What’s a trailer hitch lock? Are they all the same? More importantly, do you need one?
In previous posts, we’ve covered towing-related topics on everything from how to hook up your car to your RV tow bar to the ever-important methods of trailer sway control. But one thing we haven’t covered is the topic of trailer hitch locks.
So, in today’s post, we’re talking about what a hitch lock accomplishes and who needs one. Spoiler – (and yes, we’ll dig a little deeper into this) – but no, they’re not all the same. So, we’ll also cover which locks are best at serving the most important purposes of a good hitch lock.
Without further ado, let’s jump right into this important topic.
- 1) What Is a Trailer Hitch Lock?
- 2) Why Do I Need a Trailer Hitch Lock?
- 3) Are All Trailer Hitch Locks the Same?
- 4) What Are Some of the Best Trailer Hitch Locks Available?
- 5) Important Note About Trailer Hitch Locks
- 6) Do You Have a Favorite Trailer Hitch Lock?
What Is a Trailer Hitch Lock?
A hitch lock, (sometimes referred to as a “trailer lock”), allows a trailer to be secured to a vehicle in such a way as to prevent theft. A good, heavy-duty hitch lock prevents potential thieves from separating a trailer from a vehicle or lifting a disconnected trailer onto another vehicle for the purpose of stealing it. (More on this in a minute.)
The ideal hitch lock will prevent anyone who doesn’t have a key to the lock from disconnecting a trailer by lifting the receiver away from the hitch or from taking off with your disconnected trailer.
Why Do I Need a Trailer Hitch Lock?
In addition to theft prevention, there are a number of benefits to a good trailer hitch lock.
Let’s take a brief look at several of the most important reasons to use one.
Can I Lock Down a Disconnected Trailer?
A good trailer hitch lock is capable of locking down a trailer when it isn’t actively connected to your vehicle. This prevents a thief from connecting another vehicle to your trailer and driving off with it.
Difficult to Unlock Without a Key
Most high-quality trailer hitch locks are difficult to break or unlock without the key, making it even more difficult for a potential thief to gain the required access. This is, of course, a key feature (sorry! LOL) of these important devices.
Discourages Potential Thieves
Most potential thieves can recognize a good hitch lock, which might be all they need to reconsider attempting to steal your trailer.
May Save a Substantial Amount of Money
If a potential thief is discouraged from attempting to gain access to your trailer to steal it, this means that they won’t be trying to break your lock, damaging your lock and hitch. Or worse yet, succeeding in strealing your trailer.
That said, even if someone does attempt to gain access and your hitch lock prevents the theft of the trailer, you will have saved yourself thousands of dollars.
Peace of Mind
With a quality trailer hitch lock, you can rest assured that your trailer remains securely attached to your tow vehicle, and is better protected from theft.
Improved Safety While Towing
When you’re towing a trailer, the connection between your vehicle and the trailer you’re towing is incredibly important.
A high-quality hitch lock adds another layer of security even while your vehicle & trailer are rolling down the road.
Are All Trailer Hitch Locks the Same?
No. There are several different types of hitch locks available, and the good news is that as valuable as they may be, they’re often not very expensive (especially in relation to the value of your trailer)!
Let’s take a look at them briefly, and we’ll leave an example of each type at the end of the section for that type of hitch lock.
Later in the post, we’ll add a short section pointing you toward several of the best trailer hitch locks on the market today.
Receiver Hitch Lock
You may be aware that the vehicle towing a trailer has receiver holes located beyond the ball mount toward the tow vehicle. (For lots more detail, you can read all about trailer hitch specifications). A receiver lock is installed through the receiver holes of the tow vehicle.
Receiver hitch locks have metal pins with locks on either end. (Some receiver hitch locks have two locks while others have a single lock with a curve on one end to keep it from pulling through the other end.)
This is an example of a receiver hitch lock:
- 【SOLID STEEL】Kohree 5/8" trailer hitch lock weight is 1.5 pounds.Unlike other stainless steel hitch lock that is forged weld or screwed in with...
- 【FLEXIBLE KEY SLOT CAP】The flexible key cap of the towing hitch lock, is made of advance rubber, perfectly embed in the lock core. It will cover...
Latch Pin Lock
A latch pin lock prevents the trailer hitch latch from being lifted and connected to a vehicle other than your own.
This type of trailer hitch lock slides into the latch and locks right into place, and adds security while you’re actively towing your trailer as well.
