball mount provides a great convenience when towing multiple trailers with differing heights and ball sizes.

Removable Pins
The removable hitch pins secure the coupler attachment into place. To make height adjustments, the pins can be removed and then the coupler can be raised or lowered. 

Powder Coat Finish
All CURT adjustable trailer hitches feature a robust powder coat finish that provides longevity and corrosion resistance for the life of your hitch. The carbide black powder coat finish keeps the hitch looking sharp and prevents rusting while protecting against dings and scratches.


All trailer hitches have the same essential parts. To learn more about the parts of a trailer hitch, see our Parts of a Trailer Hitch guide.

How to Correctly Measure Your Rise or Drop Height to Select an Adjustable Trailer Hitch

In order to use an adjustable trailer hitch, you will first need to know what the proper ball height is for your trailer. Then, you can choose the correct adjustable hitch. 

Adjustable hitches offer a simple, easy solution for towing by adjusting to varying trailers with differing ball heights and payloads, however, you will need to know the amount of drop or rise needed to level your tow vehicle with your trailer. 

This easy, five-step process will help you to calculate the correct drop or rise height. But first, you will need to have your truck and trailer available, and make sure they're both parked and sitting level with the ground.  

Tools are needed. Be sure to have a tape measure, level, pencil and paper available to record your measurements.  


Step 1: Measure the Distance from the Ground to the Receiver Tube

Take your tape measure and measure the height from the ground to the receiver tube on your tow vehicle. Be sure to measure up to the top inside edge of the receiver tube to get the correct height.  

Record this measurement for later. In the example in the video above, this measurement is 21-3/4".  

Step 2: Measure the Height from the Ground to the Coupler 

Next, level your trailer by placing the level on the trailer frame closest to the coupler. Raise or lower the trailer until the trailer is level with the ground.  

Now, use your measuring tape and measure from the ground to the bottom edge of the trailer coupler. 

Record this measurement as well. In the example above, this measurement is 15-1/2". 

Step 3: Establish Your Drop or Rise

With the receiver height and coupler height correctly measured and recorded, subtract the coupler height from the receiver height to get your drop or rise number.  

In the example above, the receiver height is 21-3/4" and the coupler height is 15-1/2", making for a difference of –6-1/4". This means the trailer would need a drop of roughly 6".

Measuring your rise or drop height is easy with this five-step processMeasuring your rise or drop height is easy with this five-step process

Step 4: Choose an Adjustable Hitch Within the Range of Your Drop or Rise Number

Choose a CURT adjustable trailer hitch with a rise or drop that is within the measurement you calculated.  

Adjustable trailer hitches are designed to work within a specific height range. The height of the connection point is important and varies depending on the height and tongue weight of your trailer.  

CURT makes a range of adjustable trailer hitches that can raise your trailer as much as 9" or drop it as much as 12". Be sure to choose an adjustable hitch with at least 1" of extra rise or drop for your trailer. 

Now you're set to purchase a CURT adjustable trailer hitch that suits your towing needs! 

Step 5 (optional): Measure Other Trailers You Will Be Towing 

If you own more than one trailer, perform this procedure over again as you will want to make sure your adjustable trailer hitch is within the range of all the trailers you plan to tow.

How to Install & Set the Height on an Adjustable Trailer Hitch

Now that you've found your rise or drop height and have purchased a CURT adjustable hitch, you're ready to install and set the coupler height.  

Before you begin, make sure your trailer is parked on a level surface and that it’s sitting parallel with the ground.  

You will also need to have the correct tow ball right-side-up. Check with your trailer coupler to see if the 2" or 2-5/16" ball is needed.  

Follow this quick 3-step process for setting the correct height on your adjustable hitch.

Step 1: Install the Shank

First, insert the horizontal shank of the adjustable hitch into the receiver tube on your tow vehicle. Secure the hitch with a pin and clip. 

Step 2: Measure the Coupler Height 

Using a measuring tape, measure from the bottom of the trailer coupler to the ground. Remember this number, as this is the height you will be setting your ball to next. 

Measuring your rise or drop height is easy with this three-step process Measuring your rise or drop height is easy with this three-step process

Step 3: Select the Ball & Set the Coupler Height

Using your tape measure, find the hole in the vertical shank closest to the coupler height. 

This will be the location for the top pin on your dual ball attachment. Make sure the correct ball size needed for your trailer is right-side-up and then press the coupler onto the adjustable shank, ensuring the holes are lined up.  

Once the holes are lined up, insert both pins to secure the attachment. 

Now that you've set your coupler height and secured the pins, you're ready to tow! 

Tips for Choosing the Best Adjustable Hitch for Your Truck 

When purchasing an adjustable trailer hitch, you will need to select one that fits all the trailers that you plan to tow. The adjustable hitch will tow your boat, camper, utility trailer and almost any other type of trailer, provided you select the correct hitch up front. 

