A trailer hitch ball

Should You Grease Your Trailer Hitch Ball?

Updated on February 19th, 2024

Maintaining your travel trailer includes keeping the hitch in good condition and working order. Greasing the trailer hitch ball is a topic of debate in the RVing community, with some saying it’s a must and others saying it contributes to the deterioration of the metal.

People new to the RV-towing world may not consider the need to grease the trailer hitch ball, but doing so is the only way to stop friction that creates heat and leads to corrosion and rusting of the metal parts.

If you own or are thinking of buying a camping trailer, here’s a complete guide to:

  1. The pros and cons of greasing the trailer hitch ball
  2. How to maintain your hitch components
  3. The steps to grease the hitch ball so your RV trips go more smoothly

3 Reasons Why You Should Grease a Trailer Hitch Ball

1. Prevent Rust Formation

A rust formation on a trailer hitch ball

The main reason to grease the ball of your trailer hitch is to stop rust from forming. In addition, greasing the ball acts as a protective barrier against moisture, so the metal freely moves when towing your travel trailer.

Once rust sets in and you don’t clean it away, it will eventually work its way into the ball and weaken the metal connection.

If the ball breaks off while you’re towing your trailer, the only thing keeping your RV from rolling away is the safety chains. But there will likely be loss of control and damage to your trailer and tow vehicle in the process.

2. Reduce Noise

You may think that a bit of rust on the ball isn’t going to cause the hitch to break, and that is true. However, when towing your camping trailer, a rusty hitch ball will not move smoothly in the coupler or tongue.

When rubbing occurs between the metal components, you and anyone nearby will have the pleasure of listening to awful grinding, squeaking, and screeching.

When trying to enter or leave a campground early or late in the day, this noise can disrupt your sleeping camping neighbors, and you’ll be pegged as an RV rookie!

3. Reduces Wear on the Trailer Hitch and Tongue

A trailer hitch and tongue

Smooth movement of the ball in the coupler will prevent jarring motions that will increase the wear and tear on the hitch and tongue.

2 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Grease a Trailer Hitch Ball

The people who are opposed to greasing the hitch ball say it causes the following issues:

1. Attracts Dirt

The layer of grease can act as a dirt magnet, as particles in the air stick to the oily substance. The dirt then mixes in with the grease and becomes gritty sandpaper, increasing the wear on the ball and tongue’s surface.

Another issue of heavy dirt accumulation on the ball is that it could impact the safe connection between the hitch coupling components.

2. It’s an Additional Expense That Requires Monitoring

Buying hitch grease is another expense to add to an already long list of RV maintenance supplies.

After applying grease, you’ll need to constantly check the ball and tongue to ensure it isn’t full of dirt, clean the parts, and reapply fresh grease when it is.

What Is the Best Trailer Hitch Ball Grease?

The best trailer hitch ball grease will keep the metal surface in a like-new shape, free from corrosion or rust, so that the ball can move smoothly and quietly in the coupler.

A high-quality hitch grease is available in various formulations, each designed to suit different towing needs and conditions. These greases are formulated to provide effective lubrication, reducing friction and wear on the hitch ball and receiver.

Importantly, despite their strong adherence and protective qualities, a good hitch grease is engineered to be easily cleaned off metal parts. This ease of removal ensures that maintenance and cleanup do not become cumbersome tasks.

Whether you’re dealing with extreme temperatures, water exposure, or heavy loads, there’s a hitch grease formulation that meets your requirements, ensuring the longevity and reliability of your towing equipment without the hassle of difficult cleanup.

Top Trailer Hitch Grease Products RV Owners Swear By

1. CRC Dry Graphite Lube

CRC Dry Graphite Lube 03094 – 10 Wt. Oz, Dry Film Lubricant
  • CRC INDUSTRIES: A market leader that offers impeccably designed…
  • DRY GRAPHITE LUBE: Ideal where a dry lubricant is required or where…
  • “PRODUCT ADVANTAGES: This formula has an effective temperature range…
  • APPLICATIONS: Ideal for use on transfer belts, gaskets, motors,…
  • PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS: Dry Graphite Lube is available in a 10 wt oz….

Most travel trailer owners prefer this brand that coats the hitch ball in dry graphite so it doesn’t grab dirt, oil, or dust like sticky petroleum grease products. In addition, the lube can withstand heat up to 850 degrees, so wear and tear from friction during travel is not a concern.

The spray is super easy to apply. The material clings to and coats the metal to prevent rust formation and cleans away with an alcohol-soaked rag when you want to reapply.

Better yet, the hitch ball lube is EPA-approved as it contains no ozone-harming ingredients.

2. Blaster Advanced Dry Lubricant

B’laster 16-TDL Advanced Dry Lube with Teflon – 9.3-Ounces
  • Provides superior, long-lasting lubrication for every household…
  • Use on locks and catches, hinges, cables, window tracks and glass,…
  • It’s also safe for use on plastics
  • Blaster has a full line of specialty lubricant, performance…

Blaster is another non-petroleum hitch grease option that uses a Teflon-based lubricant to provide a slick surface on the ball. A dash of spray coats the ball quickly, so a single can last a season or more.