This is an example of a latch pin lock:
- DEPENDABLE SECURITY. To help protect your trailer from theft, this trailer lock is made from high-strength steel and has a padlock-style design.Fit...
- EASY TO OPERATE. This padlock-style trailer tongue lock has a heavy-duty look to deter theft, and uses a simple 1/4-turn lock activation for...
Hitch Pin Lock
Where the hitch meets the frame of your vehicle there’s a fastener. A locking hitch pin works by sliding into that fastener, preventing the hitch from being disconnected from the vehicle.
Here’s an example of a hitch pin lock:
- Receiver lock provides added security and theft deterrence while towing.Fit Type: Vehicle Specific
- 1/2 in. trailer hitch locking pin is rated up to 3,500 lbs (Class I and II), 5/8 in. trailer hitch locking pin is rated up to 10,000 lbs (Class III...
Coupler Hitch Lock
If you’ve ever seen a U-lock for a bicycle, you’ll recognize the trailer coupler lock for your hitch which is similar in appearance.
A universal coupler lock usually has a ball on the top. This ball fits into the hitch tongue. The bar then sits on top of the hitch and connects both sides to the lock’s base.
A great thing about this type of hitch is that it offers security even if your trailer isn’t connected to your tow vehicle.
Here’s an example of a coupler hitch lock. If you click on the link and scroll down the page, you’ll see photos that give you a better sense of how the lock works even without the trailer and tow vehicle being connected.
- 🔑【CONTAINS 6 IDENTICAL KEYS】For your convenience, 6 identical keys are included with this trailer hitch lock. You can keep the spare keys in a...
- 🔒【UNIVERSAL FIT】 Ratchet design is adjustable with 11 locking positions and fits 1-7/8”, 2”, and 2-5/16” couplers.
What to Look For In a Trailer Hitch Lock
There are several features you’ll want to consider when shopping for a hitch lock.
Following are some of the questions you’ll want to keep in mind:
Is the hitch lock compatible with your trailer hitch?
Some types of hitch locks come in different sizes and have different weight ratings. It’s important to check that prior to buying one.
What Is the Hitch Made Of?
The durability of any type of lock is essential. This is especially true of a lock that will consistently be exposed to the elements and the rigors of the road.
High-quality hitch locks made of steel are often coated with a protective anti-corrosion finish.
What Type of Locking Mechanism is Used?
Some simple locks are capable of being picked with the proper tools or even damaged. Your trailer hitch lock is far more secure if its design includes a very strong or complex locking mechanism.
Is the Lock Obvious to Potential Thieves?
Many manufacturers add bright colors to their trailer hitch locks to purposely draw attention to the fact that there’s a quality lock present. The idea behind this is to deter would-be thieves from attempting to mess with your hitch.
Does the Lock Have a Relatively Universal Fit?
Should you need to use your lock on more than one trailer, you may want to consider a universal hitch lock.
Latch pin locks and coupler hitch locks tend to have a more universal fit and can often be used on several different trailers.
What Are Some of the Best Trailer Hitch Locks Available?
Let’s take a look at some of the top-rated hitch locks available on the market today.
Reese Towpower Heavy Duty Coupler Lock
The Reese Towpower is an example of a trailer hitch lock with a universal fit. It fits all couplers and has 11 different locking positions.
Although it fits all couplers, note that this hitch lock fits trailers measuring 1 7/8, 2, and 2 5/16.
It comes with two theft-resistant square keys and is painted bright silver for visibility.
Reminder: This type of hitch lock secures the trailer even when it’s not connected for towing.
- Universal, fits all couplers.Fit Type: Universal Fit
- Secures trailer when not being towed
Master Lock Universal Coupler Trailer Lock
This universal coupler lock fits most trailer couplers that measure 1 7/8″, 2″, and 2 5/16″.
This trailer hitch lock is rust and corrosion-resistant and has a bright red finish for visibility. It also has a relatively advanced locking mechanism that’s designed to resist picking.
With over 13,000 ratings on Amazon, a vast majority of which are very positive, we thought we should include it.
- Coupler Lock,Universal
REESE Towpower 72783 Coupler Lock
This coupler lock from Reese is made of heavy-duty steel and is painted bright yellow for visibility.
It offers adjustable storage security, has a universal theft-deterrent design, and is adjustable with 11 different locking positions.
This lock fits couplers measuring 1 7/8″, 2″, and 2 5/16″. It’s easy to install but difficult to pick or drill out.