For the most part, adjustable hitches are ideal for larger vehicles that have higher towing capacities, meaning they are capable of towing a wide range of trailers. Pickup trucks, full-size vans and SUVs are perfect for an adjustable hitch for this reason. 

Follow the tips below to choose the best hitch for your truck or van! 

Adjustable Hitch Checklist

Consider the following tips when shopping for an adjustable hitch that best suits your needs.

1. Don't exceed your towing capacity

Before you purchase any hitch, you must know what the towing capacity is for your tow vehicle. Certain trucks, vans and SUVs can tow up to 20,000 lbs. while others are limited to much less. 

Towing a trailer heavier than what your hitch or tow vehicle can handle will result in unsafe and hazardous conditions that can quickly lead to an accident.  

You also don’t want to limit your towing capability by choosing a hitch rated for less than your tow vehicle, although you should never exceed the weight capacity of any towing component.

2. Match the size of your receiver and shank

The horizontal shank of your adjustable hitch needs to be an exact match for your vehicle’s rear receiver tube. Most are designed with standard sizes, likely narrowing your choices down to 2" or 2-1/2". Be certain your hitch size matches your receiver size and that the hitch pin is fully inserted and secured with a hitch pin.

3. Make sure to match the ball and coupler sizes

Like receivers and shanks, the hitch ball and trailer coupler must also be the same exact size. For this reason, it’s important to know the coupler sizes of all your trailers before purchasing an adjustable hitch.  

Some adjustable hitches come with one ball, others with two, and some others even have three. If you have multiple coupler sizes in your fleet, be sure to choose a hitch that will accommodate them all.  

Also, be sure to note that CURT adjustable pintle hook trailer hitches are available if you're towing a trailer with a lunette ring.

4. Determine your height adjustment range

Following the steps above for calculating your needed hitch height, estimate how much rise or drop needed. You’ll want to select an adjustable hitch that covers the range between your “shortest” trailer and your “tallest” trailer. 

Common Accessories for a CURT Adjustable Trailer Hitch

Adjustable hitches do more than add flexibility for trailer height. There are many different accessories for different types of towing and beyond. 

These photographs, recommendations, and approximations are intended for demonstration purposes only and do not reflect the specifications of any particular hitch, tow vehicle, recreational vehicle or trailer. Always consult the manufacturer’s owner’s manual. 

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions For Adjustable Trailer Hitches

What is the purpose of an adjustable trailer hitch?

Adjustable trailer hitches are employed to line up taller trucks with trailers, enabling a level towing link. Such alignment lessens tension on the towing system, enhances stability, and boosts fuel efficiency, thereby becoming an essential factor in safe and efficient towing.

What is the benefit of an adjustable ball mount?

An adjustable ball mount is beneficial because it allows you to adjust the height of your hitch ball on the go. This makes it easy to level your trailer and is especially beneficial when towing multiple trailers. Many CURT adjustable ball mounts also feature a dual ball, which allows you to carry two ball sizes in one hitch, making it even more compatible for towing different types of trailers.

How much drop does my hitch need?

The necessary drop is determined by the height disparity between the vehicle and the trailer. Elements like the load, the vehicle's suspension, and the trailer's configuration may affect this. CURT offers an extensive guide and expert support to assist you in discovering the perfect fit for your unique circumstances.

Does an adjustable trailer hitch affect towing capacity?

An adjustable trailer hitch in itself doesn't alter the vehicle's towing capacity. However, it's crucial to choose one that corresponds to the vehicle's rated capability. A mismatch might result in hazardous towing conditions. CURT makes sure you can choose from various adjustable trailer hitches that suit different towing capacities.

Does an adjustable trailer hitch affect tongue weight?

While an adjustable trailer hitch doesn't directly influence tongue weight, it must be selected with the vehicle and trailer's rated tongue weight in mind. Ensuring the tongue weight is within the designated range is key for preserving equilibrium and control during towing.

Do you need an adjustable trailer hitch if your truck is lifted?

When a truck is lifted, the increase in height often necessitates an adjustable trailer hitch to keep a level link with the trailer. An adjustable trailer hitch compensates for the extra height, aligning the trailer correctly with the lifted truck, thereby keeping stability and safety intact.

Can you flip over an adjustable trailer hitch?

Some models of adjustable trailer hitch, including particular ones from CURT, can be inverted to serve as a rise hitch. This dual-purpose feature provides options for both drop and rise, enabling more adaptability in accommodating various trailer heights.

What is the most common adjustable trailer hitch?

The "typical" adjustable trailer hitch varies according to personal requirements, vehicle categories, and towing needs. CURT's wide-ranging collection caters to every scenario, whether adjustable or fixed, made of steel or aluminum. A consultation with a CURT specialist can guide you to the best choice for your particular demands.

Should your trailer be level when towing?

Yes, maintaining a level trailer is vital for safety, stability, and effective towing. An unequal connection may result in uneven tire wear, strain the towing mechanism, and even hinder braking efficiency. Adjustable trailer hitches from CURT are key to achieving a level connection, contributing to a more managed and pleasant towing journey.