Please check that you've safely hitched before venturing out . . . .


Sep 8, 2019
Eastern Massachusetts
Don’t rely on the cotter pin to keep the drop bar attached to the hitch receiver.

About 10 years ago, I rented a large enclosed trailer for a move. About 3 miles down the road on a busy state road, imagine my surprise when I see the trailer swerving erratically in the rear-view mirror. As I gradually slowed down, my TV was rear-ended by the trailer a couple of times. I was really confused as I had double-checked everything before leaving the lot…. Imagine to my surprise to find the hitch ball & drop bar still securely attached to the trailer tongue and NOT my vehicle. For whatever reason, the cotter pin fell off the drop bar retention post.

Ever since then, I only use a keyed retention post and have never had a problem. I also saw why crossing the chains like I did prevented a lot more damage since the tongue didn’t dig into the road. The trailer had no damage. My TV bumper & hatch had a few sizable indentations.

I may be paranoid, but EVERY time we start, even if we've only been stopped for a minute at a rest area, I at least take a quick peek at the hitch before getting in the driver's seat. I verify that both chains are attached and crossed, that the hitch coupler is down and locked (Like RockyRoo, I use a pin with a key lock on it), and that the electric plug is connected. It only takes a second to do a visual inspection. Thought it's unlikely, you never know if some kid would think it's a funny prank to disconnect a safety chain.

I also like to walk all the way around the rig, checking that the stabilizer jacks are up and locked, the step is stowed, and looking for anything else that may be out of place. I always do a full walk-around after hitching up, but maybe not at every single restart of the day.

Also, don't forget to make sure the hitch ball is securely attached to the vehicle. The ball needs to be tightly secured to the ball mount, and the ball mount secures to the receiver with a sturdy pin, which itself may have a cotter pin or lock to keep it in the receiver. Details may vary a bit on your hitch, but the point is, it would embarrasing at least if you carefully made sure the trailer was securely attached to the ball, but then somehow had the ball itself come disconnected from your vehicle.


Super Active Member
Jul 30, 2008
I drilled out the hole in my hitch pin and use a padlock. I drilled another smaller hole inboard of where the lock is and use the pin clip there. Basically, I have two pin retention devices.