- DIMENSIONS: 9” x 9” x 3”.Material:Steel
- BUILT TO LAST: The REESE Towpower Universal Coupler lock is a premium lock constructed with an aluminum body and heavy-duty steel lock bar. Distance...
CURT 23518 Black Trailer Hitch Pin Lock
This hitch pin lock fits virtually any 2-inch x 2-inch receiver. The pin diameter is 5/8″ so will fit a 5/8″ hole, and has 2.85″ of usable pin length. (Note that this lock is not compatible with double-walled receiver tubes.)
This model is water resistant, with a dust cap that keeps the internal components protected. The lock itself has a durable powder-coated, corrosion-resistant finish.
Two keys are included and 1/4 turn activates the lock so it’s easy to use.
- DEPENDABLE SECURITY. To protect your trailer and trailer hitch ball mount from theft, this locking hitch pin is made with high-strength steel...
- EASY TO OPERATE. The barbell-style locking hitch pin promotes an impenetrable appearance to deter theft, and uses a simple 1/4-turn lock activation...
Master Lock 377DAT Trailer Hitch Lock
This lock is made of zinc to reduce rust corrosion. It has front access with three adjustable positions. Installation is simple.
This lock fits most couplers measuring 1 7/8″, 2″, and 2 5/16″ and has an advanced locking mechanism to further deter theft.
- Trailer hitch lock fits 1-7/8 in. (48mm), 2 in. (51mm) and most 2-5/16 in. (59mm) trailer couplers
- Trailer lock is best used for vehicles, trailers, and RVs
Important Note About Trailer Hitch Locks
We think it’s important to point out that many trailer hitch locks can be accessed by anyone who has the same lock and a set of keys to unlock it. It’s possible that the keys to their lock could open your hitch lock.
This is an important piece of information you may want to further research via reviews before buying.
All of the locks we’ve highlighted in this post have a high number of positive reviews, giving you lots of research material to check out.
Do You Have a Favorite Trailer Hitch Lock?
If you’ve already got a favorite trailer hitch lock, we’d love to know what it is and why you love it.
If you’ve got any stories of actual theft-prevention experiences to add, let us know that, too.
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Friday 16th of September 2022
Thanks for the article. Do you, however, have any experience/knowledge of Proven Industries trailer hitch locks (such as the 2178)? It is pricey as is the Amplock U-BRP2516, but from reviews it looks like these two could not be defeated as easily as the $35-ish locks.
Friday 16th of September 2022
Hi Linda. We know there are more robust locks out there, but they're also very expensive. And since a professional can defeat virtually any lock, the primary purpose is often to dissuade a more casual potential thief from trying at all.
Friday 16th of September 2022
Too bad that most are easily picked! For example: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=hitch+pin+picked
And the LockPickingLawyer's recommendation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVtHiX12TVw
Friday 16th of September 2022
Hi Lou. We love the lockpicking lawyer! But even he mentioned right at the outset of the 2nd video you shared that the entire front section of the trailer can be unbolted and replaced. That makes any hitch lock a deterrent rather than a theft-proofing. And since nobody picks really picks locks, but rather uses brute force, it's mostly about making the trailer a less desirable target for non-professionals.
Friday 16th of September 2022
We flat tow a Jeep behind our rig and always have pin locks installed. An important consideration, though, is what happens if the TOAD catches fire, and for that reason we do not move the rig with a pin lock installed on the coach side of the Roadmaster hitch. We swap the regular pin for the pin lock when we stop and then the other way round when we leave. It just makes decoupling the rig from a burning TOAD a much quicker process. Thanks to Phil Farley from You, Me and the RV (today is someday.net) for this tip.
Friday 16th of September 2022
I like "CURT 23081 Powder-Coated Aluminum Trailer Tongue Lock, 2-5/16-Inch Couplers". I have used the Yellow ball with ratchet "U" and didn't like it. The ball will get grease on it and then you need somewhere to store a greasy ball when you are pulling the trailer. I also think with a long enough pry bar, I could rip it off. My biggest security concern is protecting the unhitched trailer in my storage yard. I may not go by the trailer for weeks or months at a time.
Protecting the trailer when hitched is unimportant, since I will leave a hitched trailer unattended for only a few hours at most. Locking the hitch to the trailer while actively towing is undesirable in the case of a fire breaking out in the trailer or towed vehicle and you want to rapidly separate.