The coating isn’t as long-lasting as a graphite spray lubricant, leaving behind a white, wax-like residue on the ball, but it does an excellent job reducing friction and deterring dirt accumulation.

3. Reese Towpower Hitch Ball Lube

Reese Towpower 58117 Hitch Ball Lube
  • Multiple use jar
  • Water resistant
  • Reduces ball wear
  • Extends coupler life
  • Fights corrosion

Reese Hitch Lube is a traditional product made with non-toxic petroleum-based white grease. The lube forms a slippery, water-resistant barrier over the ball and reduces friction when it moves in the coupler.

The lube wipes away easily with a rag if you spot dirt build-up in the grease, and a thin application works well in even high-humidity locations to keep rust at bay.

4. WD 40 Dry Lube

WD-40 Specialist Dry Lube with SMART STRAW SPRAYS 2 WAYS, 10 OZ
  • Dry Lube PTFE Spray reduces friction and wear on blades and bits, door…
  • Ideal for reducing friction and wear on multiple surfaces. It won t…
  • Safe to use on wood, paper, fabrics, leather, metal, and most plastics…
  • Keep your equipment running smooth with long-lasting corrosion…
  • WD-40 Brand believes in creating high-quality products that will not…

The WD 40 dry lube is a PTFE lubricant that is applied with a simple spray and leaves behind a clear, non-greasy coating that repels dust and dirt.

The lube adheres to the metal surfaces of the ball and tongue to reduce friction, noise, and corrosion.

How to Correctly Lubricate a Hitch Ball

Prepping and greasing your trailer hitch ball needs care to ensure you properly clean and coat the entire surface. Follow these steps to get the job done right:

Step 1. Clean the Hitch Ball

If the hitch ball has any roughness or rust, use fine-grit sandpaper made for metal to smooth the surface. Next, check the underside of the coupler and sand away any defects.

Once the ball’s surface is smooth, use a clean rag to wipe away any dust residue. If the components feel oily, use some rubbing alcohol to help remove the substance.

Step 2. Install or Store the Hitch Ball

Once the hitch ball is clean, you’ll want to hold it with a clean rag and install it into the hitch receiver so you can tow your trailer.

If you don’t plan on hooking up your RV right away, cover the clean ball with plastic wrap to keep moisture off the metal, and store it in a safe location.

Step 3. Lubricate the Hitch Ball

Once you install the hitch ball onto your tow vehicle, you can apply your choice of lubricant. If you use dry graphite, PTFE, or a Teflon spray product, follow the label instructions to spray the coating onto the ball.

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For a grease lubricant, you can slip on a pair of disposable gloves and use your hand to apply a thin and even coating over the entire ball. Make sure you grease the underside of the ball and the neck to ensure any metal-to-metal contact has a layer of lube in between.

You can also use a small, soft-bristle paintbrush to evenly apply the grease, but be careful that no bristles fall off and stick to the grease.

Now, you can attach your trailer coupler to the ball hitch and lock it into place.

Lubricate Hitch Ball (Video)

How Often Should You Grease a Hitch Ball?

Most RVers clean and grease their hitch ball and coupler components before camping season begins and again when they put the travel trailer into storage over the winter.

You should always check the condition of the grease over the ball before each RV trip so you can catch any dirt build-up that will damage the metal. If you see an issue, clean the ball and reapply grease or dry lubricant.

Hitch grease dry lubricant products wear away over time, so if you hear grinding or squealing from the area, it’s time to reapply immediately.

How to Keep the Ball Hitch in Good Condition When Not Towing

A hitch ball

Once you reach your camping destination and disconnect or when you’re storing your travel trailer at home, you won’t have the coupler keeping most of the dust and dirt off the hitch ball.

RVers protect the ball when not hooked to the camper in several ways.

The one I see the most is slicing an “X” into a tennis ball and pushing it over the hitch ball when it remains in the receiver, forming a snug cover.

Wiping the hitch ball with a clean rag and applying a layer of fresh grease before putting on the tennis ball during long-term storage will stop moisture penetration, as well as the ball preventing damage from dings.

Some people prefer to pull the hitch ball from their tow vehicle, pop it into a large ziplock bag, or lay it into a tote bin to keep it clean between uses.

Is It Possible to Keep a Hitch Ball in Good Condition Without Grease?

A car towing an RV

If you prefer not to grease your hitch ball, keeping the metal in decent condition is possible if you are diligent in keeping it clean and smooth.

If you live where the climate has low humidity and continually wipe down the ball and coupler with a dry rag to remove dirt, dust, and grime, it should stay in excellent shape.

However, you’ll need to put up with more hitch noise when you travel because there won’t be any barrier between the metal surfaces to dampen squeaks and grinding.

In Summary

While you don’t have to lubricate your trailer hitch ball, doing so can reduce friction, noise, and wear on both your trailer tongue and hitch system.

The guidance provided above should make it easier for you to choose the ideal lubricant for your hitch ball and ensure its proper application. By following these recommendations, you’re set to experience a towing journey that’s not only quieter and safer.

"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."
-- Andre Gide

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