To grease, or not to grease? The question of whether you should grease your towball or not crops up time and time again. So let’s take a look.
Should I grease my towball? You should only grease your towball if you are using a standard hitch. If you are using a stabiliser hitch, do not grease the towball.
There’s a lot of heated debate around greasing your towball. You can actually do more damage than good if you’re not careful. In this post, I’m going to explain some more about when you should grease your towball and when you definitely shouldn’t.
When You Should Grease Your Towball – And Why
First, let’s take a look at when you should grease your towball. A lot of caravanners believe that greasing their towball is an antiquated technique, so they don’t do it. In some circumstances, however, greasing your towball makes sense.
So when should you grease your towball?
You should grease your towball if you are using a standard hitch without a stabiliser. Whether you’re towing a caravan or another type of trailer, this always applies if you’re using a standard hitch.
Let’s take a look at why you should grease your towball.
Why should you grease your towball?
If you’re using a standard hitch, you should grease your towball for numerous reasons. Let’s have a look.
- Reduces wear: Trailer couplers can suffer damage over time because of wear and tear. The metal-on-metal contact between the coupling and the towball can wear down both the coupling and the towball over time. By applying grease to the towball, you prevent the coupling and towball from wearing down because they’re no longer grinding together.
- Prevents moisture corroding and rusting the ball: It’s a well-known issue that towballs rust very quickly. This is, of course, because of moisture. When you’re not towing out of season, an unprotected towball will corrode and rust. There are several ways to prevent corrosion and rusting, such as a towball cover. However, grease can also protect your towball from corrosion and rusting.
- Reduces noise: One immediately noticeable benefit of greasing your towball is the reduction in noise when you’re towing. Because the towball and coupling are constantly in contact when you’re towing, they’re always grinding together. Inevitably, the metal-to-metal contact generates a lot of noise. If you apply grease to the towball, towing will be much quieter going forward!
So those are the primary reasons that some trailer owners grease their towball. However, if you’re using a friction stabilised hitch you must never grease the towball. In fact, doing so could be dangerous and damage your hitch and towball. That’s what I’ll explain next.
When Shouldn’t You Grease Your Towball?
This question’s easy to answer: you should never grease your towball when you’re trailer/caravan has a friction stabilised hitch. Or more accurately, you shouldn’t grease it before towing.
To explain why you shouldn’t grease your towball before towing a trailer with a friction stabilised hitch, we need to look at how one works.
Stabiliser couplings all work in the same way. First and foremost, the tow ball slides into the hitch head. Then you press down the clamp handle (as seen in the picture above) which makes the friction pads grip the towball. Friction pads, as we know, help the trailer you’re towing remain stable. In the context of caravans, this prevents the caravan from pitching.
The friction pads need to have a good grip on the towball to work effectively. Any dirt or grime affects the effectiveness of the pads, so the stabiliser hitch head won’t fulfil its purpose. And that brings us to our problem: if you grease your towball ahead of towing a trailer with a friction stabilised hitch, the friction pads won’t grip the towball properly.
That’s why greasing your towball is potentially dangerous when you’re towing a caravan or trailer with a friction stabilised hitch. Other than when you’re going to be towing, you can safely grease your vehicle’s towball. For example, if you’re wanting to grease your towball to prevent corrosion and moisture. Just ensure you effectively remove all the grease before towing again.
Best Grease For Towball
If you have a classic hitch without a stabiliser built into it, you’re going to need to grease your towball. Otherwise, the coupling and the towball will grind against each other and cause damage. But which grease for your towball is the best?
In all honestly, you can use any general purpose grease. A general purpose grease is a grease that can be used for a wide range of purposes, as the name suggests. One use of a general purpose grease is to grease your towball!
If you want some suggestions for which grease to use, here are some excellent options. In the end, any tub of general purpose grease will do the job. But here are some popular options that are easy to store, inexpensive, and ideal for greasing a towball.
Granville Multi-Purpose Grease
Granville multi-purpose grease is ideal for keeping your towball well-lubricated.
This particular tin of grease is just 500g, so it’s small and ideal for storing in your vehicle’s glovebox. It’s always handy to have your multi-purpose grease with you, even though your towball doesn’t need to be greased regularly.
Although this is a small tin, it should last you a long time. In fact, if you use it solely for greasing your tow ball, this tin will last you years.
Granville’s multi-purpose grease is a lithium-based LM2 grease with EP additives. You’re probably wondering what that actually means, so here are some notable benefits of lithium-based greases:
- High-temperature characteristics: The grease will still be effective at high temperatures. As the towball and coupling grind against each other, heat is generated during travel. That’s why it’s best to use a grease with high-temperature characteristics, such as a lithium-based grease.
- Water-resistance properties: Lithium-based greases generally have water-resistance properties. If you’re greasing your towball to protect against corrosion and rust, a lithium-based general grease with water-resistance properties will protect your towball effectively.
Comma Multi-Purpose Lithium Grease
Comma’s multi-purpose lithium-based grease is advertised as a product for cars, as it’s suitable for greasing wheel bearings and so on. However, it’s also an ideal product for greasing your towball.
This is a small 500g tin, so you can easily store it in your glovebox for easy use whenever you need it. As I said about the previous tin, it should last you a long time. Only a small amount of grease is needed for your towball, so this small tin will last you months if not years.
This grease has benefits including high-temperature resistance and water resistance properties. That’s because it’s a lithium-based grease.
You can buy Comma’s multi-purpose lithium-based grease on Amazon by clicking here. It’s available for less than £7, so it’s inexpensive too.
Silverhook Lithium Grease Tub
Another grease with excellent reviews is Silverhook’s multi-purpose lithium grease. This product has over 1,000 5 star reviews on Amazon, so you know it does the job.
Silverhook’s multi-purpose grease can be applied to virtually anything to prevent friction, so it’s certainly suitable for greasing your vehicle’s towball. Furthermore, it has a high melting point and offers protection against corrosion, wear, and rust.
This grease costs a little more than the other two mentioned, costing around £9. And really, there isn’t much difference between any of these greases to justify spending more. However, this is a well-reviewed product so you know it’ll do the job.
I hope this blog post has cleared up some of the confusion around whether or not you should grease your towball. In general, here’s all you need to remember:
Got a classic hitch with no stabiliser fitted? Grease your towball. Got a hitch with a stabiliser fitted? Don’t grease your towball.
And as I said, you can grease your towball with any multi-purpose grease. The selection above is simply based on the fact that they’re affordable and well-reviewed by thousands of people on Amazon.